29 July 2012

posted 26 Jul 2012, 10:50 by C S Paul
29 July 2012

The Star Fish

Based on the story by Loren Eisley...

I awoke early, as I often did, just before sunrise to walk by the ocean's edge and greet the new day. As I moved through the misty dawn, I focused on a faint, far away motion. I saw a youth, bending and reaching and flailing arms, dancing on the beach, no doubt in celebration of the perfect day soon to begin.

As I approached, I sadly realized that the youth was not dancing to the bay, but rather bending to sift through the debris left by the night's tide, stopping now and then to pick up a starfish and then standing, to heave it back into the sea. I asked the youth the purpose of the effort. "The tide has washed the starfish onto the beach and they cannot return to the sea by themselves," the youth replied. "When the sun rises, they will die, unless I throw them back to the sea."

As the youth explained, I surveyed the vast expanse of beach, strectching in both directions beyond my sight. Starfish littered the shore in numbers beyond calculation. The hopelessness of the youth's plan became clear to me and I countered, "But there are more starfish on this beach than you can ever save before the sun is up. Surely you cannot expect to make a difference."

The youth paused briefly to consider my words, bent to pick up a starfish and threw it as far as possible. Turning to me he simply said, "I made a difference to that one."

I left the boy and went home, deep in thought of what the boy had said. I returned to the beach and spent the rest of the day helping the boy throw starfish in to the sea.



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 IV 


In the Bay of Antemona, east of Cythera the island, the hundred galleys assembled. There the tribune gave one day to inspection.

He sailed then to Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades, midway the coasts of Greece and Asia, like a great stone planted in the centre of a highway, from which he could challenge everything that passed; at the same time, he would be in position to go after the pirates instantly, whether they were in the AEgean or out on the Mediterranean.

As the fleet, in order, rowed in towards the mountain shores of the island, a galley was descried coming from the north. Arrius went to meet it. She proved to be a transport just from Byzantium, and from her commander he learned the particulars of which he stood in most need.

The pirates were from all the farther shores of the Euxine.

Even Tanais, at the mouth of the river which was supposed to feed Palus Maeotis, was represented among them. Their preparations had been with the greatest secrecy. The first known of them was their appearance off the entrance to the Thracian Bosphorus, followed by the destruction of the fleet in station there. Thence to the outlet of the Hellespont everything afloat had fallen their prey.

There were quite sixty galleys in the squadron, all well manned and supplied. A few were biremes, the rest stout triremes. A Greek was in command, and the pilots, said to be familiar with all the Eastern seas, were Greek. The plunder had been incalculable.

The panic, consequently, was not on the sea alone; cities, with closed gates, sent their people nightly to the walls.

Traffic had almost ceased.

Where were the pirates now?

To this question, of most interest to Arrius, he received answer.

After sacking Hephaestia, on the island of Lemnos, the enemy had coursed across to the Thessalian group, and, by last account, disappeared in the gulfs between Euboea and Hellas.

Such were the tidings.

Then the people of the island, drawn to the hill-tops by the rare spectacle of a hundred ships careering in united squadron, beheld the advance division suddenly turn to the north, and the others follow, wheeling upon the same point like cavalry in a column. News of the piratical descent had reached them, and now,
watching the white sails until they faded from sight up between Rhene and Syros, the thoughtful among them took comfort, and were grateful. What Rome seized with strong hand she always defended: in return for their taxes, she gave them safety.

The tribune was more than pleased with the enemy's movements; he was doubly thankful to Fortune. She had brought swift and sure intelligence, and had lured his foes into the waters where, of all others, destruction was most assured. He knew the havoc one galley could play in a broad sea like the Mediterranean, and the
difficulty of finding and overhauling her; he knew, also, how those very circumstances would enhance the service and glory if, at one blow, he could put a finish to the whole piratical array.

If the reader will take a map of Greece and the AEgean, he will notice the island of Euboea lying along the classic coast like a rampart against Asia, leaving a channel between it and the continent quite a hundred and twenty miles in length, and scarcely an average of eight in width. The inlet on the north had admitted the fleet of Xerxes, and now it received the bold raiders from the Euxine.

The towns along the Pelasgic and Meliac gulfs were rich and their plunder seductive. All things considered, therefore, Arrius judged that the robbers might be found somewhere below Thermopylae.

Welcoming the chance, he resolved to enclose them north and south, to do which not an hour could be lost; even the fruits and wines and women of Naxos must be left behind. So he sailed away without stop or tack until, a little before nightfall, Mount Ocha was seen upreared against the sky, and the pilot reported the Euboean coast.

to be continued

Keepers

Source - Free Christian Content.org

Some things you keep. Like good teeth. Warm coats. Bald husbands. They're good for you, reliable and practical and so sublime that to throw them away would make the garbage man a thief. So you hang on, because something old is sometimes better than something new, and what you know is often better than a stranger.

These are my thoughts, they make me sound old, old and tame, and dull at a time when everybody else is risky and racy and flashing all that's new and improved in their lives. New careers, new thighs, new lips, new cars. The world is dizzy with trade-ins. I could keep track, but I don't think I want to.

I grew up in the fifties with practical parents - a mother, God bless her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it - and still does. A father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones.

They weren't poor, my parents, they were just satisfied. Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away. I can see them now, Dad in trousers and tee shirt and Mom in a house dress, lawn mower in one hand, dishtowel in the other. It was a time for fixing things - a curtain rod , the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress.

Things you keep. It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, reheating, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful.

Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant there'd always be more.

But then my father died, and on that clear autumn night, in the chill of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't any 'more.' Sometimes what you care about most gets all used up and goes away, never to return.

So, while you have it, it's best to love it and care for it and fix it when it's broken and heal it when it's sick. That's true for marriage and old cars and children with bad report cards and dogs with bad hips and aging parents. You keep them because they're worth it, because you're worth it.

Some things you keep. Like a best friend that moved away or a classmate you grew up with, there's just some things that make life important... people you know are special... and you KEEP them close!


Power of Positive Thinking

 by Norman Vincent Peale


Chapter 7 continued

I asked an outstanding newspaper editor, an inspiring personality, "How did you get to be the editor of this important paper?"

"I wanted to be," he replied simply.

"Is that all there is to it?" I asked. "You wanted to be and so there you are."

"Well, that may not be all of it, but that was a large part of the process," he explained. "I believe that if you want to get somewhere, you must decide definitely where you want to be
or what you want to accomplish. Be sure it is a right objective, then photograph this objective on your mind and hold it there. Work hard, believe in it, and the thought will become so powerful that it will tend to assure success. There is a deep tendency," he declared, "to become what your mind pictures, provided you hold the mental picture strongly enough and if the objective is sound."

So saying, the editor pulled a well-worn card from his wallet and said, "I repeat this quotation every day of my life. It has become my dominating thought."

I copied it and am giving it to you: "A man who is self-reliant, positive, optimistic, and undertakes his work with the assurance of success magnetizes his condition. He draws to
himself the creative powers of the universe."

It is indeed a fact that the person who thinks with positive self-reliance and optimism does magnetize his condition and releases power to attain his goal. So expect the best at all
times. Never think of the worst. Drop it out of your thought, relegate it. Let there be no thought in your mind that the worst will happen. Avoid entertaining the concept of the
worst, for whatever you take into your mind can grow there.

Therefore take the best into your mind and only that. Nurture it, concentrate on it, emphasize it, visualize it, prayerize it, surround it with faith. Make it your obsession. Expect the best, and spiritually creative mind power aided by God power will produce the best. 

It may be that as you read this book you are down to what you think is the worst and you may remark that no amount of thinking will affect your situation. The answer to that objection is that it simply isn't so. Even if you may be down to the worst, the best is potentially within you. You have only to find it, release it, and rise up with it. This requires courage and character, to be sure, but the main requirement is faith. Cultivate faith and you will have the necessary courage and character.

A woman was compelled by adversity to go into sales work, a type of activity for which she had no training. She undertook to demonstrate vacuum cleaners from house to house. She took a negative attitude toward herself and her work. She "just didn't believe she could do this job." She "knew" she was going to fail. She feared to approach a house even though she came for a requested demonstration. She believed that she could not make the sale. As a result, as is not surprising, she failed in a high percentage of her interviews.

One day she chanced to call upon a woman who evidenced consideration beyond the average. To this customer the saleswoman poured out her tale of defeat and powerlessness.

The other woman listened patiently, then said quietly, "If you expect failure, you will get failure, but if you expect to succeed, I am sure you will succeed." And she added, "I will give you a formula which I believe will help you. It will restyle your thinking, give you new confidence, and help you to accomplish your goals. Repeat this formula before every call. 

Believe in it and then marvel at what it will do for you. This is it. 'If God be for us, who can be against us?' (Romans 8:31) But change it by personalizing it so that you say, 'If God be for me, who can be against me?' If God be for me, then I know that with God's help I can sell vacuum cleaners.

God realizes that you want security and support for your little children and yourself, and by practicing the method I suggest you will be given power to get what you want."

She learned to utilize this formula. She approached each house expecting to make a sale, affirming and picturizing positive, not negative, results. As the saleswoman employed
this principle she presently acquired new courage, new faith, and deeper confidence in her own ability. Now she declares, "God helps me sell vacuum cleaners," and who can dispute it?

It is a well-defined and authentic principle that what the mind profoundly expects it tends to receive. Perhaps this is true because what you really expect is what you actually want. Unless you really want something sufficiently to create an atmosphere of positive factors by your dynamic desire, it is likely to elude you. "If with all your heart"—that is the secret. "If with all your heart," that is to say, if with the full complement of your personality, you reach out creatively toward your heart's desire, your reach will not be in vain.

Let me give you four words as a formulation of a great law— faith power works wonders. Those four words are packed with dynamic and creative force. Hold them in your conscious mind. Let them sink into the unconscious and they can help you to overcome any difficulty. Hold them in your thoughts, say them over and over again. Say them until your mind accepts them, until you believe them—faith power works wonders.

I have no doubt about the effectiveness of this concept, for I have seen it work so often that my enthusiasm for faith power is absolutely boundless.


Mom's Last Laugh

Source - Free Christian Content.org

Consumed by my loss, I didn't notice the hardness of the pew where I at. I was at the funeral of my dearest friend -- my mother. She finally had lost her long battle with cancer. The hurt was so intense, I found it hard to breathe at times. Always supportive, Mother clapped loudest at my school plays, held a box of tissues while listening to my first heartbreak, comforted me at my father's death, encouraged me in college, and prayed for me my entire life.

When Mother's illness was diagnosed, my sister had a new baby and my brother had recently married his childhood sweetheart, so it fell on me, the 27-year-old middle child without entanglements, to take care of her.

I counted it an honor.

"What now, Lord?" I asked sitting in church. My life stretched out before me as an empty abyss. My brother sat stoically with his face toward the cross while clutching his wife's hand. My sister sat slumped against her husband's shoulder, his arms around her as she cradled their child.

All so deeply grieving, no one noticed I sat alone. My place had been with our mother, preparing her meals, helping her walk, taking her to the doctor, seeing to her medication, reading the Bible together. Now she was with the Lord. My work was finished, and I was alone.

I heard a door open and slam shut at the back of the church. Quick footsteps hurried along the carpeted floor. An exasperated young man looked around briefly and then sat next to me. He folded his hands and placed them on his lap. His eyes were brimming with tears. He began to sniffle. "I'm late," he explained, though no explanation was necessary. After several eulogies, he leaned over and commented, "Why do they keep calling Mary by the name of Margaret?"

"Oh, " "Because that was her name, Margaret. Never Mary. No one called her 'Mary,'" I whispered. I wondered why this person couldn't have sat on the other side of the church. He interrupted my grieving with his tears and fidgeting. Who was this stranger anyway?

"No, that isn't correct," he insisted, as several people glanced over at us whispering, "Her name is Mary, Mary Peters."

"That isn't who this is, I replied."

"Isn't this the Lutheran church?"

"No, the Lutheran church is across the street."

"Oh."

"I believe you're at the wrong funeral, Sir."

The solemnness of the occasion mixed with the realization of the man's mistake bubbled up inside me and came out as laughter. I cupped my hands over my face, hoping it would be interpreted as sobs. The creaking pew gave me away. Sharp looks from other mourners only made the situation seem more hilarious. I peeked at the bewildered, misguided man seated beside me. He was laughing, too, as he glanced around, deciding it was too late for an uneventful exit.

I imagined Mother laughing.

At the final "Amen," we darted out a door and into the parking lot. "I do believe we'll be the talk of the town," he smiled. He said his name was Rick and since he had missed his aunt's funeral, asked me out for a cup of coffee.

That afternoon began a lifelong journey for me with this man who attended the wrong funeral, but was in the right place. A year after our meeting, we were married at a country church where he was the assistant pastor. This time we both arrived at the same church, right on time.

In my time of sorrow, God gave me laughter. In place of loneliness, God gave me love. This past June we celebrated our twenty-second wedding anniversary. Whenever anyone asks us how we met, Rick tells them, "Her mother and my Aunt Mary introduced us, and it's truly a match made in heaven."



Did You Know ?

  • In 1900, a person could expect to live to be 47. Today, the average life expectancy for men and women in developed countries is longer than 70 years.
  • A newborn baby’s head accounts for one-quarter of its weight.
  • King Henry I, who ruled in the England in the 12th century, standardized the yard as the distance from the thumb of his outstretched arm to his nose.
  • The bones in your body are not white – they range in color from beige to light brown. The bones you see in museums are white because they have been boiled and cleaned.
  • Our eyes are always the same size from birth.
  • Every person has a unique tongue print.

1 Bit = Binary Digit
8 Bits = 1 Byte
1000 Bytes = 1 Kilobyte
1000 Kilobytes = 1 Megabyte
1000 Megabytes = 1 Gigabyte
1000 Gigabytes = 1 Terabyte
1000 Terabytes = 1 Petabyte
1000 Petabytes = 1 Exabyte
1000 Exabytes = 1 Zettabyte
1000 Zettabytes = 1 Yottabyte
1000 Yottabytes = 1 Brontobyte
1000 Brontobytes = 1 Geopbyte
Technically speaking, the sum is 1024 bytes.

  • A twillionaire is a twitterer with a million or more followers.

Just for Laughs

The best a son could do

An old man lived alone. He wanted to dig his potato garden, but it was very hard work and his only son, who would have helped him, was in prison for bank robbery. The old man wrote a letter to his son and mentioned his predicament.


Shortly, he received this reply: "FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, Dad, don't dig up the entire garden, that's where I buried the money." At 4 a.m. the next morning, a dozen policemen showed up and dug up the entire garden without finding any money.

Confused, the old man wrote another note to his son telling him what happened, and asking him what to do next. His son's reply was, "Now plant your potatoes, Dad. It's the best I could do from here."


The Christian Barber

There was a barber that thought that he should share his faith with his customers more than he had been doing lately. So the next morning when the sun came up and the barber got up out of bed he said, "Today I am going to witness to the first man that walks through my door."

Soon after he opened his shop the first man came in and said, "I want a shave!" The barber said, "Sure, just sit in the seat and I'll be with you in a moment." The barber went in the back and prayed a quick desperate prayer saying, "God, the first customer came in and I'm going to witness to him. So give me the wisdom to know just the right thing to say to him. Amen." 

Then quickly the barber came out with his razor knife in one hand and a Bible in the other while saying "Good morning sir. I have a question for you... Are you ready to die?"



Helpful Prayer

Johnny had been misbehaving and was sent to his room. After a while he emerged and informed his mother that he had thought it over and then said a prayer.

"Fine", said the pleased mother. "If you ask God to help you not misbehave, He will help you." 

"Oh, I didn't ask Him to help me not misbehave," said Johnny. "I asked Him to help you put up with me."

 



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