8 September 2013

posted 6 Sep 2013, 06:38 by C S Paul   [ updated 6 Sep 2013, 07:05 ]
8 September 2013

Quotes to Inspire 


  • "Throughout the centuries, there were men who took first steps, down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision." — Ayn Rand
  • "When filled with holy truth, the mind rests." — C. H. Spurgeon
  • "The attitude you have as a parent is what your kids will learn from more than what you tell them. They don't remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are." — Jim Henson, Creator of The Muppets
  • "We first make our habits, and then our habits make us." — John Dryden
  • "Self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do what you should do when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not." — Elbert Hubbard
  • "I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence, but it comes from within. It is there all the time." — Anna Freud
  • "We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once." — Calvin Coolidge
  • "Lost time can never be found again." — Benjamin Franklin
  • "If people knew how hard I worked to gain my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful." — Michelangelo
  • "There is no such thing as a minor lapse of integrity." — Tom Peters
  • "It's not what you do once in awhile; it's what you do day in and day out that makes the difference." — Jenny Craig
  • "Evil grows when goodness doesn't stand." — Glen Beck


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.

This pastor was struggling to get people to come to church. Then she received a remarkable—and adorable—answer to her prayers.

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.


Just for Laughs

GREAT  TRUTHS ABOUT LIFE THAT LITTLE CHILDREN HAVE LEARNED:

1) No matter how hard you try, you can't baptize cats.

2) When your Mom is mad at your Dad, don't let her brush your hair.

3) If your sister hits you, don't hit her back. They always catch the
second person.

4) Never ask your 3-year old brother to hold a tomato.

5) You can't trust dogs to watch your food.

6) Don't sneeze when someone is cutting your hair.

7) Never hold a Dust-Buster and a cat at the same time.

8) You can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.

9) Don't wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts.

10) The best place to be when you're sad is Grandpa's lap.

Leftovers

Sitting down to supper one night, the daughter complained about having to eat 
leftovers. 

Her father decided that she should say grace to show her appreciation.

His daughter bowed her head and prayed, "Thank you for this food... again."


Did you know ?

  • According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Finnish word SAIPPUAKIVIKAUPPIAS a soapstone seller is the longest known palindrome in any language.  
  • According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the single-seeded fruit of the giant fan palm, or Lodoicea maldivica, can weigh 44 lbs. Commonly known as the double coconut or coco de mer, it is found wild only in the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. 
  • Albert Einstein never knew how to drive a car. 
  • The UK's best selling hiking magazine published faulty coordinates for descending Scotland's tallest peak (Ben Nevis), and recommended a route that leads climbers off the edge of a cliff. 
  • The Mars Rover "Spirit" is powered by six small motors the size of "C" batteries. It has a top speed of 0.1 mph. 
  • Zeppo Marx (the unfunny one of the Marx Brothers) had a patent for a wristwatch with a heart monitor. 
  • The entire town of Capena, Italy (including children as young as 2 years old) lights up cigarettes each year in honor of St. Anthony's Day. This tradition is centuries old. 
  • The chance that you will die on the way to buy your lottery ticket is greater than the chance of you winning the big prize in most lotteries. 
  • Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance. 
  • Dolly Parton once lost a Dolly Parton Look-Alike contest. 
  • The Bible has been translated into Klingon. 
  • Toto was paid $125 per week while filming the "Wizard of Oz". 
  • All polar bears are left handed.  


BEN-HUR: A TALE OF THE CHRIST 

by Lew Wallace

Part Five 

Messala sends a letter to Valerius Gratus about his discovery that Judah is alive and well, however Sheik Ilderim intercepts the letter and shares its contents with Judah. He discovers that his mother and sister were imprisoned in a cell at the Antonia Fortress and Messala has been spying on him.

Ilderim is deeply impressed with Judah's skills with his racing horses and is pleased to choose him as charioteer.

Simonides the merchant comes to Judah and offers him the accumulated fortune of the Hur family business, of which Simonides has been steward. Judah Ben-Hur accepts only the money, leaving property and the rest to the loyal merchant. They each agree to do their part to fight for the Christ, whom they believe to be a political savior from Roman authority.

A day before the race Ilderim prepared his horses and Judah appoints Malluch to organize his support campaign for him. Meanwhile, Messala organizes his own huge campaign, revealing Judah Ben-Hur's real identity to the world as an outcast and convict. Malluch challenges Messala and his cronies to a vast wager, which, if the Roman loses, would bankrupt him.

The day of the race comes. During the race Messala and Judah become the clear leaders. Judah deliberately scrapes his chariot wheel against Messala's and Messala's chariot breaks apart. Judah is crowned winner and showered with prizes, claiming his first strike against Rome.

After the race, Judah Ben-Hur receives a letter from Iras asking him to go to the Roman palace of Idernee. When he arrives there, he sees that he has been tricked. Thord, a Saxon, hired by Messala, comes to kill Judah. They duel, but before it is over Ben-Hur offers Thord four thousand sestercii to let him live. Thord returns to Messala claiming he has killed Judah - so collecting money from both Messala and Judah, returning to Rome to open a wine shop. Being supposedly dead, Judah Ben-Hur goes to the desert with Ilderim to plan a secret campaign.

PART V - CHAPTER XVI

Going next day to fill his appointment with Iras, Ben-Hur turned from the Omphalus, which was in the heart of the city, into the Colonnade of Herod, and came shortly to the palace of Idernee.

From the street he passed first into a vestibule, on the sides of which were stairways under cover, leading up to a portico. Winged lions sat by the stairs; in the middle there was a gigantic ibis spouting water over the floor; the lions, ibis, walls, and floor were reminders of the Egyptians: everything, even the balustrading of the stairs, was of massive gray stone.

Above the vestibule, and covering the landing of the steps, arose the portico, a pillared grace, so light, so exquisitely proportioned, it was at that period hardly possible of conception except by a Greek. Of marble snowy white, its effect was that of a lily dropped carelessly upon a great bare rock.

Ben-Hur paused in the shade of the portico to admire its tracery and finish, and the purity of its marble; then he passed on into the palace. Ample folding-doors stood open to receive him.

The passage into which he first entered was high, but somewhat narrow; red tiling formed the floor, and the walls were tinted to correspond. Yet this plainness was a warning of something beautiful to come.

He moved on slowly, all his faculties in repose. Presently he would be in the presence of Iras; she was waiting for him; waiting with song and story and badinage, sparkling, fanciful,
capricious--with smiles which glorified her glance, and glances which lent voluptuous suggestion to her whisper. She had sent for him the evening of the boat-ride on the lake in the Orchard of Palms; she had sent for him now; and he was going to her in the beautiful palace of Idernee. He was happy and dreamful rather than thoughtless.

The passage brought him to a closed door, in front of which he paused; and, as he did so, the broad leaves began to open of themselves, without creak or sound of lock or latch, or touch of foot or finger. The singularity was lost in the view that broke
upon him.

Standing in the shade of the dull passage, and looking through the doorway, he beheld the atrium of a Roman house, roomy and rich to a fabulous degree of magnificence.

How large the chamber was cannot be stated, because of the deceit there is in exact proportions; its depth was vista-like, something never to be said of an equal interior. When he stopped to make survey, and looked down upon the floor, he was standing
upon the breast of a Leda, represented as caressing a swan; and, looking farther, he saw the whole floor was similarly laid in mosaic pictures of mythological subjects. And there were stools and chairs, each a separate design, and a work of art exquisitely composed,
and tables much carven, and here and there couches which were invitations of themselves. 

The articles of furniture, which stood out from the walls, were duplicated on the floor distinctly as if they floated unrippled water; even the panelling of the walls,
the figures upon them in painting and bas-relief, and the fresco of the ceiling were reflected on the floor. The ceiling curved up towards the centre, where there was an opening through which the sunlight poured without hindrance, and the sky, ever so blue,
seemed in hand-reach; the impluvium under the opening was guarded by bronzed rails; the gilded pillars supporting the roof at the edges of the opening shone like flame where the sun struck them, and their reflections beneath seemed to stretch to infinite depth.

And there were candelabra quaint and curious, and statuary and vases; the whole making an interior that would have befitted well the house on the Palatine Hill which Cicero bought of Crassus, or that other, yet more famous for extravagance, the Tusculan villa of Scaurus.

Still in his dreamful mood, Ben-Hur sauntered about, charmed by all he beheld, and waiting. He did not mind a little delay; when Iras was ready, she would come or send a servant. In every well-regulated Roman house the atrium was the reception chamber
for visitors.

Twice, thrice, he made the round. As often he stood under the opening in the roof, and pondered the sky and its azure depth; then, leaning against a pillar, he studied the distribution of light and shade, and its effects; here a veil diminishing objects, there a
brilliance exaggerating others; yet nobody came. 

Time, or rather the passage of time, began at length to impress itself upon him, and he wondered why Iras stayed so long. Again he traced out the figures upon the floor, but not with the satisfaction the first inspection gave him. He paused often to listen: directly impatience blew a little fevered breath upon his spirit; next time it blew stronger and hotter; and at last he woke to a consciousness of the silence which held the house in thrall, and the thought of it made him uneasy and distrustful. 

Still he put the feeling off with a smile and a promise. "Oh, she is giving the last touch to her eyelids, or she is arranging a chaplet for me; she will come presently, more beautiful of the delay!" He sat down then to admire a candelabrum--a bronze plinth on rollers, filigree on the sides and edges; the post at one end, and on the end opposite it an altar and a female celebrant; the lamp-rests swinging by delicate chains from the extremities of drooping palm-branches; altogether a wonder in its way. But the silence would obtrude itself: he listened even as he looked at the pretty object--he listened, but there was not a sound; the palace was still as a tomb.

There might be a mistake. No, the messenger had come from the Egyptian, and this was the palace of Idernee. Then he remembered how mysteriously the door had opened so soundlessly, so of itself. He would see!

He went to the same door. Though he walked ever so lightly the sound of his stepping was loud and harsh, and he shrank from it. He was getting nervous. The cumbrous Roman lock resisted his first effort to raise it; and the second--the blood chilled in his cheeks--he wrenched with all his might: in vain--the door was not even shaken. A sense of danger seized him, and for a moment he stood irresolute.

Who in Antioch had the motive to do him harm?

Messala!

And this palace of Idernee? He had seen Egypt in the vestibule, Athens in the snowy portico; but here, in the atrium, was Rome; everything about him betrayed Roman ownership. True, the site was on the great thoroughfare of the city, a very public place
in which to do him violence; but for that reason it was more accordant with the audacious genius of his enemy. The atrium underwent a change; with all its elegance and beauty, it was no more than a trap. Apprehension always paints in black.

The idea irritated Ben-Hur.

There were many doors on the right and left of the atrium, leading, doubtless, to sleeping-chambers; he tried them, but they were all firmly fastened. Knocking might bring response. Ashamed to make outcry, he betook himself to a couch, and, lying down, tried to reflect.

All too plainly he was a prisoner; but for what purpose? and by whom?

If the work were Messala's! He sat up, looked about, and smiled defiantly. There were weapons in every table. But birds had been starved in golden cages; not so would he--the couches would serve him as battering-rams; and he was strong, and there was such increase of might in rage and despair!

Messala himself could not come. He would never walk again; he was a cripple like Simonides; still he could move others. And where were there not others to be moved by him? Ben-Hur arose, and tried the doors again. Once he called out; the room echoed so that he was startled. With such calmness as he could assume, he made up his mind
to wait a time before attempting to break a way out.

In such a situation the mind has its ebb and flow of disquiet, with intervals of peace between. At length--how long, though, he could not have said--he came to the conclusion that the affair was an accident or mistake. The palace certainly belonged to somebody;
it must have care and keeping: and the keeper would come; the evening or the night would bring him. Patience!

So concluding, he waited.

Half an hour passed--a much longer period to Ben-Hur--when the door which had admitted him opened and closed noiselessly as before, and without attracting his attention.

The moment of the occurrence he was sitting at the farther end of the room. A footstep startled him.

"At last she has come!" he thought, with a throb of relief and pleasure, and arose.

The step was heavy, and accompanied with the gride and clang of coarse sandals. The gilded pillars were between him and the door; he advanced quietly, and leaned against one of them. Presently he heard voices--the voices of men--one of them rough and guttural.
What was said he could not understand, as the language was not of the East or South of Europe.

After a general survey of the room, the strangers crossed to their left, and were brought into Ben-Hur's view--two men, one very stout, both tall, and both in short tunics. They had not the air of masters of the house or domestics. Everything they saw appeared wonderful to them; everything they stopped to examine they touched. They were vulgarians. The atrium seemed profaned by their presence. At the same time, their leisurely manner and the assurance with which they proceeded pointed to some right or business; if business,
with whom?

With much jargon they sauntered this way and that, all the time gradually approaching the pillar by which Ben-Hur was standing. Off a little way, where a slanted gleam of the sun fell with a glare upon the mosaic of the floor, there was a statue which attracted their notice. In examining it, they stopped in the light.

to be continued

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