30 March 2014

posted 28 Mar 2014, 09:13 by C S Paul

30 March 2014

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Quotes to Inspire
  • "Failure is a part of success. There is no such thing as a bed of roses all your life. But failure will never stand in the way of success if you learn from it." – Hank Aaron
  • "Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones." – Sir Winston Churchill
  • "No matter what accomplishments you achieve, somebody helps you." – Althea Gibson
  • "Faith is a bird that feels the dawn breaking and sings while it is still dark." – Scandinavian proverb. 
  • "Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not." – Samuel Johnson
  • "A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good." – Thomas Watson Jr.
  • "How come you never see this headline: 'Psychic wins lottery'?" – Jay Leno
  • "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength." – Corrie Ten Boom
  • "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." – Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • "The world cares very little about what a man or woman knows; it is what the man or woman is able to do that counts." – Booker T. Washington
  • "The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win." – Roger Bannister
  • "If the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail." – Unknown
  • "The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." – Nelson Mandela
  • "Man is so made that when anything fires his soul, impossibilities vanish." – Jean De La Fontaine
  • "Kindness is the oil that takes friction out of life." – Author Unknown
Nothing is Written
By Roger Darlington

My all-time favourite film is "Lawrence Of Arabia" and, if I have a favourite scene from the movie, then I guess it is the one of Lawrence's triumphal return from the Nefud desert, having gone back to rescue the Arab Gasim. The crossing of the Nefud desert is considered impossible, even by the local Arabs, but Lawrence persuades them that, in this way, they can take the Turkish port at Aqaba from the rear.

Having carried out the superhuman feat of traversing this furnace, it is discovered that one of the Arabs, Gasim, has fallen off his camel and is no doubt dying somewhere back in the desert. Lawrence is told that any idea of rescue is futile and, in any event, Gasim's death is "written". When Lawrence achieves the impossible and returns with Gasim still alive, Sherif Ali admits to him: "Truly, for some men nothing is written unless they write it".

As an impressionable teenager when this film was first released, I was stunned by Lawrence's courage and unselfishness in going back into the hell of the Nefud to attempt to find a man he hardly knew among the vast expanse of a fiery terrain and I was so moved by the sense of purpose of a man who is determined to take nothing as "written" but to shape his own destiny. This sense of anti-determinism and this belief that anything is possible has stayed with me always and continues to inspire me in small ways and large.

Have You Tasted Jesus?
-- Author unknown

At the University of Chicago Divinity School, each year, they have what is called "Baptist Day." On this day, each one is to bring a lunch to be eaten outdoors in a grassy picnic area. Every "Baptist Day" the school would invite one of the greatest minds to lecture in the theological education center. 

One year they invited Dr. Paul Tillich. Dr.Tillich spoke for two and one-half hours attempting to prove that the resurrection of Jesus was false. He quoted scholar after scholar and book after book. He concluded that since there was no such thing as the historical resurrection, the religious tradition of the church was groundless, emotional mumbo-jumbo... because it was based on a relationship with a risen Jesus, who, in fact never rose from the dead in any literal sense. He then asked if there were any questions.

After about 30 seconds, an old, dark skinned preacher with a head of short-cropped, woolly white hair stood up in the back of the auditorium. "Docta Tillich, I got one question," he said as all eyes turned toward him.

He reached into his sack lunch and pulled out an apple and began eating it. "Docta Tillich... CRUNCH, MUNCH... My question is a simple question... CRUNCH, MUNCH... "Now, I  ain't never read them books you read... CRUNCH, MUNCH... and I can't recite the Scriptures in the original Greek... CRUNCH,  MUNCH... I don't know nothin' bout Niebuhr and Heidegger... CRUNCH, MUNCH..."

He finished the apple... "All I wanna know is: This apple I just ate... was it bitter or sweet?

Dr. Tillich paused for a moment and answered in exemplary scholarly fashion... "I cannot possibly answer that question, for I haven't tasted your apple." 

The white-haired preacher dropped the core of his apple into his crumpled paper bag, looked up at Dr. Tillich and said calmly, "Neither have you tasted my Jesus." 

The 1,000 plus in attendance could not contain themselves. The auditorium erupted with applause and cheers.

Dr. Tillich thanked his audience and promptly left the platform.

Have you tasted Jesus?

"Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. If you have, rejoice in the hope of the resurrection that your faith in Him brings." -- Psalm 34:8

Please pass this on. Others need to read this too. 

Parable of Distrust
-- Author unknown

This is a story about a man called Joseph, who had the misfortune to get caught in a serious flood. The water was rising all around him and was soon up to his knees. He climbed the staircase to the first floor but still the water rose. It wasn't long before the water was up to his waist and he looked out of the window to see what was happening to his neighbours.

A boat was passing and the occupant shouted, "Hey, Joseph! Quick, climb aboard my boat and I will take you to safety." Joseph smiled and replied, "Thank you very much, but I have had a word with God and he will take care of me. You use the space on your boat to help others less fortunate than myself." Soon the boat was out of sight.

The flood would not stop and the water continued to climb. Joseph was forced onto the roof of his home and he surveyed the catastrophe below him.
A helicopter flew over Joseph and a man used his microphone to tell Joseph that worse was yet to come. He threw a rope down to Joseph and cried, "Quick Joseph, climb up while you still have a chance!" Nevertheless, Joseph had been a good man all his life and placed his faith in the Lord, so he declined the offer, requesting that they go in search of other people. "You don't have to worry about me," he shouted, "I have spoken with God and he will not let me die."

The helicopter flew away and the waters rose and rose until finally it was all over. Joseph was taken from this earth.

As stated earlier, Joseph was a good man, so naturally he was taken to the pearly gates to meet St. Peter. On entering heaven he was taken and introduced to God who welcomed him with open arms. But, Joseph was not content and asked God, "I am confused my Lord. I have been a devout follower my entire life, and never once have I strayed from your chosen path. I believe I was too young to die now. I prayed to you and asked you to save me, but my faith let me down. How could you have been so cruel?"

And the Lord replied, "What do you mean I let you down? I sent you a boat to save you, and a helicopter as well."
------
So often we try to help each other, but our efforts are met with distrust or total apathy. So little faith... especially when we try to lead people to the word of God, and His plan for them. But, often we fail to get the message across. "You can lead the horse to water, but you cannot make him drink." However, as faithful disciples, it is the wish of our Lord that we keep trying.

Sit. Stay. Pray.
By Rachel Bickford

Sunday afternoon, five o’clock sharp. The organ hums while I set refreshments on the front table and walk to the pulpit. I’m the pastor of Pilgrim Congregational Church in North Weymouth, Massachusetts, and my parishioners are my second family. I look out at my regulars. There’s Lucy, an older gal with a spring in her step and perfectly coiffed blonde curls. Sam, in his usual seat in the front pew, gazes back at me with his soulful brown eyes. Chloe, a rambunctious youngster, fidgets a little, but she’ll settle down when the choir begins. Oh, there’s something I should mention. Lucy is a terrier, Sam is a pug and Chloe is a Bernese mountain dog.

Our service for people and their pets started last October. Sometimes, though, I wonder if the seed wasn’t planted earlier. Growing up, I’d wanted to be a vet, but in my twenties I felt called to seminary. After seven years at Pilgrim Congregational, I still loved coming to work. But folks just weren’t coming to church as much anymore. Too many sporting events on Sundays and too little faith. I looked out at the half-empty sanctuary one Sunday and thought, Lord, what can I do to get people as excited as I am about coming to church?

A few days later, I got an e-mail from an old friend who needed some extra prayers. I bowed my head. That’s when my gaze fell on my two apricot cockapoos, Tugger and Indy, curled up at my feet. One of my favorite verses, Psalm 148, suddenly came to mind: “Let all wild animals and small creatures and flying birds praise the Lord. All animals praise the Lord.”

Something about those words gave me a charge. Plenty of people loved bringing their dogs to our town dog park. What if those folks could bring their dogs to church?

“Honey, I have an idea,” I said to my husband, Peter, that evening. “People should be able to bring their dogs to church. Dogs give unconditional love and support. I mean, it just makes sense ...or does it?”

“Bring ...their dogs ...to church,” he said slowly, then paused. “Actually, Rachel, that’s so wild, it just might work.”

That week I mentioned the idea to my fellow pastors, hoping they wouldn’t think I’d lost it. They didn’t. They loved it! We advertised a Sunday afternoon service. It would be like our more formal one, but after worship we’d serve biscuits and toss tennis balls with our dogs in the side yard. All breeds, as long as they were leashed, were welcome. We decided on a name: Woof’n’Worship.

That first Sunday I was nervous. Maybe I hadn’t thought things through. What if the dogs didn’t get along? Lord, is this too crazy?, I wondered, walking Tugger and Indy to the pulpit with me. I looked up.

The sea of furry faces, and the smiling people in the pews beside them, made me smile too. Before long we had 150 people—150! The dogs got along famously. I giggled when, during my first reading, a handsome German Shepherd with a clownish grin licked a tiny Chihuahua’s ears. Later, the choir sang “Amazing Grace.” Everyone roared when PeeWee, a schnauzer, began howling along. He was almost in key! The best perk of all is that people are reaching out to each other more. The dogs are a great icebreaker. “Sometimes I feel out of place among all the families here,” a single college student told me. “But with Chewy, I fit right in.”

One woman who’s battling breast cancer confided, “Whenever I’m tempted to stay in bed, I remember my responsibility to Diego. We’ve made so many new friends from bringing him to church.” I peer out from my pulpit and take another look at my regulars. Yup, it’s true, my church is going to the dogs—and that’s just fine with me. Sometimes, when we ask God for a solution to a problem, his answer is far better (and crazier!) than we could ever imagine on our own.

 Did You Know ?
  • A pregnant goldfish is called a twit
  • A quarter of raw potato placed in each shoe at night will keep the leather soft and the shoes smelling fresh and clean.
  • A quarter of the horses in the US died of a vast virus epidemic in 1872.
  • A state law in Illinois mandates that all bachelors should be called master, not mister, when addressed by their female counterparts.
  • A traditional dish from Savolax, called "kalakukko" (fishcock in engl.) is made of white fish and porkfat encased in a baked crust of rye.
  • A two-inch garden hose will carry four times as much water as a one-inch hose.
  • A typical American eats 28 pigs in his/her lifetime.
  • A typical bed usually houses over 6 billion dust mites.
  • A typical lightning bolt is two to four inches wide and two miles long. 
  • A vexillologist is an expert in the history of flags
  • A volcano can shoot its debris as high as 50km into the sky.
  • A vulture will never attack a human or animal that is moving. 
  • A whale's penis is called a dork. 
  • A whip makes a cracking sound because its tip moves faster than the speed of sound.
  • A whole library floor of books can be stored on 50 Gigabytes. 
Just for Laughs
Bible quiz
Q. Who was the greatest female financier in the Bible?
    A. Pharaoh's daughter. She went down to the bank of the Nile and drew out a little       prophet. 

Q. What kind of motor vehicles are in the Bible?
    A. Jehovah drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden in a Fury. 
    A. David's Triumph was heard throughout the land. 
    A. Honda--because the apostles were all in one Accord. 
    A. 2 Cor. 48 describes going out in service in a Volkswagen Beetle: "We are pressed in every way, but not cramped beyond movement." 

Q. Who was the greatest comedian in the Bible?
    A. Samson. He brought the house down. 

Q. Where is the first baseball game in the Bible?
    A. In the big inning, Eve stole first, Adam stole second. Cain struck out Abel, and the Prodigal Son came home. The Giants and the Angels were rained out. 

Q. How did Adam and Eve feel when expelled from the Garden of Eden?
    A. They were really put out. 

Q. What is one of the first things that Adam and Eve did after they were kicked out?
    A. They really raised Cain. 

Q. The ark was built in 3 stories, and the top story had a window to let light in, but how did they get light to the bottom 2 stories?
    A. They used floodlights. 

BEN-HUR: A TALE OF THE CHRIST 

by Lew Wallace

Part Eight

Biblical references: Matthew 27:48-51, Mark 11:9-11, 14:51-52, Luke 23:26-46, John 12:12-18, 18:2-19:30

During the next three years, Jesus preaches his gospel around Galilee, and Ben-Hur becomes one of his followers. He starts to believe that Balthasar may be right, when he sees that Jesus chooses fishermen, farmers and similar people, considered "lowly", as apostles. Judah believes Jesus to be wasting valuable time by not proclaiming himself king immediately. Yet, he has seen Jesus perform miracles, and is convinced that the Christ really had come.

During this time Malluch, armed with the Hur fortune, has bought the old Hur house and renovated it, restoring it to splendor. He then invites Simonides and Balthasar, with their daughters, to live in the house with him, and they become regular occupants of the house. Judah Ben-Hur seldom visits the house. The day before Jesus plans to enter Jerusalem and, finally proclaim himself, Judah returns and gives them a full account of what has happened through the years he has followed Jesus. When he tells of the healing of ten lepers, Amrah realizes that Judah's mother and sister could be healed, and the next morning, alone, hurries to the lepers' cave to tell them the good news. The three wait along a road, and amidst all the rejoicing and din during the Triumphal Entry, they ask Jesus to heal them, and their request is granted. When they are cured, Judah sees them and Amrah and the family are finally re-united.

Several days later, Iras talks with Judah, saying he has trusted in a false hope, for Jesus had not started the expected revolution. She says that it is all over between them, saying she loves Messala. Ben-Hur remembers the "invitation of Iras" that led to the incident with Thord, and accuses Iras of betraying him and spying on him for Messala's gain. That night, he realizes how different Balthasar and his daughter are, and resolves to go to Esther.

While he is lost in thought, he sees a parade marching down the street, and falls in with it, confused. He notices that Judas Iscariot is leading the parade, and many of the temple priests and Roman soldiers are all marching together. They go to the olive grove of Gethsemane, which confuses Ben-Hur even more, and he sees, ahead of him, Jesus walking out to meet them. Ben-Hur understands the betrayal, is spotted by a priest who tries to take him into custody; he breaks away and flees. When morning comes, Ben-Hur learns that the Jewish priests have tried Jesus before Pilate, and although he was originally ruled "not guilty", has nevertheless been sentenced to crucifixion at the crowd's demand. Ben-Hur is shocked at how his legions have all deserted him in his time of need. They head to Calvary, and Ben-Hur resigns himself to watch the crucifixion of Jesus. The sky darkens. Ben-Hur offers Jesus wine vinegar to return Jesus' favor to him. Jesus utters his last cry.

Ben-Hur and his friends commit their lives to Jesus, who they now realize is not the earthly king they had previously hoped for, but a heavenly king and a savior of mankind.

PART VIII - CHAPTER - X continued

From this dreamy state Ben-Hur was aroused by the sound of hammering.On the summit of the knoll he observed then what had escaped him before--some soldiers and workmen preparing the crosses. The holes for planting the trees were ready, and now the transverse beams were being fitted to their places.

"Bid the men make haste," said the high-priest to the centurion. "These"--and he pointed to the Nazarene--"must be dead by the going-down of the sun, and buried that the land may not be defiled. Such is the Law."

With a better mind, a soldier went to the Nazarene and offered him something to drink, but he refused the cup. Then another went to him and took from his neck the board with the inscription upon it, which he nailed to the tree of the cross--and the preparation was complete.

"The crosses are ready," said the centurion to the pontiff, who received the report with a wave of the hand and the reply, "Let the blasphemer go first. The Son of God should be able to
save himself. We will see."

The people to whom the preparation in its several stages was visible, and who to this time had assailed the hill with incessant cries of impatience, permitted a lull which directly became a universal hush.

The part of the infliction most shocking, at least to the thought, was reached--the men were to be nailed to their crosses. When for that purpose the soldiers laid their hands upon the Nazarene first, a shudder passed through the great concourse; the most brutalized shrank with dread. Afterwards there were those who said the air suddenly chilled and made them shiver.

"How very still it is!" Esther said, as she put her arm about her father's neck.

And remembering the torture he himself had suffered, he drew her face down upon his breast, and sat trembling.

"Avoid it, Esther, avoid it!" he said. "I know not but all who stand and see it--the innocent as well as the guilty--may be cursed from this hour."

Balthasar sank upon his knees.

"Son of Hur," said Simonides, with increasing excitement--"son of Hur, if Jehovah stretch not forth his hand, and quickly, Israel is lost--and we are lost."

Ben-Hur answered, calmly, "I have been in a dream, Simonides, and heard in it why all this should be, and why it should go on. It is the will of the Nazarene--it is God's will. Let us do as
the Egyptian here--let us hold our peace and pray."

As he looked upon the knoll again, the words were wafted to him through the awful stillness--

"I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE."

He bowed reverently as to a person speaking.

Up on the summit meantime the work went on. The guard took the Nazarene's clothes from him; so that he stood before the millions naked. The stripes of the scourging he had received in the early morning were still bloody upon his back; yet he was laid pitilessly down, and stretched upon the cross--first, the arms upon the transverse beam; the spikes were sharp--a few blows, and they were driven through the tender palms; next, they drew his knees up
until the soles of the feet rested flat upon the tree; then they placed one foot upon the other, and one spike fixed both of them fast. The dulled sound of the hammering was heard outside the guarded space; and such as could not hear, yet saw the hammer as it fell, shivered with fear. And withal not a groan, or cry, or word of remonstrance from the sufferer: nothing at which an enemy could laugh; nothing a lover could regret.

"Which way wilt thou have him faced?" asked a soldier, bluntly.

"Towards the Temple," the pontiff replied. "In dying I would have him see the holy house hath not suffered by him."

The workmen put their hands to the cross, and carried it, burden and all, to the place of planting. At a word, they dropped the tree into the hole; and the body of the Nazarene also dropped heavily, and hung by the bleeding hands. Still no cry of pain--only the exclamation divinest of all recorded exclamations,

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

The cross, reared now above all other objects, and standing singly out against the sky, was greeted with a burst of delight; and all who could see and read the writing upon the board over the Nazarene's head made haste to decipher it. Soon as read, the legend was adopted by them and communicated, and presently the whole mighty concourse was ringing the salutation from side to side, and repeating it with laughter and groans, "King of the Jews! Hail, King of the Jews!"

The pontiff, with a clearer idea of the import of the inscription, protested against it, but in vain; so the titled King, looking from the knoll with dying eyes, must have had the city of his fathers at rest below him--she who had so ignominiously cast him out.

to be continued


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