27 May 2012

posted 24 May 2012, 05:25 by C S Paul   [ updated 24 May 2012, 05:26 ]

27 May 2012


The Burning Hut

The only survivor of a shipwreck washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. 

Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions. But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stung with grief and anger. "God, how could you do this to me!" he cried.

Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. "How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers. "We saw your smoke signal," they replied.

It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad. But we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering.

Remember next time your little hut is burning to the ground- - it just may be a smoke signal that summons the grace of God.


BEN-HUR: A TALE OF THE CHRIST 

by Lew Wallace


Part Three

In Italy, Greek pirate-ships have been looting Roman vessels in the Aegean Sea. The prefect Sejanus orders the Roman Quintus Arrius to take warships to combat the pirates. 

Judah is a galley slave rowing chained on one of the Roman warships. He had survived three hard years, fueled by his passion for vengeance. Arrius is impressed by Judah and finds out more about his life and his story. 

The ship is attacked by pirates and the ship is sunk. Judah uses a plank as a raft. Arrius surfaces besides him and the two of them hold on until a Roman ship appears and rescues them. They return to Misenum and Judah is adopted by the influential Arrius, becoming a Roman citizen.

Part three - Chapter 1 continued

There were twenty or thirty persons in the party, of whom the greater number were slaves with torches, which flamed little and smoked much, leaving on the air the perfume of the Indian
nard. The masters walked in advance arm-in-arm. One of them, apparently fifty years old, slightly bald, and wearing over his scant locks a crown of laurel, seemed, from the attentions paid
him, the central object of some affectionate ceremony. They all sported ample togas of white wool broadly bordered with purple.

A glance had sufficed the watchman. He knew, without question, they were of high rank, and escorting a friend to ship after a night of festivity. Further explanation will be found in the
conversation they carried on.

"No, my Quintus," said one, speaking to him with the crown, "it is ill of Fortune to take thee from us so soon. Only yesterday thou didst return from the seas beyond the Pillars. Why, thou hast not
even got back thy land legs."

"By Castor! if a man may swear a woman's oath," said another, somewhat worse of wine, "let us not lament. Our Quintus is but going to find what he lost last night. Dice on a rolling ship is
not dice on shore--eh, Quintus?"

"Abuse not Fortune!" exclaimed a third. "She is not blind or fickle. At Antium, where our Arrius questions her, she answers him with nods, and at sea she abides with him holding the rudder.
She takes him from us, but does she not always give him back with a new victory?"

"The Greeks are taking him away," another broke in. "Let us abuse them, not the gods. In learning to trade they forgot how to fight."

With these words, the party passed the gateway, and came upon the mole, with the bay before them beautiful in the morning light. To the veteran sailor the plash of the waves was like a greeting.

He drew a long breath, as if the perfume of the water were sweeter than that of the nard, and held his hand aloft.


"My gifts were at Praeneste, not Antium--and see! Wind from 
the west. Thanks, O Fortune, my mother!" he said, earnestly.

The friends all repeated the exclamation, and the slaves waved 
their torches.

"She comes--yonder!" he continued, pointing to a galley outside 
the mole. "What need has a sailor for other mistress? Is your 
Lucrece more graceful, my Caius?"

He gazed at the coming ship, and justified his pride. A white 
sail was bent to the low mast, and the oars dipped, arose, 
poised a moment, then dipped again, with wing-like action, 
and in perfect time.

"Yes, spare the gods," he said, soberly, his eyes fixed upon the 
vessel. "They send us opportunities. Ours the fault if we fail.

And as for the Greeks, you forget, O my Lentulus, the pirates I 
am going to punish are Greeks. One victory over them is of more 
account than a hundred over the Africans."

"Then thy way is to the Aegean?"

The sailor's eyes were full of his ship.

"What grace, what freedom! A bird hath not less care for the 
fretting of the waves. See!" he said, but almost immediately 
added, "Thy pardon, my Lentulus. I am going to the Aegean; 
and as my departure is so near, I will tell the occasion--only 
keep it under the rose. I would not that you abuse the duumvir 
when next you meet him. He is my friend. The trade between Greece 
and Alexandria, as ye may have heard, is hardly inferior to that 
between Alexandria and Rome. 

The people in that part of the world 
forgot to celebrate the Cerealia, and Triptolemus paid them with 
a harvest not worth the gathering. At all events, the trade is so 
grown that it will not brook interruption a day. Ye may also have 
heard of the Chersonesan pirates, nested up in the Euxine; none 
bolder, by the Bacchae! Yesterday word came to Rome that, with a 
fleet, they had rowed down the Bosphorus, sunk the galleys off 
Byzantium and Chalcedon, swept the Propontis, and, still unsated, 
burst through into the Aegean. The corn-merchants who have ships 
in the East Mediterranean are frightened. They had audience with 
the Emperor himself, and from Ravenna there go to-day a hundred 
galleys, and from Misenum"--he paused as if to pique the curiosity
of his friends, and ended with an emphatic--"one."

"Happy Quintus! We congratulate thee!"

"The preferment forerunneth promotion. We salute thee duumvir; 
nothing less."

"Quintus Arrius, the duumvir, hath a better sound than Quintus 
Arrius, the tribune."

In such manner they showered him with congratulations.

"I am glad with the rest," said the bibulous friend, "very glad; 
but I must be practical, O my duumvir; and not until I know if 
promotion will help thee to knowledge of the tesserae will I have
an opinion as to whether the gods mean thee ill or good in 
this--this business."

"Thanks, many thanks!" Arrius replied, speaking to them collectively.
"Had ye but lanterns, I would say ye were augurs. Perpol! I will 
go further, and show what master diviners ye are! See--and read."

From the folds of his toga he drew a roll of paper, and passed it 
to them, saying, "Received while at table last night from--Sejanus."

The name was already a great one in the Roman world; great, and not 
so infamous as it afterwards became.

"Sejanus!" they exclaimed, with one voice, closing in to read what 
the minister had written.

"Sejanus to C. Coecilius Rufus, Duumvir.

"ROME, XIX. Kal. Sept.

"Caesar hath good report of Quintus Arrius, the tribune. In particular 
he bath heard of his valor, manifested in the western seas, insomuch that 
it is his will that the said Quintus be transferred instantly to the East.

"It is our Caesar's will, further, that you cause a hundred triremes, 
of the first class, and full appointment, to be despatched without 
delay against the pirates who have appeared in the Aegean, and that 
Quintus be sent to command the fleet so despatched.

"Details are thine, my Caecilius.

"The necessity is urgent, as thou will be advised by the reports 
enclosed for thy perusal and the information of the said Quintus.

"SEJANUS."

The Two Pots 

THE CRACKED POT

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house,
the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master's house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.

"I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."

"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"

"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side?

That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them.

For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."

Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots. But if we will allow it, the Lord will use our flaws to grace His Father's table.

In God's great economy, nothing goes to waste.

So as we seek ways to minister together, and as God calls you to the tasks He has appointed for you, don't be afraid of your flaws.

Acknowledge them, and allow Him to take advantage of them, and you, too, can be the cause of beauty in His pathway.

Go out boldly, knowing that in our weakness we find His strength, and that "In Him every one of God's promises is a Yes."


Just for Laughs

Randy, the painter, often thinned his paint to make it go further. 

The Baptist Church decided to restore its biggest building. 

Randy put in a low bid and got the job. He bought the paint, and, yes, thinned it with turpentine. 

Well, Randy was painting away, the job nearly completed, when suddenly there was a clap of thunder. 

The sky opened, and the rain poured down. It washed the thinned paint off the church. Randy fell from the scaffold, landing among the gravestones. 

He was no fool. He knew this was a judgment from the Almighty. 

Randy raised his voice to the heavens, crying, "Oh, God, forgive me; what should I do?" And from above, a mighty voice roared: 

“Repaint! Repaint! And thin no more!"


Did you Know ?

  • The living does not outnumber the dead: since the creation about 60 billion people have died.
  • The electric chair was invented by a dentist.
  • The European Union has banned more than 1,100 chemicals from cosmetics. The United States has banned just 10.
  • Midday refers to the moment the sun crosses the local meridian.
  • Due to earth’s gravity it is impossible for mountains to be higher than 49 000 feet (15,000 metres).
  • It is not true that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure that can be viewed from space – many man-made objects, including the Dutch polders, can be viewed from space.
  • Fishing is the biggest participant sports in the world.
  • Football (soccer) is the most attended or watched sport in the world.
  • Boxing became a legal sport in 1901.
  • More than 100 million people hold hunting licenses.

Power of Positive Thinking

 by Norman Vincent Peale


Chapter 6 (continued)

I went to a certain city on a lecture date and was met at the 
train by a committee. I was rushed to a bookstore where I 
had an autographing party and then to another bookstore
where another autographing party was held. 

Then they 
rushed me to a luncheon. After rushing through the luncheon 
I was rushed to a meeting. After the meeting I was rushed 
back to the hotel where I changed my clothes and was rushed 
to a reception where I met several hundred people and drank 
three glasses of fruit punch. 

Then I was rushed back to the 
hotel and told I had twenty minutes to dress for dinner. When 
I was getting dressed the telephone rang and somebody said, 
"Hurry, hurry, we must rush down to dinner."

Excitedly I chattered, "I will rush right down."

I rushed from the room and was so excited that I could 
scarcely get the key into the lock. Hastily I felt myself, to be 
sure that I was completely dressed, and rushed toward the
elevator. All of a sudden I stopped. I was out of breath. I 
asked myself, "What is this all about? What is the meaning 
of this ceaseless rush? This is ridiculous!"

Then I declared independence, and said, "I do not care if I go 
to dinner. I do not care whether I make a talk. I do not have 
to go to this dinner and I do not have to make a speech." So 
deliberately and slowly I walked back to my room and took 
my time about unlocking the door. I telephoned the man 
downstairs and said, "If you want to eat, go ahead. If you 
want to save a place for me, I will be down after a while, but 
I am not going to rush any more."

So I removed my coat, sat down, took off my shoes, put my 
feet up on the table, and just sat. Then I opened the Bible and 
very slowly read aloud the 121st Psalm, "I will lift up mine
eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help." I closed 
the book and had a little talk with myself, saying, "Come on 
now, start living a slower and more relaxed life," and then I
affirmed, "God is here and His peace is touching me.

I do not need anything to eat," I reasoned. "I eat too much 
anyway. Besides, the dinner will probably not be very good, 
and if I am quiet now I will give a better speech at eight
o'clock."

So I sat there resting and praying for fifteen minutes. I shall 
never forget the sense of peace and personal mastery I had 
when I walked out of that room. I had the glorious feeling of 
having overcome something, of having taken control of 
myself emotionally, and when I reached the dining room the 
others had just finished the first course. All I missed was the 
soup, which by general consent was no great loss.

This incident was an amazing experience of the healing 
presence of God. I gained these values by simply stopping, 
by quietly reading the Bible, by sincerely praying, and by
thinking some peaceful thoughts for a few moments.

Physicians generally seem to feel that much physical trouble 
could be avoided or overcome by practicing the philosophy 
and methodology of not fuming or fretting.

to be continued

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