Tag Archives: Freedom

Obedience To God

 

The Dilemma of Obedience

From: My Utmost For HIs Highest

Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision —1 Samuel 3:15

God never speaks to us in dramatic ways, but in ways that are easy to misunderstand. Then we say, “I wonder if that is God’s voice?” Isaiah said that the Lord spoke to him “with a strong hand,” that is, by the pressure of his circumstances (Isaiah 8:11). Without the sovereign hand of God Himself, nothing touches our lives. Do we discern His hand at work, or do we see things as mere occurrences?

Get into the habit of saying, “Speak, Lord,” and life will become a romance (1 Samuel 3:9). Every time circumstances press in on you, say, “Speak, Lord,” and make time to listen. Chastening is more than a means of discipline— it is meant to bring me to the point of saying, “Speak, Lord.” Think back to a time when God spoke to you. Do you remember what He said? Was it Luke 11:13 , or was it 1 Thessalonians 5:23? As we listen, our ears become more sensitive, and like Jesus, we will hear God all the time.

Should I tell my “Eli” what God has shown to me? This is where the dilemma of obedience hits us. We disobey God by becoming amateur providences and thinking, “I must shield ’Eli,’ ” who represents the best people we know. God did not tell Samuel to tell Eli— he had to decide that for himself. God’s message to you may hurt your “Eli,” buttrying to prevent suffering in another’s life will prove to be an obstruction between your soul and God. It is at your own risk that you prevent someone’s right hand being cut off or right eye being plucked out (see Matthew 5:29-30).

Never ask another person’s advice about anything God makes you decide before Him. If you ask advice, you will almost always side with Satan. “. . . I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood . . .” (Galatians 1:16).

 

Inspirational stories about helping others 

THE OLD LADY

From: Inspirationalstories.eu

A man was driving his car, when he saw an old lady, stranded on the side of the road. He saw that she needed help. So he stopped his Pontiac near her Mercedes and got out.

He smiled, while he was approaching her, still she was worried, as nobody had stopped for hours. Moreover, he did not look safe, as his appearance was so poor and shabby. He could see, how frightened she was, so he tried to calm her: „ I‘m here to help you, don‘t worry. My name is Bryan Anderson“.

The tire was flat, so he had to crawl under the car. While changing the tire, he got dirty and his hands were hurt.

When the job was done, she asked how much she owed him for his help. Bryan smiled. He said: „If you really want to pay me back, the next time you see someone, who needs help, give that person the needed assistance. And think of me“.

A the same evening, the lady stopped by a small cafe. That place looked dingy. Then she saw a waitress, nearly eight months pregnant, wiping her wet hear with a towel. The waitress had a sweet friendly smile, although she had spent on her feet the whole day.

The lady wondered, how someone, who has so little, can be so kind and giving to a strange. Then she remembered Bryan.

The lady had finished her meal and paid with a hundred dollar bill. The waitress went to get change and when she came back, the lady was gone. She left a note on the napkin: „You don‘t own me anything. Somebody once helped me, just like now I‘m helping you. If you really want to pay me back, do not let this chain of love end with you“. The waitress found four more one hundren bills under the napkin.

That night the waitress came home earlier. She was thinking about the lady and the money she left. She was wondering, how the lady could know, how much she and her husband needed it? Especially now, when the baby will soon arrive. She knew, that her husband worried about that, so she was glad to tell him good news. Then she kissed him and whispered „Now everything will be all right. I love you, Bryan Anderson“.

 

Acts 12:1-25 (Good News Translation)

King Herod

From: Americanbible.org.

Introduction

Acts 12:1-25: King Herod (Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod the Great) persecutes the followers of Jesus. Peter is arrested and imprisoned but is rescued by an angel. The chapter concludes with a description of Herod’s death.

Today’s Scripture: Acts 12:5

Peter was kept in jail, but the people of the church were praying earnestly to God for him.

Today’s Reading

1 About this time King Herod began to persecute some members of the church. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death by the sword. 3 When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he went ahead and had Peter arrested. (This happened during the time of the Festival of Unleavened Bread.) 4 After his arrest Peter was put in jail, where he was handed over to be guarded by four groups of four soldiers each. Herod planned to put him on trial in public after Passover. 5 So Peter was kept in jail, but the people of the church were praying earnestly to God for him. 6 The night before Herod was going to bring him out to the people, Peter was sleeping between two guards. He was tied with two chains, and there were guards on duty at the prison gate. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood there, and a light shone in the cell. The angel shook Peter by the shoulder, woke him up, and said, “Hurry! Get up!” At once the chains fell off Peter’s hands. 8Then the angel said, “Tighten your belt and put on your sandals.” Peter did so, and the angel said, “Put your cloak around you and come with me.” 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, not knowing, however, if what the angel was doing was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed by the first guard station and then the second, and came at last to the iron gate that opens into the city. The gate opened for them by itself, and they went out. They walked down a street, and suddenly the angel left Peter. 11 Then Peter realized what had happened to him, and said, “Now I know that it is really true! The Lord sent his angel to rescue me from Herod’s power and from everything the Jewish people expected to happen.” 12Aware of his situation, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13 Peter knocked at the outside door, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer it. 14 She recognized Peter’s voice and was so happy that she ran back in without opening the door, and announced that Peter was standing outside. 15 “You are crazy!” they told her. But she insisted that it was true. So they answered, “It is his angel.” 16 Meanwhile Peter kept on knocking. At last they opened the door, and when they saw him, they were amazed. 17 He motioned with his hand for them to be quiet, and he explained to them how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell this to James and the rest of the believers,” he said; then he left and went somewhere else. 18 When morning came, there was a tremendous confusion among the guards—what had happened to Peter? 19 Herod gave orders to search for him, but they could not find him. So he had the guards questioned and ordered them put to death. After this, Herod left Judea and spent some time in Caesarea. 20 Herod was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, so they went in a group to see him. First they convinced Blastus, the man in charge of the palace, that he should help them. Then they went to Herod and asked him for peace, because their country got its food supplies from the king’s country. 21 On a chosen day Herod put on his royal robes, sat on his throne, and made a speech to the people. 22 “It isn’t a man speaking, but a god!” they shouted. 23 At once the angel of the Lord struck Herod down, because he did not give honor to God. He was eaten by worms and died. 24 Meanwhile the word of God continued to spread and grow. 25 Barnabas and Saul finished their mission and returned from Jerusalem, taking John Mark with them.

 

Happy People’s Secret

 

Happy People’s Secret

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THE SECRET TO HAPPINESS

Author Unknown

A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said. “Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.

The Lord led the holy man to two doors.

He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew, which smelled delicious and made the holy man’s mouth water. The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful.

But because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering.

The Lord said, “You have seen Hell.

They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man’s mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.

The holy man said, “I don’t understand.”

“It is simple,” said the Lord. “It requires but one skill. You see they have learned the secret to happiness….. feed one another.”


WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?

From: gatewaytoJesus

Clarence Schultz

Let’s see…I think it started when Madeline Murray O’Hare complained that she didn’t want any prayer in our schools, and we said, OK.

Then someone said you had better not read the Bible in school-the Bible that says Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said, OK.

Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem. And we said, an expert should know what he’s talking about, so we won’t spank them anymore.

Then someone said that teachers and principals better not discipline our children when they misbehave. And the school administrators said no faculty member in this school better touch a student when they misbehave because we don’t want any bad publicity, and we surely don’t want to be sued. And we accepted their reasoning.

Then someone said, let’s let our daughters have abortions if they want, and they won’t even have to tell their parents. And we said, that’s a grand idea.

Then some wise school board member said, since boys will be boys and they’re going to “do it” anyway, let’s give our sons all the condoms they want, so they can have all the “fun” they desire, and we won’t have to tell their parents they got them at school. And we said, that’s another great idea.

And then some of our top elected officials said that it doesn’t matter what we do in private as long as we do our jobs. And agreeing with them, we said it doesn’t matter to me what anyone, including the President, does in private as long as I have a job and the economy is good.

And then someone said let’s print magazines with pictures of nude women and call it wholesome down-to-earth appreciation for the beauty of the female body. And we said we have no problem with that.

And someone else took that appreciation a step further and published pictures of nude children and then stepped further still by making them available on the Internet. And we said they’re entitled to their free speech.

And the entertainment industry said, let’s make TV shows and movies that promote profanity, violence, and illicit sex. And let’s record music that encourages homosexuality, rape, drugs, murder, suicide, and satanic themes. And we said it’s just entertainment, it has no adverse effect, and nobody takes it seriously anyway, so go right ahead.

Therefore, now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves. Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with… “we reap what we sow.”


 

(More Food For Thought follows these reflective questions.)

 

When I die where will I go?
What do I need to do to live forever?
Why do I believe what I do?
If what I believe isn’t true, would I want to know it?
Who has the answers?

 


daddy’s empty chair

– Author Unknown

A man’s daughter had asked the local minister to come and pray with her father. When the minister arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two  pillows.

An empty chair sat beside his bed.

The minister assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit. “I guess you were  expecting me,” he said.

“No, who are you?” said the father.

The minister told him his name and then remarked, “I saw the empty chair and I figured you knew I was going to show up,”

“Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?”

Puzzled, the minister shut the door.

“I have never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man. “But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it went right over my head. I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” the old man continued, “until one day, four years ago, my best friend said to me, ‘Johnny, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here is what I suggest…’”

‘Sit down in a chair; place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky, because He promised, ‘I will be with you always.’ Then just speak to Him in the same way you’re doing with me right now.’”

“So, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.”

The minister was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old man to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him, anointed him with oil, and returned to the church.

Two nights later the daughter called to tell the minister that her daddy had died that afternoon.

“Did he die in peace?” the minister asked.

“Yes. When I left the house about two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me he loved me and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But, there was something strange about his death. Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside the bed. What do you make of that?”

The minister wiped a tear from his eye and said, “I wish we could all go like that.”

From: inspire21

empty chair

Humility Is Power

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Load Line

Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. —1 Peter 5:6-7

 

In the 19th century, ships were often recklessly overloaded, resulting in those ships going down and the crews being lost at sea. In 1875, to remedy this negligent practice, British politician Samuel Plimsoll led the charge for legislation to create a line on the side of a ship to show if it was carrying too much cargo. That “load line” became known as the Plimsoll Line, and it continues to mark the hulls of ships today.

Sometimes, like those ships, our lives can seem overloaded with fears, struggles, and heartaches. We can even feel that we are in danger of going under. In those times, however, it is reassuring to remember that we have a remarkable resource. We have a heavenly Father who stands ready to help us carry that load. The apostle Peter said, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7). He is capable of handling the cares that overwhelm us.

Though the testings of life may feel like a burden too heavy to bear, we can have full assurance that our heavenly Father loves us deeply and knows our load limits. Whatever we face, He will help us to bear it.

Heavenly Father, I sometimes feel as if I can’t go
on. I am tired, I am weak, and I am worn. Thank You
that You know my limits better than I do. And that, in
Your strength, I can find the enablement to endure.
God may lead us into troubled waters to deepen our trust in Him.

A Goodbye Kiss

From: inspirationalarchive.com

The Board Meeting had come to an end. Bob started to stand up and jostled the table, spilling his coffee over his notes. “How embarrassing. I am getting so clumsy in my old age.”

Everyone had a good laugh, and soon we were all telling stories of our most embarrassing moments. It came around to Frank who sat quietly listening to the others. Someone said, “Come on, Frank. Tell us your most embarrassing moment.”

Frank laughed and began to tell us of his childhood. “I grew up in San Pedro. My Dad was a fisherman, and he loved the sea. He had his own boat, but it was hard making a living on the sea. He worked hard and would stay out until he caught enough to feed the family. Not just enough for our family, but also for his Mom and Dad and the other kids that were still at home.”

He looked at us and said, “I wish you could have met my Dad. He was a big man, and he was strong from pulling the nets and fighting the seas for his catch. When you got close to him, he smelled like the ocean. He would wear his old canvas, foul-weather coat and his bibbed overalls. His rain hat would be pulled down over his brow. No matter how much my Mother washed them, they would still smell of the sea and of fish.”

Frank’s voice dropped a bit. “When the weather was bad he would drive me to school. He had this old truck that he used in his fishing business. That truck was older than he was. It would wheeze and rattle down the road. You could hear it coming for blocks. As he would drive toward the school, I would shrink down into the seat hoping to disappear. Half the time, he would slam to a stop and the old truck would belch a cloud of smoke. He would pull right up in front, and it seemed like everybody would be standing around and watching. Then he would lean over and give me a big kiss on the cheek and tell me to be a good boy. It was so embarrassing for me. Here, I was twelve years old, and my Dad would lean over and kiss me goodbye!”

He paused and then went on, “I remember the day I decided I was too old for a goodbye kiss. When we got to the school and came to a stop, he had his usual big smile. He started to lean toward me, but I put my hand up and said, ‘No, Dad.’

It was the first time I had ever talked to him that way, and he had this surprised look on his face.

I said, ‘Dad, I’m too old for a goodbye kiss. I’m too old for any kind of kiss.’

My Dad looked at me for the longest time, and his eyes started to tear up. I had never seen him cry. He turned and looked out the windshield. ‘You’re right,’ he said. ‘You are a big boy….a man. I won’t kiss you anymore.’”

Frank got a funny look on his face, and the tears began to well up in his eyes, as he spoke. “It wasn’t long after that when my Dad went to sea and never came back. It was a day when most of the fleet stayed in, but not Dad. He had a big family to feed. They found his boat adrift with its nets half in and half out. He must have gotten into a gale and was trying to save the nets and the floats.”

I looked at Frank and saw that tears were running down his cheeks. Frank spoke again. “Guys, you don’t know what I would give to have my Dad give me just one more kiss on the cheek….to feel his rough old face….to smell the ocean on him….to feel his arm around my neck. I wish I had been a man then. If I had been a man, I would never have told my Dad I was too old for a goodbye kiss.”

-Bishop Thomas Charles Clary

A Love Story

 “A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure. A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth. A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy…”

Sirach 6: 14-17

A LOVE STORY

One day, I woke early in the morning to watch the sunrise. Ah the beauty of God’s creation is beyond description. As I watched, I praised God for His beautiful work. As I sat there, I felt the Lord’s presence with me.

He asked me, “Do you love me?”

I answered, “Of course, God! You are my Lord and Saviour!”

Then He asked, “If you were physically handicapped, would you still love me?”

I was perplexed. I looked down upon my arms, legs and the rest of my body and wondered how many things I wouldn’t; be able to do, the things that I took for granted.

And I answered, “It would be tough Lord, but I would still love You.”

Then the Lord said, “If you were blind, would you still love my creation?” How could I love something without being able to see it? Then I thought of all the blind people in the world and how many of them still loved God and His creation.

So I answered, “Its hard to think of it, but I would still love you.”

The Lord then asked me, “If you were deaf, would you still listen to my word?” How could I listen to anything being deaf?

Then I understood. Listening to God’s Word is not merely using our ears, but our hearts.

I answered, “It would be tough, but I would still listen to Your word.”

The Lord then asked, “If you were mute, would you still praise My Name?”

How could I praise without a voice? Then it occurred to me: God wants us to sing from our very heart and soul. It never matters what we sound like. And praising God is not always with a song, but when we are persecuted, we give God praise with our words of thanks.

So I answered, “Though I could not physically sing, I would still praise Your Name.”

And the Lord asked, “Do you really love Me?”

With courage and a strong conviction, I answered boldly, “Yes Lord! I love You because You are the one and true God!”

I thought I had answered well, but God asked, “THEN WHY DO YOU SIN?”

I answered, “Because I am only human. I am not perfect.”

“THEN WHY IN TIMES OF PEACE DO YOU STRAY THE FURTHEST? WHY ONLY IN TIMES OF TROUBLE DO YOU PRAY THE EARNEST?”

No answers. Only tears.

The Lord continued: “Why only sing at fellowships and retreats? Why seek Me only in times of worship? Why ask things so selfishly? Why ask things so unfaithfully?”

The tears continued to roll down my cheeks.

“Why are you ashamed of Me? Why are you not spreading the good news? Why in times of persecution, you cry to others when I offer My shoulder to cry on? Why make excuses when I give you opportunities to serve in My Name?”

I tried to answer, but there was no answer to give.

“You are blessed with life. I made you not to throw this gift away. I have blessed you with talents to serve Me, but you continue to turn away. I have revealed My Word to you, but you do not gain in knowledge. I have spoken to you but your ears were closed. I have shown My blessings to you, but your eyes were turned away. I have sent you servants, but you sat idly by as they were pushed away. I have heard your prayers and I have answered them all.”

DO YOU TRULY LOVE ME ?”

I could not answer. How could I? I was embarrassed beyond belief. I had no excuse. What could I say to this? My heart had cried out and the tears had flowed, I said, Please forgive me Lord. I am unworthy to be Your child.”

The Lord answered, ” That is My Grace, My child.”

I asked, ” Then why do you continue to forgive me? Why do You love me so?”

The Lord answered, “Because you are My creation. You are my child. I will never abandon you. When you cry, I will have compassion and cry with you. When you shout with joy, I will laugh with you. When you are down, I will encourage you. When you fall, I will raise you up. When you are tired, I will carry you. I will be with you till the end of days, and I will love you forever.”

Never had I cried so hard before. How could I have been so cold? How could I have hurt God as I had done?

I asked God, “How much do You love me?”

The Lord stretched out His arms, and I saw His nail-pierced hands. I bowed down at the feet of Christ, my Saviour. And for the first time, I truly prayed.

Author Unknown.

The Last “I Love You”

Carol’s husband was killed in an accident last year. Jim, only fifty-two
years old, was driving home from work, the other driver was a
teenager with a very high blood alcohol level. Jim died instantly. The
teenager was in the emergency room for less than two hours.

There were other ironic twists: It was Carol’s fiftieth birthday, and Jim had two plane tickets to Hawaii in his pocket. He was going to surprise her. Instead, he was killed by a drunk driver.

“How have you survived this?” I finally asked Carol, a year later.

Her eyes welled up with tears. I thought I had said the wrong thing, but she gently took my hand and said, “It’s all right; I want to tell you. The day I married Jim, I promised I would never let him leave the house in the morning without telling him I loved him. He made the same promise. It got to be a joke between us, and as babies came along, it got to be a hard promise to keep. I remember running down the driveway, saying ‘I love you’ through clenched teeth when I was mad, or driving to the office to put a note in his car. It was a funny challenge.

“We made a lot of memories trying to say “I love you” before noon every day of our married life.

“The morning Jim died, he left a birthday card in the kitchen and slipped out to the car. I heard the engine starting. Oh, no, you don’t, buster, I thought. I raced out and banged on the car window until he rolled it down.

“Here on my fiftieth birthday, Mr. James E. Garret, I Carol Garret, want to go on record as saying I love you!”

“That’s how I’ve survived. Knowing that the last words I said to Jim were ‘I love you!’

Written by Debbi Smoot


Transformed By Beholding

 

Transformed by Beholding

We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image . . . —2 Corinthians 3:18
The greatest characteristic a Christian can exhibit is this completely unveiled openness before God, which allows that person’s life to become a mirror for others. When the Spirit fills us, we are transformed, and by beholding God we become mirrors. You can always tell when someone has been beholding the glory of the Lord, because your inner spirit senses that he mirrors the Lord’s own character. Beware of anything that would spot or tarnish that mirror in you. It is almost always something good that will stain it— something good, but not what is best. The most important rule for us is to concentrate on keeping our lives open to God. Let everything else including work, clothes, and food be set aside. The busyness of things obscures our concentration on God. We must maintain a position of beholding Him, keeping our lives completely spiritual through and through. Let other things come and go as they will; let other people criticize us as they will; but never allow anything to obscure the life that “is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Never let a hurried lifestyle disturb the relationship of abiding in Him. This is an easy thing to allow, but we must guard against it. The most difficult lesson of the Christian life is learning how to continue “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord . . . .”
 

The People Principle

“My son,” the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead, and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”  Luke 15:31-32 I didn’t mean to break it! In fact, just the night before, as our hosts for the evening were showing my wife Martie and me around their beautiful home, they drew our attention to a gorgeous bowl of alabaster fruit. They talked about how valuable it was to them, not only because of its beauty and rarity, but also because of the memories that were associated with the piece. Which made my klutzy moment early the next morning all the more distressing. In my pre-coffee fog, I walked by the table and knocked the alabaster banana to the floor, breaking it in half. Immediately, the dark side of my fallen heart began to think how I could get out of this jam. It was a clean break, and perhaps if I put it back into the bowl carefully the two halves would look like their original form. Weeks later when they would discover the broken banana, they would no doubt blame it on their kids, and we would be long gone. In the end, the bright side of my redeemed heart prevailed and I apologetically admitted, “I hate to tell you this, but I knocked your alabaster banana on the floor and it cracked in half.” I’ll never forget my friend’s reply. “That’s all right, Joe, in our home people are more important than things.” I was spared, but more importantly I was taught a great lesson. In fact, that is exactly how God feels! With Him, people and their needs have always trumped everything else. Jesus made this very clear in His teachings and actions, but perhaps most profoundly in the familiar story of the prodigal son. When He told the story, He was surrounded by tax collectors, women of ill repute, and various other “sinners.” On the fringes of this crowd of outcasts, the Pharisees and teachers of the law stood muttering and grumbling about Christ’s apparent penchant for the unsavory characters of their day. So Jesus proceeded to tell these stories highlighting a lost sheep, a lost coin, and then a lost son. Each parable focuses intently on the passion God has for people as He actively seeks after us and then rejoices when, at last, we turn to Him and are found. Pointing directly at the Pharisees with His words, the parable of the lost son concludes with the spotlight turned on a disgruntled older brother who is hung up on the “things” that have been lost—the family reputation, dignity, and most likely a sizable portion of the family inheritance. Viewed from his perspective, the father’s expenditures on a wayward son are wasteful and even unfair. But Jesus, reflecting the heart of His Father in the closing words of the parable, points out that in God’s household people matter most. Not just “cleaned-up” people. Not just “churchy” people. But people who desperately need to hear that God loves them enough to forgive them of their sin, free them of their addictions, and find them at their point of darkest need. People matter most. So when we look into the mirror of God’s Word, we have to ask ourselves: What matters most in our lives? Our possessions? Our personal preferences? Our perspectives on how people should act and think? Our plans? Our personal pride and reputation? Our rules? Or do the needs and nurture of people matter most? My friend with the alabaster bowl got it right—people matter most. And Jesus has shown us the way!

14-year-old dog abbey

From: Inspire21.com

Our 14-year-old dog Abbey died last month. The day after she passed away my 4-year-old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so, and she dictated these words: Dear God, Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick. I hope you will play with her. She likes to swim and play with balls. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her you will know that she is my dog. I really miss her. Love, Meredith We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office. A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had. Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, ‘To Meredith’ in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, ‘When a Pet Dies.’ Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note: Dear Meredith, Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help and I recognized her right away. Abbey isn’t sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don’t need our bodies in heaven, I don’t have any pockets to keep your picture in so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by. Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you. I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much. By the way, I’m easy to find. I am wherever there is love.

a grateful whale

From: Inspire21

On the front page story of the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday, Dec 15, 2005, you would have read about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. The fifty-foot whale was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her her tail, her torso and a line tugging in her mouth. A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farallone Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her – a very dangerous proposition. One slap of the tail could kill a rescuer. They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently around – she thanked them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth says her eye was following him the whole time, and he will never be the same.

the butterfly

Inspire21.com

When he was a small boy, he had loved butterflies. Oh, not to net and mount them, but to wonder at their designs and habits. Now a grown man with his first son to be born in a few weeks, he found himself once again fascinated with a cocoon. He had found it at the side of the park path. Somehow the twig had been knocked from the tree and the cocoon had survived undamaged and still woven to the branch. As he had seen his mother do, he gently protected it by wrapping it in his handkerchief and carried it home. The cocoon found a temporary home in a wide-top mason jar with holes in the lid. The jar was placed on the mantle for easy viewing and protection from their curious cat who would delight in volleying the sticky silk between her paws. The man watched. His wife’s interest lasted only a moment, but he studied the silky envelope. Almost imperceptibly at first, the cocoon moved. He watched more closely and soon the cocoon was trembling with activity. Nothing else happened. The cocoon remained tightly glued to the twig and there was no sign of wings. Finally the shaking became so intense, the man thought the butterfly would die from the struggle. He removed the lid on the jar, took a sharp pen knife from his desk drawer, and carefully made a tiny slit in the side of the cocoon. Almost immediately, one wing appeared and then outstretched the other. The butterfly was free! It seemed to enjoy its freedom and walked along the edge of the mason jar and along the edge of the mantle. But it didn’t fly. At first the man thought the wings needed time to dry, but time passed and still the butterfly did not take off. The man was worried and called up his neighbor who taught high school science. He told the neighbor how he had found the cocoon, placed it in the mason jar, and the terrible trembling as the butterfly struggled to get out. When he described how he had carefully made a small slit in the cocoon, the teacher stopped him. “Oh, that is the reason. You see, the struggle is what gives the butterfly the strength to fly.”

Peace of Mind

 

Peace of Mind

 

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Peace of mind

Once Buddha was walking from one town to another town with a few of his followers. This was in the initial days. While they were travelling, they happened to pass a lake. They stopped there and Buddha told one of his disciples, “I am thirsty. Do get me some water from that lake there.”

The disciple walked up to the lake. When he reached it, he noticed that some people were washing clothes in the water and, right at that moment, a bullock cart started crossing through the lake. As a result, the water became very muddy, very turbid. The disciple thought, “How can I give this muddy water to Buddha to drink!” So he came back and told Buddha, “The water in there is very muddy. I don’t think it is fit to drink.”

After about half an hour, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back to the lake and get him some water to drink. The disciple obediently went back to the lake. This time he found that the lake had absolutely clear water in it. The mud had settled down and the water above it looked fit to be had. So he collected some water in a pot and brought it to Buddha.

Buddha looked at the water, and then he looked up at the disciple and said, “See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be … and the mud settled down on its own – and you got clear water… Your mind is also like that. When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own. You don’t have to put in any effort to calm it down. It will happen. It is effortless.”

What did Buddha emphasize here? He said, “It is effortless.” Having ‘peace of mind’ is not a strenuous job; it is an effortless process. When there is peace inside you, that peace permeates to the outside. It spreads around you and in the environment, such that people around start feeling that peace and grace.

 


Jumping the queue

Today, a true tale of heroism that takes place not in a war zone, nor a hospital, but in Victoria station in London in 2007, during a tube strike. Our hero – a transport journalist and self-described “big, stocky bloke with a shaven head” named Gareth Edwards, who first wrote about this experience on the community blog metafilter.com – is standing with other commuters in a long, snaking line for a bus, when a smartly dressed businessman blatantly cuts in line behind him. (Behind him: this detail matters.)

The interloper proves immune to polite remonstration, whereupon Edwards is seized by a magnificent idea. He turns to the elderly woman standing behind the queue-jumper, and asks her if she’d like to go ahead of him. She accepts, so he asks the person behind her, and the next person, and the next – until 60 or 70 people have moved ahead, Edwards and the seething queue-jumper shuffling further backwards all the time. The bus finally pulls up, and Edwards hears a shout from the front of the line. It’s the elderly woman, addressing him: “Young man! Do you want to go in front of me?”

From: rogerdarlington.me.uk

Loved To Love

 

Loved To Love

 — by Julie Ackerman Link
Our Daily Bread Radio is hosted by Les Lamborn
What does the Lord your God require of you, but . . . to walk in all His ways and to love Him. —Deuteronomy 10:12
Bible in a Year:
Jeremiah 24-26; Titus 2

“A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” I saw this quotation, attributed to the Wizard of Oz, on a wall plaque in a gift shop.

The Wizard of Oz may be a good story, but it’s not a reliable source of spiritual information. God said something quite different. According to Him, the greatest commandment is to love—to love Him first and then others (Mark 12:29-31). Scripture says nothing about expecting to be loved in return. In fact, Jesus stated the opposite in His most famous sermon: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (Matt. 5:11-12).

When it comes to love, the important thing we need to know is this: All love starts with God (1 John 4:19). As Moses told the Israelites, God delighted in them to love them (Deut. 10:15), and because of that they were to love others, even strangers (v.19). God’s intent is that the people who receive His love will become the conduit of His love to others.

Apart from God—who Himself is love—none of us could truly love or be loved (1 John 4:7-8).

“Love seeketh not her own,” and so
He did not stay as God above,
But chose a manger and a cross
To show that He was Love. —Wilmshurst
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. —1 John 4:8

Reasons To Forgive

 

 

10 Reasons to Forgive the Person You Hate the Most

 

14 Reasons to Forgive the Person You Hate the Most

by:  Sarah Anne Stewart

“Forgive the person you hate the most.  This is your intention for our class together tonight.”

Wait, what?  Why would I want to begin a yoga class with this intention?  Did I really need to be reminiscing about a time in my life that I really wanted to forget?

After hearing these words, I selfishly began to question my yoga instructor and her motives behind making me do such a seemingly tortuous task.  My ego was not comfortable with this.  This was my time!  This was a place to be blissful and connected to my inner peace.

I sat, confused, and I took a deep breath.  Several deep breaths.  Hate seemed like such a powerful and intense word, but I focused within.  For the first several minutes of class, my mind was a projection screen of unpleasant memories, emotions and feelings.

As I moved through upward and then downward dog positions, I continued to hear her words, “Inhale love.  Exhale hate.  Again, forgive the person you hate the most.”

I noticed that I started to sweat nervously.  “Is this really possible to do in just an hour and a half?” I thought to myself.

It took every ounce of my being to search deep into my memory bank for all of my greatest teachers and what they taught me about forgiveness.

Again I heard her words, “Forgive the person you hate the most.”

OK…  OK, I got it.

In that moment, I surrendered and my ego crumbled.  Everything I learned since childhood came pouring through me.  I had no more excuses about why not to forgive this person.  Instead, I embraced several reasons to do just that.  I focused passionately on those reasons as I stretched my body and mind simultaneously…

So what were the reasons?  Let’s discuss…

1.  Forgiveness allows us to take responsibility for our own happiness.

Most of what we attract into our lives is a mere reflection of what is inside of us.  Our thoughts and actions create our exterior world.  The Law of Attraction teaches us that like attracts like, and we will never experience a happy ending at the end of an unhappy journey.  By holding onto anger and resentment (even inour subconscious mind), we are pre-paving our journey to be filled with anger and resentment.  The way we feel and the emotions we hold are what we use to create all of our future experiences.  (Read The Secret.)

2.  Forgiveness allows us to see everyone in our lives as a teacher.

Family members, spouses, friends, bosses, etc. – everyone is brought into our lives to teach us more about ourselves.  Thanking them for being a part of our journey and teaching us lessons that we now no longer need to learn is an incredible step in expanding our consciousness.

This same philosophy applies to our negative, failed relationships too.  Once you truly learn the lesson behind why a negative relationship came into your life, you will then no longer attract situations and future relationships that attempt to teach you the same lesson.  You get to graduate and grow so you no longer keep repeating the same unpleasant experience over and over again.

3.  Forgiveness helps us stop playing the victim card.

Adjusting your perspective to a place of forgiveness and gratitude allows you to no longer play the victim card.  Most of the time you are not a victim of anything other than your own vibration and level of attraction.  When you continue to blame someone else, you automatically give control of your life to someone else and thus set yourself up to be a lifelong victim.

4.  Forgiveness makes us aware that most people are doing the best they can.

Have compassion for where other people are in their lives.  It might not be where you are, but most people are doing the best they can at their particular level of awareness and understanding.  (Read The Four Agreements.)

5.  Forgiveness embodies the concept of “what goes around comes around.”

We are all human and we have all done “unthinkable” things.  And deep down, we all yearn for the same forgiveness.  When we release others from the penalties of their actions, we create a space where our own thoughtless actions against others can be forgiven as well.

6.  Forgiveness forces our own level of consciousness to expand.

The process of growth is continuous.  The moment we stop learning, searching for lessons and expanding our consciousness, the ego steps in and takes over.  We are always moving toward something greater, and forgiveness helps us get there faster by eliminating our ties to dead weight from our past.

7.  Forgiveness teaches us to keep our expectations tempered.

We should never be expecting anything from anyone.  When we do this, we give up our own power to decide.  We alone are the creator of our universe, and when we are connected to our own inner source, we no longer “need” anything from anyone.  It’s still nice to receive things from time to time, but we don’t need these things to move forward with our lives.  (Read Forgiveness Is a Choice.)

8.  Forgiveness teaches us to tone down our instincts for self-preservation.

Too often we injure one another simply because we are trying to protect ourselves (financially, emotionally, etc.), even when it’s at someone else’s expense.  We have all done it.  Becoming aware of this pattern allows us to stop needlessly injuring others for our own benefit.  And as you know, what goes around comes around…

9.  Forgiveness creates a space to let go and love.

Not everyone and every situation is meant to be a part of our lives forever.  Sometimes they are only there long enough to help us open the next chapter of our story.  Letting go creates space to let new people and experiences in.

In addition, we are all connected.  We have never met another person that we have not loved in some small way.  Sometimes we just don’t consciously know how to understand it and show it.  Simply put, forgiveness in and of itself is an act of letting go of our differences and connecting with our oneness and love for each other and the world we inhabit.

10.  Forgiveness is the best revenge.

A bit of sarcasm in this one, but it’s so true.  You can always seek revenge positively by creating a better future for yourself.  Because nothing annoys an adversary or negative force in your life more than seeing you smile after you have genuinely forgiven them and moved forward with your life.

Afterthoughts

In most walks of life, I think it’s fairly easy to say, “I forgive so-and-so.”  Deep down, though, the resentment and anger still lingers within us and in our subconscious minds, which then impacts our future experiences.

For me, it took an hour and a half of complete and committed intention, stretching into odd shapes, chanting mantras, and inhaling incense for me to fully embrace all of the lessons I had learned throughout my life, and to finally forgive.

As we walked out of this yoga class, my friend and I looked at each other and, at the same time, said, “Wow!”  I could now understand exactly where my yoga instructor was coming from and why she had pushed us breath-by-breath to forgive.  I was extremely grateful.  Typically when I leave yoga, I feel lighter, but this time…

I felt free.”

From: www.marcandangel.com.,Sarah Anne Stewart.

Declaration of Independence

 

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The Declaration of Independence

By Washington Irving

“While danger was gathering round New York, and its inhabitants were in mute suspense and fearful anticipations, the General Congress at Philadelphia was discussing, with closed doors, what John Adams pronounced, “The greatest question ever debated in America, and as great as ever was or will be debated among men.” The result was, a resolution passed unanimously on the 2nd of July – “that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.”

“The 2nd of July,” adds the same patriot statesman, “will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to Almighty God. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forth forevermore.”

The glorious event has, indeed, given rise to an annual jubilee – but not on the day designated by Adams. The FOURTH of July is the day of national rejoicing, for on that day the “Declaration of Independence,” that solemn and sublime document, was adopted.

Tradition gives a dramatic effect to its announcement. It was known to be under discussion, but the closed doors of Congress excluded the populace. They awaited, in throngs, an appointed signal. In the steeple of the State House was a bell, imported twenty-three years previously from London by the Provincial Assembly of Pennsylvania. It bore the portentous text from Scripture: “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof.” A joyous peal from that bell gave notice that the bill had been passed. It was the knell of British domination.”

The Declaration of Independence, by: Washington Irving

Do It Now!

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A message from Simposious and the great Oswald Chambers

Do It Now!

Agree with your adversary quickly . . . —Matthew 5:25

In this verse, Jesus Christ laid down a very important principle by saying, “Do what you know you must do— now. Do it quickly. If you don’t, an inevitable process will begin to work ’till you have paid the last penny’ (Matthew 5:26) in pain, agony, and distress.” God’s laws are unchangeable and there is no escape from them. The teachings of Jesus always penetrate right to the heart of our being.Wanting to make sure that my adversary gives me all my rights is a natural thing. But Jesus says that it is a matter of inescapable and eternal importance to me that I pay my adversary what I owe him. From our Lord’s standpoint it doesn’t matter whether I am cheated or not, but what does matter is that I don’t cheat someone else. Am I insisting on having my own rights, or am I paying what I owe from Jesus Christ’s standpoint?

Do it quickly— bring yourself to judgment now. In moral and spiritual matters, you must act immediately. If you don’t, the inevitable, relentless process will begin to work. God is determined to have His child as pure, clean, and white as driven snow, and as long as there is disobedience in any point of His teaching, He will allow His Spirit to use whatever process it may take to bring us to obedience. The fact that we insist on proving that we are right is almost always a clear indication that we have some point of disobedience. No wonder the Spirit of God so strongly urges us to stay steadfastly in the light! (see John 3:19-21).

“Agree with your adversary quickly . . . .” Have you suddenly reached a certain place in your relationship with someone, only to find that you have anger in your heart? Confess it quickly— make it right before God. Be reconciled to that person— do it now!

My Utmost For His Highest, By: Oswald Chambers.

Unforeseen Turn

 

 

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Unforeseen Turn
Turning an obstacle into invention
By Kate Kowsh

He knew his ribs were broken because he could taste iron from the blood in his mouth. After tumbling over the handle bars of his Suzuki GSXR1000 motorcycle, 25 year-old Jeremy McGhee’s body grated against the pavement, skidding to a ragged halt in the middle of a busy California intersection. For the first time in his life, he couldn’t feel or move his legs. He lay there, stunned by the hard landing, taking stock of his injuries. As Jeremy’s thoughts cleared, he began contemplating a question that had never occurred to him before—What would life be like without the use of his legs?

Jeremy had been an active young adrenaline junky who balked at the thought of sitting still. With this accident, his fate took an abrupt twist, and he would soon discover the  that he’d spend each day of the rest of his life writing his own answer to that grim question.

Sprawled across the hot afternoon asphalt road and bleeding internally, the thread of Jeremy’s life stretched almost to the point of snapping. Looking back, he considers it pure chance that a pair of on-duty paramedics were catching a quick lunch across the street. After watching the carnage unfold, they dropped their food and ran over to him.

Later at the hospital, when doctors huddled around to inform Jeremy of the extent and severity of his injuries, he already knew. Jeremy was trained in first aid and emergency response as a lifeguard, so he understood the nature of his injuries.

During the month-and-a-half that he spent recovering from the spinal cord injury that left him a paraplegic, Jeremy waded through the sledge of uncertainties that accompany the kind of news that chances were slim he’d ever walk again. While struggling to stay afloat in this emotional tidal wave, he found himself being called upon to make logistical, level-headed decisions about things he had never thought about before. For instance, he had to choose the best type of wheelchair for his active lifestyle and learn to file insurance claims correctly. In the meantime, a mountain of medical bills began piling up. But, even as he lay in his hospital bed, fighting the windfall of new challenges suddenly set in his path, Jeremy knew that he still had control over his life.

He found himself at a crossroads. He could accept his life as it was and move forward, or he could wallow in misery over what had happened to him. Jeremy didn’t allow himself to see the glass as half empty for long. Although he couldn’t control whether his legs would allow him to walk again, he knew he could control how he dealt with his current condition. Wheelchair or no wheelchair, Jeremy wasn’t one to lay down, even after he’d been knocked pretty hard. As he’d soon discover though, there’s no instruction manual for teaching people how to adjust when piecing a wheelchair into the equation of their lives.  Although he had friends and family around him to offer support, they knew as much about living with this type of disability as he did—nothing.

It was during the time he spent while in the hospital recuperating, that the wheels started turning for Jeremy.    As he attempted to reclaim his life, he began to see the need for an organization to help people get back on their feet, both figuratively and literally.

Enter Fight2walk, the non-profit organization that Jeremy founded to mentor those facing spinal cord injuries. Instead of looking at his injury as a burden, he chose to offer himself as a living example that, although life doesn’t always go as expected, it doesn’t mean you can’t continue to live. The day he was discharged from the hospital, using a car with specially adapted hand controls, Jeremy drove himself to the snow-covered Colorado Mountains to spend some time skiing and getting on with his life’s journey. In the six years since his accident, Jeremy hasn’t stopped pushing the limits of the human spirit.

These days, Jeremy mentors others facing spinal cord injuries, helping them combat the claustrophobia that he says is one of the toughest challenges of paralysis. They don’t call it ‘confined to a wheelchair’ for nothing. As part of his non-profit, Jeremy also raises funds to buy adapted sporting equipment like hand control bicycles and adapted ski chairs. Jeremy says that he’s trained himself to pull through the bad days by thinking about the incredible people he’s met on his journey— people who’s challenges far surpass his own.  This helps Jeremy feel thankful for all he does have.

Jeremy works as a seasonal ski instructor on California’s Mammoth Mountain, using a single ski and an adapted ski chair. He teaches others with disabilities how to overcome the claustrophobia of paralysis by getting outdoors. His  pursuits at pushing the limits were even featured in the ski video,  One: A Lucid Experience, which chronicled his gargantuan 70 foot ski jump.

As Jeremy later learned, spreading awareness that people can overcome great adversity isn’t only accomplished through monumental feats. In a enlightening ray of irony, the day after he successfully completed his epic ski jump, Jeremy rolled into a local bank to cash a paycheck, and a sweet old lady struggled to open the door for him. Jeremy grabbed the door and smiled at her show of kindness. He waved her in and said, “Nope, ladies first.” Jeremy realized the small gestures sometimes speak as loudly as the larger ones.

As his story continues, Jeremy humbly assumes his role as mentor and champion for a cause he never imagined himself a part of. He’ll always remain conscious of the fact that one unforeseen turn of events has brought him to an apex of human existence he could never have imagined—a place where he chooses to use his experiences—bad and good—to help others.

Story:  Unforeseen Turn, By: Kate kowsh