25 November, 2012

posted 22 Nov 2012, 08:36 by C S Paul   [ updated 22 Nov 2012, 18:34 ]
25 November, 2012

They had lunch with God....

Author unknown

A little boy wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with Twinkies and a six-pack of root beer and he started his journey.

When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old man. He was sitting in the park just staring at some pigeons. The boy sat down next to him and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old man looked hungry, so he offered him a Twinkie.

He gratefully accepted it and smiled at him. His smile was so pleasant that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered him a root beer. Again, he smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.

As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave, but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old man, and gave him a hug. He gave him his biggest smile ever.

When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, "What did you do today that made you so happy? "He replied, "I had lunch with God." But before his mother could respond, he added, "You know what? He's got the most beautiful smile I've ever seen!"

Meanwhile, the old man, also radiant with joy, returned to his home. His son was stunned by the look of peace on his face and he asked, "Dad, what did you do today that made you so happy?" He replied, "I ate Twinkies in the park with God." However, before his son responded, he added, "You know, he's much younger than I expected."

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Embrace all equally!

Carl's Garden

Author unknown

Carl was a quiet man. He didn't talk much. He would always greet you with a big smile and a firm handshake. Even after living in our neighborhood for over 50 years, no one could really say they knew him very well. Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning. The lone sight of him walking down the street often worried us. He had a slight limp from a bullet wound received in WWII. Watching him, we worried that although he had survived WWII, he may not make it through our changing uptown neighborhood with its ever-increasing random violence, gangs, and drug activity. When he saw the flyer at our local church asking for volunteers for caring for the gardens behind the minister's residence, he responded in his characteristically unassuming manner. Without fanfare, he just signed up.

He was well into his 87th year when the very thing we had always feared finally happened. He was just finishing his watering for the day when three gang members approached him. Ignoring their attempt to intimidate him, he simply asked, "Would you like a drink from the hose?"

The tallest and toughest looking of the three said, "Yeah, sure," with a malevolent little smile. As Carl offered the hose to him, the other two grabbed Carl's arm, throwing him down. As the hose snaked crazily over the ground, dousing everything in its way, Carl's assailants stole his retirement watch and his wallet, and then fled. Carl tried to get himself up, but he had been thrown down on his bad leg. He lay there trying to gather himself as the minister came running to help him. Although the minister had witnessed the attack from his window, he couldn't get there fast enough to stop it. "Carl, are you okay? Are you hurt?" the minister kept asking as he helped Carl to his feet. Carl just passed a hand over his brow and sighed, shaking his head. "Just some punk kids. I hope they'll wise-up someday." His wet clothes clung to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose. He adjusted the nozzle again and started to water. Confused and a little concerned, the minister asked, "Carl, what are you doing?" I've got to finish my watering. It's been very dry lately", came the calm reply. Satisfying himself that Carl really was all right, the minister could only marvel. Carl was a man from a different time and place.

A few weeks later the three returned. Just as before their threat was unchallenged. Carl again offered them a drink from his hose. This time they didn't rob him. They wrenched the hose from his hand and drenched him head to foot in the icy water. When they had finished their humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the street, throwing catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at the hilarity of what they had just done. Carl just watched them. Then he turned toward the warmth giving sun, picked up his hose, and went on with his watering.

The summer was quickly fading into fall. Carl was doing some tilling when he was startled by the sudden approach of someone behind him. He stumbled and fell into some evergreen branches. As he struggled to regain his footing, he turned to see the tall leader of his summer tormentors reaching down for him. He braced himself for the expected attack. "Don't worry old man, I'm not gonna hurt you this time." The young man spoke softly, still offering the tattooed and scarred hand to Carl. As he helped Carl get up, the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket and handed it to Carl. "What's this?" Carl asked. "It's your stuff," the man explained. "It's your stuff back. Even the money in your wallet." "I don't understand," Carl said. "Why would you help me now?" The man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease. "I learned something from you," he said. "I ran with that gang and hurt people like you. We picked you because you were old and we knew we could do it. But every time we came and did something to you, instead of yelling and fighting back, you tried to give us a drink. You didn't hate us for hating you. You kept showing love against our hate." He stopped for a moment. "I couldn't sleep after we stole your stuff, so here it is back." He paused for another awkward moment, not knowing what more there was to say. "That bag's my way of saying thanks for straightening me out, I guess." And with that, he walked off down the street. Carl looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened it. He took out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist. Opening his wallet, he checked for his wedding photo. He gazed for a moment at the young bride that still smiled back at him from all those years ago.

He died one cold day after Christmas that winter. Many people attended his funeral in spite of the weather. In particular the minister noticed a tall young man that he didn't know sitting quietly in a distant corner of the church. The minister spoke of Carl's garden as a lesson in life. In a voice made thick with unshed tears, he said, "Do your best and make your garden as beautiful as you can. We will never forget Carl and his garden."

The following spring another flyer went up. It read: "Person needed to care for Carl's garden." The flyer went unnoticed by the busy parishioners until one day when a knock was heard at the minister's office door. Opening the door, the minister saw a pair of scarred and tattooed hands holding the flyer. "I believe this is my job, if you'll have me," the young man said. The minister recognized him as the same young man who had returned the stolen watch and wallet to Carl. He knew that Carl's kindness had turned this man's life around. As the minister handed him the keys to the garden shed, he said, "Yes, go take care of Carl's garden and honor him."

The man went to work and, over the next several years, he tended the flowers and vegetables just as Carl had done. In that time, he went to college, got married, and became a prominent member of the community. But he never forgot his promise to Carl's memory and kept the garden as beautiful as he thought Carl would have kept it. One day he approached the new minister and told him that he couldn't care for the garden any longer. He explained with a shy and happy smile, My wife just had a baby boy last night, and she's bringing him home on Saturday." "Well, congratulations!" said the minister, as he was handed the garden shed keys. "That's wonderful! What's the baby's name?" "Carl," he replied. 


by Lew Wallace

Part Four

Judah Ben-Hur trains for five years in the Palaestra in Rome and becomes the heir of the deceased Arrius. Judah goes to Antioch on state business. On the voyage, he learns that his real father's chief servant, Simonides, lives in a house in this city, and that his father's possessions had been entrusted to him. He pays a visit to the house and tells his full story to Simonides, who demands more proof. Ben-Hur replies he has no proof, but asks whether they know the fate of Judah's mother and sister. He says he knows nothing and Judah Ben-Hur leaves the house with an apology. Simonides hires his servant Malluch to spy on Judah to see if his story is true and find more information. Malluch meets and befriends Judah in the Grove of Daphne and they go to the games stadium together. There, Ben-Hur finds his old rival Messala racing one of the chariots, preparing for a tournament.

A prosperous Arab of Antioch, Sheik Ilderim, announces that he is looking for a chariot driver to race his team in the coming tournament. Judah, wanting revenge on Messala, decides to drive the sheik's chariot and defeat Messala. Meanwhile, Balthasar and his daughter Iras are sitting at a fountain in the stadium. Messala's chariot nearly hit them but Judah intervenes. Balthasar thanks Ben-Hur and presents him with a gift. Judah heads to Sheik Ilderim's tent. The servant Malluch follows him there, and along the way they talk about the Christ and Malluch relates Balthasar's story of the Magi. They realize that the man rescued at the fountain was the same Balthasar that saw the Christ's birth.

Back at Simonides' house, Esther, Simonides and Malluch talk together, and conclude that Ben-Hur is who he claims to be, and that he is on their side in the fight against Rome.

Messala realizes that Judah Ben-Hur has been adopted into a Roman home and his honor has been restored. He threatens to take revenge.

Meanwhile, Balthasar and his daughter Iras arrive at the Sheik's tent. With Judah they discuss how the Christ, approaching the age of thirty, is ready to enter public ministry. Judah takes increasing interest in the beautiful Iras.

Part Four - Chapter VI

Ben-Hur entered the woods with the processions. He had not interest enough at first to ask where they were going; yet, to relieve him from absolute in- difference, he had a vague impression that they were in movement to the temples, which were the central objects of the Grove, supreme in attractions.

Presently, as singers dreamfully play with a flitting chorus, he began repeating to himself, "Better be a worm, and feed on the mulberries of Daphne, than a king's guest." Then of the much repetition arose questions importunate of answer. Was life in the Grove so very sweet? Wherein was the charm? Did it lie in some tangled depth of philosophy? Or was it something in fact, something on the surface, discernible to every-day wakeful senses?

Every year thousands, forswearing the world, gave themselves to service here. Did they find the charm? And was it sufficient, when found, to induce forgetfulness profound enough to shut out of mind the infinitely diverse things of life? those that sweeten and those that embitter? hopes hovering in the near future as well as sorrows born of the past? If the Grove were so good for them,
why should it not be good for him? He was a Jew; could it be that the excellences were for all the world but children of Abraham?

Forthwith he bent all his faculties to the task of discovery, unmindful of the singing of the gift-bringers and the quips of his associates.

In the quest, the sky yielded him nothing; it was blue, very blue, and full of twittering swallows--so was the sky over the city.

Further on, out of the woods at his right hand, a breeze poured across the road, splashing him with a wave of sweet smells, blent of roses and consuming spices. He stopped, as did others, looking the way the breeze came.

"A garden over there?" he said, to a man at his elbow.

"Rather some priestly ceremony in performance--something to Diana, or Pan, or a deity of the woods."

The answer was in his mother tongue. Ben-Hur gave the speaker a surprised look.

"A Hebrew?" he asked him.

The man replied with a deferential smile,

"I was born within a stone's-throw of the market-place in Jerusalem."

Ben-Hur was proceeding to further speech, when the crowd surged forward, thrusting him out on the side of the walk next the woods, and carrying the stranger away. The customary gown and staff, a brown cloth on the head tied by a yellow rope, and a strong Judean face to avouch the garments of honest right, remained in the young man's mind, a kind of summary of the man.

This took place at a point where a path into the woods began, offering a happy escape from the noisy processions. Ben-Hur availed himself of the offer.

He walked first into a thicket which, from the road, appeared in a state of nature, close, impenetrable, a nesting-place for wild birds. A few steps, however, gave him to see the master's hand even there. The shrubs were flowering or fruit-bearing; under the bending branches the ground was pranked with brightest blooms; over them the jasmine stretched its delicate bonds. From lilac and rose, and lily and tulip, from oleander and strawberry-tree, all old
friends in the gardens of the valleys about the city of David, the air, lingering or in haste, loaded itself with exhalations day and night; and that nothing might be wanting to the happiness of the nymphs and naiads, down through the flower-lighted shadows of the mass a brook went its course gently, and by many winding ways.

Out of the thicket, as he proceeded, on his right and left, issued the cry of the pigeon and the cooing of turtle-doves; blackbirds waited for him, and bided his coming close; a nightingale kept its place fearless, though he passed in arm's-length; a quail ran before him at his feet, whistling to the brood she was leading, and as he paused for them to get out of his way, a figure crawled from a bed of honeyed musk brilliant with balls of golden blossoms.

Ben-Hur was startled. Had he, indeed, been permitted to see a satyr at home? The creature looked up at him, and showed in its teeth a hooked pruning-knife; he smiled at his own scare, and, lo! the charm was evolved! Peace without fear--peace a universal condition--that it was!

He sat upon the ground beneath a citron-tree, which spread its gray roots sprawling to receive a branch of the brook. The nest of a titmouse hung close to the bubbling water, and the tiny creature looked out of the door of the nest into his eyes. "Verily, the bird is interpreting to me," he thought. "It says, 'I am not afraid of you, for the law of this happy place is Love.'"

The charm of the Grove seemed plain to him; he was glad, and determined to render himself one of the lost in Daphne. In charge of the flowers and shrubs, and watching the growth of all the dumb excellences everywhere to be seen, could not he, like the man with the pruning-knife in his mouth, forego the days of his troubled life--forego them forgetting and forgotten?

But by-and-by his Jewish nature began to stir within him.

The charm might be sufficient for some people. Of what kind were they?

Love is delightful--ah! how pleasant as a successor to wretchedness like his. But was it all there was of life? All?

There was an unlikeness between him and those who buried themselves
contentedly here. They had no duties--they could not have had; but he--

"God of Israel!" he cried aloud, springing to his feet, with burning cheeks--"Mother! Tirzah! Cursed be the moment, cursed the place, in which I yield myself happy in your loss!"

to be continued

A Big God

Author unknown

This is a story about a little girl who, on the way home from church, turned to her mother and said, "Mommy, the Preacher's sermon this morning confused me." 

The mother said, "Oh! Why is that?" 

The girl replied, "Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. Is that true?" 

"Yes, that's true," the mother replied.

"He also said that God lives within us. Is that true too?" 

Again the mother replied, "Yes." 

"Well," said the girl "If God is bigger than us and He lives in us, wouldn't He show through?"

Power of Positive Thinking

 by Norman Vincent Peale

Chapter 11 continued

There is a growing emphasis in present-day religious practice which is designed to help people find healing from the sicknesses of mind, heart, soul, and body. This is a return to the original practice of Christianity. Only in recent times have we tended to overlook the fact that for centuries religion carried on healing activities. The very word "pastor" derives from a word meaning "the cure of souls." In modern times, however, man made the false assumption that it is
impossible to harmonize the teachings of the Bible with what is called "science" and so the healing emphasis of religion was abandoned almost entirely to materialistic science.

Today, however, the close association of religion and health is increasingly recognized. It is significant that the word "holiness" derives from a word meaning "wholeness" and the word "meditation," usually used in a religious sense, closely resembles the root meaning of the word "medication." The affinity of the two words is startlingly evident when we realize that sincere and practical meditation upon God and His truth acts as a medication for the soul and body.

Present-day medicine emphasizes psychosomatic factors in healing, thus recognizing the relationship of mental states to bodily health. Modern medical practice realizes and takes into consideration the close connection between how a man thinks and how he feels. Since religion deals with thought and feeling and basic attitudes, it is only natural that the science of faith should be important in the healing process.

Harold Sherman, author and playwright, was asked to revise an important radio presentation with the promise that he would be contracted as the permanent writer. After some months of work, he was dismissed and his material used
without credit. This resulted in financial difficulty and humiliation. The injustice rankling in his mind developed into a growing bitterness against the radio executive who had broken faith with him. Mr. Sherman declares that this is the
one time in his life when he had murder in his heart. His hatred made him subject to a physical affliction in the form of a mycosis, a fungus growth which attacked the membranes of his throat. The best medical attention was secured, but something in addition was required. When he gave up his hate and developed a feeling of forgiveness and understanding, the condition gradually corrected itself. With the aid of medical science and a new mental attitude, he was
healed of his affliction.

A sensible and effective pattern for health and happiness is to utilize the skills and methods of medical science to the fullest possible extent and at the same time apply the wisdom, the experience, and the techniques of spiritual science. There is impressive evidence to support the belief that God works through both the practitioner of science, the doctor, and the practitioner of faith, the minister. Many physicians join in this point of view.

At a Rotary Club luncheon I sat at a table with nine other men, one of them a physician who had recently been discharged from military service and had resumed his civilian practice. He said, "Upon my return from the Army, I noticed a change in my patients' troubles. 

I found that a high percentage do not need medicine but better thought patterns. They are not sick in their bodies so much as they are sick in their thoughts and emotions. They are all mixed up with fear thoughts, inferiority feelings, guilt, and resentment. I found that in treating them I needed to be about as much a psychiatrist as a physician, and then I discovered that not even those therapies helped me fully to do my job. I became aware that in many cases the basic trouble with people was spiritual. So I found myself frequently quoting the Bible to them. Then I fell into the habit of 'prescribing' religious and inspirational books, especially those that give guidance in how to live."

Directing his statements to me, he said, "It's about time you ministers began to realize that in the healing of many people you, too, have a function to perform. Of course you are not going to overlap on the work of the physician any more than we shall intrude on your function, but we doctors need the co-operation of ministers in helping people find health and well-being."

I received a letter from a physician in an upstate New York town who said, "Sixty percent of the people in this town are sick because they are maladjusted in their minds and in their souls. It is hard to realize that the modern soul is sick to such
an extent that the physical organs pain. I suppose in time," continues the doctor, "that ministers, priests, and rabbis will understand this relationship."

This physician was kind enough to say that he prescribes my book, A Guide to Confident Living, and other similar books to his patients and that noteworthy results have been achieved thereby.

to be continued

Did You Know ?
  • The covering for the tabernacle was made out of ram skins and sea cow hides: Exodus 36:19.
  • Seven suicides are recorded in the Bible.
  • In Old Testament times the Mediterranean Sea was called the Great Sea.
  • There are 7 different Jeremiahs in the Bible: 1 Chronicles 5:24; 12:4, 10, 13; 2 Kings 23:30; Jeremiah 1:1; 35:3.
  • Delilah was given a few thousand pieces of silver to deceive Samson into revealing the secret of his strength. (NKJV) Judges 16:4-5: “And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, ‘Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may over power him….and every one of us will give you 1100 pieces of silver.’ ”
  • Oar-powered ships were developed by the Sumerians in 3500 BC.
  • Sails were first used by the Phoenicians around 2000 BC.
  • The first train reached a top speed of only 8 km/h (5 mph).

Just for Laughs

What to Know when Your Boss Doesn't

A young engineer was leaving the office at 5:45p.m. when he found the CEO standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand.

"Listen," said the CEO, "this is a very sensitive and important document, and my secretary is not here. Can you make this thing work?"

"Certainly," said the young engineer. He turned on the machine, inserted the paper into the shredder, and pressed the start button.

"Excellent, excellent!" said the CEO as his paper disappeared inside the machine. 

"I just need one copy."

Lesson: If your boss doesn't know what he is doing, make sure that you do—especially if you offer to help him!