30 September, 2012

posted 27 Sep 2012, 09:27 by C S Paul   [ updated 29 Sep 2012, 02:39 ]

30 September, 2012

The Boy Under the Tree
Provided by Free Christian Content.org

In the summer recess between freshman and sophomore years in college, I was invited to be an instructor at a high school leadership camp hosted by a college in Michigan. I was already highly involved in most campus activities, and I jumped at the opportunity.

About an hour into the first day of camp, amid the frenzy of icebreakers and forced interactions, I first noticed the boy under the tree. He was small and skinny, and his obvious discomfort and shyness made him appear frail and fragile. Only 50 feet away, 200 eager campers were bumping bodies, playing, joking and meeting each other, but the boy under the tree seemed to want to be anywhere other than where he was. The desperate loneliness he radiated almost stopped me from approaching him, but I remembered the instructions from the senior staff to stay alert for campers who might feel left out.

As I walked toward him I said, "Hi, my name is Kevin and I'm one of the counselors. It's nice to meet you. How are you?" In a shaky, sheepish voice he reluctantly answered, "Okay, I guess." I calmly asked him if he wanted to join the activities and meet some new people. He quietly replied, "No, this is not really my thing."

I could sense that he was in a new world, that this whole experience was foreign to him. But I somehow knew it wouldn't be right to push him, either. He didn't need a pep talk, he needed a friend. After several silent moments, my first interaction with the boy under the tree was over.

At lunch the next day, I found myself leading camp songs at the top of my lungs for 200 of my new friends. The campers were eagerly participated. My gaze wandered over the mass of noise and movement and was caught by the image of the boy from under the tree, sitting alone, staring out the window. I nearly forgot the words to the song I was supposed to be leading. At my first opportunity, I tried again, with the same questions as before: "How are you doing? Are you okay?" To which he again replied, "Yeah, I'm alright. I just don't really get into this stuff". As I left the cafeteria, I too realized this was going to take more time and effort than I had thought, if it was even possible to get through to him at all.

That evening at our nightly staff meeting, I made my concerns about him known. I explained to my fellow staff members my impression of him and asked them to pay special attention and spend time with him when they could.

The days I spend at camp each year fly by faster than any others I have known. Thus, before I knew it, mid-week had dissolved into the final night of camp and I was chaperoning the "last dance". The students were doing all they could to savor every last moment with their new "best friends", friends they would probably never see again.

As I watched the campers share their parting moments, I suddenly saw what would be one of the most vivid memories of my life. The boy from under the tree, who stared blankly out the kitchen window, was now a shirtless dancing wonder. He owned the dance floor as he and two girls proceeded to cut up a rug. I watched as he shared meaningful, intimate time with people at whom he couldn't even look just days earlier. I couldn't believe it was him.

In October of my sophomore year, a late-night phone call pulled me away from my chemistry book. A soft-spoken, unfamiliar voice asked politely, "Is Kevin there?"

"You're talking to him. Who's this?"

"This is Tom Johnson's mom. Do you remember Tommy from leadership camp?

The boy under the tree. How could I not remember?

"Yes, I do", I said. "He's a very nice young man. How is he?"

An abnormally long pause followed, then Mrs. Johnson said, "My Tommy was walking home from school this week when he was hit by a car and killed." Shocked, I offered my condolences.

"I just wanted to call you", she said, "because Tommy mentioned you so many times. I wanted you to know that he went back to school this fall with confidence. He made new friends. His grades went up. And he even went out on a few dates. I just wanted to thank you for making a difference for Tom. The last few months were the best few months of his life."

In that instant, I realized how easy it is to give a bit of yourself every day. You may never know how much each gesture may mean to someone else. I tell this story as often as I can, and when I do, I urge others to look out for their own "boy under the tree."


Nothing is more terrifying than seeing those flashing lights turn on as your cruising down the road. Most of us will see these nice red/white/blue light in our rear view mirror at one point in our lives or another, and if you have not yet, consider yourself lucky. Or smart.

The other day I was late for work and flying down the road. Knowing it was wrong I still proceeded to speed down the four lane road to my job. I rounded the corner and to my surprise a cop was sitting there waiting for me. I slammed on my breaks. Then slowly and as innocent as possible, I crept past him.

When I turned around I was so relieved to see him munching on a donut and reading a newspaper. So, after turning the next corner I sped back up and flew at mock speed down the road. "Yes! Free at last, free at last, thank God I'm free at last." I thought as I pulled into the parking lot of my work. I thought for sure that I was a goner and that he would have seen me speeding. 

Friends, this may work in real life going to work, but that day I realized something I haven't before. Even though I was able to slip by the cop without him seeing me, we aren't able to slip by God. So many times we try to slow down when we think God is paying attention and do the right things. Then we speed back up and fly down the road of sin when He may have His back turned. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but God knows all and sees all. You can't out run Him or sneak past Him. This is not meant to scare you just to remind you. He loves us so much and wants to only do everything in His power to bless you. We just need to follow His speed limit. Trust in Him, and always aim to do His will. Then in the end you will make it to your destination in heaven, safe, secure, and on time! 


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 II 

When the city came into view, the passengers were on deck, eager that nothing of the scene might escape them. The respectable Jew already introduced to the reader was the principal spokesman.

"The river here runs to the west," he said, in the way of general answer. "I remember when it washed the base of the walls; but as Roman subjects we have lived in peace, and, as always happens in such times, trade has had its will; now the whole river front is taken up with wharves and docks. Yonder"--the speaker pointed southward--"is Mount Casius, or, as these people love to call it, the Mountains of Orontes, looking across to its brother Amnus in the north; and between them lies the Plain of Antioch. Farther on are the Black Mountains, whence the Ducts of the Kings bring the purest water to wash the thirsty streets and people; yet they are forests in wilderness state, dense, and full of birds and beasts."

"Where is the lake?" one asked.

"Over north there. You can take horse, if you wish to see it--or, better, a boat, for a tributary connects it with the river."

"The Grove of Daphne!" he said, to a third inquirer. "Nobody can describe it; only beware! It was begun by Apollo, and completed by him. He prefers it to Olympus. People go there for one look--just one--and never come away.They have a saying which tells it all--'Better be a worm and feed on the mulberries of Daphne than
a king's guest.'"

"Then you advise me to stay away from it?"

"Not I! Go you will. Everybody goes, cynic philosopher, virile boy, women, and priests--all go. So sure am I of what you will do that I assume to advise you. Do not take quarters in the city--that will be loss of time; but go at once to the village in the edge of the grove. The way is through a garden, under the spray of fountains.

The lovers of the god and his Penaean maid built the town; and in its porticos and paths and thousand retreats you will find characters and habits and sweets and kinds elsewhere impossible. But the wall of the city! there it is, the masterpiece of Xeraeus, the master of mural architecture."

All eyes followed his pointing finger.

"This part was raised by order of the first of the Seleucidae. Three hundred years have made it part of the rock it rests upon."

The defense justified the encomium. High, solid, and with many bold angles, it curved southwardly out of view.

"On the top there are four hundred towers, each a reservoir of water," the Hebrew continued. "Look now! Over the wall, tall as it is, see in the distance two hills, which you may know as the rival crests of Sulpius. The structure on the farthest one is the citadel, garrisoned all the year round by a Roman legion.

Opposite it this way rises the Temple of Jupiter, and under that the front of the legate's residence--a palace full of offices, and yet a fortress against which a mob would dash harmlessly as a south wind." 

At this point the sailors began taking in sail, whereupon the Hebrew exclaimed, heartily, "See! you who hate the sea, and you who have vows, get ready your curses and your prayers. The bridge yonder, over which the road to Seleucia is carried, marks the limit of navigation. What the ship unloads for further transit,
the camel takes up there. Above the bridge begins the island upon which Calinicus built his new city, connecting it with five great viaducts so solid time has made no impression upon them, nor floods nor earthquakes. Of the main town, my friends, I have only to say you will be happier all your lives for having seen it."

As he concluded, the ship turned and made slowly for her wharf under the wall, bringing even more fairly to view the life with which the river at that point was possessed. Finally, the lines were thrown, the oars shipped, and the voyage was done. Then Ben-Hur sought the respectable Hebrew.

"Let me trouble you a moment before saying farewell."

The man bowed assent.

"Your story of the merchant has made me curious to see him. You called him Simonides?"

"Yes. He is a Jew with a Greek name."

"Where is he to be found?"

The acquaintance gave a sharp look before he answered, "I may save you mortification. He is not a money-lender."

"Nor am I a money-borrower," said Ben-Hur, smiling at the other's shrewdness.

The man raised his head and considered an instant.

"One would think," he then replied, "that the richest merchant in Antioch would have a house for business corresponding to his wealth; but if you would find him in the day, follow the river to yon bridge, under which he quarters in a building that looks like a buttress of the wall. Before the door there is an immense landing, always covered with cargoes come and to go. The fleet that lies moored there is his. You cannot fail to find him."

"I give you thanks."

"The peace of our fathers go with you."

"And with you."

With that they separated.

Two street-porters, loaded with his baggage, received Ben-Hur's orders upon the wharf.

"To the citadel," he said; a direction which implied an official military connection.

Two great streets, cutting each other at right angles, divided the city into quarters. A curious and immense structure, called the Nymphaeum, arose at the foot of the one running north and south.

When the porters turned south there, the new-comer, though fresh from Rome, was amazed at the magnificence of the avenue. On the right and left there were palaces, and between them extended indefinitely double colonnades of marble, leaving separate ways for footmen, beasts, and chariots; the whole under shade,
and cooled by fountains of incessant flow.

Ben-Hur was not in mood to enjoy the spectacle. The story of Simonides haunted him. Arrived at the Omphalus--a monument of four arches wide as the streets, superbly illustrated, and erected to himself by Epiphanes, the eighth of the Seleucidae--he suddenly changed his mind.

"I will not go to the citadel to-night," he said to the porters. "Take me to the khan nearest the bridge on the road to Seleucia."

The party faced about, and in good time he was deposited in a public house of primitive but ample construction, within stone's-throw of the bridge under which old Simonides had his quarters. He lay upon the house-top through the night. In his inner mind lived the thought, "Now--now I will hear of home--and mother--and the dear little Tirzah. If they are on earth, I will find them."

to be continued

The Paintbrush

I keep my paint brush with me
Wherever I may go,
In case I need to cover up
So the real me doesn't show.

I'm so afraid to show you me,
Afraid of what you'll do - that
You might laugh or say mean things.
I'm afraid I might lose you.

I'd like to remove all my paint coats
To show you the real, true me,
But I want you to try and understand,
I need you to accept what you see.

So if you'll be patient and close your eyes,
I'll strip off all my coats real slow.
Please understand how much it hurts
To let the real me show.

Now my coats are all stripped off.
I feel naked, bare and cold,
And if you still love me with all that you see,
You are my friend, pure as gold.

I need to save my paint brush, though,
And hold it in my hand,
I want to keep it handy
In case someone doesn't understand.

So please protect me, my dear friend
And thanks for loving me true,
But please let me keep my paint brush with me
Until I love me, too.

Author is either Bettie B. Youngs or David, Wizard of Oz

Power of Positive Thinking

 by Norman Vincent Peale

Chapter 9

How to Break the Worry Habit

YOU DO NOT need to be a victim of worry. Reduced to its simplest form, what is worry? It is simply an unhealthy and destructive mental habit. You were not born with the worry habit. You acquired it. And because you can change any habit and any acquired attitude, you can cast worry from your mind. Since aggressive, direct action is essential in the elimination process, there is just one proper time to begin an effective attack on worry, and that is now. So let us start breaking your worry habit at once.

Why should we take the worry problem this seriously? The reason is clearly stated by Dr. Smiley Blanton, eminent psychiatrist, "Anxiety is the great modern plague."

A famous psychologist asserts that "fear is the most disintegrating enemy of human personality," and a prominent physician declares that "worry is the most subtle and destructive of all human diseases."

Another physician tells us that thousands of people are ill because of "dammed-up anxiety." These sufferers have been unable to expel their anxieties which have turned inward on the personality, causing many forms of ill-health. The destructive quality of worry is indicated by the fact that the word itself is derived from an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning "to choke." If someone were to put his fingers around your throat and press hard, cutting off the flow of vital power, it would be a dramatic demonstration of what you do to yourself by long-held and habitual worry.

We are told that worry is not infrequently a factor in arthritis. Physicians who have analyzed the causes of this prevalent disease assert that the following factors, at least some of them, are nearly always present in arthritic cases: financial disaster, frustration, tension, apprehension, loneliness, grief, long-held ill will, and habitual worry.

A clinic staff is said to have made a study of one hundred seventy-six American executives of the average age of forty-four years and discovered that one half had high blood pressure, heart disease, or ulcers. It was notable in every case of those thus afflicted that worry was a prominent factor. 

The worrier, so it seems, is not likely to live as long as the person who learns to overcome his worries. The Rotarian magazine carried an article entitled "How Long Can You Live?" The author says that the waistline is the measure of your life line. The article also declares that if you want to live long, observe the following rules: (1) Keep calm. (2) Go to church. (3) Eliminate worry.

A survey shows that church members live longer than non-church members (better join the church if you don't want to die young). Married people, according to the article, live longer than single people. Perhaps this is because a married couple can divide the worry. When you are single, you have to do it all alone.

A scientific expert on length of life made a study of some 450 people who lived to be one hundred years of age. He found that these people lived long and contented lives for the following reasons: (1) They kept busy. (2) They used moderation in all things. (3) They ate lightly and simply. (4) They got a great deal of fun out of life. (5) They were early to bed and early up. (6) They were free from worry and fear, especially fear of death. (7) They had serene minds and faith in God.

Haven't you often heard a person say, "I am almost sick with worry," and then add with a laugh, "But I guess worry never really makes you ill." But that is where he is wrong. Worry can make you ill.

to be continued

Did You Know ?

  • Manhattan traffic crawls at an average of 6.2 miles an hour on midtown city streets.
  • The fewest airplane passengers killed in one year was 1 in 1993 and the most was 583 in 1977 when two Boeing 747s collided on the runway at Los Rodeos airport, Tenerife, the Canary Islands.
  • The first auto race in the United States, in Chicago in 1895, was won by J. Frank Duryea at an average speed of 7.5mph (12 km/h).
  • Henry Ford started operations of his first successful car in Detroit in 1896.
  • The usual thermal efficiency of reciprocal steam engine is 15%. That of steam turbine is over 40%.
  • Nuclear ships are basically steamships and driven by steam turbines. The reactor just develops heat to boil the water.
  • The world’s oldest surviving boat is a simple 10 feet( 3 metre) long dugout dated to 7400 BC. It was discovered in Pesse Holland in the Netherlands.
  • Four out of five boat sinking occur at their mooring.
  • Mammals are the only animals with flaps around the ears.
  • African elephants only have four teeth to chew their food with.
  • There are about one billion cattle in the world of which 200 million are in India

Just for laughs

Automobiles of the Bible

Some folks like to use the Bible as a basis for making decisions. If you are one of those folks, here are some Bible guidelines for consideration the next time you are shopping for a car...

It seems that our original ancestors fooled around in an old Plymouth because the Bible says that God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden in a Fury.

Psalm 83 indicates that the Almighty owned at least two cars -- a Pontiac and a Geo. The passage urges the Lord to "pursue your enemies with your Tempest and terrify them with your Storm."

Perhaps Moses favored Dodge pickup trucks, because his followers are instructed not to go up a mountain "until the Ram's horn sounds a long blast."

No doubt Moses used his truck for work, but when he went cruising, he did so in a flashy sportscar, as evidenced by a Bible passage declaring that "the roar of Moses' Triumph is heard in the hills."

Moses' prot, Joshua, also drove a Triumph -- but Joshua's Triumph had a hole in its muffler because the Bible says, "Joshua's Triumph was heard throughout the land."

Some scholars insist that Jesus drove a Honda but didn't like to talk about it. As proof, they cite a verse in St. John's gospel where Christ tells the crowd, "For I did not speak of my own Accord..."

Following the Master's lead, the Apostles car-pooled in a Honda, for the Bible says, "The Apostles were in one Accord."