January 22, 2012

posted 21 Jan 2012, 18:56 by C S Paul   [ updated 22 Jan 2012, 02:18 ]


January 22, 2012

GOSPEL READING FOR THIS SUNDAY

JOHN 3:1-12
1. There was a man of the pharasees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the 
Jews.
2. This man came to Jesus by night and said, "Rabbi, we know that 
You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that
you do unless Godis with him.
3. Jesus answeredand said to him,"most assuredly I say to you, unless
he born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4. Nicodemus said to Him,"how can a man be born when he is old ? Can 
he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?
5. Jesus answererd, "Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born
of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6. That which is born of flesh is flesh and wjhich is born of spirit 
is spirit.
7. Do not marvel that I said to you, " you must be born again.
8.the wind blows where it wishes and you can hear the sound of it, but
cannot tell where it goes. so is every one who is born of spirit."
9. Nicodemos answered and said to Him,"How can these things be ?"
10. Jesus answered and said to him, Are you a teacher of Isreal, and 
do not know these things ?
11.Most assuredly Isay to you, We speak what We know and testify whhat
We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness.
12.If I told you earthly thoings and you do not believe, how wilk you
believe if I told you heavenly things ?


Laughter the best medicine

Have you laughed lately?

If not, get out of your serious self and loosen up.

Laughter is a powerful tool for combating stress and conflict.  It can dissipate

anger, sadness and other negative emotions. 

In addition to making you feel good, laughter can improve your health and make

your relationships with others closer and stronger. 

There are a wide variety of benefits to be gained by making daily laughter a priority.

Many studies have shown that laughter can boost your energy level and reduce stress. 

These are just a few of the ways that laughter can improve your health:

Laughter is relaxing.

A good session of laughing can relieve muscle tension and make you feel more relaxed. 

This in turn can calm you and bring a general sense of well being.

Laughter can boost your immune system. Infection-fighting antibodies are released

when you laugh. 

Stress hormones are decreased as laughter reduces stress.

Laughter can reduce chronic pain.

Medical studies have shown that 10 minutes of laughter can diminish chronic pain

for up to 2 hours.


                           BEN-HUR: A TALE OF THE CHRIST 

by Lew Wallace


Part Two

Biblical references: Luke 2:51-52

Judah Ben-Hur is a prince descended from a royal family of Judaea. Messala, his closest childhood friend, the son of a Roman tax-collector, leaves home for five years of education in Rome. He returns as a proud and avaricious Roman. He mocks Judah and his religion and the two become enemies. Judah decides to go to Rome, as Messala had, for military training but use his skills to fight the Roman Empire.

Valerius Gratus, the fourth Roman prefect of Judaea, passes by Judah's house. As Judah watches the procession, a roof tile is loosed, falls into the street and hits the governor. Messala betrays Judah, who is arrested. There is no trial; Judah's family is secretly imprisoned in the Antonia Fortress and all the family property is seized. Judah vows vengeance against the Romans. He is sent to become a slave aboard a Roman warship. On the way to the ship he meets Jesus, who offers him water, which deeply moves Judah.

CHAPTER II (continued)

The fine nostril of the satirist stirred, and he put on a longer drawl as he said, "No, no; not a Ganymede--an oracle, my Judah. A few lessons from my teacher of rhetoric hard by the Forum—I will give you a letter to him when you become wise enough to accept a suggestion which I am reminded to make you--a little practise of the art of mystery, and Delphi will receive you as Apollo himself. At the sound of your solemn voice, the Pythia will come down to you with her crown. Seriously, O my friend, in what am I not the Messala I went away? I once heard the greatest logician in the world. His subject was Disputation.

One saying I remember--'Understand your antagonist before you answer him.' Let me understand you."

The lad reddened under the cynical look to which he was subjected; yet he replied, firmly, "You have availed yourself, I see, of your opportunities; from your teachers you have brought away much knowledge and many graces. You talk with the ease of a master, yet your speech carries a sting. My Messala, when he went away, had no poison in his nature; not for the world would he have hurt the feelings of a friend."

The Roman smiled as if complimented, and raised his patrician head a toss higher.

"O my solemn Judah, we are not at Dodona or Pytho. Drop the oracular, and be plain. Wherein have I hurt you?"

The other drew a long breath, and said, pulling at the cord about his waist, "In the five years, I, too, have learned somewhat.

Hillel may not be the equal of the logician you heard, and Simeon and Shammai are, no doubt, inferior to your master hard by the Forum.

Their learning goes not out into forbidden paths; those who sit at their feet arise enriched simply with knowledge of God, the law, and Israel; and the effect is love and reverence for everything that pertains to them. Attendance at the Great College, and study of what I heard there, have taught me that Judea is not as she used to be. I know the space that lies between an independent kingdom and the petty province Judea is. I were meaner, viler, than a Samaritan not to resent the degradation of my country.

Ishmael is not lawfully high-priest, and he cannot be while the noble Hannas lives; yet he is a Levite; one of the devoted who for thousands of years have acceptably served the Lord God of our faith and worship. His--"

Messala broke in upon him with a biting laugh.

"Oh, I understand you now. Ishmael, you say, is a usurper, yet to believe an Idumaean sooner than Ishmael is to sting like an adder.

By the drunken son of Semele, what it is to be a Jew! All men and things, even heaven and earth, change; but a Jew never. To him there is no backward, no forward; he is what his ancestor was in the beginning. In this sand I draw you a circle--there! Now tell me what more a Jew's life is? Round and round, Abraham here, Isaac and Jacob yonder, God in the middle. And the circle--by the master of all thunders! the circle is too large. I draw it again--"

He stopped, put his thumb upon the ground, and swept the fingers about it. "See, the thumb spot is the Temple, the finger-lines Judea. Outside the little space is there nothing of value? The arts! Herod was a builder; therefore he is accursed. Painting, sculpture! to look upon them is sin. Poetry you make fast to your altars. Except in the synagogue, who of you attempts eloquence?

In war all you conquer in the six days you lose on the seventh.

Such your life and limit; who shall say no if I laugh at you?

Satisfied with the worship of such a people, what is your God to our Roman Jove, who lends us his agles that we may compass the universe with our arms? Hillel, Simeon, Shammai, Abtalion--what are they to the masters who teach that everything is worth knowing that can be known?"

The Jew arose, his face much flushed.

"No, no; keep your place, my Judah, keep your place," Messala cried, extending his hand.

"You mock me."

"Listen a little further. Directly"--the Roman smiled derisively--"directly Jupiter and his whole family, Greek and Latin, will come to me, as is their habit, and make an end of serious speech.

I am mindful of your goodness in walking from the old house of your fathers to welcome me back and renew the love of our childhood—if we can. 'Go,' said my teacher, in his last lecture--'Go, and, to make your lives great, remember Mars reigns and Eros has found his eyes.' He meant love is nothing, war everything. It is so in Rome. Marriage is the first step to divorce. Virtue is a tradesman's jewel. Cleopatra, dying, bequeathed her arts, and is avenged; she has a successor in every Roman's house. The world is going the same way; so, as to our future, down Eros, up Mars! I am to be a soldier; and you, O my Judah, I pity you; what can you be?"

The Jew moved nearer the pool; Messala's drawl deepened.

"Yes, I pity you, my fine Judah. From the college to the synagogue; then to the Temple; then--oh, a crowning glory!--the seat in the Sanhedrim. A life without opportunities; the gods help you! But I--"

Judah looked at him in time to see the flush of pride that kindled in his haughty face as he went on.

"But I--ah, the world is not all conquered. The sea has islands unseen. In the north there are nations yet unvisited. The glory of completing Alexander's march to the Far East remains to some one. See what possibilities lie before a Roman."

Next instant he resumed his drawl.

"A campaign into Africa; another after the Scythian; then--a legion! Most careers end there; but not mine. I--by Jupiter! what a conception!--I will give up my legion for a prefecture. Think of life in Rome with money--money, wine, women, games--poets at the banquet, intrigues in the court, dice all the year round. Such a rounding of life may be--a fat prefecture, and it is mine. O my Judah, here is Syria! Judea is rich; Antioch a capital for the gods. I will succeed Cyrenius, and you--shall share my fortune."

The sophists and rhetoricians who thronged the public resorts of Rome, almost monopolizing the business of teaching her patrician youth, might have approved these sayings of Messala, for they were all in the popular vein; to the young Jew, however, they were new, and unlike the solemn style of discourse and conversation to which he was accustomed. He belonged, moreover, to a race whose laws, modes, and habits of thought forbade satire and humor; very naturally, therefore, he listened to his friend with varying feelings; one moment indignant, then uncertain how to take him.

The superior airs assumed had been offensive to him in the beginning; soon they became irritating, and at last an acute smart. Anger lies close by this point in all of us; and that the satirist evoked in another way. To the Jew of the Herodian period patriotism was a savage passion scarcely hidden under his common humor, and so related to his history, religion, and God that it responded instantly to derision of them. Wherefore it is not speaking too strongly to say that Messala's progress down to the last pause was exquisite torture to his hearer; at that point the latter said, with a forced smile,  "There are a few, I have heard, who can afford to make a jest of their future; you convince me, O my Messala, that I am not one of them."

The Roman studied him; then replied, "Why not the truth in a jest as well as a parable? The great Fulvia went fishing the other day; she caught more than all the company besides. They said it was because the barb of her hook was covered with gold."

"Then you were not merely jesting?"

"My Judah, I see I did not offer you enough," the Roman answered, quickly, his eyes sparkling. "When I am prefect, with Judea to enrich me, I--will make you high-priest."

The Jew turned off angrily.

"Do not leave me," said Messala.

The other stopped irresolute.

"Gods, Judah, how hot the sun shines!" cried the patrician, observing his perplexity. "Let us seek a shade."

Judah answered, coldly,

"We had better part. I wish I had not come. I sought a friend and find a--"

"Roman," said Messala, quickly.

The hands of the Jew clenched, but controlling himself again, he started off. Messala arose, and, taking the mantle from the bench, flung it over his shoulder, and followed after; when he gained his side, he put his hand upon his shoulder and walked with him.

"This is the way--my hand thus--we used to walk when we were children. Let us keep it as far as the gate."

Apparently Messala was trying to be serious and kind, though he could not rid his countenance of the habitual satirical expression.

Judah permitted the familiarity.

"You are a boy; I am a man; let me talk like one."

The complacency of the Roman was superb. Mentor lecturing the young Telemachus could not have been more at ease.

"Do you believe in the Parcae? Ah, I forgot, you are a Sadducee: the Essenes are your sensible people; they believe in the sisters.

So do I. How everlastingly the three are in the way of our doing what we please! I sit down scheming. I run paths here and there.

Perpol! Just when I am reaching to take the world in hand, I hearbehind me the grinding of scissors. I look, and there she is, the accursed Atropos! But, my Judah, why did you get mad when I spoke of succeeding old Cyrenius? You thought I meant to enrich myself plundering your Judea. Suppose so; it is what some Roman will do. Why not I?"

Judah shortened his step.

"There have been strangers in mastery of Judea before the Roman," he said, with lifted hand. "Where are they, Messala? She has outlived them all. What has been will be again."

Messala put on his drawl.

"The Parcae have believers outside the Essenes. Welcome, Judah, welcome to the faith!"

"No, Messala, count me not with them. My faith rests on the rock which was the foundation of the faith of my fathers back further than Abraham; on the covenants of the Lord God of Israel."

"Too much passion, my Judah. How my master would have been shocked had I been guilty of so much heat in his presence! There were other things I had to tell you, but I fear to now."

When they had gone a few yards, the Roman spoke again.

"I think you can hear me now, especially as what I have to say concerns yourself. I would serve you, O handsome as Ganymede; I would serve you with real good-will. I love you--all I can.

I told you I meant to be a soldier. Why not you also? Why not you step out of the narrow circle which, as I have shown, is all of noble life your laws and customs allow?"

Judah made no reply.

"Who are the wise men of our day?" Messala continued. "Not they who exhaust their years quarrelling about dead things; about Baals, Joves, and Jehovahs; about philosophies and religions. Give me one great name, O Judah; I care not where you go to find it--to Rome, Egypt, the East, or here in Jerusalem--Pluto take me if it belong not to a man who wrought his fame out of the material furnished him by the present; holding nothing sacred that did not contribute to the end, scorning nothing that did! How was it with Herod? How with the Maccabees? How with the first and second Caesars? Imitate them. Begin now. At hand see--Rome, as ready to help you as she was the Idumaean Antipater."

The Jewish lad trembled with rage; and, as the garden gate was close by, he quickened his steps, eager to escape.

"O Rome, Rome!" he muttered.

"Be wise," continued Messala. "Give up the follies of Moses and the traditions; see the situation as it is. Dare look the Parcae in the face, and they will tell you, Rome is the world. Ask them of Judea, and they will answer, She is what Rome wills."

They were now at the gate. Judah stopped, and took the hand gently from his shoulder, and confronted Messala, tears trembling in his eyes.

"I understand you, because you are a Roman; you cannot understand me--I am an Israelite. You have given me suffering to-day by convincing me that we can never be the friends we have been--never! Here we part.

The peace of the God of my fathers abide with you!"

Messala offered him his hand; the Jew walked on through the gateway.

When he was gone, the Roman was silent awhile; then he, too, passed through, saying to himself, with a toss of the head,

"Be it so. Eros is dead, Mars reigns!"

 (to be continued)

Just for Laughs

The Plian Goespl

Aocdrnicg to a rsecareh at Cmbagrdie Uinervtisy, it denos't mtater waht oredr the ltteers

in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae.

The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the

huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

For God so leovd the wrlod taht he gvae his olny bttegoen son, that woehvesor belvetieh

in him sholud not peisrh, but htah evlerainstg lfie.

Whether you are an 'old hand' at preaching the Gospel, or your palms sweat, and your

tongue twists  as you talk like the above, just do your part, and let the Holy Spirit do His work.

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void,

but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto

I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

No matter how you write it folks, the Gospel is as plain as day. It's for whosoever will.

 

Lost Wallet

Ellie: Last Sunday I found a wallet packed with money down by the church.

Alisse: Did you give it back?

Ellie: Not yet. I'm still trying to decide if it's a temptation from the devil or the answer

to a prayer.


The Power of Positive Thinking

by Norman Vincent Peale

Chapter 4 continued

There was a man, an alcoholic, with whom I had been 

working. He had been "dry" (as the Alcoholics Anonymous 

term it) for about six months. He was on a business  trip, and 

one Tuesday afternoon about four o'clock I had a strong 

impression that he was in trouble. This man dominated my 

thoughts. I felt something drawing me so I dropped 

everything and started praying for him. I prayed for about a 

half-hour, then the impression seemed to let up and I 

discontinued my prayers.

A few days later he telephoned me. "I have been in Boston 

all week," he said, "and I want you to know I'm still 'dry,' but 

early in the week I had a very hard time."

"Was it on Tuesday at four o'clock?" I asked.

Astonished, he replied, "Why, yes, how did you know? Who 

told you?" 

"Nobody told me," I replied. "That is, no human told me." I described my feelings concerning him on Tuesday at four o'clock and told about praying for him for half an hour.

He was astounded, and explained, "I was at the hotel and stopped in front of the bar. I had a terrible struggle with myself. I thought of you, for I needed help badly right then, and I started to pray."

Those prayers starting out from him reached me, and I began to pray for him. Both of us joining in prayer completed the circuit, and reached God, and the man got his answer in the form of strength to meet the crisis. And what did he do?

He went to a drugstore, bought a box of candy, and ate all of it without stopping. That pulled him through, he declared—

"prayer and candy."

A young married woman admitted she was filled with hates, also very apprehensive, always worrying about her children, whether they would be sick or get into an accident or fail in school. Her life was a pathetic mixture of dissatisfaction, fear, hate, and unhappiness. I asked her if she ever prayed.

She said, "Only when I get so up against it that I am just desperate; but I must admit that prayer doesn't mean anything to me, so I don't pray very often."

I suggested that the practice of real prayer could change her life and gave her some instructions in sending out love thoughts instead of hate thoughts and confidence thoughts instead of fear thoughts. I suggested that every day at the time for the children to come home from school she pray,

and make her prayers an affirmation of God's protective goodness. Doubtful at first, she became one of the most enthusiastic advocates and practicers of prayer I have ever known. She avidly reads books and pamphlets and practices every effective prayer-power technique. This procedure revamped her life as is illustrated by the following letter which she wrote me recently:

"I feel that my husband and I have both made wonderful progress in the last few weeks. My greatest progress dates from the night you told me that 'every day is a good day if you pray.' I began to put into practice the idea of affirming that this would be a good day the minute I woke up in the morning, and I can positively say that I have not had a bad or upsetting day since that time. 

The amazing thing is that my days actually haven't been any smoother or anymore free from petty annoyances than they ever were, but they just don't seem to have the power to upset me any more. Every night I begin my prayers by listing all the things for which I am grateful, little things that happened during the day which added to the happiness of my day. I know that this habit has geared my mind to pick out the nice things and forget the unpleasant ones. The fact that for six weeks I have not had a single bad day and have refused to get downhearted with anyone is really marvelous to me."

She discovered amazing power in trying prayer power. You can do the same. Following are ten rules for getting effective results from prayer:

1. Set aside a few minutes every day. Do not say anything. Simply practice thinking about God. This will make your mind spiritually receptive.

2. Then pray orally, using simple, natural words. Tell God anything that is on your mind. Do not think you must use stereotyped pious phrases. Talk to God in your own language. He understands it.

3. Pray as you go about the business of the day, on the subway or bus or at your desk. Utilize minute prayers by closing your eyes to shut out the world and concentrating briefly on God's presence. The more you do this every day the nearer you will feel God's presence.

4. Do not always ask when you pray, but instead affirm that God's blessings are being given, and spend most of your prayers giving thanks.

5. Pray with the belief that sincere prayers can reach out and surround your loved ones with God's love and protection.

6. Never use a negative thought in prayer. Only positive thoughts get results.

7. Always express willingness to accept God's will. Ask for what you want, but be willing to take what God gives you. It may be better than what you ask for.

8. Practice the attitude of putting everything in God's hands. Ask for the ability to do your best and to leave the results confidently to God.

9. Pray for people you do not like or who have mistreated you. Resentment is blockade number one of spiritual power.

10. Make a list of people for whom to pray. The more you pray for other people, especially those not connected with you, the more prayer results will come back to you.


Stories of the Week

Rocks

One day, an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those students will never forget. You won't either. 

As he stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers, he said, "Okay, time for a quiz." He then pulled out a one-gallon, 'wide-mouth' mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist sized rocks and carefully placed them, one by one, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, 

"Is this jar full?" Everyone in the class said, "Yes." 

Then he said, "Really?" 

He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar, causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. 

Then he asked the group once more, "Is this jar full?" 

By this time the class was on to him. 

"Probably not," one of them answered. 

"Good!" he replied. 

He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. 

Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?" 

"No!" the class shouted. 

Once again, he said, "Good!" 

Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar 

was filled to the brim. 

Then the expert in time management looked at the class and asked, 

"What is the point of this illustration?" 

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it." 

"No", the speaker replied, "That's not the point." "The truth this illustration teaches us is this: if you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all.

What are the big rocks in your life? 

Your children. 

Your spouse. 

Your loved ones. 

Your friendships. 

Your education. 

Your dreams. 

A worthy cause. 

Teaching or mentoring others. 

Doing things that you love. 

Time for yourself. 

Your health. 

Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first, or you'll never get them in at all." 

"If you sweat the little stuff (i.e. gravel, the sand) then you'll fill your life with little things. You will never have the real quality time you need to spend on the big,important stuff (the big rocks)." 

"So, tonight, or in the morning, when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself this question: what are the "big rocks" in my life?" 

"Then put those in your jar first." 

"Have a nice day." 

Provided by Free Christian Content.org


Clean up please

The effluvium (stench) in Joy's home office was putrid. It was about the same as when we had a dead rat in a wall in the last home where we lived. Leaving the windows open day and night didn't alleviate the wretched smell. Burning several scented candles in the room didn't help either. Joy and I must have looked a sight crawling around the room on the floor sniffing the walls to see if we could find the place where the rat or rats had been trapped and died. 

We emptied drawers and sniffed in them. 

We sniffed in the closet. We sniffed the bookshelves. All our sniffing efforts to find and eliminate the culprit were in vain. 

We even had a termite inspector crawl around in our attic thinking the offensive culprit may have died in the ceiling.

Then lo and forsooth, a few days later, Joy happened to be cleaning her desk and there, right under our nose, under a pile of papers was the sickening culprit. 

No, it wasn't a rat. It was an Easter egg left there by one of our grandkids some weeks before. What a mess! What a stink! We had a great laugh at our folly!

Seriously, have you ever noticed that many of our personal problems are caused by our failure to clean up our lifestyle? And how we search everywhere for a hook upon which to hang the blame for our problems . . . and all the while the problem is right under our nose?

Speaking personally, more often than not, I am the main cause of the difficulties I have. What others have done to me may or may not be a problem, but how I react is always my responsibility—and to the degree that I overreact, that is always my problem. In other words what bothers me is my problem. And the answer to resolving my problem so often lies within myself.

Difficult to see, I know, and even harder to admit, but the fact remains I am my own biggest problem and as long as I play the blame-game, I will never overcome or resolve my problems.



Did You Know ?


  • To win a gold disc, an album needs to sell 100,000 copies in Britain, and 500,000 in the United States.
  • The harmonica is the world’s best-selling music instrument.
  • The term “disc jockey” was first used in 1937.
  • The last note of a keyboard is C.
  • The first recorded revolution took place at around 2800 BC when people from the Sumerian city of Lagash overthrew bureaucrats who were lining their own pockets but kept raising taxes.
  • The term “Blue Chip” comes from the color of the poker chip with the highest value, blue.
  • US and European expenditure on pet food is $17 billion per year.
  • The global expenditure on health care and nutrition is $2.1 trillion.
  • Queen Elizabeth II is one of the 10th wealthiest women in the world.
  • There are 92 known cases of nuclear bombs lost at sea.











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