(Illuminating, Nurturing Stories and Poems,
Intended to Raise Attitudes,
Thwart Inferiority and Overcome Negativity)
ABCs of Faith
A lthough things are not perfect
B ecause of trial or pain
C ontinue in thanksgiving
D o not begin to blame
E ven when the times are hard
F ierce winds are bound to blow
G od is forever able
H old on to what you know
I magine life without His love
J oy would cease to be
K eep thanking Him for all the things
L ove imparts to thee
M ove out of "Camp Complaining"
N o weapon that is known
O n Earth can yield the power
P raise can do alone
Q uit looking at the future
R edeem the time at hand
S tart every day with worship
T o "thank" is a command
U ntil we see Him coming
V ictorious in the sky
W e'll run the race with gratitude
eX alting God most high
Y es, there will be good times and yes some will be bad, but . . .
Z ion waits in glory . . . where none are ever sad!
The $20 Bill
A well known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, "Who would like this $20 bill?" Hands started going up.
He said, "I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this." He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up.
He then asked, "Who still wants it?" Still the hands were up in the air.
"Well," he replied, "What if I do this?" And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now all crumpled and dirty.
"Now who still wants it?" Still the hands went into the air.
"My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless.
But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value in God's eyes. To Him, dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to Him.
Psalm 17:8 states that God will keep us, "as the apple of His eye."
THOUGHT: The worth of our lives come not in what we do or who we are but by WHOSE we are!
The Colors of Friendship
Once upon a time the colors of the world started to quarrel.
All claimed that they were the best.
The most important.
The most useful.
"Clearly I am the most important. I am the sign of life and of hope. I was chosen for grass, trees and leaves. Without me, all animals would die. Look over the countryside and you will see that I am in the majority."
You only think about the earth, but consider the sky and the sea. It is the water that is the basis of life and drawn up by the clouds from the deep sea. The sky gives space and peace and serenity. Without my peace, you would all be nothing."
"You are all so serious. I bring laughter, gaiety, and warmth into the world. The sun is yellow, the moon is yellow, the stars are yellow. Every time you look at a sunflower, the whole world starts to smile. Without me, there would be no fun."
ORANGE started next to blow her trumpet:
"I am the color of health and strength. I may be scarce, but I am precious for I serve the needs of human life. I carry the most important vitamins. Think of carrots, pumpkins, oranges, mangoes, and papayas. I don't hang around all the time, but when I fill the sky at sunrise or sunset, my beauty is so striking that no one gives another thought to any of you."
RED could stand it no longer; he shouted out:
"I am the ruler of all of you. I am blood - life's blood! I am the color of danger and of bravery. I am willing to fight for a cause. I bring fire into the blood. Without me, the earth would be as empty as the moon. I am the color of passion and of love, the red rose, the poinsettia and the poppy."
PURPLE rose up to his full height:
He was very tall and spoke with great pomp: "I am the color of royalty and power. Kings, chiefs, and bishops have always chosen me for I am the sign of authority and wisdom. People do not question me! They listen and obey."
Finally INDIGO spoke, much more quietly than all the others, but with just as much determination:
"Think of me. I am the color of silence. You hardly notice me, but without me you all become superficial. I represent thought and reflection, twilight and deep water. You need me for balance and contrast, for prayer and inner peace."
And so the colors went on boasting, each convinced of his or her own superiority. Their quarreling became louder and louder. Suddenly there was a startling flash of bright lightening thunder rolled and boomed. RAIN started to pour down relentlessly. The colors crouched down in fear, drawing close to one another for comfort.
In the midst of the clamor, RAIN began to speak:
"You foolish colors, fighting amongst yourselves, each trying to dominate the rest. Don't you know that you were each made for a special purpose, unique and different? Join hands with one another and come to Me!"
Doing as they were told, the colors united and joined hands.
Then RAIN continued:
"From now on, when it rains, each of you will stretch across the sky in a great bow of color as a reminder that you can all live in peace. The RAINBOW is a sign of hope for tomorrow." And so, whenever a good RAIN washes the world, and a RAINBOW appears in the sky, let us remember that God sent the RAINBOW as a PROMISE to all of us!
An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house-building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.
The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career.
When the carpenter finished his work the employer came to inspect the house. He handed the front-door key to the carpenter. "This is your house," he said, "my gift to you."
The carpenter was shocked! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently.
So it is with us. We build our lives, a day at a time, often putting less than our best into the building. Then with shock, we realize we have to live in the house we have built. If we could do it over, we'd do it much differently. But we cannot go back.
You are the carpenter. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. "Life is a do-it-yourself project," someone has said. Your attitudes and the choices you make today, build the "house" you live in tomorrow. Build wisely!
My Day in Court
After living a "decent" life, my time on earth came to an end. The first thing I remember is sitting on a bench in the waiting room of what I thought to be a court house. The doors opened and I was instructed to come in and have a seat by the defense table.
As I looked around I saw the "prosecutor," he was a villainous looking gent who snarled as he stared at me. He definitely was the most evil person I have ever seen.
I sat down and looked to my left and there sat my lawyer, a kind and gentle looking man whose appearance seemed very familiar to me.
The corner door flew open and there appeared the judge in full flowing robes. He commanded an awesome presence as he moved across the room and I couldn't take my eyes off of him.
As he took his seat behind the bench he said, "Let us begin."
The prosecutor rose and said, "My name is Satan and I am here to show you why this woman belongs in hell." He proceeded to tell of lies that I told, things that I stole, and in the past when I cheated others. Satan told of other horrible perversions that were once in my life and the more he spoke, the further down in my seat I sank. I was so embarrassed that I couldn't look at anyone, even my own lawyer, as the Devil told of sins that even I had completely forgotten about.
As upset as I was at Satan for telling all these things about me, I was equally upset at my representative who sat there silently, not offering any form of defense at all. I know I had been guilty of those things, but I had done some good in my life - couldn't that at least cancel out part of the harm I've done?
Satan finished with a fury and said, "This woman belongs in hell! She is guilty of all that I have charged and there is not a person who can prove otherwise. Justice will finally be served this day."
When it was his turn, my lawyer first asked if he might approach the bench. The judge allowed this over the strong objection of Satan, and beckoned him to come forward.
As he got up and started walking, I was able to see him now in his full splendor and majesty. Now I realized why he seemed so familiar. This was Jesus representing me, my Lord and my Savior.
He stopped at the bench and softly said to the judge, "Hi, Dad" and then he turned to address the court.
"Satan was correct in saying that this woman had sinned. I won't deny any of these allegations. And yes, the wages of sins is death and this woman deserves to be punished."
Jesus took a deep breath and turned to his Father with outstretched arms and proclaimed, "However, I died on the cross so that this woman might have eternal life, and she has accepted me as her Savior, so she is mine."
My Lord continued, "Her name is written in the book of life and no one can snatch her from me. Satan still does not understand yet. This woman is not to be given justice, but rather mercy."
As Jesus sat down, He quietly paused, looked at his Father and added, "There is nothing else that needs to be done. I've done it all."
The Judge lifted his mighty hand and slammed the gavel down and the following words bellowed from his lips. "This woman is free. The penalty for her has already been paid in full. Case dismissed."
As my Lord led me away, I could hear Satan ranting and raving. "I won't give up. I'll win the next one."
I asked Jesus as he gave me my instructions where to go next, "Have you ever lost a case?" Christ lovingly smiled and said, "Everyone that has come to me and asked me to represent them has received the same verdict as you,
"Paid in Full."
A young woman married a King
As she entered the King's Chambers on her wedding night
She was given a Book
The Book spoke of the Kingdom and how to please the King
She took the Book and began to read
She read and she read into the early hours of the morn
The King waited patiently - for after all - True Love waits...
She awoke from her sleep and read some more
The King spoke from across the room where He sat waiting...
He spoke of His Love for her but she could not hear for she had opened the
window of the Chamber to hear the people beneath
She would stand and gaze for hours at the young men and the fine wrappings
and the jewelry abound and remember the freedom she thought she had before
The King would approach her to place His Touch upon her
but she would back away and begin to speak again of all that she wanted
She made lists of things she wanted the King to give her
She would place the list in her Book and each morning
awake to see which of the desires the King had met
She became very lonely and quite bored and she would venture back out on the streets
but she always took the Book with her for she felt obligated
She found others who had the Book and they would meet together and talk of the Kingdom and talk of the King as He sat alone in His Chambers
The years went by and still the King waited...
She had no time to gaze at His Face
She had no time to kiss His Brow or caress His Cheek
She did not take time
He would whisper of His Love for her, but she was too busy now
going here and there reading the Book making lists of her requests and
finally she left -- never to return
She joined with the others who read the Book of the King and His Kingdom but never knew the King
Another young woman was brought to the Chambers -
was betrothed to the King, in time
She was given the Book upon entering the Chambers
and she knew the Book had much value so she placed it beside the bed for later review
She looked into the King's eyes - she gazed at His Face
and she approached Him, not sure of His response
He wrapped her in His arms and as she was held
She heard His Heartbeat and she knew at that instant that she would never
want anything else
Their hours passed in each other's arms
They would dance and they would sing and they would speak of their Love for each other
Their thoughts became as One
Their desires were the same - to please each other
They were truly in love --- They were truly One
At times, the King would take the Book from beside the bed
and lovingly read out loud to His Bride of the Kingdom
He would teach her as He held her
He would love her and hold her close and all that they did - they did together
She had no desire to leave the Chambers
She had no desire to open the window and look at the world she came from
She had found freedom - true freedom in the arms of the King she loved
Oh that we would love the King!
Oh that we would hear His Heartbeat!
Oh that we would put down all that we think pleases Him
and allow Him to hold us so closely that we know with our whole being what
truly pleases Him!
Oh that we would become One with Him - truly One in Him!
Oh that we would love Him as He has loved us!
Oh that we would be His Bride
Flesh of His Flesh
Soul of His Soul
Heart of His Heart
Spirit of His Spirit
One in Him!
Funny how a $100 bill "looks" so big when you take it to church,
but so small when you take it to the mall.
Funny how long it takes to serve God for an hour,
but how quickly a team plays 60 minutes of basketball.
Funny how long a couple of hours spent at church seems,
but how short they are when watching a movie.
Funny how we can't think of anything to say when we pray,
but don't have difficulty thinking of things to talk about to a friend.
Funny how we get thrilled when a baseball game goes into extra innings,
but we complain when a sermon is longer than the regular time.
Funny how hard it is to read a chapter in the bible,
but how easy it is to read 100 pages of a best selling novel.
Funny how people want to get a front seat at any game or concert,
but scramble to get a back seat at church services.
Funny how we need 2 or 3 weeks advance notice to fit a church event into our schedule,
but can adjust our schedule for other events at the last moment.
Funny how hard it is for people to learn a simple gospel well enough to tell others,
but how simple it is for the same people to understand and repeat gossip.
Funny how we believe what the newspaper says,
but question what the Bible says.
Funny how everyone wants to go to heaven,
provided they do not have to believe, or think, or say, or do anything.
Funny how you can send a thousand 'jokes' through e-mail, and they spread like wildfire,
but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord,
people think twice about sharing.
FUNNY, ISN'T IT ?
The boy stood with back arched, head cocked back and hands clenched defiantly. "Go ahead, give it to me."
The principal looked down at the young rebel. "How many times have you been here?"
The child sneered rebelliously, "Apparently not enough."
The principal gave the boy a strange look. "And you have been punished each time have you not?"
"Yeah, I been punished, if that's what you want to call it." He threw out his small chest, "Go ahead, I can take whatever you dish out. I always have."
"And no thought of your punishment enters your head the next time you decide to break the rules does it?"
"Nope, I do whatever I want to do. Ain't nothin' you people gonna do to stop me either."
The principal looked over at the teacher who stood nearby. "What did he do this time?"
"Fighting. He hit Tommy and shoved his face into the sandbox."
The principal turned to look at the boy, "Why? What did Tommy do to you?"
"Nothin', I didn't like the way he was lookin at me, just like I don't like the way you're lookin' at me! And if I thought I could do it, I'd shove your face into something."
The teacher stiffened and started to rise but a quick look from the principal stopped him. He contemplated the child for a moment and then quietly said, "Today my young student, is the day you learn about grace."
"Grace? Isn't that what you old people do before you sit down to eat? I don't need none of your stinkin' grace."
"Oh, but you do." The principal studied the young man's face and whispered. "Oh yes, you truly do..."
The boy continued to glare as the principal continued, "Grace, in its short definition is unmerited favor. You can not earn it. It is a gift and is always freely given. It means that you will not be getting what you so richly deserve."
The boy looked puzzled. "You're not gonna whup me? You just gonna let me walk?" The principal looked down at the unyielding child. "Yes, I am going to let you walk."
The boy studied the face of the principal, "No punishment at all? Even though I socked Tommy and shoved his face into the sandbox?"
"Oh, there has to be punishment. What you did was wrong and there are always consequences to our actions. There will be punishment. Grace is not an excuse for doing wrong."
"I knew it," sneered the boy as he held out his hands. "Lets get on with it."
The principal nodded toward the teacher. "Bring me the belt."
The teacher presented the belt to the principal. He carefully folded it in two and then handed it back to the teacher. He looked at the child and said. "I want you to count the blows."
He slid out from behind his desk and walked over to stand directly in front of the young man. He gently reached out and folded the child's outstretched, expectant hands together and then turned to face the teacher with his own hands outstretched. One quiet word came forth from his mouth. "Begin."
The belt whipped down on the outstretched hands of the principal. Crack! The young man jumped ten feet in the air. Shock registered across his face. "One" he whispered. Crack! "Two." His voice raised an octave. Crack! "Three..."
He couldn't believe this. Crack! "Four." Big tears welled up in the eyes of the rebel. "OK, stop! That's enough. Stop!" Crack! Came the belt down on the callused hands of the principal. Crack! The child flinched with each blow, tears beginning to stream down his face.
Crack! Crack! "No, please", the former rebel begged, "Stop, I did it, I'm the one who deserves it. Stop! Please. Stop..." Still the blows came, Crack! Crack! One after another.
Finally it was over. The principal stood with sweat glistening across his forehead and beads trickling down his face. Slowly he knelt down. He studied the young man for a second and then his swollen hands reached out to cradle the face of the weeping child.
The Story Behind the Painting of the Last Supper
The story of the painting of The Last Supper is extremely interesting and instructive, and two incidents connected with it afford a most convincing lesson on the effects of right thinking or wrong thinking in the life of a boy or girl, or of a man or woman.
Leonardo DaVinci, a noted Italian artist painted the Last Supper and the time engaged for its completion was seven years.
The figures representing the twelve Apostles and Christ himself were painted from living persons. The life-model for the painting of the figure of Jesus was chosen first.
When it was decided that DaVinci would paint this great picture, hundreds and hundreds of young men were carefully viewed in an endeavor to find a face and personality exhibiting innocence and beauty, free from the scars and signs of dissipation caused by sin.
Finally, after weeks of laborious search, a young man nineteen years of age was selected as a model for the portrayal of Christ.
For six months DaVinci worked on the production of this leading character of his famous painting.
During the next six years, DaVinci continued his labors on this sublime work of art. One by one fitting persons were chosen to represent each of the eleven Apostles with space being left for the painting of the figure representing Judas Iscariot as the final task of this masterpiece.
This was the Apostle, you remember, who betrayed his Lord for thirty pieces of silver. For weeks, DaVinci searched for a man with a hard, callous face, with a countenance marked by scars of avarice, deceit, hypocrisy, and crime, a face that would delineate a character who would betray his best friend.
After many discouraging experiences in searching for the type of person required to represent Judas, word came to DaVinci that a man whose appearance fully met his requirements had been found in a dungeon in Rome, sentenced to die for a life of crime and murder.
DaVinci made the trip to Rome at once, and this man was brought out from his imprisonment in the dungeon and led out into the light of the sun.
There DaVinci saw before him a dark, swarthy man, his long shaggy and unkempt hair sprawled over his face, which betrayed a character of viciousness and complete ruin. At last the famous painter had found the person he wanted to represent the character of Judas in his painting.
By special permission from the king, this prisoner was carried to Milan where the picture was being painted. For months he sat before DaVinci at appointed hours each day as the gifted artist diligently continued his task of transmitting, to his painting, this base character representing the traitor and betrayer of our Savior.
As he finished his last stroke, he turned to the guards and said, "I have finished. You may take the prisoner away."
As the guards were leading their prisoner away, he suddenly broke loose from their control and rushed up to DaVinci, crying as he did so, "DaVinci, look at me. Do you not know who I am?"
DaVinci, with the trained eyes of a great character student, carefully scrutinized the man upon whose face he had constantly gazed for six months and replied, "No, I have never seen you in my life until you were brought before me out of the dungeon in Rome."
Then, lifting his eyes toward heaven, the prisoner said, "Oh God, have I fallen so low?"
Then turning his face to the painter he cried, "Leonardo DaVinci, look at me again. for I am the same man you painted just seven years ago as the figure of Christ."
This is the true story of the painting of The Last Supper. It teaches so strongly the lesson of the effects of right or wrong thinking on the life of an individual.
Here was a young man whose character was so pure, unspoiled by the sins of the world, that he represented a countenance of innocence and beauty fit to be used for the painting of a representation of Christ.
But within seven years, following the thoughts of sin and a life of crime, he was changed into a perfect picture of the most traitorous character ever known in the history of the world.
The Rose Within
A certain man planted a rose and watered it faithfully, and before it blossomed, he examined it. He saw the bud that would soon blossom, and also the thorns. And he thought, "How can any beautiful flower come from a plant burdened with so many sharp thorns?" Saddened by this thought, he neglected to water the rose, and before it was ready to bloom, it died.
So it is with many people. Within every soul there is a rose. The Godlike qualities planted in us at birth grow amid the thorns of our faults. Many of us look at ourselves and see only the thorns, the defects. We despair, thinking that nothing good can possibly come from us. We neglect to water the good within us, and eventually it dies. We never realize our potential.
Some people do not see the rose within themselves; someone else must show it to them. One of the greatest gifts a person can possess is to be able to reach past the thorns and find the rose within others. This is the characteristic of love: to look at a person, and knowing his faults,
recognize the nobility in his soul, and help him realize that he can overcome his faults. If we show him the rose, he will conquer the thorns. Then will he blossom, blooming forth thirty, sixty, a hundred-fold as it is given to him.
Our duty in this world is to help others by showing them their roses and not their thorns. Only then can we achieve the love we should feel for each other; only then can we bloom in our own garden.
The vase was knocked to the ground and shattered into many pieces. It was so badly broken that I was sure it could not be mended. But that vase was a very special vase and I knew that I didn't want to throw it away but that I had to fix it. I knew that I didn't have the skill to fix it but that perhaps an expert potter did So I took the pieces to one and asked him if he could put the vase together again.
That vase was my life. I went to the Master Potter and said, "Why have you allowed me to be broken? I cannot be used by you now - I am like the vase the potter rejected - no good. Please let me die."
But the Master Potter had other plans. He said to me, "The vase cannot say to the potter, "Why have you made me this way?" He said, "It is through your brokenness that I can use you. Now I can take the pieces and remold the vase and make it into what I want it to be."
He showed me that the broken pieces were guilt, shame, unforgiveness, fear of failure, fear of rejection, perfectionism And He said, "I am going to transform these pieces into acceptance, love, forgiveness, peace, and excellence."
That made me hope again but I was impatient because I wanted the process to be quick and easy And I wanted to be used by Him now But I found that the process hurt very badly and sometimes I didn't think that I could bear the pain.
Again the Lord spoke to me and He said, "Be patient, my child. I have plans for you but you must wait for my timing. Right now I want to mend you and fill you so that when the time is right you can share with others that which I have given you. I know how badly you hurt but you must trust me because "I will never leave you nor forsake you", but "I will lead you and guide you, and if the way is too rough, I will carry you. Your job is just to follow."
To trust and surrender, often so very difficult and yet the only way that the vase can be repaired. "Help me, Lord, to yield my life to You, the Master Potter, so that You can reshape me and remake me into what You would have me to be so that I may be used by You."
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