View Full Version : The Daily Encourager


Forever_Lovers
11-09-2004, 08:29 AM
Why Go To Church?
Nov 04, 2004

A church-goer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. "I've gone for 30 years now," he wrote, "and in that time I have heard something like 3,000 sermons.

But for the life of me, I can't remember a single one of them. So, I think I'm wasting my time and the pastors are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all."

This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor" column, much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until someone wrote this clincher:

=================================

I've been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this... They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today.

Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!"

When you are down to nothing.... God is up to something! Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible and receives the impossible! Thank God for our physical and our spiritual nourishment!

Forever_Lovers
11-09-2004, 08:30 AM
Keep Striking The Stone
Cary Branscum
Nov 05, 2004

Keep Striking the Stone
by Cary Branscum

Ever feel like throwing in the towel?

Most folks feel that way at times. Maybe you've worked, fretted, and given yourself to a relationship, a job, or a cause that doesn't go your way. You are caught between conflicting desires; you feel like giving up on the good things, the right things, even as you hold onto the wrong things. Feeling like giving up is a universal human experience, even for Christians! In Romans 7:21, the apostle Paul shares his own experience as he struggles to do good even as evil lurks close at hand. Where there is belief, there is doubt. Where there is trust, there is distrust. Where there is obedience, there is disobedience.

You can always give up. John 6 finds Jesus telling his disciples the truth about God. In verse 66, some "walked no more with him." They gave up. They threw in the towel. They quit on Jesus. I can't help but imagine all kinds of things as Jesus turns to the Twelve, his core group, and asks, "Will you also go away?" And then Simon Peter gives an answer that rings true for all followers of Jesus. He replies, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." There is no one else, there is no place else, if you want eternal life; it's Jesus or no one. (Acts 4:12)

Still, it's just so tempting to give up, isn't it? We really feel like giving up on God... on other people, and even on ourselves -- giving up the song in our soul, our hopes and dreams, both big and small.

Let me tell you a story. I have a lifelong fascination and deep abiding interest in ancient Native American culture. One of my dreams was to learn flint-knapping, the art of making tools and weapons from flint or obsidian. I especially wanted to make arrowheads. To make an arrowhead you need a hammer stone, the right piece of flint, and a lot of patience. As I kid, I tried to make arrowheads. After trying, it seemed impossible, so I gave up.

Years later, one hot afternoon near a summer camp, I stumbled onto a pile of river rocks near Lake Whitney, Texas. Something caught my eye. There, in the middle of the pile was a huge chunk of flint. My old arrowhead dreams came back in an instant. (Dreams can do that sometimes.)

Picking an oval rock to use as a hammer stone, I tried to knock off a flake just the right size for an arrowhead. No such luck. I tried again. Nothing. The longer it took, the madder I got, the harder I hit.

Twenty minutes later, my arm ached, my eyes were blinded by sweat, and my thumb was bloody from a misplaced blow. If my tribe expected me to make an arrowhead and bring home dinner, they were just out of luck. I was about to give up for good when something indescribable happened. The flint gave a short, sharp sound. A thin wafer, the size of a dinner plate, flew off the chunk and landed softly in the grass about twenty feel away. I stumbled over, picked it up and with deep primitive joy began making the first of many arrowheads, spearheads, and stone axes. Now it's easy, now it's fun. Now there's nothin' to it.

Don't give up.

Don't give up on the God who seems so distant. He has not given up on you.

Don't give up on people even though you've had some bad experiences.

Don't give up on the song in your soul just because the chaos of your life or the hurt in your heart temporarily drowns out its melody.

Jesus has, and IS, the Word of Life.

Your arrowhead awaits... just keep striking the stone... and don't give up.

Forever_Lovers
11-09-2004, 08:31 AM
Memorable Memorial
Elizabeth Price
Nov 09, 2004

Memorable Memorial
by Elizabeth Price

Have you ever felt you were invisible? Perhaps you have sometimes felt you were so insignificant nobody knew you even existed?

I have a garden shrub like that. It is weak and spindly and it leans on the trees growing around it for support. It weaves its way up through their branches and is so hidden you don't really see it. Its leaves are insignificant and its flowers are just five, simple, white petals forming a miniature saucer.

However, this plant has one attribute that makes it stand out from every other plant in the garden and that is its perfume. It is sweet and heady and you can smell it from the other end of the house and all down through the garden. For a few brief weeks every year, visitors close their eyes, sniff, and ask, "What is that heavenly perfume?"

Invisible and insignificant the shrub may be, but its perfume is its memorial. It reminds me of an uninvited, insignificant woman who broke open a jar of perfume at the feet of Jesus. He said, "Wherever the gospel is proclaimed throughout the world, what she has done will be told as her memorial." (Mark 14:9)

Her jar of perfume, like my shrub's perfume, was her memorial. Perhaps you, also, have a hidden memorial jar. Will you break it open at the feet of Jesus?

Forever_Lovers
11-10-2004, 09:16 AM
Don't Tread On Me
Dick Innes
Nov 10, 2004

Don't Tread On Me

"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15-16, NASB).

"In December, 1775, an American colonist (believed by many scholars to be Benjamin Franklin), noticed the increasing use of a symbol throughout the colonies, stamped onto barrels and other items, depicting a coiled rattlesnake with the words 'Don't Tread On Me' written below the snake. He wondered about how the symbol of a rattlesnake could be a symbol of the American desire for freedom?

He wrote the following words: 'The Rattle-Snake is found in no other quarter of the world besides America. She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, never surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. She never wounds 'till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.'"

I've been hiking in the mountains and heard the warning sign of a rattler and was extremely thankful for that. In the Bible, Satan is depicted as a serpent--a serpent who not only doesn't warn about his lethal bite, but appears in alluring disguises promising great rewards of pleasure ready and waiting to devour his every victim.

How different from God (although I don't want to compare him to a rattler) but over and over he warns us in his Word, the Bible, to avoid sin at all costs for it will destroy us. He, too, has generously given notice even to his enemies to "flee from the wrath to come" and to turn to Christ the Savior of the world.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me to be careful where I walk (how I live) and avoid the ways of Satan at all costs. Thank you that there is salvation from the evil one when I turn to you. Help me so to do. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

Dick Innes

Forever_Lovers
11-11-2004, 08:17 AM
I Am A Soldier
Nov 11, 2004

"I Am A Soldier"

I am a soldier in the army of my God.
The Lord Jesus Christ is my Commanding Officer.
The Holy Bible is my code of conduct.
Faith, Prayer, and the Word are my weapons of Warfare.

I have been taught by the Holy Spirit,
...trained by experience,
...tried by adversity,
...and tested by fire.

I am a volunteer in this army, and I am enlisted for eternity.
I will either retire in this Army or die in this Army;
But, I will not get out,
...sell out
...be talked out
...or pushed out.
I am faithful, reliable, capable, and dependable.
If my God needs, me, I am there.

I am a soldier.
I am not a baby.
I do not need to be pampered,
...petted,
...primed up,
...pumped up,
...picked up,
...or pepped up.

I am a soldier. No one has to call me,
...remind me,
...write me,
...visit me,
...entice me,
...or lure me.

I am a soldier. I am not a wimp. I am in place,
...saluting my King,
...obeying His orders,
...praising His name,
...and building His Kingdom!

No one has to send me flowers, gifts, food, cards, candy, or give me handouts.

I do not need to be cuddled, cradled, cared for, or catered to.

I am committed.
I cannot have my feelings hurt bad enough to turn me around.
I cannot be discouraged enough to turn me aside.
I cannot lose enough to cause me to quit.

When Jesus called me into this Army, I had nothing.
If I end up with nothing, I will still come out even.
I will win.

My God will supply all my needs.
I am more than a conqueror.
I will always triumph.
I can do all things through Christ.

Devils cannot defeat me.
People cannot disillusion me.
Weather cannot weary me.
Sickness cannot stop me.
Battles cannot beat me.
Money cannot buy me.
Governments cannot silence me, and
Hell cannot handle me!

I am a soldier.
Even death cannot destroy me.
For when my Commander calls me from this battlefield,
He will promote me to a captain.

I am a soldier, in the Army,
I'm marching, claiming victory.
I will not give up.
I will not turn around.
I am a soldier, marching, Heaven bound.
Here I stand! Will you stand with me?

Forever_Lovers
11-12-2004, 09:14 AM
God Always Answers Prayer
Robert Schuller
Nov 12, 2004

God Always Answers Prayer
by Rev. Robert H. Schuller


When the idea is not right, God says,"No."
No - when the idea is not the best.
No - when the idea is absolutely wrong.
No - when though it may help you, it could create problems for someone else.


When the time is not right, God says, "Slow."
What a catastrophe it would be if God answered every prayer at the snap of your fingers. Do you know what would happen? God would become your servant,not your master. Suddenly God would be working for you instead of you working for God. Remember: God's delays are not God's denials. God's timing is perfect. Patience is what we need in prayer.


When you are not right, God says, "Grow."
The selfish person has to grow in unselfishness.
The cautious person must grow in courage.
The timid person must grow in confidence.
The dominating person must grow in sensitivity.
The critical person must grow in tolerance.
The negative person must grow in positive attitudes.
The pleasure-seeking person must grow in compassion for suffering people.


When everything is all right, God says, "Go."
Then miracles happen:
...A hopeless alcoholic is set free!
....A drug addict finds release!
....A doubter becomes as a child in his belief.
....Diseased tissue responds to treatment, and healing begins.
....The door to your dream suddenly swings open and there stands God saying, "Go!"



Excerpted from the Book: "Positive Prayers for Power Filled Living"
by Rev. Robert H. Schuller

"I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." -1 Timothy 2:8

elephantstamper
11-12-2004, 09:27 AM
WOW!!! Now that is really a day starter!! Thank you, I think I needed reminding, cuz sometimes I forget that I cannot do this by myself, not only do I need all of you, but my Higher Power as well to set me where I need to be and wait for the word...GO....Thanks for sharing...

Forever_Lovers
11-13-2004, 08:23 PM
I'm glad you enjoyed reading it!!! May God Bless you and your loved ones. If you can please join us for bible study one day.

Shona`

Forever_Lovers
11-15-2004, 02:24 PM
"A Simple Prayer"
David Langerfeld
Nov 15, 2004



"A Simple Prayer"

Today,
For what I am that I ought not to be,
Forgive me.
For what I am not that I ought to be,
Forgive me.

Be with my mouth in what it speaks
Be with my hands in what they do
Be with my mind in what it thinks
Be with my heart in what it feels

Work in me
...through me
....for me
....in spite of me


In the precious name of Jesus
Amen

Forever_Lovers
11-18-2004, 03:50 PM
The Prodigal
David Langerfeld
Nov 18, 2004

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." Luke 15:20


While he was still a long way off...
The father knew the son's heart!
He didn't say, "Here comes that scoundrel. What does he expect from me? A loan? Does he think he's coming back to this house after he's spent all my money?"

Perhaps, we are a long way off... from being what God expects of us. We are so far down the road that anyone else might suspect our motives for calling on The Father.

Perhaps, we've been Christian for what we can get out of it. But God can see - even though the distance is great - the direction of our steps and the purpose of our heart

And if that purpose...
is a longing for a renewed relationship,
a closer tie,
to be home with The Father

God's heart will go out to us...
Even though we are "still a long way off"!

Forever_Lovers
11-18-2004, 03:52 PM
Rely Not On Yourselves
David Langerfeld
Nov 16, 2004

"Rely not on yourselves, but on God...
He delivered us...
He will deliver us...
He will continue to deliver us..." (2 Corinthians 1:9-11 NIV)


I quit!
I've tried my best to live
...as God expects me to
....as my family expects me to
I want to do the best, but I always fail.
I give up!
There's no use trying!
I just fail...

I?

"Rely not on yourselves, but on God...
He delivered us
He will deliver us
He will continue to deliver us"
Again and again and again
like food,
like sleep,
God will give us strength every day.

"Rely not on yourselves, but on God"

Forever_Lovers
11-18-2004, 03:52 PM
"The Waiting"
Phil Ware
Nov 17, 2004

The Waiting
by Phil Ware

Those who wait upon the Lord, will renew their strength,
they will soar on wings like the eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

...for twelve years she had suffered a great deal under the
care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead
of getting better she grew worse. Mark 5:25

"While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the
house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. "Your daughter is dead,"
they said, "Why bother the teacher any more?" Mark 5:35


Parents waiting for children out past curfew know it. Couples having trouble conceiving a child know it. A family separated by overseas military service knows it. A person needing an organ transplant knows it. A candidate for law or medical school knows it. A pregnant mom 10 days past due knows it. A person struggling to be hired for a job knows it. In fact, at one time or another, most of us come to know this brooding beast. It's the long wait -- that drawn out time of fretful anticipation and extended longing.

"Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength..."

Often, this is easier said than done. Before we get to "mount up on wings like eagles," we often have to obediently grind away through the brutal passage of agonizing time. Before we can "run and not grow weary," we have to trudge on as anticipation dims and hope's flickering flame fights against the winds of despair. Many times, we just have to keep walking and trust that some hidden grace will help us "not faint."

That's what makes this story of Jairus' daughter so compelling to me. Like you, I don't like to wait. In my mind, if there is any privilege for those with power and position, one should not have to wait! "They" surely don't have to wait like I do. "They" get to move to the head of line. "They" get to throw around their weight and get what they want when they want it.

In this case, however, "they" (or more accurately, "he") didn't. (see Mark 5:21-43) Instead, Jairus' humbling approach to Jesus, an approach that could cost him everything in sacred society, was interrupted by a desperate woman who had faced "the long wait" herself as she had hopelessly gone to every healer available to her, and no doubt prayed incessantly for her own cure. This woman, who could not go into the synagogue because of her uncleanness, derailed the hope parade of Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue.

I find two things amazing about both of them. First, neither complains about his or her wait. Not the woman, who has spent her fortune on false medical hopes, nor Jairus, who has spent his respect capital to associate himself with a suspicious teacher. Both wait for their Lord to act.

Impatiently waiting? Probably! But, they waited and received their grace. Second, they both received the personal attention of the Lord -- the man of power who could expect that attention and the woman on the fringes who, in her day, could not expect it.

Jesus refused to let the woman have an anonymous miracle!
He personally and specifically blessed her. Jairus' daughter would not be healed for the crowd, but only in the closed intimacy of Jesus' chosen few and Jairus' family. Both waited faithfully. Both received the personal attention of the Master! Each received his or her heart's greatest desire.

This is not a story about long ago and far away. It is a reminder that Jesus is there for those who wait. It is a renewal of the ancient hope that God will act for those who don't give up during the long wait. You see, the issue isn't the wait. Instead, it is all about refusing to give up hope when the journey seems so long (12 years for the woman) and the problems so insurmountable (a dead 12-year old daughter for Jairus).

Maybe you face the long wait right now. Maybe your heartbreak or shame or disappointment or loss seems insurmountable. If so, I want to encourage you to come back to this story of the powerless woman and the powerful man and remember the place their broken hearts met, the place their broken dreams were mended, and the place their long wait ended. Know that place is really a person, and his name is Jesus.

Forever_Lovers
12-12-2004, 10:43 AM
Thankful For The Thorns
David Langerfeld
Nov 22, 2004

Thankful For The Thorns

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks when she pulled open the florist shop door, against a November gust of wind. Her life had been as sweet as a spring breeze and then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a "minor" automobile accident stole her joy. This was Thanksgiving week and the time she should have delivered their infant son. She grieved over their loss. Troubles had multiplied. Her husband's company "threatened" to transfer his job to a new location.

Her sister had called to say that she could not come for her long awaited holiday visit. What's worse, Sandra's friend suggested that Sandra's grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. "She has no idea what I'm feeling," thought Sandra with a shudder. "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 her child's?"

"Good afternoon, can I help you?" Sandra was startled by the approach of the shop clerk.

"I.... I need an arrangement," stammered Sandra.

"For Thanksgiving? Do you want the beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the 'Thanksgiving Special'? I'm convinced that flowers tell stories," she continued. "Are you looking for something that conveys 'gratitude' this Thanksgiving?"

"Not exactly!" Sandra blurted out. "In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong." Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the clerk said, "I have the perfect arrangement for you."

Then the bell on the door rang, and the clerk greeted the new customer, "Hi, Barbara...let me get your order." She excused herself and walked back to a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and what appeared to be long-stemmed thorny roses. Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped: there were no flowers.

"Do you want these in a box?" asked the clerk. Sandra watched for the customer's response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed. "Yes, please," Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. "You'd think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn't be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again." She said, as she gently tapped her chest.

Sandra stammered, "Ah, that lady just left with, uh.... she left with no flowers!"

"That's right, said the clerk. "I cut off the flowers. That's the 'Special'. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet."

"Oh, come on! You can't tell me someone is willing to pay for that!" exclaimed Sandra.

"Barbara came into the shop three years ago, feeling much as you do, today," explained the clerk. "She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had just lost her father to cancer; the family business was failing; her son had gotten into drugs; and she was facing major surgery."

"That same year I had lost my husband," continued the clerk. "For the first time in my life, I had to spend the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too much debt to allow any travel."

"So what did you do?" asked Sandra.

"I learned to be thankful for thorns," answered the clerk quietly. "I've always thanked God for the good things in my life and I NEVER questioned Him why those GOOD things happened to me, but when the bad stuff hit, I cried out, "WHY? WHY Me?!" It took time for me to learn that the dark times are important to our faith! I have always enjoyed the 'flowers' of my life, but it took the 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 sucked in her breath, as she thought about the thought that her friend had tried to tell her. "I guess the truth is, I don't want comfort. I've lost a baby and I'm angry with God."

Just then someone else walked in the shop. "Hey, Phil!" the clerk greeted the balding, rotund man. "My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement... twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems!" laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.

"Those are for your wife?" asked Sandra incredulously. "Do you mind telling me why she wants a bouquet that looks like that?"

"No... I'm glad you asked," Phil replied. "Four years ago, my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord's grace and guidance, we trudged through problem after problem. The Lord rescued our marriage. Jenny, here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she had learned from "thorny" times. That was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific "problem" and give thanks for what that problem taught us." As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, "I highly recommend the Special!"

"I don't know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life." Sandra said to the clerk. "It's all too... fresh."

"Well," the clerk replied carefully, "my experience has shown me that the thorns make the roses more precious. We treasure God's providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember that it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love. Don't resent the thorns."

Tears rolled down Sandra's cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on her resentment. "I'll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please," she managed to choke out.

"I hoped you would," said the clerk gently. "I'll have them ready in a minute."

"Thank you. What do I owe you?"

"Nothing. Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart. The first year's arrangement is always on me." The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. "I'll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first."

It read:
My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant."

Praise Him for the roses; thank Him for the thorns.

Forever_Lovers
12-12-2004, 10:43 AM
Thanksgiving Classic: A Gallon of Milk
David Langerfeld
Nov 23, 2004

A Gallon of Milk

A young man had been to Wednesday night Bible Study. The Pastor had shared about listening to God. The young man couldn't help but wonder, "Does God still speak to people?"

After service he went out with some friends for coffee and pie and they discussed the idea. Several different people talked about how God had led them to do things in different ways.

It was about ten o'clock when the young man started driving home. Sitting in his car, he just began to pray, "God... If you still speak to people, speak to me. I will listen. I will do my best to serve your wishes."

As he drove down the main street of his town, he had the strangest thought, to stop and buy a gallon of milk. He shook his head and said out loud, "God is that you?" He didn't get a reply and started on toward home.

But again, the thought was there, "Buy a gallon of milk." The young man thought about how he'd heard that not all those spoken to recognized God's quiet voice inside of one's mind. Then he said, "Okay, God, in case that is you, I will buy the milk."

It didn't seem like too hard a request to fulfil. He could always use the milk himself if nothing else. So he stopped and purchased the gallon of milk and started off toward home.

As he passed Seventh Street, he again felt the urge, "Turn down that street."

"This is crazy," he thought and drove on pass and passed the intersection.

Again, he felt that he should turn down Seventh Street. At the next intersection, he turned back and headed down Seventh. Half jokingly, he said out loud, "Okay, God, I will."

He drove several blocks, when suddenly, he felt like he should stop. He pulled over to the curb and looked around. He was in a semi-commercial area of town. It wasn't the best but it wasn't the worst of neighborhoods either.

The businesses were closed and most of the houses looked dark like the people were already in bed. Again, he sensed something: "Go and give the milk to the people in the house across the street." The young man looked at the house. It was dark and it looked like the people were either gone or they were already asleep.

He started to open the door and then sat back in the car seat. "God, this is insane. Those people are asleep and if I wake them up, they are going to be mad and I will look stupid."

Again, he felt like he should go and give the milk. Finally, he opened the car door. "Okay God, if this is you, I will go to the door and I will give them the milk. If you want me to look like a crazy person, okay. I want to do as you wish. I guess that will count for something, but if they don't answer right away, I am out of here."

He walked across the street and rang the bell. He could hear some noise inside. A man's voice yelled out, "Who is it? What do you want?"

Then the door opened before the young man could get away. The man was standing there in his jeans and T-shirt. He looked like he'd just got out of bed. He had a strange look on his face and he didn't seem too happy to have some stranger standing on his doorstep.

"What is it?"

The young man thrust out the gallon of milk. "Here, I brought this to you," he said nervously.

The man took the milk and rushed down a hallway speaking loudly in Spanish. Then from down the hall came a woman carrying the milk toward the kitchen. The man was following her holding a baby. The baby was crying. The man had tears streaming down his face.

The man began speaking and half-crying, "We were just praying. We had some big bills this month and we ran out of money. We didn't have any milk for our baby. I was just praying and asking God to show me how to get some milk."

His wife in the kitchen yelled out, "I ask Him to send an angel with some milk. Are you an angel?"

In response to hearing this, the young man reached into his wallet and pulled out all the money he had on him and put in the man's hand. He turned and walked back toward his car as the tears were streaming down his face. He knew that God still answers prayers and that God still speaks to people.


"The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because he loves us." (C. S. Lewis)

Forever_Lovers
12-12-2004, 10:44 AM
A Thanksgiving Story
Andrea Nannette Mejia
Nov 24, 2004

A THANKSGIVING STORY

It was the day before Thanksgiving - the first one my three children and I would be spending without their father, who had left several months before. Now the two older children were very sick with the flu, and the eldest had just been prescribed bed rest for a week.

It was a cool, gray day outside, and a light rain was falling. I grew wearier as I scurried around, trying to care for each child: thermometers, juice, diapers. And I was fast running out of liquids for the children. But when I checked my purse, all I found was about $2.50 - and this was supposed to last me until the end of the month. That's when I heard the phone ring.

It was the secretary from our former church, and she told me that they had been thinking about us and had something to give us from the congregation. I told her that I was going out to pick up some more juice and soup for the children, and I would drop by the church on my way to the market.

I arrived at the church just before lunch. The church secretary met me at the door and handed me a special gift envelope. "We think of you and the kids often," she said, "and you are in our hearts and prayers. We love you." When I opened the envelope, I found two grocery certificates inside. Each was worth $20. I was so touched and moved, I broke down and cried.

"Thank you very much," I said, as we hugged each other. "Please give our love and thanks to the church." Then I drove to a store near our home and purchased some much-needed items for the children.

At the check-out counter I had a little over $14.00 worth of groceries, and I handed the cashier one of the gift certificates. She took it, then turned her back for what seemed like a very long time. I thought something might be wrong.

Finally I said, "This gift certificate is a real blessing. Our former church gave it to our family, knowing I'm a single patent trying to make ends meet."

The cashier then turned around, with tears in her loving eyes, and replied, "Honey, that's wonderful! Do you have a turkey?"

"No. It's okay because my children are sick anyway."

She then asked, "Do you have anything else for Thanksgiving dinner?"

Again I replied, "No."

After handing me the change from the certificate, she looked at my face and said, "Honey, I can't tell you exactly why right now, but I want you to go back into the store and buy a turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie or anything else you need for a Thanksgiving dinner."

I was shocked, and humbled to tears. "Are you sure?" I asked.

"Yes! Get whatever you want. And get some Gatorade for the kids."

I felt awkward as I went back to do more shopping, but I selected a fresh turkey, a few yams and potatoes, and some juices for the children. Then I wheeled the shopping cart up to the same cashier as before. As I placed my groceries on the counter, she looked at me once more with giant tears in her kind eyes and began to speak.

"Now I can tell you. This morning I prayed that I could help someone today, and you walked through my line." She reached under the counter for her purse and took out a $20 bill. She paid for my groceries and then handed me the change. Once more I was moved to tears.

The sweet cashier then said, "I am a Christian. Here is my phone number if you ever need anything." She then took my head in her hands, kissed my cheek and said, "God bless you, honey."

As I walked to my car, I was overwhelmed by this stranger's love and by the realization that God loves my family too, and shows us his love through this stranger's and my church's kind deeds.

The children were supposed to have spent Thanksgiving with their father that year, but because of the flu they were home with me, for a very special Thanksgiving Day.

They were feeling better, and we all ate the goodness of the Lord's bounty - and our community's love. Our hearts were truly filled with thanks.

Forever_Lovers
12-12-2004, 10:45 AM
The Hand
David Langerfeld
Nov 25, 2004

The Hand

Thanksgiving Day was near. The first grade teacher gave her class a fun assignment -- to draw a picture of something for which they were thankful.

Most of the class might be considered economically disadvantaged, but still many would celebrate the holiday with turkey and other traditional goodies of the season. These, the teacher thought, would be the subjects of most of her student's art. And they were.

But Douglas made a different kind of picture. Douglas was a different kind of boy. He was the teacher's true child of misery, frail and unhappy. As other children played at recess, Douglas was likely to stand close by her side. One could only guess at the pain Douglas felt behind those sad eyes.

Yes, his picture was different. When asked to draw a picture of something for which he was thankful, he drew a hand. Nothing else. Just an empty hand.

His abstract image captured the imagination of his peers. Whose hand could it be? One child guessed it was the hand of a farmer, because farmers raise turkeys. Another suggested a police officer, because the police protect and care for people. Still others guessed it was the hand of God, for God feeds us. And so the discussion went -- until the teacher almost forgot the young artist himself.

When the children had gone on to other assignments, she paused at Douglas' desk, bent down, and asked him whose hand it was.

The little boy looked away and murmured, "It's yours, teacher."

She recalled the times she had taken his hand and walked with him here or there, as she had the other students. How often had she said, "Take my hand, Douglas, we'll go outside." Or, "Let me show you how to hold your pencil." Or, "Let's do this together." Douglas was most thankful for his teacher's hand.

Brushing aside a tear, she went on with her work.

The story speaks of more than thankfulness. It says something about teachers teaching and parents parenting and friends showing friendship, and how much it means to the Douglases of the world. They might not always say thanks. But they'll remember the hand that reaches out.


"Though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. Psalm 37:24

"My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:8


This Thanksgiving, thank God for all of the "hands" that have "touched" your life. Then, allow the Hand of God to reach out through your hands and touch the lives of others.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Forever_Lovers
12-12-2004, 11:02 AM
Night Shift
David Langerfeld
Nov 29, 2004

Night Shift
Psalm 134:1-3


Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord, which by night stand in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord. The Lord that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion. (Psalm 134)


Years ago when I was attending seminary, I worked the night shift on occasion. It paid a little more money than the day shift, but I was a bit lonely. If you've ever had to work the night shift, you will appreciate Psalm 134.

God never slumbers or sleeps. Therefore, we can serve and praise Him any time of day. The psalmist says there were priests who prayed and praised God in His temple at night. There was a constant repetition of praise and prayer from the temple.

We can bless the Lord in the night seasons. It's not easy when we are going through the nighttime experiences of life to lift our hands and bless the Lord. But He does give us songs in the night. Paul and Silas were able to lift their hearts in praise to God while in the Philippian jail (Acts 16).

They were on the night shift. They knew that God was awake, so they blessed Him, and He sent deliverance. We can get some strange blessings in the night seasons, for God speaks to us in different ways. Others may not see your praise at night, but God sees and hears.

Whether you are in the sunshine or in the darkness, whether you are serving on the day shift or the night shift, remember that you are serving the Lord. Because He never slumbers or sleeps, He hears your prayer and praise at all times, and He will bless you.

Forever_Lovers
12-12-2004, 11:04 AM
Mountains and Molehills
Patricia Erwin Nordman
Nov 30, 2004

You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north." Deuteronomy 2:3

When our oldest son died I bought a new Bible for the purpose of marking every positive and uplifting verse I could find. During my journey through this Bible I came across some surprising and insightful verses that helped me to get beyond this searing experience, verses I had never noticed before. Grief will do that! This particular verse told me to turn north. North means a rough and tough way, but it also means victory, if we persevere. God highlighted that verse for me, for it became crucial in the agonizing days ahead.

I had to define "mountain," too. The molehills that seemed so large before Chuck's death now became nothing. It is truly amazing how something that shatters our lives can also put everything in perspective. I'm thinking about the fires in California several years ago and the incredible losses. One of our sons is a doctor in southern California, and many of their staff lost homes. One of the lessons I learned from Chuck's death, and I imagine the dear people in California did, too, is the sad fact that we do not appreciate what we have until we lose it.

Before Chuck's death I took so much for granted. I took a normal life for granted. When our sons left to go anywhere I assumed they would be back. Now when they leave I stand there and wave until I can't see the car anymore. The last time I saw Chuck was when he was going back to college and I was waving goodbye to him. I find myself looking at our family differently, knowing that the unexpected can indeed happen, and thanking God constantly for these magnificent people in my life.

Will there be an empty chair this year at your Christmas celebrations? If not, then thank God with every fiber of your being, dear Friend! Have you a home, enough to eat, and a precious family who loves you? Oh, how blessed you are! And how blessed I am! God help us to quit circling our mountains and molehills and forge ahead in our lives and help us to appreciate and care for what we have.

Forever_Lovers
12-12-2004, 11:05 AM
Who Started This Christmas Stuff?
David Langerfeld
Dec 1, 2004

Who Started This Christmas Stuff?

A woman was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at row after row of toys and everything else imaginable; and after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many shelves, she finally made it to the elevator with her two kids.

She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season time of the year. Overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming, taste all the holiday food and treats, getting that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list, making sure we don't forget anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card.

Finally the elevator doors opened and there was already a crowd in the car. She pushed her way into the car and dragged her two kids in with her and all the bags of stuff. When the doors closed she couldn't take it anymore and stated, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up and shot."

From the back of the car, everyone heard a quiet calm voice respond, "Don't worry, we already crucified Him." For the rest of the trip down the elevator it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

Don't forget this year to keep the One who started this whole Christmas thing in your every thought, deed, purchase, and word. If we all did it, just think of how different this whole world would be.

Forever_Lovers
12-12-2004, 11:06 AM
My First Christmas in Heaven
David Langerfeld
Dec 2, 2004

My First Christmas In Heaven

I see countless Christmas trees
Around the world below
With tiny lights, like Heaven's stars
Reflecting in 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 precious 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 blessings
Or love he has for each of you.

So have a Merry Christmas
And wipe away the tear
Remember I'm spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

_______________________________________
Written by Ben, age 13, who on Dec 14, 1997 died after a 4 yr. battle with a brain tumor. He wrote this and gave it to his mom before he died.

Forever_Lovers
12-12-2004, 11:08 AM
The Dime
David Langerfeld
Dec 3, 2004

The Dime

Bobby was getting cold sitting out in his back yard in the snow. Bobby didn't wear boots; he didn't like them and anyway he didn't own any. The thin sneakers he wore had a few holes in them and they did a poor job of keeping out the cold. Bobby had been in his backyard for about an hour already. And, try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his mother's Christmas gift.

He shook his head as he thought, "This is useless, even if I do come up with an idea, I don't have any money to spend."

Ever since his father had passed away three years ago, the family of five had struggled. It wasn't because his mother didn't care, or try, there just never seemed to be enough. She worked nights at the hospital, but the small wage that she was earning could only be stretched so far. What the family lacked in money and material things, they more than made up for in love and family unity.

Bobby had two older and one younger sister, who ran the house hold in their mother's absence. All three of his sisters had already made beautiful gifts for their mother. Somehow it just wasn't fair. Here it was Christmas Eve already, and he had nothing.

Wiping a tear from his eye, Bobby kicked the snow and started to walk down to the street where the shops and stores were. It wasn't easy being six without a father, especially when he needed a man to talk to. Bobby walked from shop to shop, looking into each decorated window. Everything seemed so beautiful and so out of reach.

It was starting to get dark and Bobby reluctantly turned to walk home when suddenly his eyes caught the glimmer of the setting sun's rays reflecting off of something along the curb. He reached down and discovered a shiny dime. Never before has anyone felt so wealthy as Bobby felt at that moment.

As he held his new-found treasure, a warmth spread throughout his entire body and he walked into the first store he saw. His excitement quickly turned cold when the salesperson told him that he couldn't buy anything with only a dime. He saw a flower shop and went inside to wait in line.

When the shop owner asked if he could help him, Bobby presented the dime and asked if he could buy one flower for his mother's Christmas gift. The shop owner looked at Bobby and his ten-cent offering. Then he put his hand on Bobby's shoulder and said to him, "You just wait here and I'll see what I can do for you."

As Bobby waited he looked at the beautiful flowers and even though he was a boy, he could see why mothers and girls liked flowers. The sound of the door closing as the last customer left, jolted Bobby back to reality.

All alone in the shop, Bobby began to feel alone and afraid. Suddenly the shop owner came out and moved to the counter. There, before Bobby's eyes, lay twelve long stem, red roses, with leaves of green and tiny white flowers all tied together with a big silver bow.

Bobby's heart sank as the owner picked them up and placed them gently into a long white box. "That will be ten cents young man." the shop owner said reaching out his hand for the dime. Slowly, Bobby moved his hand to give the man his dime. Could this be true? No one else would give him a thing for his dime!

Sensing the boy's reluctance, the shop owner added, "I just happened to have some roses on sale for ten cents a dozen. Would you like them?" This time Bobby did not hesitate, and when the man placed the long box into his hands, he knew it was true. Walking out the door that the owner was holding for Bobby, he heard the shop keeper say, "Merry Christmas, son."

As he returned inside, the shop keeper's wife walked out. "Who were you talking to back there and where are the roses you were fixing?"

Staring out the window, and blinking the tears from his own eyes, he replied, "A strange thing happened to me this morning. While I was setting up things to open the shop, I thought I heard a voice telling me to set side a dozen of my best roses for a special gift. I wasn't sure at the time whether I had lost my mind or what, but I set them aside anyway. Then just a few minutes ago, a little boy came into the shop and wanted to buy a flower for his mother with one small dime.

"When I looked at him, I saw myself, many years ago. I too, was a poor boy with nothing to buy my mother a Christmas gift. A bearded man, whom I never knew, stopped me on the street and told me that he wanted to give me ten dollars.

"When I saw that little boy tonight, I knew who that voice was, and I put together a dozen of my very best roses." The shop owner and his wife hugged each other tightly, and as they stepped out into the bitter cold air, they somehow didn't feel cold at all.

May this story instill the spirit of CHRISTmas in you enough to pass this act along.



Have a Joyous and Christ-filled season.

Forever_Lovers
12-12-2004, 11:09 AM
I Almost Missed A Christmas Miracle
David Langerfeld
Dec 6, 2004

"I Almost Missed A Christmas Miracle"

Bethlehem, 2000 - The excitement was building. We were standing in the Shepherd's Fields just outside of Bethlehem. We were ready to go into the Shepherd's Caves and sing Christmas Carols. Some members of the tour group had done it with me on previous trips. For others, it was their first time - but everyone was excited. Bethlehem... Christmas Carols... Shepherd's Caves... Who wouldn't be excited?

We had always done it. We had always sung carols in the caves. Why? Because once you did, you were never the same. After my first time, I was never the same. So, I had planned it so that everyone else could experience it, too. My plans were about to be fulfilled. We would sing Christmas carols inside the Shepherd's Caves in the hills of Bethlehem.

There was a problem. It was crowded. The year 2000 had bought more groups than ever to Israel. The Shepherd's Caves were full! We waited... and waited... No groups were leaving the caves. Our time was growing short. We were about to miss out on the chance to sing Christmas carols in those caves.

I was disappointed. I knew what a blessing our group was about to miss. I expressed my disappointment to God. "God, we've always sung in the caves. No one is ever the same after they do! We have to do it, Lord. We've always done it that way. If we don't, our group will miss out on the blessing of Bethlehem. Can't you work it out to open one of the caves for us?"

None of the other groups left the caves. We didn't get to sing carols in the Shepherd's Caves. Disappointed, I led the group to the top of the hill - to a small chapel called "The Chapel of the Angels". We would sing there - but I knew it wouldn't been the same. It couldn't be, because we had always done it only one way.

Once inside the "Chapel of the Angels", we started singing carols. Most of the group had tears in their eyes as we sang "Silent Night". For them, Christmas already had a new meaning.

A MIRACLE - Then, it happened. A group from Germany entered the chapel. While we were singing "Silent Night" in English, they started singing it in German. Two other groups entered as well. There were now four groups singing Christmas Carols. Every time I started our group in a song, we were joined by an "International Choir" singing in German, French and Spanish!!! There was not a dry eye in the chapel. Everyone called it a "Christmas" miracle.

I almost missed out on that "Christmas Miracle" - me, the "spiritual leader" of the group. Why? Because I was so intent on doing it the way we'd always done it. If we didn't follow the same traditions of Bethlehem that we'd always followed, I just knew that we wouldn't be blessed.

What about you? Does God have a special blessing or a miracle for you this Christmas? If you're so intent on making sure that you follow the same traditions, that you do exactly the same things that you always do each Christmas, you may miss out on a special blessing or a Christmas miracle.

Two thousand years ago, the people of Bethlehem were doing things the way they'd always done them. People were working, shopping, visiting and worshipping. Due to the census, extended families from far-away places had returned home and were visiting with their friends and families - swapping gifts and memories. In the midst of their traditional way of doing things, God performed the greatest miracle of all - the birth of his Son, Jesus Christ.

With the exception of some shepherds, the introduction of God's Son went unnoticed. Don't miss out on a miracle this Christmas just because "We've never done it that way before".

Forever_Lovers
12-12-2004, 11:11 AM
A Christmas Prayer
David Langerfeld
Dec 7, 2004

A Christmas Prayer

Herman and I locked our general store and dragged ourselves home. It was 11:00 p.m., Christmas Eve of 1949. We were dog tired. We had sold almost all of our toys; and all of the layaways, except one package, had been picked up. Usually we kept the store open until everything had been claimed. We wouldn't have been happy on Christmas knowing that some child's gift was still on the layaway shelf. But the person who had put a dollar down on the package never returned.

Early Christmas morning we and our twelve-year-old son, Tom, opened gifts. But I'll tell you, there was something humdrum about this Christmas. Tom was growing up; I missed his childish exuberance of past years. As soon as breakfast was over Tom left to visit his friend next door. Herman mumbled, "I'm going back to sleep. There's nothing left to stay up for." So there I was alone, feeling let down.

And then it began. A strange, persistent urge. It seemed to be telling me to go to the store. I looked at the sleet and icy sidewalk outside. That's crazy, I said to myself. I tried dismissing the urge, but it wouldn't leave me alone. In fact, it was getting stronger. Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer, and I got dressed. Outside, the wind cut right through me and the sleet stung my cheeks. I groped my way to the store, slipping and sliding.

In front stood two boys, one about nine, and the other six. What in the world? "See, I told you she would come!" the older boy said jubilantly. The younger one's face was wet with tears, but when he saw me, his sobbing stopped. "What are you two doing out here?" I scolded, hurrying them into the store. "You should be at home on a day like this!" They were poorly dressed. They had no hats or gloves, and their shoes barely held together. I rubbed their icy hands, and got them up close to the heater.

"We've been waiting for you," replied the older boy. "My little brother Jimmy didn't get any Christmas." He touched Jimmy's shoulder. "We want to buy some skates. That's what he wants. We have these three dollars," he said, pulling the bills from his pocket. I looked at the money. I looked at their expectant faces. And then I looked around the store. "I'm sorry," I said, "but we have no --" Then my eye caught sight of the lay-away shelf with its lone package.

"Wait a minute," I told the boys. I walked over, picked up the package, unwrapped it and, miracle of miracles, there was a pair of skates! Jimmy reached for them. Lord, let them be his size. And miracle added upon miracle, they were his size. The older boy presented the dollars to me. "No," I told him, "I want you to have these skates, and I want you to use your money to get some gloves." The boys just blinked at first. Then their eyes became like saucers, and their grins stretched wide when they understood I was giving them the skates. What I saw in Jimmy's eyes was a blessing. It was pure joy, and it was beautiful. My spirits rose.

We walked out together, and as I locked the door, I turned to the older brother and said, "How did you know I would come?" I wasn't prepared for his reply. His gaze was steady, and he answered me softly.

"I asked Jesus to send you."

The tingles in my spine weren't from the cold. God had planned this. As we waved good-bye, I turned home for a brighter Christmas.

Forever_Lovers
12-12-2004, 11:11 AM
Mary's Dream
David Langerfeld
Dec 8, 2004

Mary's Dream

I had a dream, Joseph. I don't understand it. Not really, but I think it was about a birthday celebration for our Son. I think that was what it was all about. The people had been preparing for it for about six weeks. They had decorated the house and bought new clothes. They'd gone shopping many times and bought elaborate gifts. It was peculiar, though, because the presents weren't for our Son. They wrapped them in beautiful paper and tied them with lovely bows and stacked them under a tree.

Yes, a tree, Joseph, right in their house. They'd decorated the tree also. The branches were full of glowing balls and sparkling ornaments. There was a figure on top of the tree. It looked like an angel might look.

Oh, it was beautiful. Everyone was laughing and happy. They were all excited about the gifts. They gave the gifts to each other, Joseph, not to our Son.

I don't think they even knew Him. They never mentioned His name. Doesn't it seem odd for people to go to all that trouble to celebrate someone's birthday if they don't know Him? I had the strangest feeling that if our Son had gone to this celebration, He would have been intruding. Everything was so beautiful, Joseph, and everyone so full of cheer, but it made me want to cry. How sad for Jesus not to be wanted at His own birthday celebration.

I'm glad it was only a dream. How terrible, Joseph, if it had been real.

Forever_Lovers
12-12-2004, 11:12 AM
Why Bethlehem?
David Langerfeld
Dec 9, 2004

Why Bethlehem Of All Places?

I've been to Bethlehem. It's fairly indistinguishable from many other Judean towns, except for the Church of the Nativity built over the traditional site of Jesus' birth. Bethlehem is located on a ridge about 2500 feet above sea level, and five or six miles southwest of Jerusalem. Why, with all the grand locations in the world to choose from, did God choose for His Son to be born in Bethlehem? I can think of three good reasons.

1) TO FULFILL PROPHECY
Seven hundred years earlier the prophet Micah quoted God: "As for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah...from you One will go forth from Me to be ruler in Israel, His goings forth are from long ago, from days of eternity."

Now, some Messianic prophecies are cryptic - they are identified and understood only after the event has occurred. Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 must have perplexed readers for hundreds of years as to their meaning. Only after the Savior went to the cross did the followers of Jesus realize how the first seems to be the thoughts of the Lord on the cross, and the second an eyewitness description of that event. God placed such prophecies in the Bible so that when they happened, His people would be comforted to know He had planned it from the beginning. However, Micah 5:2 stands out there in the open. God wanted everyone to know the Savior would be arriving in Bethlehem. And everyone did know, at least those familiar with the Scriptures. When the magi arrived in Jerusalem asking at every street corner where the newborn King could be found, word filtered up to King Herod in the palace and he called in his advisors. "In Bethlehem," they all agreed, quoting Micah 5:2.



God keeps His word; Jesus was born in Bethlehem.


2) TO IDENTIFY WITH DAVID
The Messiah would be a Son of David and sit on the throne of David. Old Testament prophecies emphasized both points again and again. Since both Mary and Joseph were of the lineage of David, Jesus was doubly covered. When the census of Luke 2:1 called everyone to his ancestral home, they made the journey of a hundred miles south to Bethlehem.

Bethlehem was where Ruth lived and where she gleaned the fields behind Boaz' harvesters. Boaz spotted the lovely young widow and the rest, as they say, is history. Their son Obed became the father of Jesse, who raised a large family of sons and daughters, the youngest son being David. Thereafter, Bethlehem would forever be known as the city of David. Even the angels called it that. "Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior," they said to the shepherds. Doubtless many of the psalms of David which God's people have loved and sung for thirty centuries were inspired by time spent in the same fields and meadows where the shepherds met the angels that wondrous night.

One day as the Lord and His entourage were approaching Jericho, a blind beggar sitting beside the gate began to call out to Him. "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Again and again, he repeated that refrain. When our Lord came within earshot, He had the man brought to Him and restored his sight.



The son of God is the Son of David! Jesus was born in Bethlehem.


3) TO MAKE A CONNECTION
Bethlehem in the Hebrew means "House of Bread." What more fitting place for One to be born who would be known as the Bread of Life.

One day, the Lord Jesus fed thousands of people with the lunch of a child. Soon afterward, He taught the people the meaning of the miracle. "There is a bread that endures to eternal life," He said. He Himself was the living and true Bread from Heaven, "which a man may eat and live forever." (John 6)

Isaiah asked the people of God in his day: "Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread? (Isa. 55:2) That is to say, why are you working and worrying and spending your life for things that do not nourish you, do not strengthen you, and do not satisfy you? A good question for our day, also.

Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecies given hundreds of years earlier. Jesus Christ is the Son of David, born in the City of David. Jesus is the Bread of Life, born in the House of Bread.



How much plainer can God make it? Jesus is Lord!

Forever_Lovers
12-12-2004, 11:13 AM
The Doll and The White Rose
David Langerfeld
Dec 10, 2004

The Doll and the White Rose

I hurried into the local department store to grab some last minute Christmas gifts. I looked at all the people and grumbled to myself. I would be in here forever and I just had so much to do. Christmas was beginning to become such a drag. I kind a wished that I could just sleep through Christmas. But I hurried the best I could through all the people to the toy department. Once again I kind of mumbled to myself at the prices of all these toys. And wondered if the grandchildren would even play with them.

I found myself in the doll aisle. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a little boy, about 5, holding a lovely doll. He kept touching her hair and he held her so gently. I could not seem to help myself. I just kept looking over at the little boy and wondered whom the doll was for. I watched him turn to a woman, and he called his aunt by name and said, "Are you sure I don't have enough money?" She replied a bit impatiently, "You know that you don't have enough money for it." The aunt told the little boy not to go anywhere, that she had to go get some other things and would be back in a few minutes. And then she left the aisle.

The boy continued to hold the doll. After a bit I asked the boy whom the doll was for. He said, "It is the doll my sister wanted so badly for Christmas. She just knew that Santa would bring it to her." I told him that maybe Santa was going to bring it. He said, "No, Santa can't go where my sister is . . . I have to give the doll to my Mamma to take to her." I asked him where his sister was. He looked at me with the saddest eyes and said, "She has gone to be with Jesus." "My Daddy says that Mama is going to have to go be with her."

My heart nearly stopped beating. Then the boy looked at me again and said, "I told my Daddy to tell Mama not to go yet. I told him to tell her to wait till I got back from the store". Then he asked me if I wanted to see his picture. I told him I would love to. He pulled out some pictures he had taken at the front of the store. He said "I want my Mamma to take this with her so she don't ever forget me." "I love my Mama so very much and I wish she did not have to leave me." "But Daddy says she will need to be with my sister."

I saw that the little boy had lowered his head and had grown so very quiet. While he was not looking, I reached into my purse and pulled out a handful of bills. I asked the little boy, "Shall we count that money one more time? " He grew excited and said, "Yes, I just know it has to be enough." So I slipped my money in with his, and we began to count it. Of course it was plenty for the doll. He softly said, "Thank you, Jesus, for giving me enough money." Then the boy said "I just asked Jesus to give me enough money to buy this doll, so Mama can take it with her, to give to my sister." "And He heard my prayer." "I wanted to ask Him for enough to buy my Mama a white rose, but I didn't ask Him, but He gave me enough to buy the doll and a rose for my Mama." "She loves white roses so very, very much."

In a few minutes the aunt came back, and I wheeled my cart away. I could not keep from thinking about the little boy as I finished my shopping in a totally different spirit than when I had started.

Forever_Lovers
12-12-2004, 11:14 AM
A Christmas Angel
Charlotte Richard
Dec 11, 2004

A Christmas Angel
By Charlotte Richard


It was the usual Christmas rush of people coming and going, with large parcels tucked under their arms. I stood at the living room window and watched them scurry home to their loved ones, as the snow fell softly to the ground.

I turned to my husband who was in the kitchen unpacking the grocery bags. "This is going to be the best Christmas ever," I said, smiling down at our infant son. "It's going to be his very first Christmas!"

Jerry smiled at me, "I can't wait either."

Matthew cooed happily, playing on the living room rug with his teething toys. "Just wait until tomorrow," Jerry poked his head out from around the fridge. "Your auntie Carol is flying out for an entire week. I just know she's going to spoil you rotten."

Matthew perked up at the sound of her name, flailing his toys excitedly on the carpet. I watched our healthy, happy son, surrounded by so much. He was such a fortunate child. I went to the window once again and stared blankly at the snow banks. Christmas was in two more days, yet something didn't feel right.

I suddenly felt an ache in my chest, one I couldn't explain. It was a premonition. I turned and looked over at Jerry, who was now standing in the middle of the kitchen with the same odd expression on his face. He joined me at the living room window, his face pale and worried. The we both turned to one another and muttered at the same time, "We need to pack a Christmas hamper for Kathy and Robert."

Jerry looked into my eyes in surprise. We both started to laugh and praise God. It must be a sign! Our closest and dearest friends must be in dire need. Then I hesitated in wonder.

"Jerry," I said aloud. "Why would they need our help? After all, Robert has a good paying job and is employed full time. This feeling we have must be a mistake."

"Don't you think it's a coincidence that we both felt this at the same time?" Jerry questioned. "Maybe its God's will. I still think we should pack a hamper just in case. And if we're wrong, at least it was a good gesture."

I couldn't help but think of Robert's wife and three young kids. What if they were in need of help and we didn't do anything? I nodded in agreement. "You're right. We'll do it."

Jerry went right to work packing boxes of groceries from our kitchen cupboards, while I quickly rushed out and bought a turkey and all the fixings for their dinner. After buying gifts for the kids and purchasing a one-hundred dollar gift certificate, I hurried home to wrap the hamper in ribbons and bows.

Jerry and I were excited. We couldn't wait to deliver the packages. We bundled Matthew in a snowsuit and headed out the door. The air was crisp and cold as we stepped out into the night. We drove three blocks and turned the corner leading to their driveway. All the lights were on in the house. I unfastened Matthew from the car seat, while Jerry lugged boxes to their front door.

As I passed the dining room window, I couldn't help but notice Kathy and Robert leaning over the table with their heads down in prayer. I hesitated momentarily, before knocking. I could hear the patter of little feet running across the room. Kathy opened the door breathless, with her 7-year old daughter hanging on her skirt. Kathy took one look at us and things we had brought with us and started to cry. She motioned for her husband to come to the door. Robert's mouth dropped open, as tears came to his eyes.

"You're our guardian angels," he whispered. "We were just praying for some miracle to help us this Christmas, and here you are."

All the children gathered around and welcomed us into their home. Tessa the oldest girl grabbed my hand tightly. "Thank you," she smiled. "You see, my dad lost his job two weeks ago and we didn't think we were going to have a Christmas, until now. I guess God really does answer our prayers."

I hugged her tight, my heart overjoyed. I realized at that moment that God does still speak to us in today's day and age. We just need to listen.

Charlotte Richard
jerichar69@hotmail.com

Charlotte Richard lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, with her husband Jerry and two sons. She enjoys writing inspirational stories and children's books. Her recent published works appeared in: The Writer's Hood, Creative Poetry, Soon Magazine, Take The. Net, Dream Passage and Sweet Sixteen.

Charlotte is presently working on a series of picture books for publication through Bab Books in 2005, and is completing a teen novel.

Forever_Lovers
12-13-2004, 04:40 PM
Dec 13, 2004

Christmas Love
By Candy Chand


Each December, I vowed to make Christmas a calm and peaceful experience.

I had cut back on nonessential obligations - extensive card writing, endless baking, decorating, and even overspending. Yet still, I found myself exhausted, unable to appreciate the precious family moments, and of course, the true meaning of Christmas.

My son, Nicholas, was in kindergarten that year. It was an exciting season for a six year old. For weeks, he'd been memorizing songs for his school's "Winter Pageant." I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd be working the night of the production.

Unwilling to miss his shining moment, I spoke with his teacher. She assured me there would be a dress rehearsal the morning of the presentation. All parents unable to attend that evening were welcome to come then. Fortunately, Nicholas seemed happy with the compromise.

So, the morning of the dress rehearsal, I filed in 10 minutes early, found a spot on the cafeteria floor and sat down. Around the room, I saw several other parents quietly scampering to their seats. As I waited, the students were led into the room. Each class, accompanied by their teacher, sat cross-legged on the floor. Then, each group, one by one, rose to perform their song. Because the public school system had long stopped referring to the holiday as "Christmas", I didn't expect anything other than fun, commercial entertainment - songs of reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes and good cheer. So, when my son's class rose to sing, "Christmas Love", I was slightly taken aback by its bold title.

Nicholas was aglow, as were all of his classmates, adorned in fuzzy mittens, red sweaters, and bright snowcaps upon their heads.

Those in the front row - center stage - held up large letters, one by one, to spell out the title of the song.

As the class would sing "C is for Christmas", a child would hold up the letter C. Then, "H is for Happy", and on and on, until each child holding up his portion had presented the complete message, "Christmas Love".

The performance was going smoothly, until suddenly, we noticed her - a small, quiet, girl in the front row holding the letter "M" upside down - totally unaware her letter "M" appeared as a "W".

The audience of 1st through 6th graders snickered at this little one's mistake. But she had no idea they were laughing at her, so she stood tall, proudly holding her "W".

Although many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued until the last letter was raised, and we all saw it together. A hush came over the audience and eyes began to widen. In that instant, we understood - the reason we were there, why we celebrated the holiday in the first place, why even in the chaos, there was a purpose for our festivities.

For when the last letter was held high, the message read loud and clear: CHRIST WAS LOVE.

And, I believe, He still is

Forever_Lovers
12-20-2004, 10:01 PM
The Meanings of Christmas

CHRISTMAS IS HERE, and we remember that the Babe of Bethlehem...
...humbled himself that all of us might be exalted,
...emptied himself that we might be filled, and
...embraced poverty that we might experience heaven's riches.

CHRISTMAS HAS COME AGAIN, and we are reminded that Emmanuel...
...entered our darkness in order to bring us into his true light,
...was born to our flesh in order to endow us with his Spirit, and
...endured human rejection in order to bequeath divine acceptance.

CHRISTMAS IS UPON US NOW, and we are called in our time and place...
...to sing praise with the angels as a means of pointing others to Jesus,
...to bow low with shepherds as prelude to exaltation with his saints, and
...to bring gifts with the Magi as gratitude for what the Child brought us.

CHRISTMAS IS HERE, and we are distracted by the terror of 9/11...
...mourning the assault but cheering heroic servants and comforters,
...distraught about war but determined both to punish and deter evil, and
...honoring the dead but committed to the resumption of life without fear.

CHRISTMAS HAS COME AGAIN, and there is renewed meaning this year...
...seeing the possibilities for friendship in every stranger's face,
...offering forgiveness to those from whom we have been estranged, and
...affirming the power of love to conquer treachery, hatred, and terror.

CHRISTMAS IS UPON US NOW, and we are called in our time and place...
...to affirm patriotism without sinking to fanatical nationalism,
...to experience unity without confusing it with mindless conformity and
...to look to the future without forgetting all that is now our past.

CHRISTMAS IS HERE, and we celebrate the truth that God-in-the-flesh...
...has descended to our estate that we might ascend to his,
...learned obedience that he might teach us of redemption, and
...died that we might live.

Forever_Lovers
12-20-2004, 10:01 PM
Is Anyone Missing Baby Jesus?
Dec 17, 2004

About a week before Christmas, the family bought a new nativity set. When they unpacked it, they found two figures of the Baby Jesus.

"Someone must have packed this wrong," the mother said, counting out the figures.

"We have one Joseph, one Mary, three wise men, three shepherds, two lambs, a donkey, a cow, an angel and two babies. Oh, dear! I suppose some set down at the store is missing a Baby Jesus because we have two."

"You two run back down to the store and tell the manager that we have an extra Jesus. Tell him to put a sign on the remaining boxes, saying that if a set is missing a Baby Jesus, call 7126."

"Put on your warm coats. It is freezing out there."

The manager of the store copied down mother's message and the next time they were in the store they saw the cardboard sign that read, "If you are missing Baby Jesus, call 7126."

All week long they waited for someone to call. Surely, they thought someone was missing that important figurine. Each time the phone rang, mother would say, "I'll bet that's about Jesus.", but it never was.

Father tried to explain there are thousands of these scattered over the country, and the figurine could be missing from a set in Florida or Texas or California. Those packing mistakes happen all the time. He suggested to just put the extra Jesus back in the box and forget about it.

"Put Baby Jesus back in the box! What a terrible thing to do!" said the children.

"Surely someone will call," mother said. "We'll just keep the two of them together in the manger until someone calls."

When no call had come by 5:00 PM on Christmas Eve, mother insisted that father just run down to the store to see if there were any sets left.

"You can see them right through the window, over on the counter," she said. "If they are all gone, I'll know someone is bound to call tonight."

"Run down to the store?" father thundered. "It's 15 below zero out there!"

"Oh, Daddy, we'll go with you," Tommy and Mary began to put on their coats. Father gave a long sigh and headed for the front closet.

"I can't believe I'm doing this," he muttered.

Tommy and Mary ran ahead as father reluctantly walked out in the cold. Mary got to the store first and pressed her nose up to the store window.

"They're all gone, Daddy," she shouted. "Every set must be sold."

"Hooray" Tommy said. "The mystery will now be solved tonight!"

Father heard the news still a half block away and immediately turned on his heel and headed back home.

When they got back into the house, they noticed that mother was gone and so was the extra Baby Jesus figurine.

"Someone must have called and she went out to deliver the figurine," my father reasoned, pulling off his boots.

"You kids get ready for bed while I wrap mother's present."

Then the phone rang. Father yelled "answer the phone and tell 'em we found a home for Jesus." But it was mother calling with instructions for us to come to 205 Chestnut Street immediately, and bring three blankets, a box of cookies and some milk..

"Now what has she gotten us into?" my father groaned as we bundled up again. "205 Chestnut. Why that's across town. Wrap that milk up good in the blankets or it will turn to ice before we get there. Why can't we all just get on with Christmas? It's probably 20 below out there now. And the wind is picking up. Of all the crazy things to do on a night like this!"

When they got to the house at 205 Chestnut Street, it was the darkest one on the block. Only one tiny light burned in the living room and, the moment we set foot on the porch steps, my mother opened the door and shouted, "They're here, Oh thank God, you got here, Ray! You kids take those blankets into the living room and wrap up the little ones on the couch. I'll take the milk and cookies."

"Would you mind telling me what is going on, Ethel?" my father asked.

"We have just walked through below zero weather with the wind in our faces all the way."

"Never mind all that now," my mother interrupted. "There is no heat in this house and this young mother is so upset she doesn't know what to do. Her husband walked out on her and those poor little children will have a very bleak Christmas, so don't you complain. I told her you could fix that oil furnace in a jiffy."

My mother strode off to the kitchen to warm the milk while my brother and I wrapped up the five little children who were huddled together on the couch. The children's mother explained to my father that her husband had run off, taking bedding, clothing, and almost every piece of furniture, but she had been doing all right until the furnace broke down.

"I been din washin' and ironin' for people and cleanin' the five and dime," she said. "I saw your number every day there, on those boxes on the counter. When the furnace went out, that number kept going' through my mind... 7162... 7162."

"Said on the box that if a person was missin' Jesus, they should call you. That's how I knew you were good Christian people, willin' to help folks. I figured that maybe you would help me, too. So I stopped at the grocery store tonight and I called your missus. I'm not missin' Jesus, mister, because I sure love the Lord. But I am missin' heat. I have no money to fix that furnace."

"Okay, Okay" said father. "You've come to the right place. Now lets see. You've got a little oil burner over there in the dining room. Shouldn't be too hard to fix. Probably just a clogged flue. I'll look it over, see what it needs."

Mother came into the living room carrying a plate of cookies and warm milk. As she set the cups down on the coffee table, I noticed the figure of Baby Jesus lying in the center of the table. It was the only sign of Christmas in the house. The children stared with wide eyed with wonder at the plate of cookies my mother sat before them.

Father finally got the oil burner working but said "you need more oil."

"I'll make a few calls tonight and get some oil."

"Yes sir, you came to the right place," said the woman...

On the way home, father did not complain about the cold weather and had barely set foot inside the door when he was on the phone.

"Ed, hey, how are ya, Ed? Yes, Merry Christmas to you, too. Say, Ed, we have kind of an unusual situation here. I know you've got that pick-up truck. Do you still have some oil in that barrel on your truck?"

"You do?"

By this time the rest of the family were pulling clothes out of their closets and toys off of their shelves. It was long after their bedtime when they were wrapping gifts. The pickup came. On it were chairs, three lamps, blankets and gifts. Even though it was 30 below, Father let them ride along in the back of the truck.

No one ever did call about the missing figure in the nativity set, but as I grow older I realize that it wasn't a packing mistake at all. Jesus saves, that's what He does.

Forever_Lovers
12-20-2004, 10:02 PM
Will The Christ-Child Come?
Gaye Willis
Dec 20, 2004

Will The Christ Child Come?
By Gaye Willis


Halfway through December we were doing the regular evening things when there was a knock at the door. We opened it to find a small package with a beautiful ceramic lamb inside. We looked at the calendar and realized that the 12 days of Christmas were beginning!! We waiting excitedly for the next night's surprise and only then, with the gift of a matching shepherd, did we realized that the lamb was part of a nativity set.

Each night we grew more excited to see what piece we would receive. Each was exquisitely beautiful. The kids kept trying to catch the givers as we slowing built the scene at the manager and began to focus on Christ's birth.

On Christmas Eve, all the pieces were in place, but the baby Jesus. My 12 year-old son really wanted to catch our benefactors and began to devise all kinds of ways to trap them. He ate his dinner in the mini-van watching and waiting, but no one came.

Finally we called him in to go through our family's Christmas Eve traditions. But before the kids went to bed we checked the front step-No Baby Jesus! We began to worry that my son had scared them off. My husband suggested that maybe they dropped the Jesus and there wouldn't be anything coming. Somehow something was missing that Christmas Eve.

There was a feeling that things weren't complete. The kids went to bed and I put out Christmas, but before I went to bed I again checked to see if the Jesus had come-no, the doorstep was empty. In our family the kids can open their stockings when they want to, but they have to wait to open any presents until Dad wakes up. So one by one they woke up very early and I also woke up to watch them.

Even before they opened their stockings, each child checked to see if perhaps during the night the baby Jesus had come. Missing that piece of the set seemed to have an odd effect. At least it changed my focus. I knew there were presents under the tree for me and I was excited to watch the children open their gifts, but first on my mind was the feeling of waiting for the ceramic Christ Child.

We had opened just about all of the presents when one of the children found one more for me buried deep beneath the limbs of the tree. He handed me a small package from my former visiting teaching companion. This sister was somewhat less active in the church. I had learned over time they didn't have much for Christmas, so that their focus was the children. It sounded like she didn't get many gifts to open, so I had always given her a small package - new dish towels, the next year's lesson manual - not much, but something for her to open. I was touched when at Church on the day before Christmas, she had given me this small package, saying it was just a token of her love and appreciation.

As I took off the bow, I remembered my friendship with her and was filled with gratitude for knowing her and for her kindness and sacrifice in this year giving me a gift. But as the paper fell away, I began to tremble and cry. There in the small brown box was the baby Jesus. He had come!

I realized on that Christmas Day that Christ will come into our lives in ways that we don't expect. The spirit of Christ comes into our hearts as we serve one another. We had waited and watched for him to come, expecting the dramatic "knock at the door and scurrying of feet" but he came in a small, simple package that represented service, friendship, gratitude, and love.

This experience taught me that the beginning of the true spirit of Christmas comes as we open our hearts and actively focus on the Savior. But we will most likely find him in the small and simple acts of love, friendship and service that we give to each other. This Christmas I want to feel again the joy of knowing that Christ is in our home. I want to focus on loving and serving. More than that, I want to open my heart to him all year that I may see him again.

Don't forget the reason for the Season

Forever_Lovers
12-21-2004, 09:35 AM
Nobody Remembered
David Langerfeld
Dec 21, 2004

Nobody Remembered

"There was once a small city with only a few people in it. And a powerful king came against it, surrounded it and built huge siegeworks against it. Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man." Ecclesiastes 9:14-15

Disaster was averted and lives were spared.
..."But nobody remembered that poor man."

Wise words of counsel were given and heeded and so, lives were blessed innumerably.
..."But nobody remembered that poor man."

Could sadder words be spoken? I think not.
..."But nobody remembered that poor man."

This time of year, we naturally think of giving more so than we do in any other season. But the best thing you can give this season - or any season - isn't for sale. It comes freely, but it only comes deliberately. And because you can't touch it, it can never wear out. It's called "appreciation."

This season, as you give, give your heart. As you share presents of possessions, also shall presents of your heart to encourage the spirit of others - tell them of your appreciation for them.

Remember that poor man - and all the people like him. All the people God has sent your way and steered you away from destruction, time and again, all your life. Bless them today by remembering them. Those you know well and those whose names you know not. Give those you know what they need - your appreciation. Give those who have blessed you and you never knew it, what they need - your kindness, and so, your appreciation. Your appreciation of the lives of others may very well be the very best gift you can ever give. So give it often. For it costs you little and those who receive it will be wealthy indeed.

Father, thank you for blessing our lives with others. We need them so. And you have provided. Blessed be your name and your people. Bless all who share your word and enable them to live it. Smile on all who hear your word that they might accept it and do it. Give us all another year here we pray to share with others. And at the same time we pray, "Come, Lord Jesus!" Work what You will through us Father, that others might see You and hear You -- and appreciate You. Because of Jesus. Amen.

Forever_Lovers
12-22-2004, 09:04 AM
A Christmas To Remember
Dec 22, 2004

First Impressions - A Christmas To Remember

This is a first-person account from a mother about her family as they ate dinner on Christmas Day in a small restaurant many miles from their home. Nancy, the mother, relates:

We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly eating and talking. Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, "Hi there." He pounded his fat baby hands on the high-chair tray. His eyes were wide with excitement and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin. He wriggled and giggled with merriment.

I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man with a tattered rag of a coat; dirty, greasy and worn. His pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and nose was so varicose it looked like a road map.

We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled. His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists. "Hi there, baby; hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster," the man said to Erik.

My husband and I exchanged looks, "What do we do?" Erik continued to laugh and answer, ""Hi, hi there." Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man. The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby.

Our meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, "Do ya know patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek-a-boo."

Nobody thought he old man was cute. He was obviously drunk. My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence; all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring skid-row bum, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments.

We finally go through the meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between me and the door. "Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik," I prayed. As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to side-step him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby's pick-me-up, position. Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man's.

Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love relationship. Erik in an act of total trust, love and submission laid his tiny head upon the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain and hard labor - gently, so gently cradled my baby's bottom and stroked his back.

No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time. I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms for a moment, and then his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, "You take care of this baby." Somehow I managed, "I will," from a throat that contained a stone. He pried Erik from his chest unwillingly, longingly, as though he were in pain. I received my baby, and the man said, "God bless you ma'am, you've given me my Christmas gift."

I said nothing more than a muttered thanks. With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying, "My God, my God, forgive me." I had just witnessed Christ's love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes.

I was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not, I felt it was God asking --"Are you willing to share your son for a moment?", when He shared His for all eternity.

The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me, "To enter the Kingdom of God, we must become as little children."

Forever_Lovers
12-23-2004, 10:42 AM
Christmas Classic: The Big Wheel Truck Stop
David Langerfeld
Dec 23, 2004

The Big Wheel Truck Stop

In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket. Their father was gone. The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two. Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds. He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries. Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either.

If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it. I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress. I loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job. The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck. The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince whomever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job. Still no luck.

The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel. An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning.

She paid 65 cents an hour and I could start that night. I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal. That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job.

And so I started at the Big Wheel. When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money - fully half of what I averaged every night. As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage. The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.

One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up residence in Indiana? I wondered. I made a deal with the owner of the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.

I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn't enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning.

Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair. On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. These were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.

When it was time for me to go home at seven o'clock on Christmas morning I hurried to the car. I was hoping the kids wouldn't wake up before I managed to get home and get the presents from the basement and place them under the tree. (We had cut down a small cedar tree by the side of the road down by the dump.) It was still dark and I couldn't see much, but there appeared to be some dark shadows in the car - or was that just a trick of the night? Something certainly looked different, but it was hard to tell what.

When I reached the car I peered warily into one of the side windows. Then my jaw dropped in amazement. My old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver's side door, scrambled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat. Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box: it was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes: There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was a whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.

As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning. Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop.

Forever_Lovers
12-24-2004, 10:02 AM
Christmas Classic: The Geese
David Langerfeld
Dec 24, 2004

The Geese

There was once a man who didn't believe in the incarnation of Christ 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 observance of Christmas. "It's all nonsense - why would God lower himself and become a human like us?! It's such a ridiculous story!" he said.

One snowy day, she and the children left for church while he stayed home. After they had left, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into 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 had been caught in the snow storm.

The storm had become too blinding and violent for the geese to fly or see their way. They were stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter, unable to do more than flutter their wings and fly in aimless circles.

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 opened the barn doors for them. He waited, watching them, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside. But they 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 to the barn. They still didn't catch on.

Starting to get frustrated, he went over and tried to shoo them toward the barn. They panicked 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.

Feeling totally 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 wouldn't follow a human. He said to himself, "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! I could walk and talk like them and they would understand me. Then I could save them! They would follow me and I would lead them to safety."

At that moment, he stopped and considered what he had said. The words reverberated in his mind: "If only I could become like one of them - then I could save them." And then, at last, he understood God's heart towards mankind, and he fell on his knees in the snow and worshipped Him.

Forever_Lovers
01-03-2005, 03:31 PM
Keys To Victory in 2005
David Langerfeld
Jan 3, 2005

Keys to Victory in 2005
Philippians 3:13-14


THE KEY
The key to victory in 2005 is Philippians 3:13-14 and it has two parts.

Key #1 - Forgetting the Past
Key #2 - Forging Ahead


The Great Race
Paul was using the illustration of a race to describe his life. He was in the home stretch, but he was still running the race; the race wasn't over. The first thing we need to notice is that Paul was not satisfied with his performance. No runner worth his salt is ever satisfied with his performance. He always wants to go a little faster, a little longer or a little harder. Each runner wants to continually improve himself. and Paul was the same. He said, "I have not apprehended it yet." - NOT YET!

Right behind this conjunction is one of Paul's secrets to living: THIS ONE THING I DO! It's the only time this phrase is used in the New Testament. Single-minded concentration on the things of God is essential to running the race of Christianity. You cannot be dwelling on other things as an athlete and give your best performance. Therefore, Paul says "this one thing I do."

What is "This One Thing I Do"?
"Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Forgetting the Past and Forging Ahead - That's the key for victory in the Christian life. That's the key for victory in 2005. Let's break it down...


Key #1 - Forgetting the past: LOCKING THE DOOR ON YESTERDAY

What do we need to forget?
Paul had learned that we have to lock the door on yesterday and throw away the key. Paul discovered that looking back almost always ends up in going back. Let me repeat that... Looking back almost always ends up in going back. In the Old Testament we find the wandering Israelites ready to return to their old ways rather than pressing on. In the New Testament Jesus clearly taught us in Luke 9:62 that "no man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for God's Kingdom."



4 Things to Forget:
Four Doors we need to lock and throw away the key.


1. YESTERDAY'S MISTAKES In his book ENCOURAGE ME, Chuck Swindoll has a chapter entitled, "The Fine Art of Blowing It" - It begins like this, "It happens to every one of us. Teachers as well as students. cops as well as criminals. Bosses as well as secretaries. Parents as well as kids. The diligent as well as the lazy. Not even presidents are immune. Or corporation heads who earn six-figure salaries. The same is true of well-meaning architects and hard-working builders and clear-thinking engineers... not to mention pro ball players, politicians, and preachers.

What? making mistakes, that's what. Doing the wrong thing, usually with the best of motives. And it happens with remarkable regularity."

Dale Carnegie has a folder entitled "FTD" It stands for "Fool Things I Have Done." Whenever he did something foolish or stupid, he would dictate a record of it to his secretary. He confesses, however, that he was so embarrassed by his stupidity that he was ashamed to have her know it. So he would write it out in longhand and slip it into the file himself.

Everyone makes mistakes. Everybody does stupid, foolish things. God's Word says: "forget it" - leave them behind you. There are 3 things we should do about yesterday's mistakes: 1. Learn from them 2. Determine with God's help not to do them again 3. Forget them. Satan will want to remind you and make you feel guilty for your past mistakes – but God says: "Forget Them. I HAVE"!



2. YESTERDAY'S HURTS
Life is a battlefield. You're a soldier in God's Army. On any battleground, injuries will occur and soldiers are going to get hurt. Sooner or later, someone is going to ... hurt you. ... lie about you ... verbally or physically harm you ... misrepresent you ... chop you up in little pieces ... slander you

It's going to happen--what do you do? You have two choices: 1. Allow the resentment and hate to build until it turns into revenge
-- or -- 2. Forgive and Forget
A. Forgive as Christ forgave you - just as He forgave the Roman soldiers who didn't know what they were doing.
B. Forget those things that are behind you Phil. 3:13

You might say, but David - You Don't Understand, No One Understands You might be tempted to say, but David, you don't understand what's happened to me. ... You don't know how bad I've been hurt. ... I was innocent. ... I didn't do anything wrong, but they hurt me. ... They lied about me. ... They hurt my feelings and they didn't care. ... They criticize me when I didn't do anything wrong. ... They talked about me behind my back. ... They cheated me, they rejected me, they hurt me really bad.

God understands. Jesus was innocent, but they beat him, they tortured him, they mocked him, they crucified him. He didn't deserve it, but they did it anyway. On the cross, He forgave them. On the cross, He provided salvation for even those who beat him, who mocked him, who crucified him. In order to press on in the Christian life, we have to lock the door on yesterday's hurts.


3. YESTERDAY'S POSSIBILITIES How often do I see people unable to operate in today because they are still living a "what if" life. They keep talking about "what could have been"--"if I had only..."

Quite often they blame someone else ... if my wife hadn't ... if my parents hadn't ... if my business partner had ... if the war hadn't
Even God - "if God would have… or if God wouldn't have…"

We can't live on yesterday's promises or yesterday's dreams. Too many people are dissatisfied with life because they've had an expectation that just hasn't worked out. Paul is saying--forget your past hurts, forget your past mistakes and forget living with what might have been and finally...



4. YESTERDAY'S SINS
Billy Graham once said that 80% of all the patients in mental hospitals could go home if they would accept the fact that they are not guilty or that they have been forgiven.

Many people are carrying a burden of guilt:
A past mistake
A moral failure
A painful cut to a friend
A physical hurt to someone
A stupid, hateful remark
A poor decision
A sin so horrible that they believe either God will not forgive them or they will not forgive themselves

***There is no sin, no matter how great or small, once it has been confessed and forgiven, that the memory of it should torment us no more. Let me repeat that: When sin, no matter how great or how grievous, has been confessed and forgiven, the memory of it should torment us no more!

Notice, Paul didn't say, "I've forgotten those things which are behind. Paul said, forgetting those things. Paul had learned the secret. There are some things in our memory that we will never forget.

We have to keep practicing forgetting... Guilt will eat us alive. Every time the memory comes back, every time a song or a word or a smell or a picture or a person reminds us, we continue to practice forgetting.

How long do we practice forgetting?
until the memory doesn't hurt any more.
until we allow God to forgive us
until we allow God to forgive through us
until the pain is no longer there
until we can use our past to help us grow in the present
until we can use our past to help others in the present

God says in Jeremiah 31:34 "I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more."

Psalm 103:12 "I will remove their sin as far as the east is from the west."

I John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

It's time to: Lock the Door on the Past!
Throw Away the Key!
Forget Where You Have Thrown It!


Part #1 - Forgetting those things which are behind, we must... Part #2 - Forge Ahead

Paul is telling us, now that we're continually forgetting those things which are behind us, we can't stay where we are. We have to press on. We have to keep going. The race isn't over. We haven't reached the finish line. We can't stop where we are. It's now time to press on, to forge ahead. So, what do we need to do to forge ahead - to press on toward the goal?

First, we need to repair our altars Read 1 Kings 18:30. You know the story. Elijah had challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest. Each one would sacrifice a bull on the altar and they would call upon their God to burn the sacrifice. The prophets of Baal screamed and prayed and even cut themselves, but nothing happened. Elijah poured water on the altar three times and yet when called out, fire from heaven consumed the altar, even with the water and burned the sacrifice.

But notice what Elijah had to do before he could move ahead with the contest - before he could forge ahead with the battle of the prophets of Baal - before he could press on to office the sacrifice. Look at verse 30. "…he repaired the altar of the Lord which was in ruins." Did you catch that? He had to repair the altar. It had been allowed to fall into ruins. (See also 1 Kings 19:14)

What about you? What about your altar? Is it clean? What about your words? Are they wholesome and uplifting? What about your thought-life? What about your quiet time? Your devotional life? Is your altar ready for sacrifice?

In Romans 12:1-2, the Bible says. "I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God to present yourselves as a living sacrifice. Wholly and acceptable unto God." Is your altar ready? Is there some repair work that needs to be done? Are you like the Israelites in the time of Elijah? Have you let your devotional life fall into disuse? Is your altar clean and holy?

Before we press on to victory in 2005 First, we need to repair our altars Second, we need to remove the sin

Sin in the Camp - Ai and Aachan Joshua has defeated enemy after enemy when he was the underdog. Under God's leadership, Joshua has won victory after victory against overwhelming odds. Now, he was about to battle the people of Ai. This time Joshua had the overwhelming forces. It seemed like an easy victory. It should have been a short battle. But Joshua and the Israelites lost the battle. Joshua's men were defeated and humiliated. Joshua sought understanding from the Lord and the Lord told him why...

There was sin in the camp. A man named Achan had kept some of the things that he wasn't supposed to keep. He had lied about it. Listen to what God says, "Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction."

"Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, 'Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: That which is devoted is among you, O Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it. "

So Joshua had Aachan, the man who had keep those things he was not supposed to keep and who had lied about having them bring those objects out in the open confess what he had done. He had soldiers bring the objects to the middle of the camp and then they killed Aachan, because his sin was keeping the rest of the Israelites from doing what God had called them to do.

So, after we've repaired our altars and removed the sin, we're ready to press on. Do you know what the word means in the Greek. It refers to the distant finish line where a runner looks at the beginning of the race. It's that point in the distance where the two lines parallel of the runner's lane seem to converge.

Do you want to have victory in your life in 2005? Here's the key - Forgetting your past mistakes, your past hurts, your past sins, repairing your altar and removing your sin, Press On. Where? - toward the goal. The race is still on. You're not at the finish line, yet. But Christ is running the race with you and will be with you to the end.

Forever_Lovers
01-04-2005, 10:09 AM
How To Break Out Of A Rut
David Langerfeld
Jan 4, 2005

"HOW TO BREAK OUT OF A RUT!"

Do you want to get out of the rut you're in? Is your life predictable? Do you do the same thing, day after day? Has the excitement gone? Do you feel as though 2005 will be just as dull and monotonous as 2004? Are you just going through the motions?

There's a wonderful Biblical passage that demonstrates the steps one man took to change his life. This passage gives us the basic steps we need to change our lives - 7 basic steps to get out of a rut. Jesus had been preaching and teaching in the area around the Sea of Galilee. On his way to Jerusalem, he passes through Jericho, where he encounters a blind man named Bartimaeus.

Read Mark 10:45-52


Seven Steps to Change Your Life

#1 Assume Responsibility For Your Own Life! (v. 47)
"When He Heard it Was Jesus...He Began To Cry Out."

Own up to your own responsibility. When you listen to people talk about their problems, do you notice that it's always someone else's fault? Teenagers blame their parents, Parents blame their children, Workers blame their co-workers or their boss.

Things happen you can't control - but you can control your response. Let me say that again. Things happen you can't control - but you can control your response. I hear people say all the time, "He makes me so mad" or "She makes me so mad". Nobody can make you mad. You're the only person who can make you mad. People can do things that upset you, things you don't like, things that hurt you; but you decide how you're going to respond.

Look back at the scripture. What did Bartimaeus do and not do. 1. He didn't blame someone else. He didn't think that God or anyone else owed him something. 2. He did go to Jesus. He humbled himself and sought help and deliverance.



#2 Believe You Can Change (V. 51).
"Lord, That I Might Receive My Sight."

He believed he wouldn't walk away the same. He believed that he'd be DIFFERENT. So often people pray, "God, if you'll just change my employer"; "if you'll just change my husband ...or my wife ...or my children..." "if you'll just change my friend..., my co-worker..., my relative..."

God never promises that he will change your situation. God does promise that he will change you.. He'll change your attitude, your perspective, your outlook. Then you can change your attitude toward your situation.



#3. Clarify What You Really Need (V.51).
"What Is it That I Should Do for You?"

Specific prayers get specific answers. How often do we pray, "God bless the missionaries overseas." Jesus already knew what the man needed. Jesus wanted the man to say it.

How often do we play communication games with each other. A wife will tell me, "He doesn't meet my needs." So I'll ask, "Well, does he know what you need"? "Sure - he loves me, he ought to know!". "He may ought to know, but that doesn't necessarily mean he really knows. You have to tell him what your needs are."

Even better, a spouse will say... "I'm so mad at him". "Does he know why you're mad at him". "Of course he does. He knows what he did!" Again I'll ask, "How does he know? Did you tell him?" The usual response, "I don't have to tell him. He knows".

We do the same thing with God. We assume that since God knows everything, we don't have to tell him. But that's just exactly the opposite of the way God operates. He wants us to tell him what we need - exactly what we need.

Jesus will meet your needs when you tell him what your needs are. But sometimes He doesn't meet your needs because you never tell Him what you really want and how you really feel.

Notice Bartimaeus' cry - "Have mercy on me". He was beggar. Yet notice, he didn't cry out for food, or clothing, or money or housing. He was given sight that day. He was healed that day - because he realized that his most basic need was for mercy and grace. He needed what only Jesus was offering. And because of that, he was healed.




#4. Stop Worrying about What Other People Will Say (v. 48).
"Many Charged Him That He Should Hold His Peace".

What were they telling him? Shut up! Nobody wants to hear what you have to say! Be quiet. This isn't the right place.. This isn't the right time... Nobody's ever done it that way before... You can't do that.

We have to quit worrying about what other people think. In this particular situation, everyone else was wrong. Everyone else told him he shouldn't do it that way.

He didn't care what the protocol was. He didn't care if all the people agreed that you just don't approach Jesus that way. He knew he needed help and he wasn't going to be denied.

Have you prayed for something and God hasn't answered you yet? ... Keep on calling out to God. Do you have a need and God hasn't met it yet. ... Keep on calling out to God. Are you hurting and don't have an answer? ... Keep on calling out to God.

Are people telling you to give up? Are people telling you to quit. Are people telling you that God doesn't care? Are you worried about what other people think or what other people will say? Are you concerned about how it might look? Are you worried that other people will think you crazy or you're a fanatic? ... Stop worrying. ... Don't quit. ... Don't give up
... JUST CRY OUT EVEN LOUDER

Perseverance - one of the greatest attributes a Christian can have is persistence, perseverance. Jesus tells a parable about the neighbor who comes at midnight and is rewarded for his persistence. Someone once said, God doesn't answer shallow prayers, he answers desperate prayer.



#5. Stop Waiting for Ideal Circumstances (V. 46).
"As He Went out....A Great Number of People".

Remember where he was in the first of this story. He was waiting beside the road. But look at v. 46. Others were already traveling with Jesus. Others already had the opportunity. Bartimeaus almost missed his chance. This is the last time Jesus would come to Jerusalem. If he had missed Jesus, if he had waited for "more ideal circumstances", he never would have been healed.

We have to quit waiting for just the right time. We have to quit waiting for the right opportunity to come along. It may not happen. We've got to seize the opportunities God gives us - when He gives them.



#6 Do Something Bold and Dramatic (v. 50).
"And He, Casting Away His Garment".

Sometimes, we have to do something different. We can't do the same old thing. If we're going to break out of our rut; if we want life to be different, we have to do something bold and dramatic. Hebrews 12:1 says, let us lay aside every weight, every sin that so easily entangles us." Notice those words, lay aside every weight and every sin.

We know the sins. But what are the weights? Whatever is keeping you from keeping Jesus first in your life. Whatever is keeping you from running to Jesus. Whatever is holding you back from surrendering your life to the LORDSHIP of Jesus so he can do a miracle in your life. Bartimaeus took off his coat. He did something bold, dramatic and different.

DO IT NOW (V. 50).
How many times do I hear...
When I get older...
When I get more time...
When I get the chance...
After I get past this test,
or this meeting,
or this problem,
or this trouble.

"Just do it" - James 1:22-25
Luke 10:25ff



#7 Follow Jesus (v. 52)
After you've followed the six steps above to break out of your rut in 2005, then do what Batimaeus did - He "followed Jesus along the way".



By David Langerfeld

Forever_Lovers
01-05-2005, 02:27 PM
Predictable
Melanie Schurr
Jan 5, 2005

Predictable

When you set the alarm at night, I bet you expect it to ring in the morning, right? When it rains, I suppose you also don't worry too much about it, because you also know that eventually the rain will bring forth sunshine. The same thing is true concerning the rising and setting of the sun; you trust the morning to soon give way to the night.

Why is it that man can so easily trust these facets of daily life, yet, when it comes to faith in God, we feel uncertain? Regarding tangible items such as the alarm clock we wind up or plug in the wall, it seems easier to trust the predictability of such an item because we can understand it using our senses; meaning, it is something we can see, touch, smell, taste or hear.

Placing ones trust in God seems too risky a proposition, we may say, because we cannot clearly see Him as we would desire. We also cannot smell, taste, touch, or hear His voice audibly, as one would expect to hear the chirping of a bird, or the sound of a brass bell ringing in the distance. Thus, our faith in and love for God, even our desire to do His will, must come from someplace deeper; our heart, mind, spirit and soul.

Tangible things have their place in society, but if we base our life solely on what we can comprehend using our limited abilities, then we must also deny that love exists, for love is as much an unseen 'thing' as God is. And, if we judge what is real based on what we can hear, then when a trainer blows his special dog whistle which only canines can hear, then we have also made an error. So too, are our feelings real, yet it is true one cannot bottle and label emotions as grief, empathy, or guilt.

Today, I encourage you to break free from the stereotypical methods we tend to use to understand, and to take the leap of faith which leads directly to God.

Forever_Lovers
01-07-2005, 12:34 PM
He Became One of Us
Alan Smith
Jan 6, 2005


HE BECAME ONE OF US

On February 15, 1921, there was a doctor who performed an appendectomy. The doctor performing the surgery was Dr. Evan Kane who over his 37-year medical career had performed nearly 4,000 appendectomies, so this surgery was not at all unusual except for two things.

First of all, this was the first time that local anesthesia had ever been used in major surgery. Dr. Kane believed that local anesthesia was safer than putting a patient completely to sleep. Most of his colleagues agreed with him in principle, but they wanted to see first if it would actually work.

So Dr. Kane searched for a volunteer, a patient who would be willing to undergo surgery while under local anesthesia. It wasn't easy to find one. Most people are squeamish at the thought of being awake during their own surgery. Others are fearful that the anesthesia might wear off too soon.

Finally, though, Dr. Kane found a volunteer, and on Tuesday morning, February 15th, the operation began. The patient was prepped and wheeled into the operating room. A local anesthetic was applied. And as Dr. Kane had done thousands of times before, he cut open the tissues and removed the appendix. The patient had only minor discomfort and recovered quickly, dismissed two days later.

Dr. Kane had proven his theory. Thanks to the willingness of a brave volunteer, Dr. Kane demonstrated that local anesthesia was an alternative, even a preferred alternative.

But I said there were two facts that made this surgery unusual. I've told you the first: the use of local anesthesia. The second unusual thing was the patient -- the patient was Dr. Kane. You see, in order to prove his point, Dr. Kane operated on himself. The doctor became a patient in order to convince the patients to trust the doctor.

As unbelievable as that may seem, it is insignificant compared with what Jesus Christ did for us. The Great Physician voluntarily became one of us. He placed himself in our shoes. He left the glories of heaven to live on this earth as one of us -- to suffer our pains and feel our fears. Why? So that when you hurt, you will know that you have someone who understands -- your Great Physician -- and you will have confidence to go to him for healing.

"Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same....For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted." (Hebrews 2:14a,18)


Have a great day!

Forever_Lovers
01-12-2005, 04:51 PM
Quieted With His Love
Tom Norvell
Jan 11, 2005

Quieted With His Love
by Tom Norvell


As I worked my way through some devotional readings, I came across this passage: The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

I thought of my life. I thought of what the passage says about God and how He feels about me. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in me. He will quiet me with his love. He will rejoice over me.

I confess that although I do not know if I fully understand what it means to be quieted by His love, I do know that there is something inside me that says, "I need that, Lord!" As I pondered more, I prayed, "Lord, please quiet me with Your love."

"Lord, please quiet me with Your love.
"Lord, please quiet me with Your love.
"Lord, please quiet me with Your love.

"Lord, I get loud sometimes. Not so much verbally loud, but my spirit gets loud. My heart gets loud. My mind gets loud. The world around me gets loud and the loudness overwhelms me to the point that everything within me and around me seems to be loud. So, Lord, please quiet me with Your love.

"In these times of unrest and confusion in our nation and world, I need to be quieted by your love, dear Lord. Decisions are being made that may well change the way we live and function as a people. Lord, please quiet me with Your love.

"As the years pass more rapidly than my mind can comprehend, I need to be quieted with Your love. I cannot keep up. I try, but I seem to fall farther and farther behind. Lord, please quiet me with Your love.

"In times when I fear for my very life and for the lives of my family and friends, I need to be quieted by Your love. In times when my spirit in under attack by the Enemy to such an extent that I begin to wonder if You are still there, I need to be quieted by Your love. Lord, please quiet me with Your love.

"In times of discouragement when I have failed to live like You have asked me to live, I need to be quieted by Your love. In times of disappointment over dreams that have faded and when other people have failed to live up to my expectations, I need to be quieted by Your love. Lord, please quiet me with Your love.

"In times of loss and my heart has been broken, I need to be quieted by your love. In times of sadness when a joyful spirit seems too much to consider, I need to be quieted by Your love. Lord, please quiet me with Your love.

"In times of suffering and pain as the result of another's actions or my own, I need to be quieted by Your love. In times when others are suffering because of my actions and I am helpless to undo what I have done, I need to be quieted by Your love. And they need to be quieted by Your love. Lord, please quiet me with Your love.

"In times of distress and anxiety over all that I must do, or feel that I must do, I need to be quieted by Your love. In times when life is so loud that I cannot hear my own thoughts, I need to be quieted by Your love. Lord, please quiet me with Your love.

"Unless You quiet me with Your love, dear Lord, my life will surely be filled with noises that may drown Your voice from my ears. Lord, I need to be quieted by Your love.

"When I remind myself that You are with me, when I contemplate Your power, when I consider that You take great delight in me and when I think of You rejoicing over me with singing because of Your love for me, I am quieted. My heart is quieted. My spirit rests.

"Lord, You have quieted me with Your love."

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take
great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will
rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

Forever_Lovers
01-12-2005, 04:52 PM
Gnats
Marion Smith
Jan 12, 2005

Gnats

"Get out of here, satan." Matthew 4:10

I sat in our parked car near a marsh in St. Augustine, Florida, while my husband competed in a skeet shoot. These minuscule insects have other names: "no-see-ums" or sand fleas, but whatever they are called, their bite was more than annoying.

They would nibble me and I would swat them, killing some and brushing others away. They bit through my hair and under my clothes, relentless in their attack. The pattern was: a bite, the area would itch, I would scratch it, then that area would hurt from scratching so much. The only hope I had was to apply gnat repellent before I was attacked again. It worked remarkably well, keeping the annoying insects at bay.

The gnats remind me of satan, the advisory of God. He also has two other names, as we learn in the book of the Bible called Revelation. He is called the dragon and the beast. He will send his demons to bite us, with sin. When the sin gnats bite with obvious evil, we may swat at them and knock some out. Their bite, however, once it penetrates, may give us an itch - perhaps for immorality, greed, or self centeredness. We may scratch that itch with wrong actions which can give us a puffed up ego, an attitude of dishonesty or self centeredness, or a heart to worship false idols. Eventually, we will hurt, just as my gnat bites hurt.

Thankfully, God has given us a sin gnat repellant, and that is the armor of God. These pieces - helmet, breastplate, belt, shoes, sword, shield - are very effective for keeping satan and his fiery arrows of sin away from us.

Let's remember to put on our armor each morning, just as we would remember to apply gnat repellent, to keep adversaries away. God has given us the equipment; it is up to us to use it.

Forever_Lovers
01-21-2005, 09:55 AM
Unhurried, Uninterrupted Time With God
David Langerfeld
Jan 17, 2005

Unhurried, Uninterrupted Time With God


"Their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law they meditate day and night". Psalm 1:2 (NRSV)

A real Christian stands out in the crowd!
Their character is deeper,
their ideas fresher,
their spirit softer,
their courage greater,
their leadership better,
their concerns wider,
their compassion more genuine,
their convictions more concrete.

They're joyful in spite of difficult circumstances and show wisdom far beyond their years. And they're full of surprises: you think you have them boxed in, but they turn out to be unpredictable. When you're around them you feel slightly off balance because you don't know what to expect next. Over time you that their unexpected ideas and actions can be trusted.

Why? Because these people have a strong relationship with the Lord - one that's renewed day by day. David said: "Their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law they meditate day and night."

They have a spiritual root system that reaches down to streams of living water. Consequently, what they put their hand to prospers. Too few of us ever reach this level. How come?

Because we're just too busy!

The arch-enemy of spiritual growth is business, which is closely tied to something the Bible calls "worldliness" - getting caught up with society's agenda, to the neglect of walking with God.

Anyway you cut it, a key ingredient in real Christianity is - time.
Not left over time, not throw away time, but quality time.
Time for contemplation.
Time for meditation.
Time for reflection.
Unhurried, uninterrupted time with God.

Forever_Lovers
01-21-2005, 09:56 AM
The Rolls Royce
David Langerfeld
Jan 17, 2005

The Rolls Royce

The great British automaker Rolls Royce takes great pride in the reliability of their handcrafted automobiles. An obviously wealthy owner of a Rolls took it to Europe on an extended trip. While traveling in France the car had some mechanical problem. He called the Rolls Royce factory and asked that they send out a mechanic immediately to fix the problem.

The company responded in royal fashion. They put a mechanic on a private jet with all of the necessary tools and flew him over to France to make the repairs. The owner was so wealthy that he wasn't at all concerned about the cost, and he would not spare any expense to assure that his beloved Rolls Royce was properly repaired.

However, after several months he realized he had not recieved a bill for the repair. He directed his secretary to contact the Rolls Royce factory to inquire about the charges. He received a prompt reply from the Rolls Royce company. With typical British aplomb, it said simply, "We have no recollection or record of any Rolls Royce having ever had a breakdown or being in need of repair anywhere in France."

When we repent and ask God to fix things that have resulted from sin in our lives, like Rolls Royce, he fixes it and doesn't have any recollection of the problem, and he NEVER sends a bill.


"For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Jeremiah 31:34

Forever_Lovers
01-21-2005, 09:57 AM
Waiting For The Wind
David Langerfeld
Jan 19, 2005

WAITING FOR THE WIND

My nephew's 10 year old son came for a visit one hot, July weekend. I was enticing him to stay inside by joining him in a Nintendo game. After being mercilessly defeated by a more experienced player, I suggested that we relax awhile. I collapsed into my favorite recliner to let my neck muscles relax and my ego recover from such a beating. He had slipped out of the room and I was catching a few relished moments of peace and quiet.

"Look, Alice," he said enthusiastically as he ran over to the chair where I was recovering.

"I found a kite. Could we go outside and fly it?" Glancing out a nearby window, I noticed there was not a breeze stirring. "I'm sorry, Tripper," I said, sad to see his disappointed eyes, but thankful for the respite from more activity. "The wind is not blowing today. The kite won't fly." The determined 10 year old replied. "I think it's windy enough. I can get it to fly," he answered, as he hurried out the back door.

I peeked through the slats in the Venetian blinds to watch determination in action. Up and down the yard he ran, pulling the kite attached to a small length of string. The plastic kite, proudly displaying a picture of Batman, remained about shoulder level. He ran back and forth, as hard as his ten year old legs would carry him, looking back hopefully at the kite trailing behind.

After about ten minutes of unsuccessful determination, he came back in. I asked, "How did it go?" "Fine," he said, not wanting to admit defeat. "I got it to fly some."

As he walked past me to return the kite to the closet shelf, I heard him say under his breath, "I guess I'll have to wait for the wind." At that moment I heard another Voice speak to my heart. "Alice, sometimes you are just like that. You want to do it your way instead of waiting for the Wind."

And the voice was right. How easy it is to use our own efforts to accomplish what we want to do. We wait for the Wind only after we have done all we can and have exhausted our own strength. We must learn how to rely on Him in the first place!

Author Unknown

Forever_Lovers
01-21-2005, 09:58 AM
To Have No Burden To Carry
David Langerfeld
Jan 20, 2005

To Have No Burden To Carry

Sadhu Sundar Singh, a Hindu convert to Christianity, became a missionary to his people in India. Late one afternoon Sadhu was traveling on foot through the Himalayas with a Buddhist monk. It was bitterly cold and the wind felt like sharp blades slicing into their skins. Night was fast approaching when the monk warned Sadhu that they were in danger of freezing to death if they did not reach the monastery before darkness fell.

Suddenly, on a narrow path above a steep precipice, they heard a cry for help. At the foot of the cliff lay a man, fallen and badly hurt. The monk looked at Sadhu and said, "Do not stop. God has brought this man to his fate. He must work it out for himself. Let us hurry on before we, too, perish."

But Sadhu replied, "God has sent me here to help my brother. I cannot abandon him."

The monk continued trudging off through the whirling snow, while the missionary clambered down the steep embankment. The injured man's leg was broken and he could not walk, so Sadhu made a sling of his blanket and tied the man on his back. With great difficulty he climbed back up the cliff, drenched by now in perspiration.

Doggedly, Sadhu made his way through the deepening snow and darkness. It was all he could do to follow the path. But he persevered, though faint with fatigue and overheated from exertion. Finally, he saw ahead the lights of the monastery.

Then, for the first time, Sadhu stumbled and nearly fell. But not from weakness. He had stumbled over an object lying in the snow-covered road. Slowly he bent down on one knee and brushed the snow off the object. It was the body of the monk, frozen to death.

Years later a disciple of Sadhu's asked him, "What is life's most difficult task?"

Without hesitation Sadhu replied: "To have no burden to carry."



Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

Forever_Lovers
01-21-2005, 09:59 AM
Pauses of Grace
Phil Ware
Jan 21, 2005

Pauses of Grace
by Phil Ware


Much of my adult life has been spent living at too fast a pace -- little sleep, less rest, and an incessant demand to keep moving. Boredom was a cardinal sin. Wasting time was both cowardly and irresponsible. Dare to do something, anything, just don't be idle.

Some of that is good. Some of it is habit and conditioning. A lot of it is sick.

We live in a fast-paced age where silence is taboo and motionlessness is sinful. Rest, especially resting when we are awake, is something seldom valued. Gone are the virtues of contemplation, meditation, and resting in the Lord's presence and grace.

How did we get this way? Is it too much caffeine? Is it over-stimulation from so much visual input? Is it a culture we get sucked into adopting?

Jesus withdrew from people, places, and pace to rest and be alone with God and his disciples. How can we not?

The Psalms, our well-spring of God-talk and Spirit-song, come from a contemplated life reflected in moments of holy and honest pauses in the presence of the King of Glory.

We rush around with our PDA's full of appointments and go-do lists filled with more than is humanly possible to achieve while hauling our kids around to an insane number of extra-curricular activities and in the process imprint them with the same manic neuroses we have.

So let me ask just a few simple questions for us all. There will be no answers, just a few questions.

What if we rested more?

What if we rested and understood it as resting in the presence and grace of God?

What if we dedicated this resting time to Him -- to know Him and to be known by Him?

What if we saw our delays in traffic, our boring moments, and those dead spaces in our time as opportunities to pause and rest in God's grace?

Jesus says to us:

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;
for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for
your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29 NRSV)

Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while. (Mark
6:31 NRSV)

Am I taking time to listen to His voice?

Forever_Lovers
01-26-2005, 08:56 AM
Hold Until Relieved
Charles Aranyas
Jan 24, 2005

Hold Until Relieved
by Charles Aranyas

I have been on this earth long enough to remember June 6, 1944, D-Day. That was the date the Allied Forces invaded Normandy in France during the Second World War. Hundreds of thousands of men; thousands of ships of all kinds and sizes; thousands of planes and the hopes of mankind were there on that stormy day. The men and materials came from the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and from a number of other countries, some of which had been over-run by the Nazis like Poland and France.

It was the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany and their quest to conquer the world. I can still remember how I felt, as an eleven-year-old boy, when a friend told me, "The invasion is on. I just heard it on the radio." I was excited and glad to hear that our troops were moving inland. I thought, "Perhaps the war will be shorter now and we will win."

There were many plans put into place so the Allies could create a beachhead in France from where they could push on into Germany. Paratroopers went in during the early hours of June 6th while it was still dark. Landing crafts carried thousands of men onto the beaches. Other ships brought in materials such as tanks and artillery pieces along with ammunition, food, and all things necessary for such an operation.

Military units were given orders to achieve certain objectives. It was critical that they succeed or the invasion might fail. Part of the orders given were to achieve the objective and..."Hold until relieved!" Accomplish the mission and then stand fast. Don't lose what has been gained. Relief will soon come.

Thinking about this, I can see a parallel in our walk with Christ. We are part of God's Army and we have our orders... "Make Disciples!" We are to do this in all countries of the world. Thus, we must invade all the places of "Darkness" on this planet. In a sense, we are all missionaries; and it will take all of us using the gifts God has given to each one of us. Our weapons are the Word and Love of God, to be shared with all mankind.

We must not fail. We must achieve our objectives. Then we must "hold until relieved!" Many times this will have to be accomplished in very difficult situations and could be very dangerous for us. It could also be very costly. However, keep in mind that Satan's quest is to conquer the world. (That includes you and your loved ones). As Believers we must follow God's orders. They are found in God's Word, the Bible.

The infantryman's most important piece of equipment is his rifle. As Christians, our most important piece of equipment is our Bible, God's Word. And as an infantryman must use his rifle, we must use our Bible. This means spending time in God's Word and obeying God's Word in our daily life. As we do this we must remember the admonition, "Hold until relieved." Jesus said in Matthew 28:19b... "And remember, I AM with you always, even to the end of the age."

Are you in the process of accomplishing God's purpose for your life, no matter the circumstances? If so, are you willing to continue in that purpose until relieved? And who is it that will provide relief? Of course, it is God, but don't you see if we do not "Make Disciples" as He commands, there will be none to bring relief?

Oh, the greatness of God. Who can comprehend His wisdom? The very disciples we make will one day take our place, bringing relief and at the same time invading "Darkness" to make disciples, all over this world, with the Word of God. "Hold until relieved" is not passive. It is the strategy of God for victory in His invasion of our world.

What part of this world will you invade and hold until relieved?

Forever_Lovers
01-26-2005, 08:56 AM
Making Sacrifices With Joy
David Langerfeld
Jan 25, 2005

Making Sacrifice With Joy

I heard a story once about two wealthy Christians, a lawyer and a merchant, who traveled with a group that was going around the world. As they were visiting in Korea, they saw by the side of the road, a field in which a boy was pulling a crude plow and an old man held the plow handles and guided it. The lawyer was amused and took a snapshot of the scene.

He turned to the missionary, who served as their interpreter and guide, and he said, "That's a curious picture. I suppose they are very poor."

The guide replied, "Yes, that is the family of Chi Noue. When the place of worship was being built, they were eager to give something to it, but they had no money, so they sold their only ox and gave the money to the church. This spring, they are pulling the plow themselves."

The men were silent for several moments. Then the businessman replied, "That must have been a real sacrifice." The guide said, "They do not call it that. They thought it was fortunate that they had an ox to sell."

I am reminded of a parable Jesus told: "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." (Matt.
13:44).

Notice carefully the words "for joy." This man doesn't just sell everything he has; he does so with joy. He doesn't regret it. He doesn't complain about the sacrifice he has to make. In fact, he probably doesn't even consider it to be a sacrifice. He gives a lot for the field, but he gets so much more in return.

When I perform a wedding ceremony, I often include these words: "Whatever sacrifice you will be required to make to preserve this common life, always make it generously. Sacrifice is usually difficult. Only love can make it easy; and perfect love can make it a joy."

The same thing holds true in our walk with Christ. Sacrifices will be necessary, and only a deep love for Christ will make them a joy. The real test of our commitment is not so much whether we are willing to make sacrifices for our Lord, but whether we are able to make those sacrifices with joy.

Forever_Lovers
01-26-2005, 08:57 AM
Crucified With Christ
David Langerfeld
Jan 26, 2005

"Crucified With Christ"

The greatest struggle in the Christian's life is a control issue. We want Jesus to be Lord but we don't want to loose control of our lives. We want to call the shots. Jesus is Lord - conditionally. That is, He is Lord as long as His will and direction agree with what we want. As someone once said, "the problem with a live sacrifice is that it continually climbs off the altar." This is the crux of our problem. As soon as we give ourselves to the Lord we we are taking back what we gave Him - we climb off the altar. "I" keeps control, maintains lordship.

Is there an answer to this wrestling, up and down life. Well, the way to ensure that the sacrifice remains on the altar it to kill it. Galatians 2:20 reveals how this is done for us; "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." "I" is crucified and we are raised in Christ. "I" is not obliterated, rather given true life and made subservient to Christ's Lordship. He is our life; our identity; our Lord. He is the ground to our being. We are freed from self-domination. We are liberated from self-obsession. We are emancipated so that we can fully love and serve God will all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. J. D. McClurkan stated it well: "There is a sinful self to be crucified with Christ; a true self to be realized in Christ; and a human self to be disciplined by Christ."

John Wesley had believers pray a prayer in a Covenant Service. It is the prayer the Christian who longed to be done with the great battle over lordship and sold out to Christ. It is the prayer of all that have been crucified with Christ. Beloved, it is the prayer of every Christian.

"Lord, I am no longer my own, but Yours. Put me to what You will, rank me with whom You will. Let be employed by You or laid aside for You, exalted for You or brought low by You. Let me have all things, let me have nothing, I freely and heartily yield all things to Your pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, You are mine and I am Yours. So be it. Amen."

Forever_Lovers
01-27-2005, 03:49 PM
Remember the Scars
David Langerfeld
Jan 27, 2005

REMEMBER THE SCARS

John Gordon was a respected general for the South in the Civil War. After the war, he was running for the United States Senate, but a man who had served under him in the war, angry over some political incident, was determined to see him defeated. Everyone knew this man would fight Gordon's bid to become a senator.

During the convention, he angrily stamped down the aisle with his anti-Gordon vote in hand. As he saw Gordon sitting on the platform, he noticed how his once handsome face was disfigured with the scars of battle -- marks of his willingness to suffer and bleed for a cause he believed in.

The old soldier was stricken with remorse. Overcome with emotion, he exclaimed, "It's no use; I can't do it. Here's my vote for John Gordon." Then, turning to the general, he said, "Forgive me, General. I had forgotten the scars."

What a difference it makes in our lives when we remember the scars! With so many things to distract us, we don't often take time each day to reflect on what Jesus went through on the cross for us. But, when we are tempted to stray, it is a remembrance of Christ's sacrifice that has the power to draw us back to him.

"He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5)

May I encourage you this morning to take a moment to pause and "remember the scars"

Forever_Lovers
02-02-2005, 09:40 AM
He'll Be There for You
David Langerfeld
Jan 28, 2005

He'll Be There For You

In 1989 an 8.2 earthquake almost flattened Armenia, killing over 30,000 people in less than four minutes.

In the midst of utter devastation and chaos, a father left his wife securely at home and rushed to the school where his son was supposed to be, only to discover that the building was as flat as a pancake.

After the traumatic initial shock, he remembered the promise he had made to his son: "No matter what, I'll always be there for you!" And tears began to fill his eyes. As he looked at the pile of debris that once was the school, it looked hopeless, but he kept remembering his commitment to his son.

He began to concentrate on where he walked his son to class at school each morning. Remembering his son's classroom would be in the back right corner of the building, he rushed there and started digging through the rubble.

As he was digging, other forlorn parents arrived, clutching their hearts, saying: "My son!" "My daughter!" Other well meaning parents tried to pull him off of what was left of the school saying:

"It's too late!"

"They're dead!"

"You can't help!"

"Go home!"

"Come on, face reality, there's nothing you can do!"

"You're just going to make things worse!"

To each parent he responded with one line: "Are you going to help me now?" And then he proceeded to dig for his son, stone by stone.

The fire chief showed up and tried to pull him off of the school's debris saying, "Fires are breaking out, explosions are happening everywhere. You're in danger. We'll take care of it. Go home." To which this loving, caring Armenian father asked, "Are you going to help me now?"

The police came and said, "You're angry, distraught and it's over. You're endangering others. Go home. We'll handle it!" To which he replied, "Are you going to help me now?" No one helped.

Courageously he proceeded alone because he needed to know for himself: "Is my boy alive or is he dead?"

He dug for eight hours... 12 hours... 24 hours... 36 hours... then, in the 38th hour, he pulled back a boulder and heard his son's voice. He screamed his son's name, "ARMAND!" He heard back, "Dad!?! It's me, Dad! I told the other kids not to worry. I told 'em that if you were alive, you'd save me and when you saved me, they'd be saved. You promised, 'No matter what, I'll always be there for you!' You did it, Dad! ..."

"What's going on in there? How is it?" the father asked.

"There are 14 of us left out of 33, Dad. We're scared, hungry, thirsty and thankful you're here! When the building collapsed, it made a wedge, like a triangle, and it saved us!"

"Come on out, boy!"

"No, Dad! Let the other kids out first, 'cause I know you'll get me! No matter what, I know you'll be there for me!"

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:5)

Forever_Lovers
02-02-2005, 09:41 AM
The Unlocked Door
Robert Strand
Jan 31, 2005

The Unlocked Door

In Glasgow, Scotland, a young lady, like a lot of teens today, got tired of home and the restraints of her parents. The daughter rejected her family's religious lifestyle and said, "I don't want your God. I give up. I'm leaving!"

She left home, deciding to become a woman of the world. Before long, however, she was dejected and unable to find a job, so she took to the streets to sell her body as a prostitute.

The years passed by, her father died, her mother grew older, and the daughter became more and more entrenched in her way of life. No contact was made between mother and daughter during these years. The mother, having heard of her daughter's whereabouts, made her way to the skid-row section of the city in search of her daughter. She stopped at each of the rescue missions with a simple request. "Would you allow me to put up this picture?" It was a picture of the smiling, gray-haired mother with a handwritten message at the bottom: "I love you still...come home!"

Months went by, and nothing happened. Then one day the daughter wandered into a rescue mission for a needed meal. She sat absent-mindedly listening to the service, all the while letting her eyes wander over to the bulletin board. There she saw the picture and thought, 'Could that be my mother?' She couldn't wait until the service was over. She stood and went to look. It was her mother, and there were those words, "I love you still... come home!" As she stood in front of the picture, she wept. It was too good to be true.

By this time it was night, but she was so touched by the message that she started walking home. When she arrived it was early in the morning. She was afraid and made her way timidly, not really knowing what to do. As she knocked, the door flew open on its own. She thought someone must have broken into the house.

Concerned for her mother's safety, the young woman ran to the bedroom and found her still sleeping. She shook her mother awake and said, "It's me! It's me! I'm home!"

The mother couldn't believe her eyes. She wiped her tears and they fell into each other's arms. The daughter said, "I was so worried! The door was open and I thought someone had broken in!"

The mother replied gently, "No dear. From the day you left, that door has never been locked."


Jesus is the door to heaven and He is open to your entering in. You must reach out for Him to enter... and He will welcome you with open arms.

Have you entered into the grace and mercy that He so lovingly gives?

"I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." - John 10:9

Forever_Lovers
02-02-2005, 09:42 AM
The Maestro
Ron Hutchcraft
Feb 1, 2005

The Maestro

When the famous violinist Paganini played a concert in one of the great halls of Europe, it was equivalent to the draw of a modern rock concert. The story is told of one such night in Paris.

As Paganini appeared on the stage, the excited buzz of the audience turned to expectant applause. But as the maestro began to play, a string broke on his exquisite violin. Any concern passed quickly as the artist picked up the tune on his remaining three strings. Unbelievably, another string snapped - followed moments later by a third string. Now the buzz in the audience was more anxious, even disgruntled, it wasn't expectant anymore.

But the old maestro just raised his hand, calling for silence. As the audience became quiet again, he made a simple announcement - "Ladies and gentlemen - Paganini - and one string." What followed was easily the most amazing musical performance that crowd had ever seen, or ever would see - as the master played a rich and flawless melody - on one string.

When did the master most powerfully demonstrate his skill? When he had the least to work with - one string. When does the Lord Jesus - our Master - most powerfully demonstrate how much He can do? When He has the least to work with. When our strings are broken and we have almost nothing left - that's when He plays His masterpieces.

That's what the great Apostle Paul learned when virtually all the strings of his life had broken. His testimony is in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, our word for today from the Word of God. Paul had been given some spiritual revelations that no man had ever experienced before. He says, "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh ... Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.'"

Because Paul experiences God's power the most when he has nothing left, he says, "Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me... For when I am weak, then I am strong." Why? Because the less there is of you, the more there is of God - and the more of His power you experience. Which actually can make you, much like Paul, really greet your hard times, your hurting times with a sense of expectancy instead of dread or discouragement. Not that you like the pain, but you realize what that pain can produce. And all through it, you have God's unbreakable promise, "My grace is sufficient for you."

Our weakness means an opportunity for a display of His strength, His glory ... a chance to experience God's ability to heal, to intervene, to carry you. Malcolm Muggeridge, the brilliant British journalist who gloriously came to Christ late in life, put it this way: "Everything I have learned in my seventy-five years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness."

So maybe most of your strings have broken and you're down to one string. That's the moment when the Maestro is at His very best. He lovingly holds you in His arms and says, "Almighty God - and one string." He's about to play something beautiful, something unforgettable, something amazing through your life.

Forever_Lovers
02-02-2005, 09:42 AM
The Good News in Japanese
Glenn Howard White, Jr.
Feb 2, 2005

The Good News in Japanese

Some years ago, I read a book in which the premise was that God has spoken the message of the gospel into every culture. Think of it, the good news is available to everyone in every culture. This is pretty profound stuff.

For example, Japanese is a language where pictograms are used to represent words. The Japanese word for "holy" is a pictogram with three symbols representing "ear", "mouth", and "king". The word "holy" in Japanese literally means "putting your ear next to the mouth of the king".

When I first read that, I thought, "Wow!" Being holy isn't about cutting or not cutting your hair in a certain way, wearing particular kinds of clothes, or performing various rituals. Being holy is simply a matter of listening to God. I could see that God truly does speak the good news into the Japanese culture. But that isn't all.

The Japanese word for "king" is composed of three parallel lines. The top line represents heaven, the bottom line represents earth, and there is a middle line representing man. Then a vertical line is drawn from the top line to the bottom line, cutting right through the middle line. The result is an image of a cross. But wait, it gets better. The literal translation of the word "king" is, "a man suspended between heaven and earth."

We have a King by the name of Jesus, a man suspended between heaven and earth for the sins of the world, who has left the message of Good News for all men to read and understand. That is good news to really think about.

Forever_Lovers
02-03-2005, 09:20 AM
I'm Flying Daddy
David Langerfeld
Feb 3, 2005

I'm Flying Daddy"

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who was raised in an orphanage.

The little boy had always wished that he could fly like a bird. It was very difficult for him to understand why he could not fly. There were birds at the zoo that were much bigger than he, and they could fly. "Why can't I?" he thought. "Is there something wrong with me?" he wondered.

There was another little girl who was crippled. She had always wished that she could walk and run like other little boys and girls. "Why can't I be like them?" she thought.

One day, the little orphan boy, who had wanted to fly like a bird, ran away from the orphanage. He came upon a little girl, who could not walk or run, playing in the sandbox.

He ran over to the little girl and asked her if she had ever wanted to fly like a bird.

"No," said the little girl who could not walk or run. "But, I have wondered what it would be like to walk and run like other boys and girls."

"That is very sad," said the little boy who wanted to fly. "Do you think we could be friends?" he said to the little girl in the sandbox.

"Sure," said the little girl.

The two children played for hours. They made sand castles and made really funny sounds with their mouths. Sounds which made them laugh real hard. Then, the little girl's father came with a wheelchair, to pick up his daughter. The little boy, who had always wanted to fly, ran over to the girl's father and whispered something into his ear.

"That would be OK," said the man.

The little boy, who had always wanted to fly like a bird, ran over to his new friend and said, "You are my only friend and I wish that there was something that I could do to make you walk and run like other little boys and girls. But, I can't. But, there is something that I can do for you."

The little orphan boy turned around and told his new friend to slide up onto his back. He then began to run across the grass. Faster and faster he ran, carrying the little crippled girl on his back. Faster and harder he ran across the grass. Harder and harder he made his legs travel. Soon, the wind just whistled across the two children's faces.

The little girl's father began to cry as he watched his beautiful little crippled daughter flapping her arms up and down in the wind, all the while yelling at the top of her voice, "I'M FLYING, DADDY. I'M FLYING!"

Forever_Lovers
02-15-2005, 10:26 AM
Minor Traveling Unattended
Jerry Seiden
Feb 4, 2005

MINOR TRAVELING UNATTENDED

Right before the jet-way door closed, I scrambled aboard the plane going from LA to Chicago, lugging my laptop and overstuffed briefcase. It was the first leg of an important business trip a few weeks before Christmas, and I was running late. I had a ton of work to catch up on. Half wishing, half praying I muttered, "Please God, do me a favor; let there be an empty seat next to mine, I don't need any distractions."

I was on the aisle in a two seat row. Across sat a businesswoman with her nose buried in a newspaper. No problem. But in the seat beside mine, next to the window, was a young boy wearing a big red tag around his neck: Minor Traveling Unattended.

The kid sat perfectly still, hands in his lap, eyes straight ahead. He'd probably been told never to talk to strangers. Good, I thought.

Then the flight attendant came by. "Michael, I have to sit down because we're about to take off," she said to the little boy. "This nice man will answer any of your questions, okay?"

Did I have a choice? I offered my hand, and Michael shook it twice, straight up and down.

"Hi, I'm Jerry," I said. "You must be about seven years old."

"I'll bet you don't have any kids," he responded.

"Why do you think that? Sure I do." I took out my wallet to show him pictures.

"Because I'm six."

"I was way off, huh?"

The captains' voice came over the speakers, "Flight attendants, prepare for takeoff."

Michael pulled his seat belt tighter and gripped the armrests as the jet engines roared.

I leaned over, "Right about now, I usually say a prayer. I ask God to keep the plane safe and to send angels to protect us."

"Amen," he said, then added, "but I'm not afraid of dying. I'm not afraid because my mama's already in Heaven."

"I'm sorry." I said.

"Why are you sorry?" he asked, peering out the window as the plane lifted off.

"I'm sorry you don't have your mama here."

My briefcase jostled at my feet, reminding me of all the work I needed to do.

"Look at those boats down there!" Michael said as the plane banked over the Pacific. "Where are they going?"

"Just going sailing, having a good time. And there's probably a fishing boat full of guys like you and me."

"Doing what?" he asked.

"Just fishing, maybe for bass or tuna. Does your dad ever take you fishing?"

"I don't have a dad," Michael sadly responded.

Only six years old and he didn't have a dad, and his Mom had died, and here he was flying halfway across the country all by himself. The least I could do was make sure he had a good flight. With my foot I pushed my briefcase under my seat.

"Do they have a bathroom here?" he asked, squirming a little.

"Sure," I said, "let me take you there."

I showed him how to work the "Occupied" sign, and what buttons to push on the sink, then he closed the door. When he emerged, he wore a wet shirt and a huge smile.

"That sink shoots water everywhere!"

The attendants smiled.

Michael got the VIP treatment from the crew during snack time. I took out my laptop and tried to work on a talk I had to give, but my mind kept going to Michael. I couldn't stop looking at the crumpled grocery bag on the floor by his seat. He'd told me that everything he owned was in that bag. Poor kid.

While Michael was getting a tour of the cockpit the flight attendant told me his grandmother would pick him up in Chicago. In the seat pocket a large manila envelope held all the paperwork regarding his custody. He came back explaining, "I got wings! I got cards! I got more peanuts. I saw the pilot and he said I could come back anytime!"

For a while he stared at the manila envelope.

"What are you thinking?" I asked Michael.

He didn't answer. He buried his face in his hands and started sobbing. It had been years since I'd heard a little one cry like that. My kids were grown -- still I don't think they'd ever cried so hard. I rubbed his back and wondered where the flight attendant was.

"What's the matter buddy?" I asked.

All I got were muffled words "I don't know my grandma. Mama didn't want her to come visit and see her sick. What if Grandma doesn't want me? Where will I go?"

"Michael, do you remember the Christmas story? Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus? Remember how they came to Bethlehem just before Jesus was born? It was late and cold, and they didn't have anywhere to stay, no family, no hotels, not even hospitals where babies could be born. Well, God was watching out for them. He found them a place to stay; a stable with animals."

"Wait, wait," Michael tugged on my sleeve. "I know Jesus. I remember now." Then he closed his eyes, lifted his head and began to sing. His voice rang out with a strength that rocked his tiny frame. "Jeeesus looooves me -- thiiiiiis I knowwwwwww. For the Biiiiiible tells meeeeee sooooo....."

Passengers turned or stood up to see the little boy who made the large sound. Michael didn't notice his audience. With his eyes shut tight and voice lifted high, he was in a good place.

"You've got a great voice," I told him when he was done. "I've never heard anyone sing like that."

"Mama said God gave me good pipes just like my grandma's," he said. "My grandma loves to sing, she sings in her church choir."

"Well, I'll bet you can sing there, too. The two of you will be running that choir."

The seat belt sign came on as we approached O'Hare. The flight attendant came by and said we just have a few minutes now, but she told Michael it's important that he put on his seat belt. People started stirring in their seats, like the kids before the final school bell. By the time the seat belt sign went off, passengers were rushing down the aisle. Michael and I stayed seated.

"Are you gonna go with me?" he asked.

"I wouldn't miss it for the world buddy!" I assured him.

Clutching his bag and the manila envelope in one hand, he grabbed my hand with the other. The two of us followed the flight attendant down the Jetway. All the noises of the airport seemed to fill the corridor.

Michael stopped, flipping his hand from mine, he dropped to his knees. His mouth quivered. His eyes brimmed with tears.

"What's wrong Michael? I'll carry you if you want."

He opened his mouth and moved his lips, but it was as if his words were stuck in his throat. When I knelt next to him, he grabbed my neck. I felt his warm, wet face as he whispered in my ear, "I want my mama!"

I tried to stand, but Michael squeezed my neck even harder. Then I heard a rattle of footsteps on the corridor's metal floor.

"Is that you, baby?"

I couldn't see the woman behind me, but I heard the warmth in her voice.

"Oh baby," she cried. "Come here. Grandma loves you so much. I need a hug, baby. Let go of that nice man." She knelt beside Michael and me.

Michael's grandma stroked his arm. I smelled a hint of orange blossoms.

"You've got folks waiting for you out there, Michael. Do you know that you've got aunts, and uncles and cousins?"

She patted his skinny shoulders and started humming. Then she lifted her head and sang. I wondered if the flight attendant told her what to sing, or maybe she just knew what was right. Her strong, clear voice filled the passageway, "Jesus loves me -- this I know..."

Michael's gasps quieted. Still holding him, I rose, nodded hello to his grandma and watched her pick up the grocery bag. Right before we got to the doorway to the terminal, Michael loosened his grip around my neck and reached for his grandma.

As soon as she walked across the threshold with him, cheers erupted. From the size of the crowd, I figured family, friends, pastors, elders, deacons, choir members and most of the neighbors had come to meet Michael. A tall man tugged on Michael's ear and pulled off the red sign around his neck. It no longer applied.

As I made my way to the gate for my connecting flight, I barely noticed the weight of my overstuffed briefcase and laptop. I started to wonder who would be in the seat next to mine this time....And I smiled.

By Jerry Seiden

Forever_Lovers
02-15-2005, 10:27 AM
Intimidation
David Langerfeld
Feb 7, 2005

Intimidation, by Mike Barres

I was in 8th grade. We were in our physical education class, but the teacher wasn't around at the time. We were playing volleyball. A boy who was older, bigger, and meaner than I was kept trying to start a fight with me. I really didn't know why he wanted to fight. I was pretty confused. The next day he tried to start a fight again. I stood up to him and said, "I'm not afraid of you, but I'm not going to fight you, so leave me alone." So he did. He left me alone. That was one of my first big experiences with the ugly art of intimidation.

Think of how Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego felt when King Nebuchadnezzar tried to intimidate them. They would not bow down to his idol. No matter what the King said or did, they would not be intimidated. The stood up to the king in the face of almost certain death. They responded to his threats by saying:

Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up. (Daniel 3:17-18)

The prophets of the Old Testament told the truth whether people liked it or not. The Lord told Jeremiah at the beginning of his prophetic ministry to be courageous and stand up to those who would try to intimidate him:

"Do not say, 'I am a youth, For you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you," says the LORD. (Jeremiah 1:7-8)

If we aren't careful, Christians can be intimidated today. The news sometimes presents Christians as hateful people because they are standing firm in their convictions. When Christians aren't "politically correct" or are not "tolerant" of other's immoral choices, they are made out to be narrow-minded and mean-spirited. Sometimes when Christians simply tell people the truth, it makes people mad.

If enough negative things are said about us and to us, we may begin to cave in to this form "intimidation." We will then begin to back off. We will hesitate to voice our convictions even on the most important of issues: that Jesus is the only way to a personal relationship with God.

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6) Despite the intimidation tactics of their enemies, the apostle Peter boldly declared: Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the "stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:10-12)

Don't be intimidated. We must voice our convictions and keep doing what's right, but we want to keep telling this truth in love while proclaiming that Jesus is Lord and living godly and considerate lives before all people.

Forever_Lovers
02-15-2005, 10:28 AM
Sweetheart
David Langerfeld
Feb 8, 2005

Sweetheart

It was a busy morning. It was about 8:30 A.M. when a gentleman in his 80's, arrived to have sutures removed from his thumb. He stated that he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 A.M. I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would be able to see him.

We chatted while I removed his sutures and took care of his wound. I asked him if he had a doctor's appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry. The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife, Marii-Helena. I then inquired as to her health.

He told me that she had been there for awhile and that she was a victim of Alzheimer's Disease. As we talked, and I finished dressing his wound, I asked if she would be worried if he was a bit late. He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him for five years now.

I was surprised and asked him, "And you are still going every morning, even though she doesn't know who you are?"

He smiled as he patted my hand and said, "She doesn't know me, but I still know who she is."

I had to hold back tears as he left, I had goose bumps on my arms, and thought, "That is the kind of love I want in my life."


"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Ephesians 5:25


Author Unknown

Forever_Lovers
02-15-2005, 10:29 AM
Encourager Classic: "I See Jesus"
David Langerfeld
Feb 9, 2005

Note: We have shared this several times over the past few years, but it continues to be one of our favorites.


I See Jesus
by Summer Waters


I saw Jesus last week.
He was wearing blue jeans and an old shirt.
He was up at the church building;
He was alone and working hard.
For just a minute he looked a little like one of our members.
But it was Jesus . . . I could tell by his smile.

I saw Jesus last Sunday.
He was teaching a Bible class.
He didn't talk real loud or use long words,
But you could tell he believed what he said.
For just a minute, he looked like my Bible teacher.
But it was Jesus . . . I could tell by his loving voice.

I saw Jesus yesterday.
He was at the hospital visiting a friend who was sick.
They prayed together quietly.
For just a minute he looked like Brother Jones.
But it was Jesus... I could tell by the tears in his eyes.

I saw Jesus this morning.
He was in my kitchen making my breakfast
and fixing me a special lunch.
For just a minute he looked like my mom.
But it was Jesus... I could feel the love from his heart.

I see Jesus everywhere,
Taking food to the sick ...
Welcoming others to his home, Being friendly to a newcomer ...
& for just a minute, I think he's someone I know.
But it's always Jesus... I can tell by the way he serves.



Written by Summer Waters at age 11 (She's now 15)

Forever_Lovers
02-15-2005, 10:30 AM
Holding Pattern
David Langerfeld
Feb 10, 2005

Holding Patterns

Many times, God will allow a painful situation or a painful circumstance in our life to "swallow us up." This season in our spiritual growth is a holding pattern. We can't move to the left or the right. All we can do is sit, like Jonah sat in the belly of that great fish, so God can have our undivided attention and speak to us.

God put Jonah in a holding pattern because He needed to speak to his heart. Jonah was all alone. There were no friends to call, no colleagues to drop by, no books to read, no food to eat, no interferences, and no interruptions. He had plenty of time to sit, think, meditate, and pray.

When we're deep down in the midst of a difficult situation, God can talk to us. When He has our undivided attention, He can show us things about ourselves that we might not otherwise have seen.

A few of God's holding patterns:
1. When you are sick in your physical body and you have prayed but you're not yet healed, you are in a holding pattern.

2. When you are having problems with your children and you have put them on the altar, but God has not delivered them yet, you are in a holding pattern.

3. When you have been praying for a loved one to return to God, and they have not come back yet, you are in a holding pattern.

4. When you are in a broken relationship and you have given it over to God, but it has not been restored yet, you are in a holding pattern.

5. When the doors slam shut before you can even knock on them, you are in a holding pattern.


When we are deep in the belly of a difficult situation, there are no interruptions. God has our undivided attention. All we can do is sit, think, meditate, and pray. Like Jonah, we cannot run from God, because there are no mountains that are high enough, valleys that are low enough, rivers that are wide enough, rooms that are dark enough, or places that are hidden from Him.

We must remember to praise Him while we're waiting, and remember three things:
1. The pattern has a purpose.
2. The pattern has a plan.
3. The pattern has a process.

So stop struggling and start listening, praying and trusting. He'll keep you right where you are until you can clearly hear Him say, "I love you."

Father, forgive my unbelief. I know you love me and I will come to see the benefit of everything in my life, even this holding pattern, and the manifestation of my Good is assured through You. You have planned nothing for me but victories and I am ready to receive them regardless of how difficult the path.

Forever_Lovers
02-15-2005, 10:30 AM
A Special Valentine
David Langerfeld
Feb 11, 2005

A SPECIAL LOVE STORY

Her family had come to America from Sweden. She had a typical Scandinavian look... Long blond hair; blue eyes; long slender legs; soft, blemish-free skin; high cheek bones.

She was gorgeous - she was beautiful. In fact, a professional international photographer in her hometown thought she was so pretty that he used a photograph of her to advertise his business.

But that was not her real beauty.

She was raised by some wonderful Christian parents and had become a Christian at an early age. Integrity, honesty and sweetness were just a few of her characteristics. In fact, at her engagement party, her sister, who knew her better than anyone, said that she had never heard her tell a lie. All of her friends said the same thing about her: She was the sweetest girl they knew. She would never speak a harsh word about anyone. Everyone loved to be around her.

A young man she met in her freshman year started dating her and fell in love with her - both her exterior photographic beauty and the wonderful godly character of her inward beauty. She fell in love with him and they spent every free moment they could with each other over the next four years. They were committed to each other and they believed in waiting long before the "True Love Waits" Campaign ever existed.

One week after they graduated from college, they were married. They loved each other's company. They would walk together, exercise together, go on bike rides together, chaperone youth trips together -go to movies, watch TV, eat pizza, travel - all the things any normal couple would love to do together. They were so much in love.

She taught school for a year and then became a bookkeeper for a surgical supply company. One day while she was working, for no apparent reason she lost her balance and fell on the floor. She was later able to get up and went to see a doctor that night. He set her up to see a Neurologist. The following day, it happened again. For no apparent reason, she lost her balance and fell. This time, though, she couldn't get up. She had lost all feeling in her legs. They wouldn't move.

Her husband had to come to the office and pick her up in his arms and carry her to the hospital. After six days in the hospital, the doctor gave this beautiful, active young lady the dreadful news. She had Multiple Sclerosis and she would continue to deteriorate.

This young couple, who had now been married only 18 months - who loved to go everywhere together and do everything together - would now face some new challenges. All their future plans would change, everyday life would change. They would change.

For the next 30 years, this young lady did deteriorate. She had to take steroids (not the kind athletes use, but anti-inflammatory steroids). Her bones became brittle, breaking easily. Her face became puffy and bloated and she could not even put on make-up. Her body was a mess. She went from a walker, to an electric scooter, to a wheelchair. She could no longer feed herself, write her name, or control her own bodily functions. She now had to have someone stay with her 24 hours a day.

If that couple had not had the kind of committed love that's based first on a personal relationship and a commitment to Jesus Christ and second, on a love that's based on a commitment to each other, the marriage never would have lasted. In fact, a large percentage of the marriages where a spouse has MS, the other spouse leaves them. The other spouse won't stay committed to the constant care and the continual physical, psychological and mental changes that continue to occur.

Please hear me carefully - those two people are not heroes. They are not super-saints or super-Christians. They will be the first to tell you that they are not super Christians. Those two people are normal, ordinary people, empowered by the Love of God and a love for each other, to do what the world considers beyond normal and extraordinary.

I know this for a fact - because that woman, that beautiful young lady who will never walk again, who can't even feed herself, is Lynda Langerfeld - my wife. She's not a hero. I'm not a hero. We're children of God, doing what the children of God are supposed to do. Doing what His children are called to do. Doing what God expects of every man and every woman who make a vow before God on their wedding day.

Often, Hollywood will portray a "hero" sacrificing his life for his "heroine" in a film. In the world's eyes, he's a hero. In God's eyes, he's an ordinary man making an extraordinary sacrifice that every Christian who's committed to his spouse ought to make. Sacrificial, Committed Love is the rule, not the exception. We're not super-saints, we're not heroes when we're being faithful and committed to our mates. We're doing what God has called every husband and wife to do since the beginning of time.

Forever_Lovers
02-15-2005, 10:31 AM
I Love You!
Russ Lawson
Feb 14, 2005

I LOVE YOU!

Well, "Love is in the air" as the saying goes! Here we are as a nation (and really in many nations around our world) about to celebrate "Valentine's" day. It is a day that has come to signify love relationships and especially reminding us of our love for some special person in our lives.

A good while back, I remember seeing a Charlie Brown cartoon that made an impression on me. In the cartoon strip, Lucy is shown talking to Charlie Brown and says something completely out of character for her, she tells Charlie Brown, "I love you"! Charlie Browns response is, "No you don't"! Lucy repeats louder, "Yes I do, I really love you".

The problem is that Charlie Brown has been rejected so many times that he can't imagine anyone really loving him and keeps saying, "No you don't" to her every time she says she loves him. Finally in the last frame of the strip in total frustration Lucy screams, "Hey stupid, I love you"!

I think that cartoon is a parody of our lives far too often. I have sat and pondered sometimes - until my "ponderer" is tired - about why so many people refuse to become intimately involved with God. What I have decided is that many people really can't get ahold of the idea of how much God loves them! We just have a hard time with the idea that the creator of the universe would actually love us as individuals. Yet, that is exactly what the scripture tells us He does!

Even if we don't feel "worthy" of being noticed, much less loved by our all-powerful God, he loved us anyway. This is exactly the point the apostle Paul tries to make in Romans 5:8 where he writes, "But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us - while we were still sinners".

Today we show our love for one another through words, poems, songs and gifts. God does the same thing for us. Yet, much of the world, just like Charlie Brown, just doesn't get it - do they! God is not going to stand up and scream, "Hey stupid, I love you", but He never gets tired of telling us or showing us that He does. The apostle John wrote those ever-so-famous words of John 3:16 to tell us about it. He wrote, "For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life." Did you catch the part that God gave His son for everyone, not just a worthy few? That's you and me, whether you feel worthy or not - and for me personally, most of the time I am in the "not feeling worthy" category.

John wrote one other thing that I think might apply here also. In 1 John 4:11, he says, "Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other". So, if you are gearing up to let someone know how much you love them, don't do it just because it's "Valentine's" day. Do it because that's the lesson we learn from God.

So, just in case no one else tells you, even if we have never met personally, "I Love You" - because God loves me and has given me that example!

May God help us all to understand that He loves us even if at times we may seem unloveable!

Forever_Lovers
02-15-2005, 10:31 AM
Try Him Once More
Eleonor Doan
Feb 15, 2005

TRY HIM ONCE MORE
Eleonor Doan

Some years ago in a manufacturing town of Scotland a young lady applied to the superintendent of a Sunday school for a class. At his suggestion she gathered a class of poor boys.The superintendent told them to come to his house during the week and he would give them each a new suit of clothes. They came, and each was nicely fitted out.

The worst and most unpromising boy in the class was a lad named Bob. After two or three Sundays he was missing and the teacher went out to hunt him up. She found that his new clothes were torn and dirty, but she invited him back to school, and he came. The superintendent gave him a second new suit, but after attending once or twice, Bob was again absent. Once again she sought him out, only to find that the second suit had gone the way of the first.

"I am utterly discouraged with Bob," she said, when she reported the case to the superintendent, "and I must give him up."

"Please don't do that," the superintendent replied. "I can't but hope there is something good in Bob. Try him once more. I'll give him a third suit if he'll promise to attend regularly."

Bod did promise, and received his third new suit. He attended regularly after that, and became interested in the school. He became an earnest and persevering seeker after Jesus, and found Him. He joined the church. He was made a teacher. He studied for the ministry. The end of the story is that this discouraging boy -- forlorn, rugged, runaway Bob -- became Robert Morrison, the great missionary to China who translated the Bible into the Chinese language, and by so doing, opened the kingdom of heaven to the teeming millions of that vast country.


"For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost. Matthew 18:11-14"

Forever_Lovers
02-25-2005, 11:05 AM
The Power of Little Things
David Langerfeld
Feb 16, 2005

The Power of Little Things

"Calling the Twelve to him, he [Jesus] sent them out two by two" (Mark 6:7, niv).

Bridge builder, Charles Eliet, had a contract to build a suspension bridge across the Niagara River. One of the first problems he faced was how to stretch his first cable across the wide expanse of raging waters. If a boat tried to cross the river it would be swept over the falls. Eliet thought of a simple idea. If a kite could be flown to the opposite bank using a light cord, a stronger cord could be attached and pulled across, then a stronger cord pulled across and so on until a cable could be attached and drawn across.

Eliet called for a kite flying contest and a young man named Homan Walsh succeeded on his second attempt. Charles Eliet's simple plan worked and the bridge was built.

In life some of us often feel we don't have a very important role to play. What we do seems so insignificant. It isn't so. Every Christian has an important part to play. It all adds up in the numerous "little things" we are called to do every day.

Jesus started spreading the gospel to the whole world by simply sending his disciples out two by two! So, never underestimate the importance of what God has called you to do. The important thing is to keep at it--day by day!

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you that you use ordinary people like me to do your work on earth. Help me to realize that my part--no matter how small--is a vital part of the whole picture. Help me always to be faithful and responsible and never let down on doing my part. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

Ask Him For help
Timothy Jackson
Feb 17, 2005

Ask Him For Help

"I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."—Psalm 34:4

Suddenly a young man found himself lost as he attempted to drive through the unfamiliar city. He was determined to find his way, so he continued to drive around wondrously not knowing where he was going. Hours passed by and the young man finally decided to stop at a service station and ask someone. After leaving the service station, minutes later he was on the right path. It then dawned on him how help was always available, but pride prevented him from asking for help. Frustration settled in, hours had passed, and daylight was gone all because he refused to ask for help.

There are many times in life that we exhibit similar pride to that of the young man in the above story. Oftentimes, we will buy something new and spend hours trying to figure out how it works before picking up the directions. We will spend hours trying to learn the features of a gadget before picking up the manual. Most of all, we waste a lot of time and effort trying to figure out certain things in life. We have a, "determined to figure it out on my own" mind frame. Days, weeks, months, or years have passed and we have found ourselves at the same point. This attitude has allowed discouragement, doubt, fear, loneliness, and other negative things to settle in, simply because we refuse to tap into the Help that is available to us. Some of us should be encouraged to struggle no longer alone, but "ask Him for Help!"

Laser Living
Ron Hutchcraft
Feb 18, 2005

"Laser Living"
Luke 4:42-44

We were nearly three thousand miles from home when my wife was hit by this agonizing attack of gallstones. The situation was so acute that we had to get her to a hospital where it was quickly determined that she would need surgery to remove the stones. From what we understood, it could take six weeks for her to be able to travel back after the operation. Back home a cure would have meant this invasive incision. But God, of course, had this planned all the time.

The hospital friends directed us to just happened to have on its staff one of the premier laser surgeons in the country. He zapped those gallstones with a laser beam and they were history. My honey was good to go in two days! Last week, a friend of ours lost his glasses - for good. He had a laser procedure on his eyes, and almost immediately his vision deficiencies have been corrected, and who needs glasses! Gallstones gone, vision corrected - with the power of a laser - with the power of focused light.

No amount of diffused light could have shattered gallstones or reshaped a cornea. Diffused light isn't all that powerful. Neither is a diffused life. Focused light is amazingly powerful. So is a focused life. And if you want the rest of your years to be the best of your years, however many or few God gives you, you need to be thinking about laser living.

I'm grateful God gives us some pictures of what that looks like in His Word. One incident from the life of Jesus, recorded in our word for today from the Word of God, shows us three steps to a focused, high-impact life. As we come to Luke 4:42-44, we find Jesus has spent the entire previous day healing multitudes of sick people in Capernaum. And the next day, people from all around are bringing needy people to Him from all over. But the day takes a turn no one could have predicted.

The Bible says, "At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for Him and when they came to where He was, they tried to keep Him from leaving them. But He said, 'I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.' And He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea."

Jesus was surrounded by needs and demands, competing for His time and His attention. Maybe that's a feeling you know about. But notice what happened. He walked away from a lot of needs because He had to stay focused on "why I was sent." He knew those needs were a noble detour from the mission He had to focus on - His "I must," as He called it. So He focused like a laser on the central mission God had given Him.

That's what you need to be doing. Here's how, based on what we've just seen Jesus do. First, you need to say no to some good things - things that someone should do, but not you. There are things only you are supposed to do. And that's the second step in laser living - pour everything into a few things that God wants you to go for. And the third step is how you decide the first two. Take a timeout to hear from your Father, like Jesus did. Let Him give you His passion for His priorities for your living, for your giving, and for your energy.

If you've been too spread out over too many things, you're probably not making much of a difference in any of those things. What's diffused just doesn't make much impact. It's time to step back and focus your life and your resources, not on many things, but on a few "I must" passions from God's heart to your heart. That's laser living: the power of focused energy. It's the road to what your heart is restless for - to make a far greater difference with the rest of your life than you've ever made before!

Forever_Lovers
02-25-2005, 11:09 AM
"Theology in Five Lines"
David Langerfeld
Feb 21, 2005


"God formed man,
Sin deformed him,
Education informs him,
Religion may reform him,
Only Jesus Christ can transform him."

I Give You Me
David Langerfeld
Feb 22, 2005

I give you me!

Aa nine year old boy lived in a rural town in Tennessee. His house was in a poor area of the community. A church there had a bus ministry that came knocking on his door one Saturday afternoon. The kid came to answer the door and greeted the bus driver.

The bus driver asked if his parents were home and the small boy told him that his parents take off every weekend and leave him at home to take care of his little brother. The bus driver couldn't believe what the kid said and asked him to repeat it. The youngster gave the same answer and the bus driver asked to come in and talk with him.

They went into the living room and sat down on an old couch with the foam and springs exposed. The bus driver asked the kid, "Where do you go to church?" The young boy surprised the visitor by replying, "I've never been to church in my whole life."

The bus driver thought to himself about the fact that his church was less than three miles from the child's house. "Are you sure you have never been to church?" he asked again.

"I'm sure I haven't," came his answer. Then the bus driver said, "Well, son, more important than going to church, have you ever heard the greatest love story ever told?" and then he proceeded to share the Gospel with this little nine year old boy.

At the end of the story the bus driver asked the little boy if he wanted to receive this free gift from God. The youngster exclaimed, "OF COURSE!" The kid and the bus driver got on their knees and the boy invited Jesus into his heart and received the free gift of salvation. They both stood up and the bus driver asked if he could pick the kid up for church the next morning. "Sure," the nine year old replied.

The bus driver got to the house early the next morning and picked up the boy and took him to church.

The little kid just sat in church, clueless of what was going on. A few minutes into the service, these tall unhappy guys walked down to the front and picked up some wooden plates. One of the men prayed and the kid, with utter fascination, watched them walk up and down the aisles. He still didn't know what was going on. All of a sudden, like a bolt of lightning, it hit the kid what was taking place. These people must be giving money to Jesus.

He then reflected on the free gift of life that he had received just twenty-four hours earlier. He immediately searched his pockets, front and back, and couldn't find a thing to give Jesus. By this time the offering plate was being passed down his aisle and, with a broken heart, he just grabbed the plate and held on to it.

He finally let go and watched it pass on down the aisle. He turned around to see it passed down the aisle behind him. And then his eyes remained glued on the plate as it was passed back and forth, back and forth all the way to the rear of the sanctuary.

Then he had an idea. This little nine-year-old boy, in front of God and everybody, got up out of his seat. He walked about eight rows back, grabbed the usher by the coat and asked to hold the plate one more time. He took the plate, sat it on the carpeted church floor and stepped into the center of it.

As he stood there, he lifted his little head up and said, "Jesus, I don't have any money to give you today - but, I give you me!"

The Forgiveness Ad
Rubel Shelly
Feb 23, 2005

The Forgiveness Ad

Larry and Marianne have been having problems in their marriage of 17 years. She finally left him just over two weeks ago. "It was a culmination of things," he said. "But I am desperately trying to save our marriage."

Marianne left their home in Orlando, Florida, and went to her parents' home in Jacksonville. She changed her cell phone number so he couldn't reach her. Her parents have blocked him from entering their gated community. So he sent her five dozen roses. His goal was just to communicate. To ask forgiveness. To plead for the chance for the two of them to work on their relationship.

Lacking any response from his estranged wife, Larry took out a full-page ad in last Tuesday's Florida Times-Union. "I can only hope you will give me the chance to prove my unending love for you. Life without you is empty and meaningless." The cost of a full-page ad means that Larry sent Marianne a $17,000 apology.

I don't know any more of the story. I have no opinion on the salvageability of their marriage. I hope things can be worked out between them, for relationships are ultimately all that matter in this life. But the story sounded strangely familiar.

Redeemer God has been on a mission for centuries now. Although he is the aggrieved party, he has been taking it upon himself to communicate with his estranged creatures. Loving us as a concerned Father who is grieving his prodigal sons and daughters, he has struggled to communicate his deep love and concern.

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at
many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has
spoken to us by his Son .... (Hebrews 1:1)

How are we to understand this biblical text?

After sending Moses and Deborah and Isaiah to deliver dozens of pleas and warnings, it was time to pull out all the stops. When the roses had been ignored, he put a billboard on a hilltop just outside Jerusalem. Written there for all the world to see, he declared his intention to heal a broken relationship.

In a forgiveness ad that cost far more than full-page ads in The New York Times, London Telegraph, and Pravda, God wrote his message in blood. He said that you mean more to him than life itself. That there is nothing he would not give to have a relationship with you. That he will not give up on you without a fight.

A relative told Larry that his wife had seen his message. "She said my wife read the ad and started crying," he said. "But so far I've had no response from her."

I suspect you've heard about God's forgiveness ad. I'd be surprised if it has not touched you. I hope you won't leave him wondering about your response.

The Burden of Discontent
Max Lucado
Feb 24, 2005

The Burden of Discontent

Come to me to the most populated prison in the world. The facility has more inmates than bunks. More prisoners than plates. More residents than resources.

Come to me to the world's most oppressive prison. Just ask the inmates; they will tell you. They are overworked and underfed. Their walls are bare and bunks are hard. No prison is so populated, no prison so oppressive, and, what's more, no prison is so permanent. Most inmates never leave. They never escape. They never get released. They serve a life sentence in this overcrowded, underprovisioned facility.

The name of the prison? You'll see it over the entrance. Rainbowed over the gate are four cast-iron letters that spell out its name:



W-A-N-T
The prison of want. You've seen her prisoners. They are "in want." They want something.They want something bigger. Nicer. Faster. Thinner. They want.

They don't want much, mind you. They want just one thing. One new job. One new car. One new house. One new spouse. They don't want much. They want just one.

And when they have "one," they will be happy. And they are right -- they will be happy. When they have "one," they will leave the prison. But then it happens. The new car smell passes. The new job gets old. The neighbors buy a larger television set. The new spouse has bad habits. The sizzle fizzles, and before you know it, another ex-con breaks parole and returns to jail.

Are you in prison? You are if you feel better when you have more and worse when you have less. You are if joy is one delivery away, one transfer away, one award away, or one make-over away. If your happiness comes from something you deposit, drive, drink, or digest, then face it -- you are in prison, the prison of want.

... for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philip. 4:11-13



By Max Lucado, excerted from "Experiencing the Heart of Jesus"

Finish the Race
Steve Troxel
Feb 25, 2005

Finish The Race

Paul was returning to Jerusalem at the end of his third and final missionary journey. By this time in his ministry, Paul had been a Christian for nearly twenty years. Twenty years since Jesus called Paul, "My chosen instrument to carry My name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel" (Acts 9:15). Twenty years of faithful service, and now..."In every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me" (Acts 20:23).

Paul was returning home, but his life was not going to be easy. He knew there were many trials ahead, but his life had a purpose far beyond his immediate surroundings.

Acts 20:24
"I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."

It was several more years before Paul wrote; "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation" (Philippians 4:12); yet here, when facing certain hardship, Paul showed he had already learned the secret. The particular circumstances in Paul's life had become of minor importance. He knew his contentment was not based on current events, but on bringing glory and honor to God. His life had a wonderful purpose even in the face of great adversity and harsh conditions.

We were all created for the same purpose as Paul - we were created to bring glory and honor to God! Our specific tasks may differ and change from time to time, but we each have the same unchanging purpose - everything we do, say, and think should bring glory and honor to our Heavenly Father!

God's race is run in the deepest part of our heart - not in the flurry of activity. Running well is not defined by doing more; rather, we run a "successful" race as we do every little task we are given with the complete and absolute devotion of our heart.

His race is long and often difficult. There are many distractions which seek to slow us down and even pull us from the track, and at times we may even wonder why we're running. But being a participant in God's eternal race is infinitely more rewarding than standing on the sidelines and simply watching! He has called us to run - and to run well!!

We must run the path God places before us with all the strength He provides - and within the sure and calming protection of His grace. Let's run with the motivation of bringing Him glory and honor by loving Him with ALL our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Let's continue to run well, and with a burning desire to finish the race.

Forever_Lovers
03-03-2005, 08:27 AM
The Jars
David Langerfeld
Mar 1, 2005

The Jars

The preacher placed two identical jars on the table next to the pulpit. He quoted I Samuel 16:7, "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

"These jars came from the same factory, were made of the same materials, and can hold the same amount. But they are different," he explained.

Then he upset one and it oozed out honey. He turned over the other, and vinegar spilled out. "When a jar is upset, whatever is in it comes out.

Until the jars were upset, they looked alike. The difference lay within, and could not be seen. When they were upset, their contents were revealed.

Until we are upset we put on a good front. But when we are upset, we reveal our innermost thoughts and attitudes, for "out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45).

What if someone tipped you over today? What would flow out? Would you reveal the "vinegar" of anger and sarcasm, or the "honey" of grace and patience?


God is Good!
David Langerfeld
Mar 2, 2005

God is Good

There was an old man at our church who had loved God all of his life. The man, John, walked around saying "God is Good". He said it all the time, whenever and wherever he was. When John got married he said, "God is Good". When John lost his job he said, "God is Good". When John's father died he said, "God is Good". When John's wallet got stolen he said, "God is Good". Well, you get the idea, no matter what John did, or what happened to him, we would always hear him say, "God is Good".

A few months ago, John was diagnosed with cancer. The disease had spread rapidly and he was told by his doctor he'd have only a few weeks to live. Still, even on his death bed, John could be heard by everyone in the hospital repeating his famous line, "God is Good". Our pastor Charles was John's best friend. Charles went everyday to visit John in the hospital. And every night before Charles left John would tell him, "God is Good".


Finally after weeks of watching his best friend get worse and worse from his terminal disease, Charles just could not stand it any longer and asked John, " John you are my best friend and I love you. I love the Lord as much as you do too. I have listened to you say that God is Good your whole life. Through the good times, maybe I can understand you saying how good God is. Maybe even through the hard times, to help yourself cope. But now, laying here on your death bed, how can you be so optimistic? How can you say God is good every day when you know he is letting you die?" John just looked at Charles and smiles.


"Dear friend, don't you see all of those times I was saying God was Good, it was my way of praising him in the little way I could. And look what my reward is for remaining faithful, I am dieing. You say God is letting me die as if that is a bad thing. Charles, have you forgotten that is our goal. To live our life for Him, and join him one day in heaven. See, GOD IS GOOD! He has finally called me home and in a few hours I will be with Him. I can't imagine anything greater than that."


John died that night in his sleep. Charles stood up and said only two things at John's funeral: "I will miss my friend but I know I will see him again one day soon. and GOD IS GOOD."

Hurry Up and Wait
David Langerfeld
Mar 3, 2005

Hurry Up And Wait

"...but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

When Brad was in the second or third grade, his class did a project on safety. All of the students drew a poster at the conclusion of the week showing what they had learned. Brad's poster was typical for a boy his age. He drew a fire truck and ambulance parked outside an emergency room. A patient lay bleeding on a stretcher and the sign at the doorway to the emergency room said, "Hurry Up And Wait".

Obviously, Brad at that age didn't realize the importance of the words he wrote, but they convey a worldly truth. We spend many minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years rushing through life only to find ourselves waiting, waiting, and waiting some more.

We wait at the doctor's office; we wait at the grocery store; we wait at the post office; we wait at the pharmacy; we wait for our children to grow up and then anxiously wait for them to come home again.

Waiting is hard, exasperating work. The fact that we hate to wait has created a "quick fix" society. We microwave our food; pump our own gas; process our words on a computer; write notes of affection on the internet, not paper; jet to locations far and near; hear news from across the world in fractions of a second; eat out because it takes too much time to cook, and so on.

In our world, waiting is bad. However, in God's world, waiting is good. God has given us many instructions on the necessity of waiting. Let's look at some of these now:

"My soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation." (Psalm 62:1) "Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart;(Psalm 27:14) "Blessed is he who waits. . ." (Daniel 12:12) "We have waited for Him and He will save us." (Isaiah 25:9) "I will wait for You, O You his Strength; for God is my defense." (Psalm 59:9)

Do you notice the words used by those who wait on God? These are not words of frustration and confusion. These are words of strength, salvation and blessings. Waiting on God, as David, Isaiah and many others learned, means letting go and letting God. It involves study, reflection, prayer, solitude, and time apart from the world.

We microwave... God works miracles.
We rush... God refreshes.
We get angry and impatient... God gets busy reorganizing our priorities.

Hurry Up And Wait. Spend time giving time to God. Block out a section of your calendar for the Miracle Man. Then sit quietly... shhhh... shhhh... and wait on God.

Prayer: Put me in line with Your plan, Lord. Teach me to wait on You. Amen.

Forever_Lovers
03-09-2005, 06:16 AM
Look Who's Here
Vance Havner
Mar 4, 2005

LOOK WHO'S HERE

Don't you think Moses, after a discouraging day, may have pulled open his tent flap to see the pillar of fire high in the sky and said, "Everything's fine. LOOK WHO'S HERE."

And what about Daniel, charter member of the Lion's Club. He laid his head on the mane of a lion and said, "I'm not afraid. LOOK WHO'S HERE."

King Nebuchadnezzar had those three fellas thrown in the fire but when he looked down he saw four. Shadrach and Company were just fine. "LOOK WHO'S HERE."

And what about Elijah? Water was scarce and still he ordered twelve barrels to be poured upon the altar. God or Baal? Choose you this day whom ye will serve! Ol' Elijah just chuckled to himself and said, "LOOK WHO'S HERE."

David, the shepherd boy who would become King, looked at Goliath, loaded his slingshot, and said "Your time's up. LOOK WHO'S HERE."

Remember when Walter Cronkite signed off every evening with, "And that's the way it is." A preacher friend of mine would say "No Walter, that's not the way it is, that's just the way it looks. LOOK WHO'S HERE."

Lazarus had been dead four days when Jesus said "roll the stone away." But Lazarus walked out of that tomb because Almighty God turned death on its heels and said "LOOK WHO'S HERE."

One of these days "it may be at morn when the day is awakened, it may be at midday, it may be at twilight, it may be per chance in the blackness of midnight" – in one mighty shout around the world we will look up and cry "Hallelujah! He's back! LOOK WHO'S HERE!"


Written by legendary preacher Vance Havner:

Intended For Good
Steve Troxel
Mar 7, 2005

Intended For Good

Joseph's life was filled with one difficult situation after another. By the time he was a teenager, his brothers had developed an intense hatred toward him. Their hatred led to an attempt to take his life - but rather than kill him, they sold young Joseph into slavery (Genesis 37). And as a slave, Joseph was falsely accused of rape and thrown into jail (Genesis 39).

It's never really explained how Joseph learned to trust God - but he did! He could have become very discouraged when he became a slave, but somehow Joseph adjusted to his circumstances and thrived; "The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered" (Genesis 39:2). When tempted with sexual sin by Potiphar's wife, he kept himself pure because he did not want to "sin against God" (Genesis 39:9). But false accusations still sent him into prison.

Even after spending several years in jail, Joseph continued to place his complete trust in God. When asked to interpret Pharaoh's dreams, Joseph risked his freedom and rightly gave all the glory and praise to God rather than take credit for himself; "I cannot do it, but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires" (Genesis 41:16).

Joseph was rewarded with much more than his freedom; he was placed in charge of the entire land of Egypt during a great famine. He was also reunited with his family and able to keep them from certain starvation. Several years later, after their father had died, his brothers came and fearfully asked for Joseph's forgiveness for their earlier sins. Joseph had the power and could have now taken great revenge; but he continued to demonstrate his understanding of how God cares for His children.

Genesis 50:19-20
"Joseph said to them, 'Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.'"

When Joseph was sold into slavery, he had no idea of God's awesome plan. He would spend many years in jail before receiving even a hint of God's purpose. But God is ALWAYS at work in the lives of those who love Him. Joseph's life must encourage us to draw near to God during times of hardship - to continue trusting and honoring Him in all we do... no matter what our circumstances!

We all go through "dungeon" seasons when life seems to take unplanned and seemingly "unfair" turns. We all, at times, feel abandoned and alone: "Has God forgotten us? Does He no longer care?" We may not understand why things happen the way they do; but if we will continue to love Him with all our heart and consistently trust Him in and through all our trials, we can be certain (and we will one day see) that God is in control and our situation is truly intended for good.


By Steve Troxel

If Jesus Is My Master
Tom Norvell
Mar 9, 2005

What if Jesus Is My Master?

I spent the weekend with about six thousand of my closest teenage friends listening to Bible teaching on the theme of Jesus as our "Master and Commander." In one of the texts that was used during the presentations, Jesus challenges his disciples to leave their familiar life and follow him. "Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him." (Luke 5:10-11 NIV) I've come away from the weekend asking myself, "What if Jesus is my Master?"

"What if Jesus is my Master?"

If Jesus is my Master, I will think differently. I will think differently about people who are different from me. I will not judge those who have a different color skin. I will not condemn people who do not think the same way I think. I will not criticize those who hold different views on political and religious issues. If Jesus is my Master I will think before I speak. I will think before I react. I will think before I assume. If Jesus is my Master I will think differently.

If Jesus is my Master, I will feel differently. My heart will influence my thinking. Compassion will play a more prominent role in my relationships. Forgiveness will come more quickly. Empathy will be offered more freely. I will hurt with those who hurt, I will weep with those who weep, I will rejoice with those who rejoice. I will feel differently if Jesus is my Master.

If Jesus is my Master, I will see differently. I will see beyond a person's actions and try to see the motive behind their actions. Then, I will try to understand their motives. I will see more that the obvious. I will not stop with outward appearances. I will not settle for externals. I will look deeper into the heart. I will look beyond the critical comment, the harsh words, or the negative attitude to find the source of their pain. I will see beyond the immediate. I will be able to see potential, and be hopeful even where there appears to be no reason for hope. If Jesus is my Master I will see differently.

If Jesus is my Master, I will act differently. Once my thinking is different, my feelings are different, and my vision is different. I will act differently. I will be more patient with people. I will be more giving to people. I will be more caring. I will be a better listener. I will be a more compassionate counselor. I will be a more understanding father. I will be a more loving husband. I will be a more insightful teacher and preacher. If Jesus is my Master my actions will be different.

All these things can happen if I allow Jesus to be my Master. The people around me need me to allow Jesus to be my Master. So, the only thing that remains is for me to allow Jesus to be my Master.

That is my prayer for me, and for you: May Jesus be our Master.

Forever_Lovers
03-10-2005, 07:54 AM
Getting Nowhere Fast
Sheree Motola
Mar 10, 2005

"Meanwhile, Boaz went up to the town gate and sat there." Ruth 4:4

The town gate was the place in town where many legal transactions took place. Boaz wanted approval from the elders to marry Ruth, but he first had to clear any prior claims to her estate. Instead of running around, making things happen, Boaz went to the gate, sat and waited until the people he needed to speak with came by the gate. Boaz was secure in his purpose and knew he was in God's will so he trusted plans to unfold.

Are you rushing around trying to make things happen or are you waiting on God to lead the way? Relax, regroup, and let God lead the way.

PRAYER: Lord, let me learn to wait. Show me your plan for my life and give me the patience and the trust to let it unfold in Your way. Stop me from running around, trying to make things happen and let me rest in your peace.

by Sheree Motola

Forever_Lovers
03-15-2005, 08:02 AM
Eagles in the Storm
David Langerfeld
Mar 11, 2005

Did you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it breaks? The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages, below the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle does not escape the storm. It simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm.

When the storms of life come upon us ... and all of us will experience them...we can rise above them by setting our minds and our belief toward God.

The storms do not have to overcome us. We can allow God's power to lift us above them. God enables us to ride the winds of the storm that bring sickness, tragedy, failure, and disappointment into our lives. We can soar above the storm. Remember, it is not the burdens of life that weigh us down, it is how we handle them. The Bible says, "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on the wings like eagles." Isaiah 40:31.

The Hut
David Langerfeld
Mar 14, 2005

Encourager Classic: "The Hut"

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements and to store his few possessions.

But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened - everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger.

"God, how could you do this to me!" he cried. Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him.

"How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers.

"We saw your smoke signal," they replied.

It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad, but we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering. Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground ----it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God.

For all the negative things we have to say to ourselves, God has a positive answer:

You say: "It's impossible"
God says: All things are possible (Luke 18:27)

You say: "Nobody really loves me"
God says: I love you (John 3:16 & John 13:34)

You say: "I can't go on"
God says: My grace is sufficient (II Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)

You say: "I can't figure things out"
God says: I will direct your steps (Proverbs 3:5-6)

You say: "I can't do it"
God says: You can do all things (Philippians 4:13)

You say: "I'm not able"
God says: I am able (II Corinthians 9:8)

You say: "It's not worth it"
God says: It will be worth it (Roman 8:28)

You say: "I can't forgive myself"
God says: I FORGIVE YOU (I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)

You say: "I can't manage"
God says: I will supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19)

You say: "I'm afraid"
God says: I have not given you a spirit of fear (II Timothy 1:7)

You say: "I'm always worried and frustrated"
God says: Cast all your cares on ME (I Peter 5:7)

You say: "I don't have enough faith"
God says: I've given everyone a measure of faith (Romans 12:3)

You say: "I'm not smart enough"
God says: I give you wisdom (I Corinthians 1:30)

You say: "I feel all alone"
God says: I will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)

I Tell You the Truth
David Langerfeld
Mar 15, 2005

I Tell You The Truth

I tell you the truth. . . (NIV) Matthew 5:18

If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me? (NIV) John 8:46


I remember my first thoughts about Jesus since my childhood, long before I ever became a Christian. I thought about the things He said, which I believed were just the words of another religious person which I didn't particularly believe. But, I began to wonder why Jesus said the things He did? What did He get out of it? Why would He say things that were not true? Why would He say things that He knew would get Him into trouble and eventually, to die the most painful death in history? It was these thoughts that led me to look into the person of Jesus and to finally accept Him as Lord of my life.

I eventually decided to believe that Jesus really did speak the truth and was who He said He was. In the New Testament, in the NIV translation, Jesus uses the phrase "I tell you the truth" no less than 80 times! If He was indeed telling the truth, then how much of what Jesus said do we truly believe?

God often leads me to look at what I say I believe and what I actually do and think. If I believe Jesus spoke the truth about sin in our hearts, do I think He doesn't mind if I harbor hate or resentment toward someone? If He spoke the truth about speaking the truth in love, does He not mind if I gossip or lie to get out of a difficult situation?

Sometimes I believe God would have us do a full inventory of our beliefs and our behaviors. I ask God to reveal to me where my beliefs are weak or not in accordance with His truth and to help me change and repent. I want to believe every word Jesus said. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth." Listen and believe.


Written by Gail Rodgers
Posted at www.anchorlife.org (http://www.anchorlife.org)

Forever_Lovers
03-18-2005, 08:03 AM
Never Forget
Steve Troxel
Mar 16, 2005

Never Forget

It had been forty years since Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. During their years of wandering in the desert, God demonstrated His faithfulness as well as His holiness. Now, as the people were finally ready to cross the Jordan river into the promised land of Canaan, Moses gave one last encouragement.

Deuteronomy 6:10-12
"When the Lord your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers - a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant - then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery."

We have all lived in the land of slavery - a land where we were controlled by sin. We were born as slaves, but Jesus came to set us free: "Though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free" (Romans 6:17-18).

While we were still lost in our sinful condition, Jesus gave His life on the cross as a sacrifice (payment) for our sin - but He also broke the chains which kept us slaves to sin. Though we may still struggle, we need not be mastered if we have placed our faith in Jesus and daily submit to the leading of His Spirit. His sacrifice provides a way to be "heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17). This IS a victorious life!

Yes we have been set free! But we did nothing to earn this freedom. We did not dig a well of righteousness or plant a field of forgiveness. Our "promised land" of freedom is a gift, given by a loving Father to those who believe.

As we continue on our Christian walk, with its many peaks and valleys, twists and turns, we often forget. We become discouraged over trivial matters which are quickly fading away and forget the gift of eternal life we have been given. We wander in the dry desert of ungrateful hearts and ask, "Where is God?" We forget the joy we once had of abiding in His presence and forget His promise to always be near; "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).

Through God's precious gift, we have an eternity to worship our Heavenly Father. This alone should give us reason to praise His Name with every breath and live a life holy and pleasing to Him. Whether we are currently in a time of crushing trials or unparalleled peace, we must continually remember from where we were rescued. His gift is a blessing we can hardly comprehend! And as we draw near and give Him all of our heart, His grace continues to bless us even more. Let's worship with a thankful heart, glorify His Name in ALL we do, and be careful to never forget.

Steve Troxel
God's Daily Word Ministries

No Excuses
David Langerfeld
Mar 17, 2005

Excuses

I'm not perfect. I have all kinds of problems. I don't know the Bible well enough. I have no ability. I don't have any gifts. I'm limited. I'm just not worthy...

Well, did you know that....
Moses stuttered.
David's armor didn't fit.
John Mark deserted Paul.
Timothy had ulcers.
Hosea's wife was a prostitute.
Amos' only training was in the school of fig-tree pruning.
Jacob was a liar.
David had an affair.
Solomon was too rich.
Jesus was too poor.
Abraham was too old.
David was too young.
Peter was afraid of death.
Lazarus was dead.
John was self-righteous.
Naomi was a widow.
Paul was a persecutor of the church.
Moses was a murderer.
Jonah ran from God's will.
Miriam was a gossip.
Gideon and Thomas both doubted.
Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal.
Elijah was burned out.
John the Baptist was a loudmouth.
Martha was a worry-wart.
Noah got drunk.
Did I mention that Moses had a short fuse?
So did Peter, Paul - well, lots of folks did.

God doesn't require a job interview for salvation. He's our Heavenly Father. He doesn't look at financial gain or loss. He's not prejudiced or partial, not judging, grudging, sassy, or brassy, not deaf to our cry, not blind to our need. He knows who we are and what we are and loves us in spite of ourselves.

SATAN SAYS, "YOU'RE NOT WORTHY."
JESUS SAYS, "SO WHAT? I AM."
SATAN LOOKS BACK AND SEES OUR MISTAKES.
GOD LOOKS BACK AND SEES THE CROSS.

There are lots of reasons why God shouldn't call us. But if we are in love with Him, if we hunger for Him, He'll use us in spite of who we are, where we've been, what we have done, or the fact that we are not perfect!

Ain't That Grown
David Langerfeld
Mar 18, 2005

"Ain't That Grown"

"But David's men said to him, "Here in Judah we are afraid. How much more, then, if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces!" Once again David inquired of the LORD , and the LORD answered him, "Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand." So David and his men went to Keilah, fought the Philistines and carried off their livestock. He inflicted heavy losses on the Philistines and saved the people of Keilah." I Samuel 23:3-5

A young man got up one morning and decided that he wanted something from McDonald's for breakfast. He grabbed his father's car keys and headed to McDonald's. Upon his return, his father stood at the door angry and disappointed that his son went without his permission.

The father said to the son, "it is not that I mind you driving to McDonald's, the problem is you went without asking me first." The son learned that although something may be okay to do in and of itself, it is still proper to consult with his father before making a move. In short, the son learned that he "ain't that grown!"

There are some things that are okay for us to do in the eyes of God, but it is important that we consult God before moving forward with them. The situation looks good and even looks like it was ordained by God, but we still have the responsibility to consult with Him first.

Oftentimes, when we move without consulting the Father, we end up in trouble because we did not consult with Him first. Even now, some of us are facing situations that seem perfect and divinely orchestrated. However, Daddy still wants us to consult with Him before making a move. It is not that moving into it is not of God, but we must be like David and now allow ourselves to get comfortable and assume God's approval. We must stay in a child's place and always recognize that we "ain't that grown."

Be blessed!

Forever_Lovers
03-22-2005, 09:23 AM
Still He Walked
David Langerfeld
Mar 22, 2005

He could hear the crowds screaming "crucify" "crucify"...
He could hear the hatred in their voices,
These were his chosen people.
He loved them,
And they were going to crucify him.
He was beaten, bleeding and weakened... his heart was broken,
But still He walked.

He could see the crowd as he came from the palace.
He knew each of the faces so well.
He had created them.
He knew every smile, laugh, and shed tear,
But now they were contorted with rage and anger...his heart broke,
But still He walked.

Was he scared? You and I would have been
So his humanness would have mandated that he was. He felt alone.
His disciples had left, denied, and even betrayed him.
He searched the crowd for a loving face and he saw very few.
Then he turned his eyes to the only one that mattered
And he knew that he would never be alone.
He looked back at the crowd, at the people who were spitting
At him, throwing rocks at him and mocking him and he knew
That because of him, they would never be alone.
So for them, He walked.

The sounds of the hammer striking the spikes echoed through
The crowd. The sounds of his cries echoed even louder,
The cheers of the crowd, as his hands and feet
Were nailed to the cross, intensified with each blow.
Loudest of all was the still small voice inside his
Heart that whispered "I am with you, my son",
And God's heart broke.
He had let his son walk.

Jesus could have asked God to end his suffering,
But instead he asked God to forgive.
Not to forgive him, but to forgive the ones who were persecuting him.
As he hung on that cross, dying an unimaginable death,
He looked out and saw, not only the faces in the crowd,
But also, the face of every person yet to be,
And his heart filled with love.
As his body was dying, his heart was alive. Alive with
The limitless, unconditional love he feels for each of us.
That is why He walked.

When I forget how much My God loves me,
I remember his walk.
When I wonder if I can be forgiven,
I remember his walk.
When I need reminded of how to live like Christ,
I think of his walk.
And to show him how much I love him,
I wake up each morning, turn my eyes to him,
And I walk.

Ronnie
06-27-2005, 03:21 PM
The Daily Encourager

Apples
Jun 27, 2005

APPLES

A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night's dinner.

In their rush, with tickets and brief-cases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of baskets of apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly missed boarding.

All but one. He paused, took a deep breath, got in touch with his feelings, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned.

He told his buddies to go on without him, waved goodbye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor.

He was glad he did.

The 16 year old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her, no one stopping, and no one to care for her plight.

The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them into the baskets, and helped set the display up once more. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket.

When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, "Here, please take this $20 for the damage we did. Are you okay?"

She nodded through her tears. He continued on with, "I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly."

As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, "Mister..." He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes.

She continued, "Are you Jesus?"

He stopped in mid-stride, and he wondered. Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul: "Are you Jesus?"

Do people mistake you for Jesus?

That's our destiny, is it not? To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace.

If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting Scripture and going to church. It's actually living the Word as life unfolds day to day. You are the apple of His eye even though we, too, have been bruised by a fall. He stopped what He was doing and picked you and me up on a hill called Calvary and paid in full for our damaged fruit.

Let us live like we are worth the price He paid.

Ronnie
06-28-2005, 11:26 AM
Don't We All
Author Unknown
Jun 28, 2005

Don't We All

I was parked in front of the mall wiping off my car. I had just come from the car wash and was waiting for my wife to get out of work. Coming my way from across the parking lot was what society would consider a bum. From the looks of him, he had no car, no home, no clean clothes, and no money. There are times when you feel generous but there are other times that you just don't want to be bothered. This was one of those "don't want to be bothered times."

"I hope he doesn't ask me for any money," I thought.

He didn't.

He came and sat on the curb in front of the bus stop but he didn't look like he could have enough money to even ride the bus.

After a few minutes he spoke.

"That's a very pretty car," he said.

He was ragged but he had an air of dignity around him. His scraggly blond beard keep more than his face warm. I said, "thanks," and continued wiping off my car.

He sat there quietly as I worked. The expected plea for money never came. As the silence between us widened something inside said, "ask him if he needs any help." I was sure that he would say "yes" but I held true to the inner voice.

"Do you need any help?" I asked.

He answered in three simple but profound words that I shall never forget.

"Don't we all?" he said.

We often look for wisdom in great men and women. We expect it from those of higher learning and accomplishments. I expected nothing but an outstretched grimy hand. He spoke the three words that shook me.

I was feeling high and mighty, successful and important, above a bum in the street, until those three words hit me like a twelve gauge shotgun.

Don't we all?

I needed help. Maybe not for bus fare or a place to sleep, but I needed help. I reached in my wallet and gave him not only enough for bus fare, but enough to get a warm meal and shelter for the day. Those three little words still ring true. No matter how much you have, no matter how much you have accomplished, you need help too. No matter how little you have, no matter how loaded you are with problems, even without money or a place to sleep, you can give help. Even if it's just a compliment, you can give that.

You never know when you may see someone that appears to have it all. They are waiting on you to give them what they don't have. A different perspective on life, a glimpse at something beautiful, a respite from daily chaos, that only you through a torn world can see.

Maybe the man was just a homeless stranger wandering the streets. Maybe he was more than that. Maybe he was sent by a great and wise God, to minister to a soul too comfortable in themselves.

Maybe God looked down, called an Angel, dressed him like a bum, then said, "go minister to that man cleaning the car, that man needs help."

Don't we all?

Ronnie
07-05-2005, 10:07 AM
The Rock
Jun 29, 2005

A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and the Savior appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might.

This the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore, and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain. Seeing that the man was showing signs of discouragement, the Evil Impulse decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the man's weary mind: "You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn't budged. Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it." Thus giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure, these thoughts discouraged and disheartened the "Why kill myself over this?" he thought. "I'll just put in my time, giving just the minimum effort and that will be good enough."

And that he planned to do until one day he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to the Lord. "Lord", he said, "I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?"

The Lord responded compassionately, "My friend, when I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push.

And now you come to me, with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? "Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewed and brown, your hands are callused from constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have.

Yet you haven't moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. This you have done. "I, my friend, will now move the rock."

At times when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants, when actually what God wants is just simple obedience and faith in Him....... By all means, exercise the faith that move mountains, but it is still God who moves the mountains.

Author Unknown

Ronnie
07-05-2005, 10:12 AM
Commitment
Jun 30, 2005

A missionary society wrote to David Livingston and suggested that if he could ensure them of safe roads that they would send him some help. He responded with the following note:

"If you have men that will only come if they have a good road, I don't want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all."

Somewhere in our modern-day, comfort-driven society we lost the determination it takes to stay committed. In the Scriptures we learn that the worthwhile things are never what comes by doing the "easy" tasks. We miss opportunities by trying to avoid testing. When we get committed, we endure to the end the task that has been set before us.

Ronnie
07-05-2005, 10:13 AM
Encourager Classic: The Hut
Jul 01, 2005

[Today's Encourager has been shared many times through the years and is one of our most requested "Encouragers".]


The Hut

The only survivor of a shipwreck washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming.

Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky.

The worst had happened; everything was lost.

He was stung with grief and anger. "God, how could you do this to me!" he cried.

Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him.

"How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers.

"We saw your smoke signal," they replied.

Remember next time your little hut is burning to the ground, it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God.

Ronnie
07-05-2005, 10:15 AM
Encourager Classic: The Pearls
Jul 05, 2005

While I am away on vacation this week, I'm posting some of our most requested "Daily Encouragers". If you've sent me a personal email, I will try to respond on Wednesday when I have internet access once again. David


The Pearls

The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box.

"Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please?" Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face.

"A dollar ninety-five. That's almost $2.00. If you really want them, I'll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday's only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma."

As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. James if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace. Jenny loved her pearls.

They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere - Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.

Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?"

"Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you." "Then give me your pearls." "Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess - the white horse from my collection - the one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She's my favorite."

"That's okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night." And he brushed her cheek with a kiss. About a week later, after the story time, Jenny's daddy asked again, "Do you love me?"

"Daddy, you know I love you."

"Then give me your pearls."

"Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper."

"That's okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you."

And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss. A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. "What is it, Jenny? What's the matter?"

Jenny didn't say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, "Here, Daddy. It's for you."

With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny's kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny. He had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her genuine treasure.

Jenny's father is like our heavenly Father. He also is waiting for us to give up our dime store stuff and seek Him first ... so He can fling open the windows of Heaven and pour us out such a blessing that we will not have room enough to hold it.

What are you hanging on to?

Ronnie
07-06-2005, 09:45 AM
Encourager Classic: The Chair
Jul 06, 2005

The Chair

A man's daughter had asked the local pastor to come and pray with her father. When the pastor arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows. An empty chair sat beside his bed.

The pastor assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit. "I guess you were expecting me," he said.

"No, who are you?", said the father. "I am the new pastor at your church," he replied. "When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up."

"Oh yeah, the chair," said the bedridden man. "Would you mind closing the door?" Puzzled, the pastor shut the door. "I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter," said the man. "But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the preacher talk about prayer, but it went right over my head."

"I abandoned any attempt at prayer," the old man continued, "until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with JESUS. Here is what I suggest. Sit down in a chair, place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see JESUS on the chair. It's not spooky because he promised, "I'll be with you always." Then just speak to HIM and listen in the same way you're doing with me right now'.

"So, I tried it and I liked it so much that I have been doing it a couple of hours every day since. I'm careful though, if my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she'd either have a nervous breakdown or send me of to a funny farm."

The pastor was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old man to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him and returned to the church.

Two nights later the daughter called to tell the pastor that her daddy had died that afternoon. "Did he die in peace?" he asked. "Yes, when I left the house about two o'clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me he loved me and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead.

But there was something strange about his death. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside the bed." What do you make of that ?"

The pastor wiped a tear from his eye and said, "I wish we all could go that way".

Ronnie
07-07-2005, 08:20 AM
Encourager Classic: God's Dresser
Jul 07, 2005

God's Dresser

A woman is dying of AIDS. A minister is summoned. He attempts to share God's love with her, but to no avail.

"I am lost," she said. "I have ruined my life and every life around me. Now I'm going painfully to hell. There is no hope for me."

The minister saw a framed picture of a pretty girl on the dresser. "Who is this?" he asked. The woman brightened. "She is my daughter, the one beautiful thing in my life."

"And would you help her if she was in trouble, or made a mistake? Would you forgive her? Would you still love her?"

"Of course I would!" cried the woman, "I would do anything for her! Why do you ask such a question?"

"Because I want you to know," said the minister, "that God has a picture of you on His dresser."

Ronnie
07-08-2005, 12:01 PM
Encourager Classic: God Is!
Jul 08, 2005

God Is!

God is Lord Almighty,
Omnipotent King, Lion of Judah,
Rock of Ages, Prince of Peace,
King of Kings, Lord of Lords,
Provider, Protector, Paternal,
Leader, Ruling Lord and Reigning King
Of all the universe.

He is Father, He is Helper,
He is Guardian, and He is God.
He is the First and the Last,
The beginning and the end,
He is the Keeper of Creation
and Creator of all He keeps;
The Architect of the universe
and manager of all times.
He always was, He always is,
and always will be...
unmoved, unchanged, undefeated,
and never undone.

He was bruised and brought healing.
He was pierced and eased pain.
He was persecuted and brought freedom.
He was dead and brought life.
He is risen and brings power.
He reigns and brings peace.

The world can't understand Him,
the armies can't defeat Him,
the schools can't explain Him,
and leaders can't ignore Him.
Herod couldn't kill Him,

the Pharisees couldn't confuse Him,
people couldn't hold Him,
Nero couldn't crush Him,
Hitler couldn't silence Him,
the New Age can't replace Him,
and Oprah can't explain Him away !

He is Light, Love, Longevity and Lord.
He is goodness, Kindness, Gentleness, and God
He is Holy, Righteous, Mighty, Powerful and Pure.
His ways are right,
His word is eternal,
His will is unchanging,
and His mind is on Me !

He is my Savior,
He is my Guide,
He is my Peace,
He is my Joy,
He is my Comfort.
He is my Lord and He rules my life.

I serve Him because He is God
and is worthy to be served.
His bond is love,
His burden is light,
and His goal for me is abundant life.

I follow Him because He is
THE wisdom,
THE power of the powerful,
THE ancient of days,
THE ruler of rulers,
THE leader of leaders,
THE overseer of overcomers,
And sovereign Lord of all that was and is and is to come.

Now if that seems impressive to you, try this on for size.
His goal is a relationship with ME !

He will never leave me,
never forsake me,
never mislead me,
never forget me,
never overlook me,
and never cancel my appointment in His appointment book !

When I fall, He lifts me up.
When I fail, He forgives.
When I am weak, He is strong
. When I am lost, He is the way.
When I am afraid, He is my courage.
When I stumble, He steadies me.
When I am hurt, He heals me.
When I am broken, He mends me.
When I am blind, He leads me.
When I am hungry, He feeds me.
When I face trials, He is with me.
When I face persecution, He shields me.
When I face problems, He is the answer
When I face loss, He provides for me.
When I face death, HE carries me Home !
He is everything for everybody,
everywhere, every time, and every way.

He is God, He is faithful and true,
I am His and He is mine.

My Father in Heaven has already defeated the father of this world, and so if your asking why I stand and feel so secure, understand this;
He said it, and that settles it.

God is in control,
I am on his side,
and that means all is well with my soul.

Everyday is a blessing for...... GOD IS !

Ronnie
07-12-2005, 08:32 AM
What Happens When God Says No?
Author Unknown
Jul 11, 2005

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN GOD SAYS NO?

I heard a story recently about a young girl who wrote a letter to a missionary to let him know that her class had been praying for him. But evidently she'd been told not to request a response to her letter because the missionaries were very busy. So the missionary got a kick out of her letter. It said, "Dear Mr. Missionary, we are praying for you. But we are not expecting an answer."

I can't help but think that that little girl summarized the prayer lives of many Christians. Sometimes we pray without expecting an answer, even though God has assured us that He does indeed hear our prayers. David said, "I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications." (Psalm 116:1). But I think many of us struggle with the nagging question, "Is God really listening to me?" Yes, He heard David, He heard Elijah, and He heard the apostles. But does He hear me?

How do we really know that our prayers are answered? Sure, there are times when we see visible results. We may pray for someone who's sick and the next week they get well. But more often, our prayers don't produce flashing "neon" answers. We pray for help in financial problems, and we don't see things get any better. We pray for guidance in making right decisions, but the decisions don't get any easier. We pray for relationships with other people to improve, but they just seem to get worse. How do we as Christians account for that happening? How do we explain the fact that so many of our prayers seem to go "unanswered"?

The truth is, for a child of God there is no such thing as an unanswered prayer. Maybe you've heard it said before that God answers prayer in three ways. Sometimes the answer is "yes." Sometimes the answer is "no." And sometimes the answer is "wait a while." It's easy to accept an answer of "yes," but what about when God says, "no"?

Let me suggest three principles:

First of all, we need to trust God enough to realize that our all-loving, all-powerful Father loves us and has our best interest at heart. So when it seems that God says "no" to our prayers, we must trust Him enough to understand that there must be a good reason for it. It may be beyond our limited ability to understand, but we must simply trust God.

Secondly, we must not forsake God. Disappointment is a dangerous, powerful thing. When we get the feeling that God isn't listening to us, that He has said "no" to some prayer, we have a tendency to feel disappointed in Him. And Satan whispers to us, "God said He loves you, but He's not here." And if we allow that disappointment to harbor in our hearts, it can drive a wedge between us and God. We must continue to be faithful to our responsibility before God.

And thirdly, we need to realize that the answer may not be "no," but only "wait a while." God always answers our prayers immediately, but sometimes there's a delay in the giving of the answer and that can be a difficult thing for us to accept. The ability to wait for an answer is one of the marks of maturity. Be willing to let God answer in his own time, in his own way, and in his own power.

Many people see God as a divine vending machine in which you deposit one prayer and out pops a blessing. But what happens when you put your money in the Coke machine and nothing comes out? You get angry, you kick the Coke machine. So it's not surprising that such a view of God and prayer leads to disappointment when God says no.

I believe that we need to foster an entirely different view of prayer from that one. Our God is the Great God of the Universe, the Creator of all things that exist other than Himself. For us to even venture to speak to Him is presumptuous. For us to ask Him to pay attention to our requests and then hope for Him to meet them requires bold expectation. In fact such would be arrogance if it were not for the simple fact that God tells us to do just that.

Looking from the proper perspective, we will not ask "What happens when God says no?" but rather "What happens when God says yes?" That the God of the heavens would listen to us and our needs is a great testimony to His great love for us. And it is that love that will lead Him to say no from time to time. At those times, we must trust Him knowing that he loves us and desires what is best for us. We must never forsake Him nor our duty toward Him. And we must realize that what we interpret to be an answer of "no" may just be God telling us to wait a while.

"This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." (I John 5:14)

Ronnie
07-12-2005, 08:34 AM
Spiritual Soaking
Terri McPherson
Jul 12, 2005

Spiritual Soaking

I'd been crazy busy for awhile, too busy to plant my garden and too busy, even to talk to God. Enough! Life's hectic pace was threatening to knock the last marble of sanity out of my head. I called a time-out.

With my garden trowel and flower seeds in hand, I headed outside to plant my garden and talk with my Father in heaven. The sky was clear except for one lone cloud. I was well into my planting and deep in conversation with God by the time that cloud was overhead.

An extra large drop of rain splashed down in front of me. "Not now," I whined. Of all the places to release its rain, I couldn't believe that cloud chose the one spot on the ground where I was kneeling in the dirt.

One after the other, big splats of rain hit the ground around me, but none of them landed on me. They were spaced so far apart I never got wet. How odd! I leaned back and looked up. The cloud was stationary and I was sitting in one of the spaces between the raindrops. My spirit - which is conscious of things above - was connected. My soul - which is conscious of things around me - was connected. God had gone into the show-and-tell portion of His conversation. I realized that I'd allowed my busy-ness to disconnect me from my Creator.

The raindrops wet the earth where they landed, but not enough to give it the good soaking it needed. There was too much space between them. Talks with God nourish the soil of my soul and my spirit, but they weren't getting the God-soaking they needed. I was leaving too much space between our conversations.

I'm intelligent enough to feed my stomach when it's hungry. Why was I so willing to starve my spirit and my soul?

I need the sacred sustenance I receive from fellowship with God. No one knows me better. No one sees my pain and my joy, my worries and my fears, my efforts, my goals and my dreams as clearly or as intimately as God sees them. No one loves me more.

In times of crisis, I can't run to God quick enough. I rely on the direct line Jesus provides for me, to take the words straight from my lips to God's ears. If I'm so troubled that I can't form the words to convey the weight of my problem, I depend on the Holy Spirit to communicate my need to heaven.

God offers a standing invitation to talk, any time, any place. He won't force Himself into my life. Acceptance of His offer is always up to me. God never changes His mind. When I want to talk, He's there. When I don't want to talk, He's there. I'm the one with fluctuating priorities - what gets tended to, and what is left untended.

I had allowed my busy-ness to interrupt my walk with God. Oh, I still prayed, but it was a busy prayer, usually tacked on to the end of the day. ("Oops! Can't forget to pray!") I still spoke to God, but an occasional word of complaint each day hardly qualified as conversation. ("Lord, if there is one more bend in the road this day, I'm going to poke my own eyes out!") Instead of getting quiet, getting in prayer and getting with God when stress built up, I was letting my drama queen come out and play.

This isn't new territory for me. I've backslid down this hill in the past. The warning signs were all there, touchiness, uneasiness, less joy and more pressure. I was just too busy to take the time to see them. It took one lone cloud, with enough space for me to sit between its raindrops, to remind me that I need to maintain a deep walk with God. My soul becomes parched, my spirit dehydrated, when I walk on my own. All the pieces and parts of my life start bumping into each other. I am living the small story of my life on earth instead of the big story of my life eternal.

Once again, I re-arrange my list of priorities - putting God first. Once again, I am no longer satisfied with a lone burst of fellowship with my Father in heaven. I want to stand in the midst of a downpour, soaked in His love and His guidance.

Now, I pray for no spaces between the raindrops.

© 2005 Terri McPherson


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Terri is a devoted follower of Jesus Christ and uses Psalm 19:14 as her guiding Scripture verse when writing. Many of her pieces are written for, and speak to, hurting Christians around the world as well as those believers who need support and encouragement and even a little silliness at times. Terri lives in Windsor, Ontario, Canada with her husband Ray. She is the mother of two adult children and three precious grandchildren. You can read more of Terri's writing on her web site at: www.wisehearts.com (http://www.wisehearts.com/)


Posted at:
www.HeartTouchers.com (http://www.hearttouchers.com/)

Ronnie
07-13-2005, 08:19 AM
Jesus - Name Above All Names
Caroline Naoroji
Jul 13, 2005

Jesus - Name Above All Names



He is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent and holds the keys to death,hell and the grave. If problems have been trying to bring you down, I encourage you to think on the Lord Jesus Christ and confess to Him that your eyes are not focused on the problem, but rather your focus is on the Great I Am. He is the answer to our every problem and has promised to calm our hearts and strengthen our spirits to fight the good fight of faith.

I hope you are encouraged by today's message to rest in the ability of the Lord Jesus Christ and know that He has the answer to your every problem.


JESUS, NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES

He is our Elohim, our Sovereign God
He is our El-Olam, our Eternal God
He is our El-Shaddai, our Almighty Provider
Jesus is our Adonai, our Loving Lord

His name is so beautiful
His name is so wonderful
His name is our comfort in distress
His name is our strong fortress

When you are in need, call upon Jehovah - Jirah
And He will provide

When you are in bondage, call upon Jehovah - Mkaddesh
And He will sanctify

When you are downtrodden, call upon Jehovah - Nissi
He is our Banner

When you are in despair, call upon Jehovah - Rophe
He is the Healer

When you feel defeated, call upon Jehovah - Tsaba
For He is the Lord of the army

When you need a cleansing, call upon Jehovah - Tsidkenu
For He is the righteousness

When you are tormented, call upon Jehovah - Shalom
And He will give you peace

When you are lost and lonely, call upon Jehovah - Rohi
He is the Good Shepherd

When you want to feel His presence, call upon Jehovah - Shammah
And you will know that He is here

Jesus, Name above all names....


By Caroline Naoroji

Posted by Dwayne Savaya at God's Work Ministry
www.godswork.org

Ronnie
07-14-2005, 08:03 AM
Words to Stand You on Your Feet
Joe McKeever
Jul 14, 2005

Words To Stand You On Your Feet

Everyone needs a verse of Scripture to call his own. Here is mine.

Old Job was having a time of it. After the death of his children and the loss of his wealth, disease racked his body, leaving him covered with sores. Then, three friends showed up to comfort him - with accusations and blame. He needed a defense attorney and got instead three prosecutors!

The first speaker begins to set Job up for a fall. He's going to accuse him of having sin in his life which has brought the judgment of God. But first, he reminds him of the way God has used him in the past.

"Your words have stood men on their feet; you have helped the tottering to stand." (Job 4:4)

Tell me if that is not one of the finest attributes one man could ever pay another. It has become something of a goal for my preaching, that my sermons would be so filled with life and faith that the falling and the fallen would hear and stand up again and get back into life.

What power words have...

When Eric Plumb entered the fourth grade, he missed the first two weeks due to a case of the mumps. As a result, he never caught on to the math they were studying that year. The teacher was a crabby, negative, cruel woman who was retiring at the end of that school term, the worst possible representative of her profession. She pounced on Eric and held him up to ridicule at every opportunity. When he missed an answer in arithmetic, which was often, she would say, "Eric is dumb. Eric Plumb is dumb. Eric Plumb is plumb dumb." The students laughed at her put-down, no doubt glad someone else was her target for a while. To no one's surprise, Eric grew to hate school.

Not until the tenth grade did something happen to change Eric's perception of school. It was an English literature class, just after lunch when students and teachers alike had trouble concentrating. During a discussion of Shakespeare, the teacher was stunned to see Eric raise his hand for an observation, something he had never done before. When he finished, she said, "Why Eric - how perceptive." For the rest of the day, Eric basked in the glow of those words. "Perceptive. She thinks I'm perceptive."

Eric says, "I'm not going to tell you I became class valedictorian as a result of her comment, and I still hate math. But that one word from my English teacher turned around my self-confidence and helped me believe that maybe I wasn't the total loser I had come to believe. I became a different student for the rest of my schooling."

Cut down by one teacher; stood up by another. The incredible power of words. No wonder Scripture describes the Word of God as a two-edged sword. In a sense, all words are double-edged with power to cut and power to heal.

A couple of years ago, Frank Pollard retired from a lengthy pastorate of the First Baptist Church of Jackson, Mississippi. This man is so accomplished a speaker that Time magazine once named him one of America's top preachers. Most people are shocked, however, to learn of his humble beginnings. Frank tells it on himself.

When Frank was a child in Olney, Texas, a man named Claude Olney sought him out for his Sunday School class of ten year old boys. He introduced Frank to Jesus, the greatest thing one person can do for another. Then, when Frank was in college and God called him to preach, practically no one believed in him. His classmates wondered how someone too shy to speak to them could ever stand in a church and address crowds.

When Frank gave his first sermon, instead of coming up to shake his hand, people headed for the doors. Only one man in town, Mr. Beverly King - the richest man in the little community -walked up and bragged on him and told him, "I know you will make it." In college, Frank worked as a janitor of the Baptist Student Center and when no one else was around, would preach to the empty seats. He grew discouraged and frequently thought of quitting. And he would have, except for one thing. Every week, Frank Pollard received a postcard from Mr. King back in Olney saying, "I love you, Frank. I believe in you. You can do it."

Frank Pollard confesses, "I am in the ministry today because of that man." A man whose words stood him on his feet.

Standing people on their feet with words is a most Christlike thing.

Jesus said to a paralytic, "Rise, take up your bed and walk." And he did. He said to a fallen woman, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more." To a thief dying on the cross, Jesus said, "Today, thou shalt be with me in paradise."

Bill Glass was an All-American at Baylor and an All-Pro defensive end for the Cleveland Browns football team. These days, he spends a lot of time in prisons telling men how to be truly free by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ. I first heard him over thirty years ago tell of a great lesson he learned early in his football playing.

"When I started playing football in school," Bill said, "I thought when you got knocked down was a good time to get some rest. Then I realized you get stepped on and fallen upon, so I started getting up. Then, I began to notice that in college and pro ball, most of the tackles are made by people who were either knocked down and got back up or knocked off balance and kept on going." Bill paused and said, "Now, there's a parallel in life. The devil knocks you down through temptation or hurtful words from someone or your own foolishness or a hundred other things. But it's not enough for him to knock you down, he's got to keep you down. And the way he does that is by working on your guilt."

"'Some Christian you are,' the devil tells you. 'What if the people down at the church could see you now. They'd be ashamed of you.' And he keeps you down. But then, someone comes to you and says, 'Hey, friend, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9) Get back up and get into the game!' You hear that and believe, you confess it and reaffirm your faith in the Lord Jesus, and you get back into the game."

As long as you are flat of your back, wiped out by your own sin or the cruel words or harsh treatment of another, lying there in your misery and self-reproach, the devil doesn't have to worry about you. You'll do the Lord no good and the enemy no harm. But the moment you start believing the Lord and stand up and re-enter the game, a cheer goes up from the grandstand. (See Hebrews 12:1) A champion is back and ready for the next play.

I have not always spoken healing words that stand people on their feet. For many years, I took delight in cutting people down to get a laugh. Eric Plumb's cruel teacher had nothing on me. But I was blessed by a few people who refused to let me get by with it. A mother of a teenager called to ask why I had embarrassed her daughter in front of a theater-full of people the night before. I almost had trouble remembering what I had said, it was so thoughtless and meaningless on my part. And I was her pastor! The humiliation of going to her home and humbly apologizing to the teen and her family seared on my soul the cost of idle words that cut and bruise.

Someone needs to hear words of love and affirmation from you today. Don't assume they already know that you love them. Tell them.

When Fred Rogers was a little boy, his parents would take him into the country for brief visits with his Grandfather McFeeley. Sometime during the visit, the wonderful old man would take the child aside and say, "Freddie, never forget that I like you just the way you are. Don't ever change. God made you this way, and you are something special."

Mr. Rogers lived the rest of his life telling children all over the world how special they were. Standing them on their feet.

--
By Joe McKeever
www.JoeMcKeever.com (http://www.joemckeever.com/)

Ronnie
07-15-2005, 09:32 AM
Showing Through
Jul 15, 2005

Showing Through

A little girl on the way home from church turned to her mother and said, "Mommy, the preacher's sermon this morning confused me."

The mother said, "Oh! Why is that?"

The girl replied, "Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. Is that true?"

"Yes, that's true," the mother replied.

"He also said that God lives within us. Is that true, too?"

Again the mother replied, "Yes."

"Well," said the girl. "If God is bigger than us and he lives in us, wouldn't He show through?"


I like that little girl's way of putting it. If God lives in us, then there's no way of keeping Him from "showing through". That's the essence of Christian living -- living in such a way that people around will see God in our lives. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)

Ronnie
07-18-2005, 09:20 AM
Need to Know Basis
Ron Hutcraft
Jul 18, 2005

Need To Know Basis

Americans have seen a lot of emotional scenes, watching families say goodbye as their soldiers and sailors ship out for duty in the world's danger spots. Not long after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, thousands of military personnel boarded ships bound for unannounced destinations. Imagine - your ship has set sail, but you don't know where you're going. The news reported that some of those ships left with sealed orders. When their ship reached a certain point, their commander was authorized to open those orders and find out just exactly where they were all going. And as people needed to know, they were informed by the commander. "Need to know," they call it.

It's not uncommon in the military - you get your orders on a "need to know" basis. It's not uncommon in God's army either. In fact, it God's modus operandi. Of course, like the military on those ships with the mystery destination, we think we need to know right now! But our Commander reveals our orders when He thinks we need to know. He won't reveal your ultimate destination, but he'll always make sure you know what you need to do today.

You may be in a time when you're wondering where your Lord is taking you. It's one of those, "What is God's will?" times. It's a good time to review how God's guidance works. It's a good time for our word for today from the Word of God in John 10, beginning with verse 3. It says of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, "The sheep listen to His voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out." Notice, you're not just lost in Jesus' great flock. He calls you by name - to follow Him into a plan that is uniquely yours, just for your life.

It goes on to say, "He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice. They will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize his voice." The issue for sheep is not "where am I going?" or "how are we getting there?" - the issue for a sheep is staying close to the One who's leading him. It's about being able to recognize the Shepherd's voice in the middle of all the other voices talking at you.

It's not about figuring out the Plan - it's about staying close to the Planner. He reveals His plans to you on a "need to know" basis - which is usually one day at a time. If He told you where He's taking you ultimately, you'd probably run from it because it would sound scary based on what you know now, or you'd run to it and get there before it's ready or you're ready. Either way, you'd mess it up and miss it.

Your job is to be in His Word faithfully, every day, so you get real good at recognizing what your Lord sounds like. Then when you pray for specific guidance, you'll be able to say, "Now, that's Him - I know what His voice sounds like!" Get good at listening to your Savior's voice, and not stressing over where He's taking you.

The orders of God always lead you to the great plans of God. They're revealed on a "need to know" basis. When you need to know more, you will know. But until then, give everything you've got to what He's already told you to do!

---------------------------------------------------
Written by Ron Hutchcraft
Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc.
www.gospelcom.net/rhm/

Ronnie
07-19-2005, 08:30 AM
Cannot Help Speaking
Sherry Heard
Jul 19, 2005

Cannot Help Speaking

"For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." – Acts 4:20

Timothy Johnson, pastor of Church of the Redeemer in Bowie, Maryland, writes about a witness he encountered on the way to his flight:

"I encountered this very situation at Baltimore Washington International (BWI) airport as I was leaving for our denomination's annual meeting in June. Along with everyone else moving toward a gate in order to catch a plane, I went through security screening. And along with so many other people, I was asked to stop so that a security screener could look carefully at every inch of my carry-on bag.

The screener politely asked me to step back and to resist my urge to reach out and "help" him. As he poked, unloaded things, unzipped pockets, and felt the linings of my bag, I noticed the ring on his right hand—a silver ring with a cross on it. I mentioned it. He looked briefly at me.

Then, as he continued searching my bag, he said something like this: "Yeah, the ring. It means I'm a follower of Jesus. You know, in my job, one of the things we worry about is dynamite. But do you know where that word comes from? It's from the Greek word dunamis, which means 'power.' As a Christian, I know that all of the power belongs to God. That's why he sent Jesus. So while I'm doing my job, I know that he is doing his job. That's where I put all of my trust. It all belongs to him, and he's here with us.

'Well, Mr. Johnson, have a great trip,' he said before moving on to the next person. I walked away with a smile, thinking about how this man had so naturally risen to the opportunity to share his faith. It certainly wasn't the place for an extended conversation. There was a long line of people behind me, and he had plenty of work to do. But in less than 30 seconds, he spoke about his faith to a total stranger—calmly, confidently, and without hesitation."

Are you a person who we cannot help speaking about what Jesus has done? Today in prayer, praise the Lord for all that He has done for you and seek to share that with others.

"Evangelism is witness. It is one beggar telling another beggar where to get food. The Christian does not offer out of his bounty. He has no bounty. He is simply a guest at his Master's table and, as evangelist, he calls others, too." – Daniel T. Niles

God's Word: "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" – 1 Peter 3:15

"For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." – Acts 4:20

************************************************** *****************
Published by Sherry and Jim Heard

Sherry's Inspiration List
http://inspirational.injesus.com (http://inspirational.injesus.com/)

Ronnie
07-20-2005, 11:20 AM
The Daily Encourager

http://www.injesus.com/images/InJesusPostmarkSmall.gif (http://www.injesus.com/Groups/BuyPostage.cfm?GroupID=2A000MJQ&UCD=sm9) Sweet Gracious Relief
Phil Ware
Jul 20, 2005

Sweet Gracious Relief

42 days! 42 days of sweltering summer heat, sizzling temperatures, and oppressive humidity and without a drop of rain. None in the forecast. None on the horizon. Then boom! As a complete surprise, during the night while we slept and when summer thunderstorms are supposed to die down, clouds piled up and showers began to fall. No, it wasn't a gully washer or frog strangler, but it was sweet welcome relief to hear the boom of thunder, the patter of rain on the roof, and feel the cool downbursts of a morning rain. Ah! Sweet gracious relief.

The pace of life, the demands of work, the concerns of family, and the pain of losses can pile up and have a withering emotional impact on the soul. The lack of courtesy and simple kindness in our world makes this trip through the parched land of soul-drought unbearably withering. All around us are people who need sweet gracious relief. Unfortunately, most never receive it. None in the forecast. None on the horizon. These weary souls plod on, waiting for their fortunes to change, their grief to dissipate, their exhaustion to pass, and their disappointments to fade.

That's where the "anapsookho" solution becomes such a blessing. You are probably not familiar with the "anapsookho" solution. No, it's not some new imported pillow, massage device, exercise program, or herbal remedy from the orient. No, this gift of sweet gracious relief was demonstrated by an early Christian family you probably don't remember and with a name hard to pronounce. I'm talking about the household of Onesiphorus.

Onesiphorus, unlike most others who abandoned Paul in his first imprisonment, went to Rome, searched for Paul, found him in prison, and ministered to him in his time of need (2 Timothy 1:16-18) He was willing to risk being identified with a man who might be sentenced to die because that man was his brother in Christ. But more than just the effort of Onesiphorus, his whole family joined in the ministry!

Paul describes their ministry with the word "anapsookho," one of the two key words in the New Testament to describe refreshing someone's spirit. The other word, anapowoe focuses more on calming someone and letting them rest to be refreshed. While this is a wonderful blessing, Onesiphorus' word is "anapsookho." Onesiphorus' word means to cool off and help someone recover from the effects of heat, to breathe in fresh, cool air. Sweet gracious relief!

All around us are people who live in the parched and dry land of soul-drought. More than needing a lecture or a book or a sermon, they need friends like Onesiphorus and his household. They need sweet gracious relief. They need the "anapsookho" solution.

That's where we come in! We are the community of Christ, the friends of the Savior. We're the folks who share a little kindness with a person needing relief. We go the extra mile to track them down, seeking to bless them in their time of sorrow, struggle, need, or pain. We know that a little loving refreshment is often the difference between a long withering time in soul-drought and finding the strength to go on through difficult times.

How important is the "anapsookho" solution? Jesus gave us a pretty good hint about its importance when he said:

"If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." (Matthew 10:42)

Ah! Sweet gracious relief! The gift of refreshment for the recipient and the blessing of forever for the giver.


---------
(c) 2005 Phil Ware . All rights reserved.

Posted at www.heartlight.org/ (http://www.heartlight.org/)

Forever_Lovers
07-21-2005, 06:51 AM
God's Wings
David Langerfeld
Jul 21, 2005

God's Wings

An article in National Geographic several years ago provided an interesting picture of God's wings. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree.

Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother's wings.

The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. Then the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast.

Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.

"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge." (Psalm 91:4)

Being loved this much should make a difference in your life. Remember the One who loves you, and then be different because of it.

Forever_Lovers
07-26-2005, 03:32 AM
I Love You Anyway
Jul 25, 2005

I Love You Anyway

The fear of rejection may be one of the most basic fears of the human experience. Dr. Joe Harding tells a heart-warming story of a man who finally decided to ask his boss for a raise in salary. It was Friday. He told his wife that morning what he was about to do. All day the man felt nervous and apprehensive. Late in the afternoon he summoned the courage to approach his employer. To his delight, the boss agreed to a raise.

The man arrived home to a beautiful table set with their best china. Candles were lighted. His wife had prepared a festive meal. Immediately he figured that someone from the office had tipped her off! Finding his wife in the kitchen, he told her the good news. They embraced and kissed, then sat down to a wonderful meal. Next to his plate the man found a beautiful lettered note. It read: "Congratulations, darling! I knew you'd get the raise! These things will tell you how much I love you."

While on his way to the kitchen to get dessert he noticed that a second card had fallen from her pocket. Picking it off the floor, he read: "Don't worry about not getting the raise! You deserve it anyway! These things will tell you how much I love you."

Total acceptance! Total love. Her love for him was not contingent upon his success at work. In fact, just the opposite. If he were to fail there, if he were to be rejected by his boss, he'd be all the more accepted at home. She stood behind him no matter what; softening the blows, healing the wounds, believing in him, loving him. We can be rejected by almost anyone if we're loved by one.

That's the way families can be with each other. That's the way God is with us, too! "We love Him because He first loved us."

Forever_Lovers
07-28-2005, 09:59 AM
Jello Lesson
Children's Bible Hour
Jul 27, 2005

Jello Lesson

Carla stirred Jello into boiling water, added cold water, and put the bowl with the watery mixture in the refrigerator to set. "Didn't Dana ask you to come over to play this afternoon?" asked Mother after Carla had finished washing the dishes.

Carla shrugged. "Yeah," she said, "but I don't feel like playing with her. I'm beginning to think she's hopeless. She always wants her own way, and she says mean things about other kids--stuff like that."

"Hm-m-m-m. That's too bad," said Mother. "Well, maybe it's time to check your Jello."

Carla went to the refrigerator. "It's getting there," she said. "It's ready for the fruit." She added apples and bananas to the Jello while she continued to complain about Dana.

"Tell me something," said Mother. "Dana became a Christian just recently. Has she improved at all since then?"

"Oh, sure." Carla nodded. "She used to be just awful--nobody liked her. Now she's not as bad, but she still has a long way to go."

"Like the Jello," said Mother.

"The Jello?" repeated Carla. "What do you mean?"

"The Jello has improved since you started it, but it has a long way to go, too," explained Mother. "It isn't hopeless, though. In time it will be set and ready to eat. It reminds me that Christians don't usually 'set' all at once, either. It takes time. As Christians grow in the Lord, they improve in outward behavior. We need to be patient with them."

"Maybe we can add some 'fruit' to help them." Carla was enjoying the comparison. "Like. . .we can pray for them, and we can be friendly."

"Good," approved Mother, "and let's remember that you and I aren't finished yet, either. Let's grow together."

HOW ABOUT YOU? Do you know Christians who need a lot of improvement? Are you praying for them? Are you helping them by being friendly and encouraging them to attend church and study God's Word? Do you set a good example for them? God finishes what He starts. He'll finish what He has begun in them--and in you.

"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Phil. 1:6)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Children's Bible Hour

Forever_Lovers
07-28-2005, 10:00 AM
The Search For An Honest Man
Alan Smith
Jul 28, 2005



THE SEARCH FOR AN HONEST MAN

I love this story which reportedly came from Sports Illustrated (I do not know which issue):

The game was played in Wellington, Florida. In it, a seven-year-old first baseman, Tanner Munsey, fielded a ground ball and tried to tag a runner going from first to second base.

The umpire, Laura Benson, called the runner out, but young Tanner immediately ran to her side and said, "Ma'am, I didn't tag the runner." Umpire Benson reversed herself, sent the runner to second base, and Tanner's coach gave him the game ball for his honesty.

Two weeks later, Laura Benson was again the umpire and Tanner was playing shortstop when a similar play occurred. This time Benson ruled that Tanner had missed the tag on a runner going to third base, and she called the runner safe. Tanner looked at Benson and without saying a word, tossed the ball to the catcher and returned to his position.

Benson sensed something was wrong. "Did you tag the runner?" She asked Tanner.

His reply: "Yes."

Benson then called the runner out. The opposing coaches protested until she explained what had happened two weeks earlier. "If a kid is that honest," she said, "I have to give it to him."

It may be that no Christian characteristic has suffered more in our society than honesty. It's lacking in the workplace, it's lacking in many of our marriages, it's lacking in our government, and sometimes it's even lacking in our churches. Like Diogenes of ancient Greece, we sometimes feel the urge to take our lantern and begin our search for an honest man.

There is something about Christians that should stand out like a neon sign on a dark night. Jesus wants his people to be known as a people of truth. We should establish a reputation, like Tanner, for speaking the truth even when it would benefit us to do otherwise. Then, and only then, will those around us trust what we say without hesitation, without wondering whether we really mean what we say or not.

"Therefore, putting away lying, each one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another." (Ephesians 4:25)

Forever_Lovers
08-01-2005, 11:23 AM
Don't Tread On Me
Dick Innes
Nov 10, 2004

Don't Tread On Me

"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15-16, NASB).

"In December, 1775, an American colonist (believed by many scholars to be Benjamin Franklin), noticed the increasing use of a symbol throughout the colonies, stamped onto barrels and other items, depicting a coiled rattlesnake with the words 'Don't Tread On Me' written below the snake. He wondered about how the symbol of a rattlesnake could be a symbol of the American desire for freedom?

He wrote the following words: 'The Rattle-Snake is found in no other quarter of the world besides America. She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, never surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. She never wounds 'till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.'"

I've been hiking in the mountains and heard the warning sign of a rattler and was extremely thankful for that. In the Bible, Satan is depicted as a serpent--a serpent who not only doesn't warn about his lethal bite, but appears in alluring disguises promising great rewards of pleasure ready and waiting to devour his every victim.

How different from God (although I don't want to compare him to a rattler) but over and over he warns us in his Word, the Bible, to avoid sin at all costs for it will destroy us. He, too, has generously given notice even to his enemies to "flee from the wrath to come" and to turn to Christ the Savior of the world.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me to be careful where I walk (how I live) and avoid the ways of Satan at all costs. Thank you that there is salvation from the evil one when I turn to you. Help me so to do. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

Dick Innes

Posted at www.sermonfodder.com (http://www.sermonfodder.com/)

Forever_Lovers
08-02-2005, 07:57 AM
New Creatures
Aug 02, 2005

Queen Victoria once paid a visit to a paper mill. Without knowing who this distinguished visitor was, the foreman showed her the workings of the mill. She went into the rag-sorting shop where employess picked out the rags from the refuse of the city. Upon inquiring what was done with this dirty mass of rags, she was told that it would eventually be made into the finest white writing paper. After her departure, the foreman found out who it was that had paid the visit.

Some time later, Her Majesty received a package of the most delicate, pure white stationery, bearing the Queen's likeness for a watermark. Enclosed was a note saying that the stationery had been made from the dirty rags she had recently inspected.

This story illustrates Christ's work in us, as well. He takes us, filthy as we are, and makes us into new creatures. After receiving Jesus, we are spiritually different from what we were before, just as pure white paper is radically different from the filthy rags from which it is made.

"Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things are passsd away. Behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthinans 5:17)

Forever_Lovers
08-03-2005, 12:58 PM
The Right Foundation
Aug 03, 2005

Near the Temple in Jerusalem, there is a great mound of huge blocks in a heap on the Herodian street, testifying to the fulfilled prophecy of Jesus. The blocks were stones of the Temple that had been heaved 50 feet over the Western support wall onto the street below, during the destruction of the Temple by the Romans. When in 70 CE the Romans finally penetrated Jerusalem's walls after a grueling, four-month battle they burned the temple and dismantled the walls enclosing the Temple Mount compound in order to recover the gold that melted between the stones. Every block was pried away and literally left not one stone on another. The stones were pushed over the edge of the Mount and sent crashing onto the street below. Today, one can still see how the pavement caved in from the impact of the stones that were dropped from above. It is amazing to see the fulfillment of Jesus' words frozen in stone yet today. "When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, 'If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.'" Luke 19:41-44

Still this attempt at erasing the grandeur of Jerusalem, and perhaps its memory, was a failure, because the foundation remains.

"Therefore thus says the Lord God, 'Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone {for} the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes {in it} will not be disturbed." Isaiah 28:19

The Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy moves about one-twentieth of an inch a year and will eventually fall. Quite significantly, the word "pisa" means "marshy land," which clues us in to why the tower began to lean even before it was completed. At a height of 179 feet, its foundation is only 10 feet deep and built on swampland! How important is the foundation on which we build every facet of our lives!

In Luke 6:47-49, Jesus gives us a warning. "'Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.'"

Build a firm foundation! Everything else in your life depends on it.

Forever_Lovers
08-05-2005, 05:05 PM
Tragedy Into Blessing
Aug 04, 2005

Years ago in Scotland, the Clark family had a dream. Clark and his wife worked and saved, making plans for their nine children and themselves to travel to the United States. It had taken years, but they had finally saved enough money and had gotten passports and reservations for the whole family on a new liner to the United States.

The entire family was filled with anticipation and excitement about their new life. However, seven days before their departure, the youngest son was bitten by a dog. The doctor sewed up the boy but hung a yellow sheet on the Clarks' front door. Because of the possibility of rabies, they were being quarantined for fourteen days.

The family's dreams were dashed. They would not be able to make the trip to America as they had planned. The father, filled with disappointment and anger, stomped to the dock to watch the ship leave - without the Clark family. The father shed tears of disappointment and cursed both his son and God for their misfortune.

Five days later, the tragic news spread throughout Scotland - the mighty Titanic had sunk. The unsinkable ship had sunk, taking hundreds of lives with it. The Clark family was to have been on that ship, but because the son had been bitten by a dog, they were left behind in Scotland.

When Mr. Clark heard the news, he hugged his son and thanked him for saving the family. He thanked God for saving their lives and turning what he had felt was a tragedy into a blessing.


"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28






"All things

Forever_Lovers
08-05-2005, 05:07 PM
Strike Three and You're In
Dick Innes
Aug 05, 2005

"But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14)

Motivational speakers ask the question, "What would you like to do if you knew for certain that you couldn't fail?" Good question. I'm sure that many a life's dream, hope, and/or ambition is lost because of the fear of failure.

Perhaps a better question to ask is: "So what if you do fail?" What is the worst thing that could happen? Ninety-nine percent of the time you could learn from the experience and be better qualified to try again. I doubt if there is anyone who has succeeded in fulfilling their life's dream and goals who hasn't experienced failure--or even many failures before they succeeded.

What we need to realize is that there is no shame in failure. As another has said, "Low aim, not failure, is a 'crime.'" In fact, failure can be our greatest teacher. It's only as we are willing to risk failure that we can ever succeed and become a true winner. Remember, too, that failure is an event not a person. The only real failure is not to get up and keep trying one more time than we fall or get knocked down. In baseball it may be strike three and you're out. Not so for a successful life where it's ....

Strike Three & You're In!

We only succeed when we're willing to fail; We only score goals when we're willing to be tackled; We only hit home runs when we're willing to strike out; And we only win when we're willing to risk failing.

Consider the high jumper who only discovers how high he can jump when he reaches his failure point. Consider Babe Ruth, too, the year he broke the world record for hitting the most home runs, he also broke the record for scoring the most strike-outs!

Success, however exhilarating, doesn't teach one how to be a winner. In fact, failure is the greatest teacher to help one win in the game of life. So, if you want to hit home runs, stand at the plate, start swinging, be willing to strike out - and begin winning!


From Daily Encounter (c) Richard (Dick) Innes 2003. Subscribe at: www.actsweb.org/subscribe.htm (http://www.actsweb.org/subscribe.htm)

Ronnie
08-17-2005, 07:46 AM
Jesus Cares
Gerald Whetstone
Aug 08, 2005


The storm came out of no where, totally unexpected and it was furious. The wave beat against the small craft, breaking over the sides swamping it. The men feverishly worked to bail out the water to no avail. The were sure they we going down. Right in the middle of obeying Jesus they find themselves in peril and where is Jesus through all of this? Totally exhausted He is in the stern sleeping! The men, sure they are goners, sought Him out, woke Him and shouted, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"! (Mark 4:38d)

This is not the only storm that the Twelve will face. Each storm offered a lesson or two to be learned. Though a cursory reading of the accounts might lead someone to think they are all the same event told in different ways, the key is in the lessons. The most obvious lesson in this storm was Jesus' Lordship over creation, "Even the winds and the waves obey Him!" Is this the only lesson in this account?

The disciples' fear blinded them to the miracle that was already happening, a boat "nearly swamped" had not sunk yet. (Mark 4:37) Even more, blinded, terrified, and buffeted by the storm they concluded that Jesus didn't care about them or their desperate situation. If He cared He would help bail out the boat. If He really cared He would not have allowed this to happen. It was obvious to these frightened followers, Jesus didn't care.

Jesus' answer to their poignant inquiry was the quieting of the storm and these words; "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" Did Jesus care? He cared enough to be with them in the storm. He cared enough to keep the boat from sinking though swamped with water. He cared enough to respond to their cry for help. He cared enough to compassionately still the storm.

We, like the twelve, often allow life's storms to shake our faith and blind us to the miracle in progress. In times of furious storms we too find ourselves allowing the circumstances and situation to determine our understanding of God's watchful care, erroneously thinking He doesn't care. We need not be afraid and faith-less. Rather we need to embrace the glorious reality that Jesus does care. He cares enough to be with us in our storm. He cares enough to support us and keep our boats afloat. He cares enough to respond to our cries for help. He cares enough to quiet our storms in perfect timing. And lest we forget these, we know He cares fro His Word affirms it and the cross sealed it. His hands, His feet, and His side bear the marks of the depth of His caring for us.

This is not a new message and this is far from being the only time this lesson is taught. We are a forgetful people, especially when the waves are beating against us. That is why we need repeat it over and over. Does Jesus care? Oh Yes He cares! What we need to do is keep our faith and lives grounded in Him for He will see us through. He is with is. He is still the master of the waves and winds. He is Lord!

Beloved let us trust Him for in time we too will be standing in terrified awe saying, "Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey Him!" (Mark 4:41) Jesus Cares!


Gerald Whetstone
"Pause to Ponder"
www.pausetoponder.org (http://www.pausetoponder.org/)

Ronnie
08-17-2005, 07:47 AM
Hearing Loss
Aug 09, 2005

Hearing Loss

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 walls 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 the sea, but of a soul.

And God waited for the man to respond.
And he waited...
And he waited...
And waited.

But because the man was looking at
..... bushes, not hearts;
..... bricks and not lives,
..... seas 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?"


Mark 4:23-24 "If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. And he said unto them, Take heed what you hear: with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given."

Ronnie
08-17-2005, 07:47 AM
The Big Fish
Aug 10, 2005

Two men went fishing. One man was an experienced fisherman, the other wasn't. Every time the experienced fisherman caught a big fish, he put it in his ice chest to keep it fresh. Whenever the inexperienced fisherman caught a big fish, he threw it back.

The experienced fisherman watched this go on all day and finally got tired of seeing this man waste good fish. "Why do you keep throwing back all the big fish you catch?" he asked. The inexperienced fisherman replied, "I only have a small frying pan."

Sometimes, like that fisherman, we throw back the big plans, the big dreams, the big jobs and the big opportunities that God gives us. Our faith is too small. We laugh at that fisherman who didn't figure out that all he needed was a bigger frying pan; yet how ready are we to increase the size of our faith?

Whether it's a problem or a possibility, God will never give you anything bigger than you can handle. That means we can confidently walk into anything God brings our way.

You can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13). Nothing is too big for God.

" Stop telling God you've got big problems. Tell your problems you've got a big God!"

Ronnie
08-17-2005, 07:47 AM
The Road of Life
Author Unknown
Aug 11, 2005

The Road Of Life

At first, I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there sort of like a president.. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I really didn't know Him. But later on when I met Christ, it seemed as though life were rather like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal. I don't know just when it was that He suggested we change places, but life has not been the same since.

When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable it was the shortest distance between two points. But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places at breakneck speeds. It was all I could do to hang on!

Even though it looked like madness, He said, "Pedal!" I worried and was anxious and asked, "Where are you taking me?" He laughed and didn't answer, and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure, and when I'd say, "I'm scared," He'd lean back and touch my hand. I gained love, peace, acceptance and joy; gifts to take on my journey, My Lord's and mine. And we were off again.

He said, "Give the gifts away. They're extra baggage, too much weight." So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving I received, and still our burden was light.

I did not trust Him, at first, in control of my life. I thought He'd wreck it; but he knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, knows how to jump to clear high rocks, knows how to fly to shorten, scary passages. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I'm beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ.

And when I'm sure I just can't do it anymore, He just smiles and says... "Pedal."

Ronnie
08-17-2005, 07:48 AM
God Whispers
Aug 12, 2005

God Whispers

Years ago I heard a story about a young man and an old preacher. The young man had lost his job and didn't know which way to turn. So he went to see the old preacher.

Pacing about the preacher's study, the young man ranted about his problem. Finally he clenched his fist and shouted, "I've begged God to say something to help me. Tell me, Preacher, why doesn't God answer?"

The old preacher, who sat across the room, spoke something in reply -something so hushed it was indistinguishable. The young man stepped across the room. "What did you say?" he asked.

The preacher repeated himself, but again in a tone as soft as a whisper. So the young man moved closer until he was leaning on the preacher's chair.

"Sorry," he said. "I still didn't hear you." With their heads bent together, the old preacher spoke once more. "God sometimes whispers," he said, "so we will move closer to hear Him."

This time the young man heard and he understood. We all want God's voice to thunder through the air with the answer to our problem. But many times, God's voice is the still, small voice... the gentle whisper. Perhaps there's a reason. Nothing draws human focus quite like a whisper.

God's whisper means I must stop my ranting and move close to Him, until my head is bent together with His. And then, as I listen, I will find my answer. Better still, I find myself closer to God.

Ronnie
08-17-2005, 07:48 AM
He Sent Him There
Bayo Afolaranmi
Aug 15, 2005

He Sent Him There

"…and he sent a man before them – Joseph, sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons…" (Psalm 105:17-18, NIV).

The story of Joseph has been one of the pathetic but interesting stories in the Bible. Joseph, a loved child, that was hated by his elder brothers because of his destiny, was thrown to an empty cistern by these brothers who earlier planned to kill him. They sold him as slave to foreigners who took him to Egypt. In Egypt, he was sent to prison for a sin he did not commit. You can imagine the hardship he would have as a slave and a prisoner – the bruises of shackles on his feet, the pains of iron chains on his neck, etc.

Even in prison, he was forgotten by those that should have rescued him from all these misfortunes. In spite of this, God was working behind the scenes for his good. Remember that in each of these situations, the Bible records that the Lord granted him favor in the eyes of everybody (Genesis 39:4, 5, 21-23). In fact, he confirmed it to his brothers later that it was God that sent him ahead of them to Egypt to preserve lives (Genesis 45:5-7; 50:20).

Actually, Joseph's story was not a tragedy, for he was made the prime minister of Egypt the very day he was brought out of prison.

Think of yourself. What are you passing through? What is happening to you right now that seems to be misfortune? What shackles and irons of hardship are you experiencing now? Who knows, it may be God that sent you to this apparent misfortune to bring something good out of you. He may be purifying you as gold in fire of life so that you will come out more shining (see 1 Peter 1:6-7).

The Psalmist corroborates this. "For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance" (Psalm 66:10-12, NIV).

Beloved, no matter what you are passing through, God knows about it, and He has a purpose for allowing it. Paul confirms this in Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (NIV).

He sent you there – for a purpose!


Bayo Afolaranmi
http://******************/group/spiritualdigest2003/

Ronnie
08-17-2005, 07:48 AM
Tonight!
Author unknown
Aug 16, 2005

IT MUST BE SETTLED TONIGHT
Author Unknown

The burly miner blinked as he left the dark interior of the coal mine. Stopping at a faucet near the mine entrance, he washed the worst of the grime from his face and hands, then headed towards his home on the outskirts of the village. As he trudged along the dusty lane, he passed the open door of a little church. Inside, a small crowd listened intently as an energetic man gesticulated from the pulpit. Interested, the miner stepped to the door.

"Absolute surrender is what we must have," the minister was saying. "Are you willing to surrender yourself absolutely into His hands? If not, you are not ready to meet your God." The minister paced back and forth on the platform. "We do not know how much longer our life on earth will last. Tonight you are living; tomorrow may be too late. Ask yourself, I beg of you, 'Am I ready to meet the Lord?'"

The miner, touched to the quick, slipped into the back pew. I am not ready to meet God, he thought. I have lived a careless, godless life. How can I make peace with Him? The meeting ended, and the people filed out. Still the miner remained in the pew, his head in his hands.

Finally, the minister touched him on the shoulder. "Sir, are you ready to meet the Lord?"

Blindly, the miner shook his head. "I know I am not. Oh, help me find peace!"

An hour passed as the minister shared the plan of salvation; yet something held the miner back from full surrender.

"It's getting late," the minister said. "Go home, and continue to seek the Lord."

The miner shook his head. "Stay with me a little longer; it must be settled tonight."

"Then we shall stay here together," the minister agreed. Once more he spoke of Jesus, and shared promise after promise. Once more he prayed, but in vain. "I must go," the minister finally said. "It will soon be morning. Go home, and return tomorrow night. Maybe then you will find peace."

"Sir, I cannot leave this place until I find peace."

The poor man's voice trembled. "Tomorrow may be too late. It must be settled tonight."

The minister could not resist his appeal. "By the help of God." he said, "it shall be settled tonight."

Again he explained the steps of conversion; again he prayed. As he spoke, the miner broke into sobs and tears. The light had shone through and pierced his darkness.

"I see it!" he cried. "I give myself absolutely to Jesus, to His will, to do only what He wants. He paid the price for my sins. It is settled. Praise His name, it is settled!" The two men knelt again, but this time they thanked God for bringing light to a sinner.

The next morning the miner went to work as usual. He was sent to a distant part of the mine to gather some tools. When he did not return, his fellow workers went to look for him. They found that the mine walls had caved in, and he was buried in the debris. Working with pick and shovel, they began to dig. From the fragments of rock and rubbish and stone which hid him from sight, came his fading voice: "Tonight ---- would have been ---- too late. Thank God ---- it was settled ---- last night!"

Forever_Lovers
08-29-2005, 06:19 AM
Ecuador and Katrina
David Langerfeld
Aug 28, 2005

Ecuador
The Ecuador Medical-Dental Mission Team is back home! We saw well over 2400 people in four days! One of our translators was saved on the first day and as soon as I know the final results, I will share them with you.

Personal Praise: On Wednesday night, I felt extreme discomfort in my abdomen. After evaluation by some of the surgeons on our team, I had to have an emergency appendectomy. Even though I was in a foreign country, in severe pain, I had no fear and no worry. My God had already provided for me. On our team was a great surgeon and surgical nurse, and the small hospital had just enough equipment for a successful surgery.

Jehovah Jireh! The right people - at the right place - at the right time.

Jehoveh Jireh! My God had already provided! The prayer warriors of my church, the prayers warriors of the other churches on the team, the team itself, and you, the prayer warriors from around the world had been praying. Once again, in the "midst of the storm", God provided!

Thank you for your prayers and for your prayer emails. You will never know how much they blessed me.


Katrina
You know the needs. You are already praying. I just wanted to remind you, as you pray, that God will provide in the "midst of the storm".

Forever_Lovers
08-30-2005, 11:48 AM
At Just the Right Time
Tom Norvell
Aug 30, 2005

At Just the Right Time


"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6-8, NIV).

At just the right time when we were struggling with temptation the right person came to be with us. They did not know we were on the verge of giving in to the temptation. They just came to be with us. Because they came at just the right time we were able to stand firm and not fall.

At just the right time when we were feeling lonely the right person showed up at our door. There did not know we were lonely. They simply came for a visit because they wanted to be with us. Because they came at just the right time we were able to get through another night.

At just the right time when life appeared to be over the right person reminded us of all the reasons we have to live. We were ready to quit. We had no energy or desire to stay in the race. Because they came at just the right time we saw another sunrise and look forward to the next.

At just the right time when we were struggling with our marriage the right couple invited us over to dinner. We were talking divorce. We saw no reason to keep up appearances any longer. They did not know how hopeless we felt, but because they connected with us at just the right time we continue to celebrate anniversaries.

At just the right time when we were at our lowest as parents the right people sat next to us in church and visited with us when the assembly time ended. We were filled with despair. Guilt was destroying us. They did not know how heart-broken we were but because they were friendly at just the right time we did not give up.

At just the right time when we were searching for a church home the right person came by for a visit. They listened to our story. They understood our situation. They helped us find a place. They did no know how homesick we were but because they took the time we now have a church family.

At just the right time when we were most desperate the right person called to offer assistance. They hardly knew us, but heard that times were hard. They said they remembered what it was like and wanted to help. Because they demonstrated that they cared at just the right time we were able to survive the crisis.

At just the right time when we were still powerless, Christ died for us. God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still a sinners, Christ died for us.

At just the right time God uses people to represent Him in the lives of those who need Him. Be aware that today you may be His instrument for someone He needs to help. It will likely be at just the right time.


Tom

Ronnie
09-02-2005, 07:58 AM
Katrina
Aug 31, 2005

My heart is still heavy for the victims of Katrina.

Instead of sending you an "Encourager" today, allow me to "encourage" you to take the time you normally use reading the Encourager to pray for those whose lives have been devastated by Katrina - for those who have lost family and friends; for those who are homeless, hungry and hopeless, without power, water and the basic essentials; for those who will be searching, ministering, feeding, and meeting the needs of the victims.

Pray also for those in charge and for the local churches that they will have the Godly wisdom and discernment to minister in the most effective and prudent ways possible - and that the power and love of God will show through them as they minster.

Forever_Lovers
09-06-2005, 10:25 AM
Finding Peace In The Middle Of A Hurricane
Ron Hutchcraft
Sep 05, 2005

Finding Peace In The Middle Of A Hurricane


"The devastation down there is just enormous." Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi

"It's totally wiped out." President George Bush


Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the deadliest hurricanes ever. With a mounting death toll, and ongoing efforts to battle through flooding, disease, and destruction, it is becoming quite clear: This storm was no ordinary storm.

Rescue ... Recovery ... Rebuilding ... A city is under water, a region has been leveled, and a nation hopes and prays. While some have lost everything, everyone has lost something.

Days ... Weeks ... Months ... Years. No one seems to know how long anything will take.

Violence ... Looting ... Greed. Sadly, in some cases this disaster has brought out the worst in people.

Sacrifice ... Giving ... Character ... Prayer. For most of our nation, the question now becomes, "How can I help? What can I do?" There are countless stories of rescue, selfless sacrifice, and unprecedented cooperation.

The staggering loss and devastation everyday people are experiencing has captured the hearts and emotions of an entire country. So many questions. So few answers. This disaster has become far more than a news story - it has touched every one of us.

Why is this? One factor is we know it could have happened to us. In a sense, no matter where we live, we all live in a "hurricane zone." All of us know the feeling - our lives are cruising along, and it's "business as usual" - then one of life's physical or emotional "hurricanes" hit. An injury ... an unsettling report from the doctor ... the loss of someone we love ... a breakup ... sudden changes at work or at home - hurricanes like these are part of life, and it's very hard to prepare for them. It may be that you have recently felt the world around you blowing violently, and things around you seem to be collapsing. It's an unmistakable reminder of something we usually tend to forget until there's a major storm - the most important things, the most important people in our lives, are, at best, uncertain.

As one mom writes about her perspective on Hurricane Katrina: "We found out tonight that we have lost everything. Even so, I am truly rich tonight. I have my children and my husband. Everyone in my family is homeless tonight but safe, and that is truly a blessing."

It's the times that the world is blowing all around us that we're reminded how much we need some life-anchor that is unmovable and unshakable. We're all looking for the same thing: peace in the middle of the storm. It's in moments like these that a powerful promise from Jesus Christ becomes very personal, very powerful. The Bible says of Him, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) There is simply nothing earth can offer that is "the same yesterday, today, and forever" - no relationship, no position, no financial security, not even our own physical or mental health, but Jesus is the same "yesterday, today, and forever."

This promise of Jesus is no idle promise. It's backed up with the death that He died on a cross for you. His resurrection from the dead when He proved, beyond all doubt, that He can conquer death, that He can conquer anything.

The storms that you have been experiencing may be a message from God reminding you that you were never meant to be alone. "You are created by Him and for Him." (Colossians 1:16) We are created for Him, not to live for ourselves, because that sends us into an orbit away from the One that created us, into an orbit that the Bible calls "sin." And "your sins have separated you from God." (Isaiah 59:2) The loneliness that has never really gone away is because the One you were made for is missing from your life. The burdens that have almost seemed unbearable - sometimes are - because you're separated from God, who wants to carry your burdens, and heal what's broken inside you. You have struggled with the seemingly pointlessness of your life, because the One who gave you your life is on the other side of the wall.

But that can all change this very day, because of what Jesus did - He died on the cross for you. Significantly, there was a major storm during the hours when He died. And during that time, the veil in the Jewish temple that had represented man's separation from God for centuries, was ripped in two by the unseen hand of God.

And today, you could be in the midst of so much around you that is violently blowing and collapsing. God is offering to open the way for you to belong to Him. And because Jesus has paid the death penalty, every wrong thing you have done - the wall between you and God - has come down today.

He's been waiting a long time for you. He is looking for you to release your life into His loving hands. If you have never had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ - and you want to - tell Him that right now. Ask Him to erase your sins from God's book, and to bring His love into your life - the only love you can never lose. If you're ready for this "unlosable" anchor-relationship, I'd like to invite you to read a booklet I wrote about it, called "Yours for Life."

With the storms around us, with so much changing, you desperately need something secure to hang on to. But the "some thing" is "Some One" - the only One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Once you are in His arms, you are, for the first time in your life, finally safe, finally secure. And His arms are open, waiting for you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To find out how you can begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, please visit Yours For Life at http://rhm.gospelcom.net/yours/ (http://rhm.gospelcom.net/yours/) Or, call 1-888-NEED HIM.

Forever_Lovers
09-06-2005, 10:26 AM
Storms Come in Different Shapes and Sizes
Tom Norvell
Sep 06, 2005

Storms Come In Different Shapes and Sizes

While Hurricane Katrina was only a Category One hurricane making her way across the southern tip of Florida, in another part of the world a wife was burying her husband, a little girl had to decide which parent she wanted to live with, and a small business owner decides to close the door for good.

As Katrina churned and gained strength in the Gulf of Mexico, in other places a doctor confirms that the cancer is malignant, a couple filed for divorce, a rebellious child slams the door and drives away, and thousands of people on the Gulf Coast packed as much as they could and fled for safety.

When Katrina stormed the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama millions of people watched, waited, and wondered what would be left of their home and belongings. Our nation and much of the world sat speechless and prayed.

As Katrina moved inland spawning tornadoes and floods across the country the images began to appear showing the rest of the world of the death and destruction the storm was leaving behind.

As rescue and recovery efforts took shape on the Gulf Coast, in another part of the world hundreds of people were trampled when the rumor of a car bomb incited panic in the crowd resulting in a stampede.

When efforts to reach the suffering did not arrive as quickly as expected or in the form expected, tempers erupted, criticism spread, and blame was rampant. The relocation of the displaced thousands began.

Now we are dealing with the aftermath of Katrina. Losses are being calculated, lives are being rebuilt, and government leaders are defending themselves against accusations of racism, prejudice, and apathy. Gas prices continue to rise, talk of running out of fuel is common, and scenes of rationing fill our minds. Cities of refuge are being established throughout the country as the thousands upon thousands of search for a place to live, a way to provide for their families, and a hope that life will be better.

So, how do we survive these storms? Where can we go for shelter? How do maintain our hope? To answer that question I remind you of the words to song of faith:

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name.

When darkness veils His loving face, I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood, Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.

On Christ the solid rock I stand.
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.
[Edward Mote, 1934]



My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. [Psalm 61:1,2, NIV]

The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and is armed with strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity. The seas have lifted up, O LORD, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea — the LORD on high is mighty. Your statutes stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days, O LORD. [Psalm 93, NIV]



Tom

Forever_Lovers
09-07-2005, 10:45 AM
Are You Hiding From God?
Author Unknown
Sep 07, 2005

Are You Hiding From God?

I remember the hot summer when we discovered ice cream sandwiches in the bottom of the cooler at the corner store. They were ten cents apiece, a lot of money back then. I don't remember how we came to buy one and taste the sweet chocolate graham crust and the melting vanilla ice cream, but we were mad for them after that. Of course, none of us had any money, allowances being unheard of on our side of town. Whether we rode our bikes, or played ball, or sat and played marbles, we talked and dreamed about those soft, creamy sandwiches. Within a week we had tapped out our sources of money: mooching and pop bottles for 2 cents each.

My dad worked nights, coming home to join us for breakfast, and then sleeping till late afternoon. When he came home one morning I heard the jingle of change in his pants and something ugly crept into my mind. That change was just what we needed, what I had to have. All day long I kept coming into the house and listening at his door. Sleeping sounds: slow, even snoring. I cracked the door, and there hanging at the foot of the bed were those pants, that change, those ice cream sandwiches; my chance to be the big man in the neighborhood. I slipped in and took a handful of change. We ate like greedy pigs, and I was a hero to my band of friends as we sat in the shade of the corner store. They thought I was rich. I told them it was birthday money I'd saved. I felt satisfied before I ever ate them sandwiches. I was somebody.

That went on every day for about two weeks and what a time it was! I had gotten good at slipping in and slipping out, and then ran to my buddies and we headed to the store. One day there was no change in dad's pocket so I felt for his wallet, hesitated a moment, then took out two whole dollars. I had been okay with taking the change, but those dollars made my face feel hot. Even before we began gorging ourselves on ice cream, my stomach felt sick. The importance and joy I had felt buying for my friends was gone that afternoon. I realized I was in pretty deep. If dad knew, he'd kill me, but worse, he'd have that look in his eye, that disappointment he would get when I'd miss catching a ball or get a bad grade. Now, I had stolen from my dad. I couldn't face him, and didn't know what to do.

Early that afternoon, the sun high and hot, I grabbed my fishing pole and walked down the tracks to the reservoir, wishing my stomach would quit aching, and praying nobody would see me crying.

Sometimes we have sinned in our own eyes so deeply that we don't know how to return to God. Our sin seems so big we simply can't face Him. It isn't so much that we don't love God. In fact, it is largely because we do that we cannot figure out how to tell Him about what we did. Our betrayal of His love, our utter failure where we promised devotion, makes us feel unworthy of Him.

Well, of course we are unworthy whatever we do, we know that doctrinally, but now we feel it, and just can't lift our faces to His. We go away. We go fishing maybe like I did, like even the apostle Peter did. Driven by guilt at his actions during our Lord's arrest and trial, Peter walked slowly into the shadow world of self-rejection. He buried himself back in what he knew best - fishing. Peter felt remorse and despair.

Have you wept those bitter tears? Have you walked away from Him because of your sin? Unworthy, unacceptable. God will use your failure for your good, your instruction, your growth. Although just a little boy, my dad taught me something about God that hot afternoon fishing in the old reservoir, something you need to know, something your Father wants you to discover today for yourself.

As I sat hurting that day, knowing there was no way to get right with my dad, I saw him walking along the tracks. He was big man who sort of swaggered like a sailor in a roiling sea, his arms swinging to the sides as he went. But now he was walking slow and deliberate, looking somehow as heavy as I felt. I couldn't run. I just sat there, watching him come to me, my pole motionless in my hands, barely breathing. I don't remember being afraid. No, it was more so feeling deeply sorrowful at hurting him. My eyes were watery when he came up. He just quietly sat alongside me and stared in the water with me.

After what seemed a very long time he asked, "How're they biting son?

I couldn't speak. I was too near crying, and he deserved me acting with some dignity I thought. We sat quietly, a bird singing nearby, and I stuck out my chin as best I could, willing to take whatever beating he thought I needed, if he would only take me back.

In a moment I will never forget, he said, "Son, I've known since the first day you took the money. I watched out the window as you and your friends ate ice cream. I didn't say anything, because I wanted to let you come and tell me yourself. It hurt me that you were stealing from me, but it hurt more you didn't come and tell me. Son, you can always come to me when you've done wrong. I love you son." And with that, his hand reached out, not to strike me, but to pull me to his chest, where I cried. As I cried, my dad told me he trusted me, and that everything he had would be mine some day. Because I couldn't go to him, he came to me.

God is coming to you. He is your Father. His calling is unchanging. His love, unfailing. He has come seeking you, true Shepherd that He is. Bury your head in His chest, accept His embrace, and begin again, as at the first, to follow Him.




Posted at Tim's Inspiration Daily. To subscribe, send an email to: inspirationdaily-owner@***********.com