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Author Topic: Inspirational Story  (Read 29184 times)
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« on: October 14, 2009, 09:20:30 PM »

Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.  For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb . . . Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.  And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday . . . I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.  Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found . . . But the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD: he is their strength in the time of trouble.  And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him (Psalm 37:1-2, 5-6, 35-36, 39-40, KJV).

Esther 7:9-10
Haman will always be remembered as the man who was dumb enough to build the instrument of his own death.  He built the gallows from which he himself was hung.  Haman, of course, never intended to be hung from this scaffold, since he had built it for someone else’s destruction.  Initially his actions seemed wise, but the fullness of time proved them to be dumb.  Haman’s tragic acts of stupidity are recorded in the precious Old Testament book of Esther, which is one of the two books in the Bible named after women.
Haman was the chief minister of King Ahasuerus of Persia.  The king evidently was particularly fond of Haman, since the monarch required all of his other princes and officials to bow before Haman.  For some reason Mordecai, one of the court officials, refused to bow before Haman.  Perhaps as a Jew, Mordecai believed that such acts of reverence belonged only to God.  Perhaps Mordecai felt that Haman was undeserving of his obeisance, and since he could not bow in sincerity, he chose not to play the role of hypocrite and violate the dictates of his conscience and his integrity.  There are times when the children of God cannot bow.  We do not intend to be difficult or offensive . . . we just recognize that there are some people, things, and issues that are worthy of our commitment, loyalty time and energy, and some that are not.  The Scriptures identify a number of times when God’s people went against prevailing norms and majority opinion and refused to bow.  Among the Israelites who journeyed from Egypt to Canaan, God’s own were those who refused to bow to the golden calf.  God told Elijah about seven thousand others in Israel who had not bowed knee to Baal.  In the book of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego refused to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image.  In the Gospels, Jesus refused to bow to Satan in the wilderness of Judea.  In the New Testament church, Christians refused to worship Caesar.
Often the price of not bowing is persecution, anger, hatred, and misunderstanding.  These were the prices that Mordecai paid for not bowing to Haman’s ego as well as his office.  When Haman personally observed Mordecai’s refusal to bow, he became enraged.  The rage turned into resentment . . . which turned into hatred . . . which ultimately turned into a plan to exterminate Mordecai and all of his people.  If Mordecai was not bowing because he was a Jew, then there ought to be no Jews, Haman reasoned.  They all should be eliminated.  With one swoop Haman could rid himself of everyone in the kingdom who might be inclined to follow Mordecai’s example.
Haman used his favored position of closeness to Ahasuerus and several half-truths to persuade the king to initiate a program to exterminate the Jews.  Haman didn’t identify whom he was talking about, but merely told the king that there were certain people in his kingdom who were different from the others, whose culture and customs were different, and whose ultimate allegiance was elsewhere.  All of this was true, but Haman also added a lie that they didn’t respect the law or the king of the land.  That’s why half-truths are more dangerous than outright lies . . . they contain enough truth to be believed and enough falsehood to be destructive.  Haman proposed that these people be destroyed and offered to pay the equivalent of twenty million dollars into the treasury to cover the cost of his program of genocide.
Not knowing who was involved, Ahasuerus agreed to Haman’s program and issued a decree ordering the extermination.  As news of the decree began to spread, Jews throughout the kingdom engaged in acts of fasting, prayer, lamentation, and deep mourning.  Mordecai clothed himself in sack cloth and stood outside the palace . . . an action that caught the attention of Esther, the wife and queen of Ahasuerus.  Esther was Mordecai’s niece whom he had raised since childhood . . . Esther thus loved Mordecai as a father.  It was Mordecai who had planned and directed her ascendance to the throne.  And Esther herself was a Jew.  Of course, Haman was unaware of all these interlocking relationships.  We never know all the truth or all the facts or all that we should know . . . when we make it our business to traffic in half-truths.  When Haman hatched his plot, he was aiming primarily at Mordecai.  He had no idea that his scheme would reach into the palace, into the king’s very bedroom and heart, for Esther was highly respected as well as loved by the king.
Mordecai sent a message to Esther to intercede on behalf of her people.  Esther was fearful at first because . . . according to the custom of that time . . . any person . . .whether man or woman, wife or servant . . .who entered the king’s inner court uninvited faced the penalty of execution . . . unless the king extended the golden scepter toward that person.  Esther had not been called into the king for thirty days.  Mordecai sent to Esther the message: “Think not that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews.  For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s house will perish.  And who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Esther 4:13-14).  Esther asked her uncle to join her in prayer and fasting and resolved, “I will go the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.”
At one time or another God’s children must adopt an attitude that says, “I’m going to do what I have to do, and if I perish, I perish . . . I’m going to stand for right and speak the truth, and if I perish, I perish . . . I’m going to trust God to fight my battles . . . I’m going to claim the promises in God’s Word . . . while others plot, . . .  I’m going to fast and pray, and if I perish, I perish!”
God was with Esther when she appeared before Ahasuerus, and he agreed to give her whatever she asked, up to half his kingdom.  She only asked that he and Haman join her for dinner that evening.  During dinner, when Ahasuerus asked what she wanted, Esther asked them to join her for another private dinner the next day and at that time she would lay before him the matter that was upon her heart.  Haman left the palace that evening feeling pretty good about himself.  He had received two invitations from Queen Esther to dine privately with her and the king.  Surely no prince in the land had more power or influence than he did.  Nothing could stop his rise to power, and no one could prevent him from doing whatever he wanted to do.
As he left the palace, Haman saw Mordecai, who still refused to bow to him. (God's children may be down sometimes, and others may be up . . . but they still don’t bow.)  There was Haman, feeling proud of who he was . . . and there was Mordecai, whose very presence reminded Haman that his power could be withstood and his authority be defied.  Haman went home that night and built a seventy-five-foot gallows on which he would personally hang Mordecai.  He would show that Jew who was boss.  Haman resolved that he would ask Ahasuerus for Mordecai’s life the very first thing in the morning.  He would teach him a lesson for his insolence.
But while Haman was building his offense again Mordecai . . . heaven was building a defense for Mordecai.  While the power of evil was at work through Haman to destroy Mordecai . . . the power of the Lord began to work through Ahasuerus to save Mordecai.  The Spirit of the Lord wouldn’t let the king sleep, and so Ahasuerus sent for his book of memorable deeds of the kingdom.  While reading the record, he discovered that long ago Mordecai had exposed a plot on the king’s life, and he had never been rewarded for what he had done.  Thus while Haman fell asleep plotting against Mordecai, Ahasuerus fell asleep with gratitude for Mordecai weighing upon his mind.
On the next morning both Haman and Ahasuerus rose excitedly from beds of slumber.  One was excited about the prospect of destruction . . . the other was excited about the opportunity for praise.  One was excited about the prospect of doing evil to somebody . . . while the other was excited about the prospect of doing good for somebody.  One awoke with a grudge . . . the other awoke with gratitude.  I’m glad that when others get up early to do evil . . . there is a Sovereign Ruler who reigns over them who is prepared to do good for us.  When others rise to curse, the Sovereign Ruler is ready to bless.  When others rise to defame and criticize . . . the Sovereign Ruler comes to glorify and praise.  When others build their gallows to hang us . . . our Sovereign Ruler reads our names in the Book of Life and is prepared to reward us.
Haman arrived early at the palace to ask for Mordecai’s life, but before he could say anything, the king asked, “What shall I do to honor someone who truly pleases me?”
Since Haman had twice been invited to dine privately with the king and queen, he assumed that the king was talking about him.  Thus he said, “Bring out some of the royal robes that the king himself has worn, and the king’s own horses and the royal crown, and instruct one of the most noble princes to robe the man and lead him through the streets on the king’s own horse, shouting before him, ‘This is the way the king honors those who please him.’”  Ahasuerus said, “Excellent.  Go get Mordecai, and I want you to do everything for him that you have just said.” Haman did as he was instructed and went home humiliated and perplexed.  As he was telling his wife and friends what had happened, the king’s messenger arrived to escort him to Esther’s banquet.  During dinner Ahasuerus again asked Esther what she wanted.  The noble queen asked only that her life and the life of her people be spared from destruction.
The king asked who would dare touch her or lay hands upon her people.  Esther pointed to Haman and identified him as the enemy of her people.  The king was so furious and upset that he left the hall in haste to collect his emotions, while Haman threw himself at Esther’s feet to plead for mercy.  He who had so arrogantly planned the destruction of a whole race of people to settle a personal grudge had the nerve to beg for mercy.  He who used his power and position not for good, but for evil, begged for mercy.  He who wanted to kill the uncle whom Esther loved as a father begged for mercy.  He who lied and schemed begged for mercy.
Just as the king was returning, Haman fell in despair upon the couch where Queen Esther was reclining.  King Ahasuerus thought that Haman was making advances toward the queen, and Haman’s face was immediately covered with a death veil as an indication of his doom.  Harbona, one of the king’s aides, told the king that Haman had just built a seventy-five-foot gallows from which he had planned to hang that same Mordecai who had saved the king’s life from assassins.  Ahasuerus ordered that Haman be hung in his own courtyard from the very gallows that he had ordered built for someone else.  Thus Haman hung from his own gallows . . . he hung in his own trap . . . he hung in his own pettiness . . . he hung in his own greed . . . he hung in his own ego . . . he hung in his own vindictiveness . . . he hung in his own half truths . . . he hung through his own scheming.
Haman thought he was smart . . . but he was not smart after all.  Haman could have been a great man, but he let a little thing like Mordecai’s refusal to bow prevent him from enjoying the honor and glory he received from others.  We’re not smart when we allow little things to steal our joy and prevent us from enjoying the blessings of life.  He could have used his power for good . . . but Haman chose to use his power to fight his own personal battles.  Whenever we use great power and great opportunities for little purposes and selfish ends . . . we’re not smart.  When we don’t care who we hurt as long as our ego is satisfied . . . we’re not smart.  Whenever we set a trap for somebody else . . . we’re not smart, because those traps might trap us in the long run.  Whenever we plan evil for somebody else . . . we’re not smart, because that same evil will come back to us.
Don’t be dumb like Haman . . . be smart like Mordecai and Esther, who knew that the Lord would make a way somehow.  Mordecai didn’t know how or when, where or through whom . . . but he knew that the Lord would raise a deliverer from somewhere.  He knew enough of his people’s history to know that whenever they were oppressed . . . God raised a deliverer.  When they were oppressed in Egypt, God raised up Moses . . . and after Moses, Joshua . . . and after Joshua, Gideon . . . and after Gideon, Samson . . . and after Samson, Deborah.  When they needed prophets . . . God gave them Samuel and Elijah.  When they needed kings to break Philistine oppression . . . God gave them Saul and David.  Mordecai just didn’t believe that God had brought them that far to leave them.  Be smart like Esther . . . who understood that God had placed her where she was . . . not for self . . . but for service . . . for such a time as that.  Be smart like Mordecai and Esther who didn’t have to lay a hand on their enemy.  Instead they prayed and fasted.  For the power of prayer is stronger than any plot conjured up by evil men or women.

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« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2009, 09:27:22 PM »

The Qualities of Survival
By Charlie Plumb
Several years ago I found myself a long way from home in a small prison cell. As a prisoner of war, I was tortured, humiliated, starved and left to languish in squalor for six years.
It's important that you get a vivid mental picture of this scene. Try your best to smell the stench in the bucket I called my toilet and taste the salt in the corners of my mouth from my sweat, my tears and my blood. Feel the baking tropical heat in a tin-roofed prison cell - not that you'll ever be a POW.
If I am effective in these few moments we spend together, you'll see that the same kind of challenges you face as a teenager, a student, a leader, or a parent, are the same basic challenges I faced in a prison cell: feelings of fear, loneliness, failure and a breakdown of communication. More importantly, your response to those challenges will be the same response I had to have in the prison camp just to survive.
What qualities do you have within you that would allow you to survive in a prison camp? Please pause here, think about this question, and write in the margin of this page at least five different qualities necessary for survival. (If you've written faith, commitment or dedication, you've already broken the code.)
As I worked my way through the first several months and then years of imprisonment, I found I already had a foundation of survival tools learned in life from my parents, preachers, youth leaders, and teachers. And the lifesaving techniques I used in that prison camp had more to do with my value system, integrity and religious faith than anything I had learned from a textbook.
Sound like your life? The adversities you face in your life can be just as debilitating to you as six years in a Communist prison camp could have been to me. Now here's the test: The next time you have a huge problem facing you, turn back to this page and read not my writing but your writing in the margin. You'll find that the same factors you've written here, which would serve you well in a prison camp, will serve you even better in the challenge of everyday life.
 salut
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« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2009, 02:29:34 AM »

COMMUNION ON THE MOON
by Bill Carrel
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to walk on the moon in the Apollo 11 space mission.  Michael Collins third member of the group, was in charge of the command module, essential for their return to earth, which circled the moon while Armstrong and Aldrin landed.  The moon lander touched down at 3:17 Eastern Standard Time, Sunday, July 20, 1969.
Aldrin had brought with him a tiny communion kit, given him by his church, that had a silver chalice and wine vial about the size of the tip of his finger. 
During the morning he radioed, “Houston, this is Eagle.  This is the LM pilot speaking.  I would like to request a few moments of silence.  I would like to invite each person listening in, whoever or wherever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the last few hours, and to give thanks in his own individual way.”
“In the radio blackout,” he wrote later, “I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine.  I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me.  In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup.  Then I read the Scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit.’  I had intended to read my communion passage back to earth, but at the last minute Deke Slayton had requested that I not do this.  NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle with Madelyn Murray O’Hare, the celebrated opponent of religion, over the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis while orbiting the moon at Christmas.  I agreed reluctantly . . .”
“Eagle’s metal body creaked.  I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine.  I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquillity. It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”
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« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2009, 03:51:16 PM »

In 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day “of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.”  Here is the text of Lincoln’s proclamation:
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven.  We have been preserved, the many years, in peace and prosperity.  We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown.  But we have forgotten God.  We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.  Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to God that made us!  It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

-- April 30, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation for a National Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer
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« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2009, 10:44:29 PM »

1 Samuel 25
Facing Weaknesses in Those We Love

None of us is perfect . . . all of us at some time or another must come to grips with imperfections and weaknesses in those whom we love.  The experience of discovering imperfections in the rose that looked so perfect from afar can be disconcerting and discouraging . . . until we realize that when we get close enough to see the imperfections and weaknesses of others they can also see the imperfections and weaknesses in us.  Because our eyes only focus outward and not inward, however, we cannot see ourselves as others see us . . . we can only see others through our own eyes.  So how do we handle the imperfections and weaknesses we see in those we love?  The story of Abigail can give us some insight in answering this question.

The incident in 1 Samuel occurred during that period in David’s life when he was roaming the countryside as an outlaw because an insecure and paranoid King Saul had become threatened by David’s youth, skills, and popularity and had tried to kill him.  David gathered a few men and fled for his life.  During his wanderings David and his men had come across some herdsmen who worked for a very wealthy individual whose name was Nabal.  David and his men had been very kind to Nabal’s herdsmen, providing them protection and doing whatever they could to assist them.  During the sheepshearing season, David requested that Nabal give him and his men some food and supplies.  David did not make a specific request regarding the amount, but was content to receive whatever Nabal had on hand.  David’s request would not have been a hardship for Nabal . . . since the sheepshearing season was a time of feasting and celebration.  Instead of showing gratitude for the kindness that David and his men had provided for him . . . Nabal answered David’s messengers harshly and curtly.  He said: “Who is David?  Who is the son of Jesse?  There are many servants today who are breaking away from their masters.  Shall I take my bread and my water and the meat that I have butchered for my shearers, and give it to men who come from I do not know where?” (1 Samuel 25:10-11).  When David received Nabal’s reply, he and four hundred armed men prepared to march against Nabal's household.
   
One Of Nabal’s servants went to Abigail, however, and told her how well they had been treated by David and his men and how rudely Nabal had been to David’s messengers . . .  and that he feared what might befall as a result of his master’s insult.  When Abigail heard of the incident, she immediately took steps to alleviate David’s wrath.  The Bible tells us that she took “two hundred loaves, two skins of wine, five sheep ready dressed, five measures of parched grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs” (v. 18).  Saying nothing to Nabal, she sent two young men ahead of her and set out to meet David.  As he was marching to Nabal’s estate, David was saying to himself, “Surely it was in vain have I protected all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him; but he has returned me evil for good.  God do so to David and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one male of all who belong to him” (vv. 21-22).  It was at this moment that Abigail met David with her gift of generosity. 

Let me just observe that so often just at the moment when it seems as if our correct living and doing the right thing seem to be for naught . . . someone comes to us and lets us know that our good deeds have not been in vain.  God has a way of encouraging us at just the right moment . . . just in the nick of time when we are about to give up, so that we will not grow weary in doing right . . . but understand that in due season we shall reap if we do not faint. 

What we can discover are things that Abigail did not do.
First . . . she did not deny that her husband had a problem and that he was a problem. 
Many of us still deny the weaknesses in those we love.  Many of us are still trying to pretend that those we love are not as bad off as they are.  We seem to feel that love requires us to protect and defend those we love . . . even when they are wrong.  But right is right and wrong is wrong and truth is truth.  If your loved ones lied . . . they are wrong.  If they started the fight . . . if they are mean and self-centered . . . if they are drunk . . . addicted . . . if they are lazy or greedy . . . if they have a gambling or a philandering problem . . . they are wrong and you do not need to feel obligated by love and loyalty to uphold them in their wrongdoing.  Before you get in a huff and curse out somebody about your child . . . you had better be sure that your child is not in the wrong.  Before you jump to somebody’s defense and go to war because of what somebody said about your companion, relative, or friend . . . be sure that your loved one is not in the wrong.  It’s never right to uphold wrong . . . even if it is for someone you love.  We do not prove our love by making excuses for people who are wrong.  Our excuse-making, denial, and protection does not alter the truth that our loved ones are wrong.  Our excuses, denials, and attempted cover-ups only make matters worse, not better.  We only confirm and encourage our loved ones to stay the way they are until what is ‘wrong’ gets out of hand.  When you see someone whose problem has gotten out of hand, keep in mind it didn’t get that way overnight and without someone’s help with some covering up and excuse-making.  To fix weaknesses in those we love we must first face them and admit that they have a problem.

Second, Abigail did not assume guilt or responsibility for her husband’s weakness.  Sometimes we believe that if we do the right thing, then others will be touched by our goodness and turn from their wicked ways.  And when they don’t, then we feel guilty because we feel that there is something lacking in our life and love.  If we loved a little more, bent over backwards a little more, perhaps they might change.  Perhaps they will, but perhaps they won’t.
We do the right thing first for our own self and soul’s salvation . . . for we have to die and meet God for ourselves.  Then we hope to help others see the light.  And sometimes they will, but if they don’t . . . we cannot assume responsibility and feel guilty because they don’t respond to our good example.  I’ve said it over and over again . . . people make their own decisions about whom they will serve and the kind of life they choose to live.  You cannot assume guilt for somebody else's responsibility.  You have enough problems of your own to carry . . . don’t add guilt for what isn’t your fault to your load.
And neither can you allow someone to tell you that you are guilty: “I wouldn’t be like this if you were a better parent or a better husband or wife or lover or friend or provider.”  We have to tell people, “You are what you are because you choose to be that way.”  Abigail did not deny that her loved one had a problem.  Abigail did not assume guilt for Nabal’s character.

Third, Abigail did not allow her loved one to destroy her.  The Bible describes her as intelligent and beautiful.  She didn’t let Nabal worry her into an early grave, or cause her to become old, shriveled up, and wrinkled before her time.  She didn’t go off and sit in a comer and neglect her brains and vitality because of his problem.  She didn’t act dumb or try to hide her beauty because of his insecurities.  She didn’t let herself go to pieces or her body go to pot because she lived in a difficult situation.  She didn’t become bitter and mean because she was in a bitter and mean situation or because she was with somebody who was bitter and mean.  She was intelligent and beautiful when she met Nabal.  She was intelligent and beautiful when she married him.  And when he died, she was still intelligent and beautiful.  Instead of letting Nabal destroy her, Abigail continued to develop.
Don’t you dare allow your loved ones to destroy you.  Don’t you dare give the devil the satisfaction and joy of knowing that he has stolen your joy, defeated you, and gotten the victory over you.  I know sometimes that your heart is broken . . . but don’t let heartbreak destroy you.  I know somebody who specializes in mending broken hearts.  I know sometimes that you have more problems than you can handle.  But don’t let your problems destroy you.  I know somebody who is a problem solver.  I know that sometimes your mind is so confused that you don't know which way to turn.  Don’t let your confused mind destroy you . . . Jesus is a mind regulator.

You continue to develop.  If others act ignorant . . . you remain intelligent.  If others act crazy . . . you continue to act cultured.  If others are wasteful . . . you continue to show wisdom.  If others go backward . . . you continue to go forward.  If others go to hell . . . you press on toward heaven.
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« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2010, 07:44:45 PM »

Freckles (author unknown)
An elderly woman and her little grandson, whose face was sprinkled with bright freckles, spent the day at the zoo. Lots of children were waiting in line to get their cheeks painted by a local artist who was decorating them with tiger paws.
“You’ve got so many freckles, there’s no place to paint!” a girl in the line said to the little fella.  Embarrassed, the little boy dropped his head.
His grandmother knelt down next to him.
“I love your freckles.  When I was a little girl I always wanted freckles," she said, while tracing her finger across the child’s cheek.
“Freckles are beautiful.” 
The boy looked up, “Really?”
“Of course,” said the grandmother.
“Why, just name me one thing that’s prettier than freckles.”
The little boy thought for a moment, peered intensely into his grandma’s face, and softly whispered, “Wrinkles.”
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« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2010, 11:21:26 PM »

Here is a little journey into our days:
It is quiet in the early morning -- the sky is still black.  The world is still asleep.  The day is coming.
In a few moments the day will arrive.  It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun.  The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day.  The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding race of the human race.  The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made.
It is now that we must make a choice.  Because of Calvary, we say I'm free to choose.  And so I choose.
I choose love . . . no occasion justifies hatred . . . no injustice warrants bitterness.  I choose love.  Today I will love God and what God loves.
I choose joy . . . I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance.   I will refuse the temptation to be cynical . . . the tool of the lazy thinker.  I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God.  I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.    
I choose peace . . . I will live forgiven.  I will forgive so that I may live. 
I choose patience . . . I will overlook the inconveniences of the world.  Instead of cursing the ones who takes my place, I'll invite them to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at how my life is, I will face each day with joy and courage.
I choose kindness  . . . I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid.  And kind to the unkind, such is how God has treated me.
I choose goodness  . . . I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one.  I will be overlooked before I will boast.  I will confess before I will accuse. 
I choose faithfulness . . . today I will keep my promises.  My debtors will not regret their trust.  My friends will not question my word.  My family will not question my love. 
I choose gentleness . . . nothing is won by force.  If I raise my voice may it be only in praise.  If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer.  If I make a demand, may it be only of myself. 
I choose self-control  . . . I am a spiritual being.  After this body is dead, my spirit will soar.  I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal.  I will be impassioned only by my faith.  I will be influenced only by God.  I will be taught only by Christ.
 
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control -- to these I commit my day.  If I succeed, I will give thanks.  If I fail, I will seek grace.  And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.

Everyday we get to choose -- choose well, for our God is honorable and He will honor our choices.  It isn't about money or things, what others do or don't do, it is about us and what choices we make.  And that my friends is our victory.
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« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2010, 11:30:17 PM »

   Some years ago a young lady, the wife of a missionary, told a hushed congregation about the way she had robbed her employer of thousands of dollars of merchandise while she was a student in Bible school.  She had admitted her sin, sought his forgiveness, learned to paint so effectively that her earnings from painting paid off the debt and led her employer to Christ.  When someone asked how she could be so open about her past, she threw her arms wide and with a great smile said, “When all is forgiven, there is nothing to hide, and where there is nothing to hide, there is nothing to fear.”   This woman had the assurance of God’s love.  The assurance of God’s love   . . . how desperately we need that.  Do you know the greatest theology lesson of all time . . .
         Jesus loves me, this I know,
         For the Bible tells me so;
         Little ones to him belong,
         They are weak but he is strong.
         Yes, Jesus loves me!  Yes, Jesus loves me!
         Yes, Jesus loves me!  The Bible tells me so.

   Why was this the first song so many of us were taught?  Because it is simple?  Surely, that is part of the answer.  But there's more to it than that  . . . we teach the song of Jesus’ love to young children because its promises are so important.  The understanding that Jesus loves me is basic to what each Christian must believe.  We teach this truth because we know the reality of Christ's love must be planted deep into the very fiber of each maturing believer. 
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« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2010, 04:10:42 AM »

Sister

I cannot even express how much your words have meant to me in the last few days.
Your words have consoled me. Your words are so uncanny as if you can actually feel whats in my head. Putting this into prospective - will take a paragraph or so. What I really would love to hear your opinion on.

When I was a little girl, as far back as I can recall. Actually I do have memories of being 2 and 3 yrs old. Both My Parents have said to me " There is no way you could remember that" But I do.  I would say something of a memory -  and they would say in astonishment HOW can you remember that, knowing it was true. You were 2 or 3. Because we moved around so much in my childhood. My memories were measured by that time. I am sure that make sense.
Anyway going back to my point.  When I was a child I lived two lives. I lived with my Parents and every summer I lived with my Grandparents. My life with parents was every day "school/life/doing what you do" and every summer my brother and I were sent to live with my Grandparents. My Grandparents owned operated a General Store. My Grandpa built the store himself and it was fully operational. It was very small yet had everything from fresh dairy, meat and veggies - to can goods, Beer and Wine. My Grandma ran the store, she was not only the boss, She was the butcher and head cashier/Accountant and clean up crew. She was everything because this Store was her Life. She worked from 6am - 10pm -7days a week - every day of the year.  One day of the year would she close the store and that was 1/2 a day - Thanksgiving. She would close the store at 1:00. Because that was HER Holiday that she represented and was the Cook for the family. Omg do I miss her Thanksgivings. I started working as soon as I could pick up a duster. So I was in the store at the age of 4 on up. By the time I was 7/8 years old " I was doing inventory and making stock lists mentally" - My Grandma would take us to the wholesale markets for canned goods etc and she would actually rely on Me or my Brother - What do we need? - It was serious business - she didn't play. You put up or shut up. She was never mean though. All the years of mix in between two lives I know has made me a better person. When I turned 12 your brain is not in sync with everything - Being 12 is what it is. But that Summer I went to work for my Grandma and she was just not herself. She had a cold for months. She I had never seen sick in all my life. Never ever. Not even a headache. Well My Granpa was worried about her one night, it was the end of summer. She was having issues breathing. So he took her to ER. They said she had walking pneumonia. She had fluid in her lungs and they drained her lungs. OMG. Well two days later the Hospital called and said they wanted to do more tests. They did. And within One week, my Grandma went from walking pneumonia to a diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer.
All of Us were devastated beyond words. Was a crushing blow to our family. She would not except it. She said No. I am Fine. Her health deteriorated very quickly to the point she could not work in the store any longer. She was put in the Hospital. My Grandpa and Dad hated each others guts - from the day my Dad met my Mother. My Grandpa never trusted nor had one thought of I welcome you ever. They both though had one thing in common. My Grandmother. My Dad Loved HER more so I think than his own Mother. My Dad was a Corpsman in Korea and once was a RN. He had the medical knowledge and 100 percent drive to take my Grandmother back to her house. He knew how to administer injections. Change an IV line or administer a IV. My Grandpa allowed it - Because it was my Grandma's request - I want to go Home. The Doc's said there was nothing to be done but to give her Morphine. She was inoperable. A hospital bed was put in the house and my Dad took care of her - 24/7. No matter what.  All of us were at her side 24/7 - No matter what she needed. I watched her go from 150lbs to 80lbs ..silent. My Brother though Sister - HE was not there. He chose to stay at my parents home. He was 14 and he stayed at my parents house all by himself for over a month. He went to school everyday. He fed himself. He would not come to my Grandma's house.  My Mom would go and check up on him and come back to my Grandparents. My Brother was extremely close to my Grandmother. She and he were like cosmic twins. She was Everything to Him. He was everything to her. He though never saw her in pain, he never was witness of her with cancer.  He at home built a train with track - a full scale model of a small city. He painted each tree and human being that stood on the ground. He painted all the buildings each in intricate fashion. That is what he did to keep him busy while he knew my Grandma was dying. He never saw her until her funeral. He was never able to say I love you or Goodbye. He did not cry at her funeral.  Bringing it up to present date.
My Father and my Brother have not had a relationship in over 16 yrs. They had not spoken in the last 14 years. Not even seen each other in passing. Nothing at all. No voice heard nothing. NO contact. Last year my Father passed away.  I was and have been always my Dad's baby. He and I had our falling outs through the years. But we always came back to each other.  For the last 3 yrs my Dad and I were inseparable. We talked Every day on the phone. Emailed each other. My parents divorced many years ago - I was 34. So the line was divided. My Mother and I have never gotten along, the divorce was a severing. She would say If you talk to your Dad your basically stabbing me in the back ..yadda. I will never forgive you. My Brother however is my Mother's shadow. He is her Son. Within much more than I am not saying - I had not by choice spoken to my Mother in 2 yrs nor my Brother in many years by phone.

Last year, June, my Dad and I were talking daily etc and everything was normal. He My Dad never told me that he had health issues - ever. Never expressed anything. The many times I was at his apt, in the last few months, never saw any script bottles around nothing. No meds to give me thoughts that he had health problems. I did not know he was seeing 3 specialists for his Heart. He died  " Heart Attack"  He was found with the phone clutched in his hand under his body by the apt manager - his newspapers were stacking outside his door so neighbor called the mgr.   
I think this was My Dad telling me that he had passed .. I can't say for sure.
Was on June 10th, I was sleeping it was early morning and I was having this very vivid almost lucid dream ..I was dreaming of a Man with white hair, he was dressed in fine clothing and was sitting in a chair. Not a normal chair. But a chair made of Gold and it was filled with Gems. Was High Backed like a Chair for a King. The Man was surrounded by Beautiful Asian Women dressed in glorious Gowns. There were glistening like Butterfly's or Birds flying around.
He was so at Peace, not self righteous that these are my possessions around me - I am at total peace. It was warm and beautiful - I don't know how else to explain it. 
* I then woke up, and was thinking to myself .. Oh My that was such a dream. It stuck to me. I went down stairs. Let the dog out and fed the cats and was in the middle of making a pot of coffee. My phone rang and I saw on the caller ID it was my Mother. I did not answer it. I kept making my coffee. Well the answering machine kicked in. Her voice that I had not heard in almost 2 years. This is your Mother, I am calling to tell you your Dad Died and she hung up. At first I was like .... I heard that wrong. I didn't play it back. I finished making my coffee and mins later my Daughter called me. I answered and she was hysterical and then I dropped to my knees on my kitchen floor - trying to breath and keep myself intact for my child.  My Dad was gone.

My Brother refused to go to our Father's funeral. They had not spoken in over 13yrs.
A few days ago My Daughter called me and she said - YOU Mom need to help Uncle Mike.  I was taken aback. I listened and she said " Uncle Mike" thinks that Papa * My DAD *  is in his house. His spirit is visiting him at night. She said you know how Uncle Mike is - he does not believe in ghosts or anything of the sort. Well he truly believes that Papa is in his house.

She said that she about a month ago, had a visit from him herself. She said she was in a Dead sleep and she could smell my Father's tobacco and after shave - she said she woke up as if she was in a warm hug.  My Brother on the other hand has gone as far as visiting a psychic - because he thinks my Dad is trying to harm him. My Brother is having nightmares and fright-mares - waking up in hysteria that he is being killed within a war zone. Not War that is of Today. War of yesteryear. My Dad served in the Korean War, not as a soldier but as Medic. My Brother as well served as a Corpsman, yet not in Wartime. He never left the US. He served prior to Iraq.  My brother though thinks my Dad is putting his war memories into His head through dreams. My Daughter told me that Uncle Mike said to the Psychic,  Dad is living in my Sister's house and He visits me at night.  Well My Dad's ashes are in my living room. I told my Daughter if anything " IF" this is not Uncle Mikes manifestation of grief - that he never says Goodbye to the those he Loves while they pass over. It is a sign that he needs to " check himself". I said as well It could be that Papa is visiting him and sending him messages. I said though I don't believe for a minute it is out of malice.

Well that was a very long story Sister - but I had to offer you everything so you could " understand" all of it.  I have my Dad's Ashes yes in my house. He has a plot paid for by his Mother 1950's - family plot/spaces in a local cemetery.  The Burial fee and headstone fee was out of my range. I paid from my Dad's funeral by myself. No aid from my Brother.
I was so weirded out taking my Dad's ashes from the funeral home. I let him ride around in my car for two days. We went to Home Depot, the pet supply store, grocery market..till I was comfortable to pick him up and bring him in my house.  I think its ME holding him " My Dad" I think I am the reason why he is still here. I don't feel anything strange, or other - I feel protection.  That is the other thing - my Brother claims his Dogs can feel my Dad's presence. That they stare at a certain place in his living room and bark as if there is someone there-same place and time - and it never changes.  My Dad has never physically in life been to my Brothers home. He was never invited.

Now as it is today - I don't think I want my Dad's ashes to be placed anywhere. I like him here with me.  One day if I ever go to the Ocean maybe I will consider passing his ashes along. That day will be .......who knows. 
Wanting your opinion on all of this. What is your thoughts.  I saw your posts here. My Dad was very strong in his beliefs. He had full belief in Jesus as his Savior and full belief in God.  He read and had every book on religion ever wrote. Even books on religions he did not believe in. He would always say - How can you judge someone else on their belief's if you do not understand them? How can you stand as self " without comparison " Knowledge is all powerful.
When I went to my Dad's Apt, which was brutally hard for me, He had been passed for 3 days when he was found by a neighbor - I went in on the 4th day - with Vicks under my nose. Oh lord. I went into his personal space. In his private bathroom he had taped to the mirror -

The Jabez Prayer hand written by him many years ago. I have it here with me. I am staring at it. It is so beaten and yellowed and torn up - but it is his handwriting.  I keep it with me.
Not sure if I can read it - its a bit worn.
  The Jabez Prayer is written title
 hand written by my Father
And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying " Oh that you would bless me indeed" " and enlarge my territory, that your hand would be with me, And that you would keep me from evil, That I may not cause pain! So God granted him his request.
I chronicles 4:10 ( NKJV)

I would love your feelings on all that I have written. Do you believe Sister that someone Alive can Love another who has passed so much that they can hold them " here" ?
Or do you believe that spirits can transcend themselves between Heaven and mortal.
I believe in Angel Nudges and Angel guides. I think I have had an Angel Guide for my entire life - I don't know who it is though. Someone who passed when I was very young or from even before I was born.

I don't know how to explain it, I know I have an Angel. 
I await for your reply. (( Thank you for reading my Reader's Digest ))
K aka Deenie.



 

 
     


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« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2010, 04:14:15 AM »

The Qualities of Survival
By Charlie Plumb
Several years ago I found myself a long way from home in a small prison cell. As a prisoner of war, I was tortured, humiliated, starved and left to languish in squalor for six years.
It's important that you get a vivid mental picture of this scene. Try your best to smell the stench in the bucket I called my toilet and taste the salt in the corners of my mouth from my sweat, my tears and my blood. Feel the baking tropical heat in a tin-roofed prison cell - not that you'll ever be a POW.
If I am effective in these few moments we spend together, you'll see that the same kind of challenges you face as a teenager, a student, a leader, or a parent, are the same basic challenges I faced in a prison cell: feelings of fear, loneliness, failure and a breakdown of communication. More importantly, your response to those challenges will be the same response I had to have in the prison camp just to survive.
What qualities do you have within you that would allow you to survive in a prison camp? Please pause here, think about this question, and write in the margin of this page at least five different qualities necessary for survival. (If you've written faith, commitment or dedication, you've already broken the code.)
As I worked my way through the first several months and then years of imprisonment, I found I already had a foundation of survival tools learned in life from my parents, preachers, youth leaders, and teachers. And the lifesaving techniques I used in that prison camp had more to do with my value system, integrity and religious faith than anything I had learned from a textbook.
Sound like your life? The adversities you face in your life can be just as debilitating to you as six years in a Communist prison camp could have been to me. Now here's the test: The next time you have a huge problem facing you, turn back to this page and read not my writing but your writing in the margin. You'll find that the same factors you've written here, which would serve you well in a prison camp, will serve you even better in the challenge of everyday life.
 salut

I did not see this before Sister - My Dad was a POW in Korea.  He was tortured like this man. He never spoke of it. He kept it inside. He has told me somethings. He was very vocal about being in Korea when he was drinking. Memories most I wish I could erase, but then if he never had told me .. I would not have had the understanding of him as I learned becoming an adult. When he was finally " Honorably Discharged from the Navy"  he went to seek help from the VA. No room at the Inn. We can though stick you in another State, in a inner city Mental Hospital. He dove right back into Corpsman Mode which was his only defense to survive in this Hospital - His stay in inner city Chicago Mental Ward - for PTSD... um I get angry when I think about it. He was not aided at all. He was tortured all over again. Never once did he ever recover. He just attempted to create a new normal for himself. Sigh.  Sacrifices made by our Men/Women who serve in War ..and come home .. so Sorry we can't help You - But Thank You for protecting our FREEDOM. I will stop here. 
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« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2010, 11:49:57 AM »

The secret to Warren Buffetts success.. His own words.

"The power of unconditional love. I mean, there is no power on earth like unconditional love. And I think that if you offered that to your child, I mean, you’re 90 percent of the way home. There may be days when you don’t feel like it — it’s not uncritical love; that’s a different animal — but to know you can always come back, that is huge in life. That takes you a long, long way. And I would say that every parent out there that can extend that to their child at an early age, it’s going to make for a better human being."

Warren Buffett
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« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2010, 11:57:18 AM »

The secret to Warren Buffetts success.. His own words.

"The power of unconditional love. I mean, there is no power on earth like unconditional love. And I think that if you offered that to your child, I mean, you’re 90 percent of the way home. There may be days when you don’t feel like it — it’s not uncritical love; that’s a different animal — but to know you can always come back, that is huge in life. That takes you a long, long way. And I would say that every parent out there that can extend that to their child at an early age, it’s going to make for a better human being."

Warren Buffett

Edward, thank you for sharing.  How true, true, true.  Unconditional love -- to know you can always come back . . .
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« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2010, 07:00:08 PM »

I like Sister's writings. Keep doing this, please.
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« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2010, 01:22:04 AM »

I like Sister's writings. Keep doing this, please.

Thank you.  I love to share -- I need to do more of it, just needed a little encouragement.   
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« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2010, 10:38:32 PM »

I like Sister's writings. Keep doing this, please.

Thank you.  I love to share -- I need to do more of it, just needed a little encouragement.   


Please keep writing and sharing with us Sister.   an angelic monkey
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« Reply #15 on: July 18, 2010, 11:26:34 PM »

I like Sister's writings. Keep doing this, please.

Thank you.  I love to share -- I need to do more of it, just needed a little encouragement.   


Please keep writing and sharing with us Sister.   an angelic monkey

Thank you dear Muffy -- will do, I promise.
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« Reply #16 on: July 19, 2010, 07:49:23 PM »

The Secret of Our Power to Love
Legend has it that a wealthy merchant traveling through the Mediterranean world looking for the distinguished Pharisee, Paul, encountered Timothy, who arranged a visit.
Paul was, at the time, a prisoner in Rome. Stepping inside the cell, the merchant was surprised to find a rather old man, physically frail, but whose serenity and magnetism challenged the visitor. They talked for hours. Finally the merchant left with Paul's blessing.
Outside the prison, the concerned man inquired, "What is the secret of this man's power? I have never seen anything like it before."
Did you not guess?" replied Timothy. "Paul is in love."
The merchant looked bewildered. "In Love?"
"Yes," the missionary answered, "Paul is in love with Jesus Christ."
The merchant looked even more bewildered. "Is that all?"
Smiling, Timothy replied, "Sir, that is everything."

G. Curtis Jones, Illustrations For Preaching And Teaching, p. 225.
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« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2010, 10:20:34 AM »

Judges 14:5-14: Then Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah.  When he came to the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion roared at him.  The spirit of the LORD rushed on him, and he tore the lion apart bareheaded as one might tear apart a kid.  But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done.  Then he went down and talked with the woman, and she pleased Samson.  After a while he returned to marry her, and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey.  He scraped it out into his hands, and went on, eating as he went.  When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them, and they ate it.  But he did not tell them he had taken the honey from the carcass of the lion.  
His father went down to the woman, and Samson made a feast there as the young men were accustomed to do.  When the people saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him.  Samson said to them, “Let me now put a riddle to you.  If you can explain it to me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty festal garments.  But if you cannot explain it to me, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty festal garments.”  So they said to him, “Ask your riddle; let us hear it.”  He said to them, “Out of, the eater came something to eat.  Out of the strong came something sweet.”  But for three days they could not explain the riddle.

   

Many centuries ago, a young man constructed a riddle for his own enjoyment and for the mystifying of some new companions.  I’ve come to feel that his riddle is itself a surprising answer to one of our most frustrating human riddles.
His name was Samson, and he wasn’t the kind of person you would expect to provide material for philosophical discussions.   We remember him mainly for his legendary strength . . . and also, come to think of it, for his equally legendary weakness.  His ability to dismember small armies with his bare hands or with nothing more than the jawbone of an ass has made his name synonymous with physical strength.  But his inability to restrain his interest in women has left him, as well, with a reputation as a person who was shorn of his strength – literally had his strength cut off.
But that’s another story.  I’m thinking just now of a day when Samson set out to court a young woman in a distant community.  As he traveled through the wild, rugged area, he encountered a young lion.  With his phenomenal strength, “he tore the lion apart barehanded as one might tear apart a kid” (Judges 14:6).
Some time later he was traveling the same road, and he came upon the carcass of the lion.  But now he found that a swarm of bees had taken residence there.  In that barren area, where there were very few hollow trees, wild bees often established colonies in the carcass of an animal; the tough, dry hide provided a perfect home.
So the carcass was now rich with honey.  Samson scooped out a generous supply and went on his way, eating as he went.  He even gave some to his parents, although he didn’t tell them its source.  Perhaps he thought their tastes might be more delicate than his!
Then it was time for his wedding.  In those days and in that culture, one of the amusements in the course of a wedding celebration was for a groom to test his fellows with a riddle.  And of course some wagers were involved.  Samson drew on his own recent experience, and presented this riddle:
Out of the eater came something to eat.  Out of the strong came something sweet. (Judges 14:14)
The men in the bridal party weren’t able to come up with the answer.  Not, at least, until they got it from the bride.  But that, too, is another story.  Our interest just now is in the parable that is hidden in Samson’s story.  He found nourishment . . . life . . . in that which had threatened to take life from him.  The lion was by nature an eater, but out of his carcass came something to eat.  Samson found sweetness in what might have been his destruction.  He found honey in the lion.
Blessed are those who learn that there is honey in the lion!  Let there be no question about it . . . on our human journey we’re sure to encounter any number of lions.  Not the kind of wild beast Samson met, but nonetheless fierce.  Indeed, its possible that Samson’s lion would be easier to deal with . . . or at least run from! . . . than the lions you and I have to meet.
Some of life’s lions are capable of destroying us . . . others sharply maul and maim us, leaving us marked for the rest of life.  Some lions challenge the whole populace . . . like war and economic depression.  Those who live in especially rugged places have to meet the lions of violence, poverty, and constant rejection.  Those who live with such dangers no doubt envy others, not knowing that the outwardly comfortable and self-possessed usually have their own lions . . . social pressure, job pressure, nerves, tension, and the menace of superficiality.  And every one of us . . . whatever road we travel . . . has to meet such terrors as sickness, bereavement, death, disappointment, disillusionment.  Every human being, whatever his or her road of life, must face some lions . . . do you have any lions facing you?
Some, faced by their lion, simply give up.  “Why me?” they ask or “Why must life be like this?” Others become bitter.  They clench a fist at life, and take on the nature of the lion itself, turning to prey upon and devour others, just as they have been preyed upon and attacked.  “Life’s tough,” they say, and only the tough survive.  Get the other guy before he gets you.  In world which has its lions, they add to its ravenous, destructive quality.
But others discover the secret of Samson’s riddle.  In the eater, they find something to eat.  In the strong, they find something sweet.  They find honey in the lion.
Believe me, there is always honey in the lion, if only we will look for it . . .  if only we will demand it . . .if only we will contend for it . . . if only we will love it!  Here is one of the most astonishing, unexpected, and miraculous facts of the life we know . . .  we can harvest good out of the destruction and brutality of our experiences.  I don’t want to overstate the case, yet I must speak a strong word . . . sometimes the honey in the lion is the very best, the very sweetest, that life will ever offer.  
Consider what most people would agree is the worst of the lions, at least among those lions which involve much of the human race . . . war.  In a sense, nothing good can be said for war . . . it is a roaring, bestial, destructive thing, reckless of life and scornful of pain.  Yet there was honey in World War II.  Scientists confess that we made greater progress in the development of medicine during those years than would have happened in a whole generation of peace, especially in the development of antibiotics, especially penicillin.  Havelock Ellis, the British author and psychologist, said that there is nothing war has ever achieved that we could not better achieve without it.  Theoretically, yes . . . but the hard facts show otherwise.  The war made rapid medical progress absolutely essential, and progress we did.     And consider poverty.  The sidewalk philosopher might say, “I’ve been rich, and I’ve been poor, and I call tell you that I’d rather be rich.”  Well, I’ve never been rich, but I’ve been poor and I’ve also been comfortable . . . and, yes, I prefer being comfortable.  But I’m thankful for the years of poverty, in my growing up time.  It was during this time I realized something wonderful -- the greatest influences on my life were and are my faith in God, and my parents . . . and growing up poor.  It was here that I learned to read with a passion . . . a pastime which has allowed me to travel the world over, in my mind . . .  a passion that has allowed me pick-up the Holy Word and stand beside the bentover woman and feel her pain, and lift my eyes, as she did, and look into the face of Jesus.  Yes, I have many painful memories of those years . . . but far more good memories.  I recall so many fine people and I recall enjoying the simple pleasures in life -- one not bound by having a television, VCR, telephone, stereo, computer, video games in my own bedroom -- I didn’t even have my own room.  I don’t want anyone to be poor, yet I wish that, in the midst of more comfortable living, we could still get some of the special beauties that I found in poverty.
History has so many dramatic stories of individuals who have found honey in the lion.  The name of Demosthenes (di-’mas-thee-nez) is almost synonymous with oratory.  But Demosthenes had to wrestle with a lion.  He had grand thoughts and phrases, but he also had a harsh voice, weak lungs, and an awkward manner.  What a tragedy to have music in your soul and the hunger to share it with others, but to have a demon in your manner which would make people snicker when you try to share the beauty you feel!  But Demosthenes recited as he climbed steep hills . . . he practiced speaking with pebbles in his mouth in order to build clarity of speech . . . and he spoke against the roar of the ocean to strengthen his vocal powers.  I’m sure, as one professor has said, that a good college advisory system would never have allowed Demosthenes to major in public address.  But Demosthenes became the historic symbol of oratory.  He found honey in his lion.  
We frequently say I can’t do this thing or that . . . but is it really true . . . or do we just walk away from the lion’s of our life . . . or let them devour us?
You know John Milton’s story.  Blind at middle age, he struggled with despair . . .  yet he took solace in his faith.  And in the years that followed, in his darkness, Milton wrote his greatest works, Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained.  Likewise, John Bunyan wrote literature’s most notable allegory, Pilgrims Progress, not in the comfort of a scholar’s study but in a prison cell.  Beethoven envisioned a career as a concert pianist, but his growing deafness drove him into composition.  Most of his greatest works were composed as his hearing failed, and his immortal Ninth Symphony when he was totally deaf.   There’s not a high school athletic coach with a decade of experience who can’t tell some story of honey in a lion.  One such story, is now legendary.  When Glenn Cunnningham was eight years old, he was burned so badly in a schoolhouse fire that his doctor said he would never walk again.  But somehow Glenn found the honey of courage and determination in his soul, until he was the prince of American track.  I wonder if Cunningham, without his boyhood tragedy, would ever have been more than just an average athlete?
Each time someone polls the American people to name their favorite hymns, George Bennard’s “The Old Rugged Cross” is somewhere in the top half-dozen.  Books of hymn stories report only that it was written at a time of trial in Bennard’s life; he chose never to discuss the details publicly.  But I have discovered, respecting his desire for privacy, that the operative word in the song was “shame.” The song came to him at a time when he thought his life and ministry were destroyed.  A lion of shame threatened to consume Bennard; instead he found . . . and gave us . . . honey.
But it’s altogether possible that you don’t need to rely on a list of examples from history and biography, because you have lived with the lion yourself, and you have found the cache of honey.  A good many of us remember some stunning defeat that looked at first like the end of all dreams, but that proved instead to be the beginning of a whole new kind of victory.  Others of you remember when sickness threatened everything you cherished, but when it was done . . . you had found God in a measure you never thought possible.   One day I visited with a man who has just passed through weeks of personal humiliation.  “It gave me compassion,” he said, “and it carried off a huge store of self-righteousness!”  
But don’t think I’m simply urging you to be strong in the face of adversity.  There’s a limit to this business of a stiff upper lip, gritting your teeth, taking hold of your bootstraps, and fighting it out.  If that was all I was saying, I would perhaps be speaking a noble word, but not a truly hopeful one.  I want you to know . . . that God is the crucial factor in what I want to leave with you.  High resolves and sheer determination are not really enough . . . they may leave you a hard, unsympathetic person . . . no winner at all.
As a matter of fact, sometimes our strength gets in the way of our getting the real honey from the lion.  The apostle Paul was plagued by something he calls a “thorn in the flesh.”  Whatever it was (no one will ever on this earth know for sure), he asked God three times that it might be taken from him.  Each time, God answered, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).  Paul concludes that he will “boast all the more gladly” of his weaknesses, because it is through them that the power of Christ is revealed in his life.  This may well be the greatest victory of all, to find honey in the lion of our weakness.
I believe that there is always honey in the lion.  We can always find something to eat in the eater, a sweetness in tragedy.  Nature itself seems to dramatize it, as we derive chemicals from ashes, fertilizer from rot and refuse, healing miracles from mold.  It is as if God were the ultimate economist, insisting that everything in our universe will eventually . . . if we will let it . . . produce good.  When we pursue honey in the lion, life is on our side, faith is on our side, God is on our side.
But we must go after it.  As surely as Samson had to struggle with the lion, (and remember the spirit of God was with him) --  then reach into the destroyer and get his honey, just so certainly you and I will have to go after the honey of life.  It won’t force itself on us.  If we choose to run from the struggle, or if we allow ourselves to be absorbed with the ghastliness of the slain lion . . . we will never get the honey that can be ours.  Some people are so taken with self-pity that they never get near the potential of beauty.  Neither God nor life will make us take the honey . . . it is there for the person who will say, “I believe that in everything, God works for my good.  Therefore I will encounter my sickness, my disappointment, my present defeat, with faith.  There is honey in this lion, and I mean someday to have it.”  
I cannot help being an optimist about life, because I believe in God.  I don’t ask, nor do I expect, that I should escape from life’s issues . . . I realize that sickness, death, disappointment, and a variety of other problems meet us all . . . at one time or another.  But I am convinced to the core of my being that the lion does not need to be a destroyer.  All of life’s lions can be a source of honey . . . if we will make it so.  Don’t ask for trouble, of course.  Common sense tells us to avoid any pain that isn’t necessary, and human compassion tells us to do all we can to save others from suffering.  But if trouble comes . . . no . . . when it comes . . . grasp your lion firmly, and calling – as Samson did –on the Spirit of God, crush defeat in your hands.
Then say to yourself, and say in hope and thanksgiving to God, “Someday I will pass by this place, and I will look again upon this carcass of destruction, this vileness that I wish had never come into my life.  And even if it doesn’t seem possible now, I know that I will find in the frame of this destroyer a store of honey.  There will be something to eat in the eater, and from the strong I will draw something sweet.”  
That’s what I know about life’s riddle. By God’s help, I will find honey in the lion.
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« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2010, 10:21:38 AM »

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« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2010, 11:30:38 PM »

Exodus 4:18-20

At this point in his life the last thing on Moses’ mind, the last thing he ever expected to do, was to go back to Egypt.  After all, Moses had run away from Egypt, and when you run away from something, you have no intention of returning.  You may move away temporarily, but when you run away, you run away for good.  Why did Moses run away from Egypt to begin with when he had everything going for him there?  According to Exodus 2:11-15, Moses had killed an Egyptian whom he had seen oppressing a Hebrew.  After his crime Moses hid the body in the sand, assuming that no one had seen him.  The next day, Moses saw two Hebrews fighting with each other and asked the one who was in the wrong, “Why do you strike your fellow Hebrew?”  The man answered him with a question that pierced Moses’ heart.  He said, “Who made you a ruler and judge over us?  Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “Surely the thing is known” (Exodus 2:14).  The Scriptures further tell us that “when Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses.”  Moses ran away because he was a fugitive from justice. 
We can run away for a number of reasons.  We can be a fugitive because of one or more of the five D’s . . . depression, disappointment, demons, defeat, or defiance . . . or one of the four P's-pressure, people, problems, or prospects; or one or more of the three F’s . . . failure, fear or fantasy (the grass always looks greener) . . . or one of the two M’s . . . mistakes and messes . . . or the one big O . . . ourselves.
One of the enduring lessons of the movie The Lion King, however, is that you cannot run away from who you are.  When you run from job to job . . . church to church . . . and relationship to relationship . . . and have the same problem . . . maybe the problem is the one who is doing the running.   Moses physically ran away.  We may physically try to put some distance or space between ourselves and the source of our irritation.  Or we may run away mentally by refusing to face reality or address the situation.  We make all kinds of excuses and give all kinds of reasons and tell ourselves all kinds if lies . . . so that we don’t have to deal with the situation. We believe that if we can mentally dismiss a situation, then it will go away.
We can run away emotionally . . . particularly when we feel physically bound.  We tell our heart not to feel . . . we try to enclose our feelings in a freezer pack of apathy and tell ourselves that we don’t care.  At least, if we can protect our feelings and vulnerabilities . . . we can put up with what we must without losing our minds and all of our integrity.  We then build a world of fantasy to keep our suppressed feelings from being forever stifled.
Some of us run away by becoming workaholics.  Others of us do it by becoming overachievers . . . to compensate for our insecurity.  Others of us become underachievers . . . because certain things are expected of us.  Others become book-aholics . . . perpetual students always pursuing another career or degree without settling down in any one job or career to apply anything we’ve learned  . . . because that means responsibility.  Others of us run away by becoming codependent or emotionally dependent upon others.  Others of us run away by becoming blame-aholics . . . blaming everything that’s wrong with us or not right in our lives on somebody else.  Some of us run away by becoming misery-aholics . . . have you ever met people who are not happy unless they are miserable?  Some of us run away by becoming super religious or spiritual-aholics.  Whenever I see people who are holier than thou, who condemn everything they don’t like to do . . . or can’t do, and who have no sense of humor, I wonder what they are trying to hide or cover up or run away from.  Some of us believe that if we have a problem . . . we can shout it out.  Problems cannot be shouted out . . . they have to be addressed and solved.  The emotional release might be therapeutic for us and that’s all right as long as we don’t expect the problem to go away because we have had a good time in church.  A good time in church and an emotional release or the anointing of the spirit do not take away problems . . . but refresh you, free you, empower you, and prepare you to deal with your problems.
In the text, Moses had not only run away from Egypt . . . but had been away for forty years when God’s call came to him to go back.  After forty years, Moses thought that Egypt was out of his life forever.  But God’s call to Moses was the wake up call that Moses still had responsibilities in Egypt.  Moses still had a job to do in Egypt.  The people of God were still being oppressed in Egypt.  Taskmasters were still abusing slaves in Egypt.  Moses had struck a blow on behalf of one slave.  Now he was being charged with striking a blow for many.  Responsibilities do not go away simply because we move away and begin another lifestyle.  They do not disappear simply because we have a new love or other interests.  They do not necessarily fade with time.
If there is a baby in your past, if there is a child in your past, you have a responsibility for that life.  A new love, a new life, a new job, a new location, a newfound religion, does not absolve you of your responsibility.  If there is unfinished business in your life, you have a responsibility to take care of it.  For responsibility is like truth crushed to earth and planted in the soil . . . it comes up again.  Many people, like Moses, believe that certain things are gone from their lives forever . . . they ran away and got lost.  But further on up the road, what they ran away from, at a time and place that they least expected it, stood up and stared them in the face.
When God called Moses, Moses gave all kinds of excuses for not going to Egypt, none of which were acceptable.  Things we have run away from will not be put off by excuses when they catch up with us.  Moses eventually said, “Send someone else,” which was most unacceptable of all . . . because responsibilities have our names upon them and nobody else’s.  The things we ran away from only we . . . nobody else . . . ran away from, and thus nobody else can face them.  When certain things track us down, we ask, “How did you find me?”  Easy . . . certain things have only your name on them.
Thus at age eighty, Moses found himself returning to a situation that he had fled from.  He was directed there by God, who did not send him back to Egypt to fail.  Before we return to our respective situations from which we have run we must first seek heaven’s direction.  Don’t undertake the straightening out of a mess or the righting of a wrong . . . without first asking God how to do it.  Good intentions are not good enough.  Good intentions, the easing of conscience . . . provide the motivation . . . but they do not give you the road map for the journey or the strategy for either battle or making peace.  But whatever heaven directs, heaven blesses. To put the matter succinctly, before you return to something that you ran from, pray before you go.
God told Moses that those who sought his life were now dead.  When you pray before you go . . . the first thing the spirit reveals is the right time to go.  The Lord won’t let you go until you are strong enough to face your pharaoh.  When God told Moses that those who sought his life were dead . . . he was telling him that those whom he feared could no longer harm him.  Many times we fear things and people who really in and of themselves are no threat.  The only power they have is what we give them.  The only authority they have is what we give them out of fear.  The only control they have is what we allow them to have.  Nobody can make you feel inferior . . . you have to feel inferior on your own.  Nobody can make you jealous . . . you have to decide to be jealous.  Nobody can make you hate . . . you have to hate on your own.  Nobody can make you mean and bitter . . . you have to be mean and bitter on your own.  Nobody can make you petty . . . you have to be petty on your own.  Nobody can make you miserable . . . you have to be miserable on your own.  You have to decide to give up control of your emotions and of your mind.  Remember that when you are God’s child, the only power the devil has over you is what you give up to him.  But when you pray before you go . . . God will direct you when to go. . . and then God will help you put people in their proper perspective.  Most importantly, God will help you keep yourself in proper perspective because you will understand that you are not weak but strong.
You are strong because God never sends anyone anywhere without giving that person something to go with.  God told Moses to look in his hands.  When Moses looked in his hand, his shepherd’s rod became a snake.  Never forget that what looks ordinary becomes extraordinary in the Lord’s hands.   Water in the Lord’s hands becomes the best wine at the feast . . . ordinary clay becomes a cure for blindness . . . a little boy’s lunch becomes a banquet for five thousand . . . and a rugged cross becomes the means of humanity’s redemption.
Never underestimate what you can do when you are in the Lord’s hands.  When situations seem impossible . . . pray for a spirit of discernment, and look in your hands . . . and you will see the strength of Samson and Deborah.  Look in your mind . . . and you will see the wisdom of Solomon and Huldah.  Look in your imagination . . . and you will see the visions of Joseph and Hagar.  Look in your heart . . . and you will see Jesus’ capacity to love.  Look in your soul . . . and you will feel the strength of your ancestors both in the Bible and out of it who would not be broken by Pharaoh’s lash.  Look in your hands . . . and you will see the Word of God . . . believe it.  Look in your history . . . and you will see your experience of how the Lord has taken care of you . . . hold on to it.
God didn’t send Moses back to Egypt empty-handed but gave him a rod that became miraculous.  When Jacob went to face Esau . . . God didn’t send him empty-handed . . . but gave him herds of cattle to make a peace offering.  When God sent Elijah back to Jezebel . . . God gave him something to go with . . . the assurance that there were seven thousand more who hadn’t bowed knee to Baal.  When Jesus sent the disciples back to Jerusalem . . . he gave them something to go with . . . the promise of a comforter.  When Jesus comes back . . . he’s not coming back empty-handed . . . he is bringing judgment in one hand and rewards for the righteous in the other.  So if God sends you . . . just look in your hands and see what God has given you to go with.
God not only gave Moses a rod, however, but Aaron as an interpreter.  In other words, God didn’t send Moses by himself.  When you follow where God leads you and go where God sends you . . . you don’t go by yourself.  And that’s the most important question . . . Is the Lord with us?  Sometimes God will allow things to happen we don’t understand.  God will say no . . . when we want God to say yes . . . or God will say wait when we want God to say now.  We can’t understand or answer all questions about God and our faith.  But there is one answer we must have . . .  Is the Lord with us?  We’re not worried about Pharaoh’s power . . . we just need to know: Is the Lord with us?  We’re not worried about obstacles or opposition, or disbelievers and doubters.  We just need to know: Is the Lord with us?  We can face anything . . . endure anything . . . withstand anything . . . carry and bear up under anything . . . if we know the answer to this question: Is the Lord with us?  We can return to any Egypt and come out again if we know the answer to this question: Is the Lord with us?
If we pray before we go and take what God gives us . . . we can return in strength to the place we ran from in shame . . . we can return in faith to the place we ran from in fear . . . because the Lord is with us.  God hasn’t brought us this far to leave us.  God didn’t bring Moses from the rocking of his cradle on the Nile River, to his upbringing in Pharaoh's household, to a forty-year sojourn in the desert to leave him.
God didn’t save some of us from a burning hell . . . raise some of us from sick beds . . . strengthen some of us to say goodbye to loved ones . . . help some of us to pay our bills, keep hell hounds and enemies, our foolishness and mistakes from destroying us . . . to leave us now.
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