January 23rd 2013 7:48 am
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As the story goes, they built a new church building and people came from far and wide to see it. They admired its beauty! Up on the roof, a little nail heard the people praising everything about the lovely structure-except the nail! No one even knew he was there, and he became angry and jealous.
"If I am that insignificant, nobody will miss me if I quit!" So the nail then released its hold, slid down the roof, and fell in the mud.
That night it rained and rained. Soon, the shingle that had no nail blew away, and the roof began to leak. The water streaked the walls and the beautiful murals. The plaster began to fall, the carpet was stained, and the pulpit Bible was ruined by water. All this because a little nail decided to quit!
But what of the nail? While holding the shingle, it was obscure but it was also useful. Buried in the mud it was just as obscure, but now it was useless and would soon be eaten up by rust!
The moral of the story -- EVERY MEMBER IS IMPORTANT TO THE CHURCH! You may, like the nail, feel obscure at times, but just like the nail, your absence is felt. When you are not present for worship, in some way the body of Christ hurts. We are ALL a part of the Lord's ministry.
January 21st 2013 5:45 am
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Another day is dawning
Another day's begun
Another day to turn to God
And pray, "Thy will be done"
A day to slay doubt's dragon,
To know within your soul
That as you give yourself to Him
He'll bless and make you whole.
A day to live with purpose
A day to show you care
When others turn to you distraught
Confused or in despair
A day to share God's blessings
In quiet countless ways
That touch the heart with hope and joy
And brighten cloudy days
A day for sweet rejoicing
For gratitude and praise
Because His love enfolds you
Both now, and all your days.
January 17th 2013 5:15 pm
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Lucky the Dog
Mary and her husband Jim had a dog named "Lucky." Lucky was a real character. Whenever Mary and Jim had company come for a weekend visit they would warn their friends to not leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy. Inevitably, someone would forget and something would come up missing.
Mary or Jim would go to Lucky's toy box in the basement and there the treasure would be, amid all of Lucky's other favorite toys. Lucky always stashed his finds in his toy box and he was very particular that his toys stay in the box.
It happened that Mary found out she had breast cancer. Something told her she was going to die of this disease....in fact, she was just sure it was fatal.
She scheduled the double mastectomy, fear riding her shoulders. The night before she was to go to the hospital she cuddled with Lucky. A thought struck her.... what would happen to Lucky? Although the three-year-old dog liked Jim, he was Mary's dog through and through. If I die, Lucky will be abandoned, Mary thought. He won't understand that I didn't want to leave him. The thought made her sadder than thinking of her own death.
The double mastectomy was harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated and Mary was hospitalized for over two weeks. Jim took Lucky for his evening walk faithfully, but the little dog just drooped, whining and miserable.
Finally the day came for Mary to leave the hospital. When she arrived home, Mary was so exhausted she couldn't even make it up the steps to her bedroom. Jim made his wife comfortable on the couch and left her to nap. Lucky stood watching Mary but he didn't come to her when she called. It made Mary sad but sleep soon overcame her and she dozed.
When Mary woke for a second she couldn't understand what was wrong. She couldn't move her head and her body felt heavy and hot. But panic soon gave way to laughter when Mary realized the problem. She was covered, literally blanketed, with every treasure Lucky owned! While she had slept, the sorrowing dog had made trip after trip to the basement bringing his beloved mistress all his favorite things in life. He had covered her with his love.
Mary forgot about dying. Instead she and Lucky began living again, walking further and further together every day. It's been 12 years now and Mary is still cancer-free. Lucky? He still steals treasures and stashes them in his toy box but Mary remains his greatest treasure.
Remember . . . live every day to the fullest. Each minute is a blessing from God. And never forget.... the people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care for us.
If you see someone without a smile today give them one of yours! Live simply. Love seriously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.
January 14th 2013 5:49 am
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As I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt before the Lord along with all the other souls.
Before each of us laid our lives like the squares of a quilt in many piles. An Angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that is our life.
But as my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was. They were filled with giant holes. Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced with in everyday life. I saw hardships that I endured, which were the largest holes of all. I glanced around me. Not many others had such squares. Other than a few holes here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color and the bright hues of worldly fortune. I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened.
My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air.
Finally the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth. The others rose, each in turn, holding up their tapestries. So filled their lives had been. My angel looked upon me, and nodded for me to rise. My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn't had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life, and laughter. But there had also been trials of illness, and death, and false accusations that took from me my world, as I knew it. I had to start over many times. I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again. I spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life. I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painfully, each time offering it up to the Father in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of those who unfairly judged me.
And now, I had to face the truth. My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was.
I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the light. An awe-filled gasp filled the air. I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes.
Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded the many holes, creating an image, the face of Christ. Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes. He said, "Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My hardships, and My struggles. Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you."
May all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing Christ to shine through.
December 27th 2012 6:14 am
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His Unfailing Presence
Another year I enter
Its history unknown;
Oh, how my feet would tremble
To tread its paths alone!
But I have heard a whisper,
I know I shall be blest;
"My presence shall go with thee,
And I will give thee rest."
What will the New Year bring me?
I may not, must not know;
Will it be love and rapture,
Or loneliness and woe?
Hush! Hush! I hear His whisper;
I surely shall be blest;
"My presence shall go with thee,
And I will give thee rest."
December 22nd 2012 9:25 am
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Not Only on Christmas Day
Lord, this is my prayer
Not only on Christmas Day
But until I see You face to face
May I live my life this way:
Just like the baby Jesus
I ever hope to be,
Resting in Your loving arms
Trusting in Your sovereignty.
And like the growing Christ child
In wisdom daily learning,
May I ever seek to know You
With my mind and spirit yearning.
Like the Son so faithful
Let me follow in Your light,
Meek and bold, humble and strong
Not afraid to face the night.
Nor cowardly to suffer
And stand for truth alone,
Knowing that Your kingdom
Awaits my going home.
Not afraid to sacrifice
Though great may be the cost,
Mindful how You rescued me
From broken-hearted loss.
Like my risen Savior
The babe, the child, the Son,
May my life forever speak
Of who You are and all You've done.
So while this world rejoices
And celebrates Your birth,
I treasure You, the greatest gift
Unequaled in Your worth.
I long to hear the same words
That welcomed home Your Son,
"Come, good and faithful servant,"
Your Master says, "Well done."
And may heaven welcome others
Who will join with me in praise
Because I lived for Jesus Christ
Not only Christmas Day
December 21st 2012 6:39 am
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Christmas in Heaven
I've had my first Christmas in Heaven
A Glorious, wonderful day.
I stood with the saints of the ages,
who found Christ the Truth and the Way.
I sang with the Heavenly Choir:
Just think: I who longed so to sing!
And oh, what celestial music
we brought to our Savior and King!
We sang the glad songs of redemption,
How Jesus to Bethlehem came,
And how they called His name Jesus,
That all might be saved through His name.
We sang once again with the angels,
The song that they sang that blest morn,
When shepherds first heard the glad story
That Jesus, the Savior, was born.
Oh, how I wish you had been there:
No Christmas on earth could compare
With all the rapture and glory
We witnessed in Heaven so fair.
You know how I always loved Christmas;
It seemed such a wonderful day,
With all of my loved ones around me
The children so happy and gay.
Yes, now I can see why I loved it:
And oh, what a joy it will be
When you and my loved ones are with me:
To share in the glories I see.
So dear ones on earth, here's my greeting:
Look up till the day dawn appears,
And oh, what a Christmas awaits us,
Beyond all our parting and tears.
December 19th 2012 7:12 am
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Snowy Christmas Eve
There was once a man who didn't believe in God, and he didn't hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion and religious holidays, like Christmas. His wife, however, did believe, and she raised their children to also have faith in God and Jesus, despite his disparaging comments.
One snowy Christmas Eve, his wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived. She asked him to come, but he refused. "That story is nonsense!" he said. "Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That's ridiculous!" So she and the children left, and he stayed home. A while later, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. Then another thump. He looked out, but couldn't see more than a few feet.
When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on his window. In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and could not go on. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed. The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It is warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside. But the geese just fluttered around aimlessly and did not seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them.
The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them and they moved further away. He went into the house and came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a breadcrumbs trail leading to the barn. They still didn't catch on. Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe.
"Why don't they follow me?!" he exclaimed. "Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?" He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human. "If only I were a goose, then I could save them," he said out loud. Then he had an idea. He went into barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn -- and one by one the other geese followed it to safety.
He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind:
"If only I were a goose, then I could save them!"
Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier.
"Why would God want to be like us? That's ridiculous!"
Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done.
We were like the geese -- blind, lost, perishing. God had His Son become like us so He could show us the way and save us.
That was the meaning of Christmas, he realized. As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought. Suddenly he understood what Christmas was all about, why Christ had come. Years of doubt and disbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer:
"Thank You Jesus for coming in human form to show me the way out of the storm!"
November 13th 2012 6:04 am
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Controlling Your Heart
A wise and understanding heart does not repay a hurt with a hurt. In doing so, the heart is diminished. Fissures form. Love leaks out. Every pain given in return for one received, changes the contents of the heart. It is no longer defined by love, wisdom and understanding. It is redefined by the bearers of hurt and hate, pain and prejudice, meanness and madness, sorrow and sadness. You give away control of your very own heart.
The despair of being hurt is healed by overcoming it, not clinging to the hurt and inflicting more of it on the world. When darkness is added to darkness, no one can see, no one can love. Everyone loses.
Love is not always warm and fuzzy. Sometimes it's the integrity we hold on to when we're tempted to strike back. Sometimes it's the honor that keeps us from exchanging the valuable contents of our heart for the harsh satisfaction of lashing back.
No, the way of love is not always easy, but when night falls, dawn is assured.
The integrity and honor of a wise and understanding heart, rises with the sun of a new day.
"Because you have asked for understanding to discern judgment. I have given you a wise and understanding heart." 1 Kings 3:11-12
November 13th 2012 6:02 am
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Sometimes We Need To Fall Apart
We don't always have to be strong.
Sometimes our strength is expressed in being vulnerable.
Sometimes we need to fall apart to regroup and stay on track.
We all have days when we cannot push any harder,
cannot hold back self-doubt,
cannot stop focusing on fear,
cannot be strong.
There are days when we cannot focus on being responsible.
Sometimes we cry in front of people.
We expose our tiredness, irritability, or anger.
Those days are okay.
Part of taking care of ourselves means we give ourselves
permission to "fall apart" when we need to.
We do not need to be perpetual towers of strength.
We ARE strong.
We have proven that our strength will continue if we allow us
the courage to feel scared, weak, and vulnerable when we need
to experience those feelings.
Today, help me to know that it is okay
to allow myself to be human.
Help me not to feel guilty or punish myself
when I need to "fall apart."
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