January 29, 2012

posted 28 Jan 2012, 18:52 by C S Paul   [ updated 28 Jan 2012, 23:33 ]

January 29, 2012

Mark 6:1-6
1.Jesus left that place and went back to his home town,followed 
by his disiples.

2.On the sabbath he began to teachin the synagogue. Many people were there;and whe they heard him they were all amazed."where did he get all this ? " they asked. "What wisdom is this that has been given him ? How does he perform miracles ?"

3.Isn't he the carpenter the son of Mary, and brother of James, 
Joseph,Judas, and Simon ? Aren't his sisters living here?" And 
so they rejected him.

4.Jesus said to them,"A prophet is respected everywhere except in his own home town and by his relatives and his family."

5.He was not abe to perform any miracles there, except that he 
placed his hands on a few sick people, and healed them.

6.He was greatly surprised,because the people did not have faith.

               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.


From the entrance to the Holy City, equivalent to what is now
called St. Stephen's Gate, a street extended westwardly, on a
line parallel with the northern front of the Tower of Antonia,
though a square from that famous castle. Keeping the course as
far as the Tyropoeon Valley, which it followed a little way south,
it turned and again ran west until a short distance beyond what
tradition tells us was the Judgment Gate, from whence it broke
abruptly south. 

The traveller or the student familiar with the sacred locality will recognize the thoroughfare described as part of the Via Dolorosa--with Christians of more interest, though of a melancholy kind, than any street in the world. As the purpose in view does not at present require dealing with the whole street, it will be sufficient to point out a house standing in the angle last mentioned as marking the change of direction south, and which, as an important centre of interest, needs somewhat particular description.

The building fronted north and west, probably four hundred feet
each way, and, like most pretentious Eastern structures, was two
stories in height, and perfectly quadrangular. The street on the
west side was about twelve feet wide, that on the north not more
than ten; so that one walking close to the walls, and looking up
at them, would have been struck by the rude, unfinished, uninviting, but strong and imposing, appearance they presented; for they were of stone laid in large blocks, undressed--on the outer side, in fact, just as they were taken from the quarry. 

A critic of this age would have pronounced the house fortelesque in style, except for the windows, with which it was unusually garnished, and the ornate finish of the doorways or gates. The western windows were four in number, the northern only two, all set on the line of the second story in such manner as to overhang the thoroughfares below.

The gates were the only breaks of wall externally visible in the
first story; and, besides being so thickly riven with iron bolts
as to suggest resistance to battering-rams, they were protected
by cornices of marble, handsomely executed, and of such bold
projection as to assure visitors well informed of the people that the rich man who resided there was a Sadducee in politics and creed.

Not long after the young Jew parted from the Roman at the palace up on the Market-place, he stopped before the western gate of the house described, and knocked. The wicket (a door hung in one of the valves of the gate) was opened to admit him. He stepped in hastily, and failed to acknowledge the low salaam of the porter.

To get an idea of the interior arrangement of the structure, as well as to see what more befell the youth, we will follow him.

The passage into which he was admitted appeared not unlike a narrow tunnel with panelled walls and pitted ceiling. There were benches of stone on both sides, stained and polished by long use. Twelve or fifteen steps carried him into a court-yard, oblong north and south, and in every quarter, except the east, bounded by what seemed the fronts of two-story houses; of which the lower floor was divided into lewens, while the upper was terraced and defended by strong balustrading. 

The servants coming and going along the terraces; the noise of millstones grinding; the garments fluttering from ropes stretched from point to point; the chickens and pigeons in full enjoyment of the place; the goats, cows, donkeys, and horses stabled in the lewens; a massive trough of water, apparently for the common use, declared this court appurtenant to the domestic management of the owner. Eastwardly there was a division wall broken by another passage-way in all respects like the first one.

Clearing the second passage, the young man entered a second court, spacious, square, and set with shrubbery and vines, kept fresh and beautiful by water from a basin erected near a porch on the north side. The lewens here were high, airy, and shaded by curtains striped alternate white and red. The arches of the lewens rested on clustered columns. A flight of steps on the south ascended to the terraces of the upper story, over which great awnings were stretched as a defence against the sun. 

Another stairway reached from the terraces to the roof, the edge of which, all around the square, was defined by a sculptured cornice, and a parapet of burned-clay tiling, sexangular and bright red. In this quarter, moreover, there was everywhere observable a scrupulous neatness, which, allowing no dust in the angles, not even a yellow leaf upon a shrub, contributed quite as much as anything else to the delightful general effect; insomuch that a visitor, breathing the sweet air, knew, in advance of introduction, the refinement of the family he was about calling upon.

A few steps within the second court, the lad turned to the right,
and, choosing a walk through the shrubbery, part of which was in
flower, passed to the stairway, and ascended to the terrace--a
broad pavement of white and brown flags closely laid, and much
worn. Making way under the awning to a doorway on the north side, he entered an apartment which the dropping of the screen behind him returned to darkness. Nevertheless, he proceeded, moving over a tiled floor to a divan, upon which he flung himself, face downwards, and lay at rest, his forehead upon his crossed arms.

About nightfall a woman came to the door and called; he answered, and she went in.

"Supper is over, and it is night. Is not my son hungry?" she asked.

"No," he replied.

"Are you sick?"

"I am sleepy."

"Your mother has asked for you."

"Where is she?"

"In the summer-house on the roof."

He stirred himself, and sat up.

"Very well. Bring me something to eat."

"What do you want?"

"What you please, Amrah. I am not sick, but indifferent. Life does
not seem as pleasant as it did this morning. A new ailment, O my
Amrah; and you who know me so well, who never failed me, may think of the things now that answer for food and medicine. Bring me what you choose."

Amrah's questions, and the voice in which she put them--low, sympathetic, and solicitous--were significant of an endeared relation between the two. She laid her hand upon his forehead; then, as satisfied, went out, saying, "I will see."

After a while she returned, bearing on a wooden platter a bowl of
milk, some thin cakes of white bread broken, a delicate paste of
brayed wheat, a bird broiled, and honey and salt. On one end of
the platter there was a silver goblet full of wine, on the other
a brazen hand-lamp lighted.

(to be continued)

Laughter the best Medicine

Laughter can improve your creativity. You can face challenges 
with more perspective with a good sense of humor.  

Laughter leads to more creative problem solving.

The physical benefits of laughter can lead to an improved 
outlook on life. 

Laughter can bring optimism and a more positive attitude.It can 
also bring resiliency that will help you bounce back from disappointments and survive tough times.  

Laughter will leave you feeling energized and renewed, ready to 
face life’s daily stresses without being overwhelmed.

The Power of Positive Thinking

Chapter 5

How to Create Your Own Happiness

WHO DECIDES WHETHER you shall be happy or unhappy? 

The answer—you do!

A television celebrity had as a guest on his program an aged man. And he was a very rare old man indeed. His remarks were entirely un- premeditated and of course absolutely unrehearsed. They simply bubbled up out of a personality that was radiant and happy. And whenever he said anything,it was so naive, so apt, that the audience roared with laughter. They loved him. The celebrity was impressed, and enjoyed it with the others.

Finally he asked the old man why he was so happy. "You must have a wonderful secret of happiness," he suggested.

"No," replied the old man, "I haven't any great secret. It's just
as plain as the nose on your face. When I get up in the morning," he explained, "I have two choices—either to be happy or to be unhappy, and what do you think I do? I just choose to be happy, and that's all there is to it."

That may seem an oversimplification, and it may appear that the old man was superficial, but I recall that Abraham Lincoln, whom nobody could accuse of being superficial,said that people were just about as happy as they made up their minds to be. You can be unhappy if you want to be. It is the easiest thing in the world to accomplish. 

Just choose unhappiness. Go around telling yourself that things 
aren't going well, that nothing is satisfactory, and you can be 
quite sure of being unhappy. But say to yourself, "Things are going nicely. Life is good. I choose happiness," and you can be quite certain of having your choice.

Children are more expert in happiness than adults. The adult who can carry the spirit of a child into middle and old age is a genius, for he will preserve the truly happy spirit with which God endowed the young. 

The subtlety of Jesus Christ is remarkable, for He tells us that
the way to live in this world is to have the childlike heart and mind. 

In other words, never get old or dull or jaded in spirit. Don't 
become super-sophisticated.

My little daughter Elizabeth, aged nine, has the answer to happiness. One day I asked her, "Are you happy, honey?"

"Sure I'm happy," she replied.

"Are you always happy?" I asked.

"Sure," she answered, "I'm always happy."

"What makes you happy?" I asked her.

"Why, I don't know," she said, "I'm just happy."

"There must be something that makes you happy," I urged.

"Well," she said, "I'll tell you what it is. My playmates, they
make me happy. I like them. My school makes me happy. I like to go to school. (I didn't say anything, but she never got that from me.) I like my teachers. And I like to go to church.I like Sunday school and my Sunday-school teacher. I love my sister Margaret and my brother John. I love my mother and father. They take care of me when I'm sick, and they love me and are good to me."

That is Elizabeth's formula for happiness, and it seems to me that it's all there—her playmates (that's her associates), her school (the place where she works), her church and Sunday school (where she worships), her sister, brother, mother, and father (that means the home circle where love is found).

There you have happiness in a nutshell, and the happiest time
of your life is in relation to those factors.

A group of boys and girls were asked to list the things that made them happiest. Their answers were rather touching.Here is the boys' list: "A swallow flying; looking into deep,clear water; water being cut at the bow of a boat; a fast train rushing; a builder's crane lifting something heavy; my dog's eyes."

And here is what the girls said made them happy: "Street lights on the river; red roofs in the trees; smoke rising from a chimney; red velvet; the moon in the clouds." There is something in the beautiful essence of the universe that is expressed, though only half-articulated, by these things. To become a happy person have a clean soul, eyes that see romance in the commonplace, a child's heart, and spiritual simplicity.

Many of us manufacture our own unhappiness. Of course not all unhappiness is self-created, for social conditions are responsible for not a few of our woes. Yet it is a fact that to a large extent by our thoughts and attitudes we distill out of the ingredients of life either happiness or unhappiness for ourselves.

"Four people out of five are not so happy as they can be," declares an eminent authority, and he adds, "Unhappiness is the most common state of mind." Whether human happiness strikes as low, a level as this, I would hesitate to say, but I do find more people living unhappy lives than I would care to

Since a fundamental desire of every human being is for that state of existence called happiness, something should be done about it. Happiness is achievable and the process for obtaining it is not complicated. Anyone who desires it, who wills it, and who learns and applies the right formula may become a happy person.
(to be continued)

The Other Side

A sick man turned to his doctor, as he was preparing to leave the 
examination room and said, "Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me 
what lies on the other side." Very quietly, the doctor said, "I don't 
know." "You don't know? You, a Christian man, do not know what is on the other side?"

The doctor was holding the handle of the door; on the other side 
of which came a sound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the door a dog sprang into the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness.

Turning to the patient, the doctor said, "Did you notice my dog? He's never been in this room before. He didn't know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear. I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing... I know my Master is there and that is enough." 


I was afraid, as a young parent, of losing something. No, I was afraid of losing someone. I was afraid when I would go Christmas shopping that when I turned around my child would be gone, lost is a crowd of faces in the toy section. One time, at ValleyFair, I lost Emily. We had been in the Berenstien Bears area, and when we went to leave, she wasn't there. 

We were with a group that instantly transformed into a search party. We fanned out. We sealed the exits. We search everywhere until we found her in one of the tree houses less than 15 feet from where she 
had been playing.

Of course, there is a solution. I can hold onto their hand. I can 
grip the little hand tightly and surround their fingers with mine.

And it works, for a time. And then their little fingers get too big to hold, and they are embarrassed that you are treating them like a 
child and you have to let go. You have to let go and let them walk 
beside you. I would still keep them in my sight, within a quick 
reach if there was trouble. I had let go physically, but I gripped 
them emotionally.

Eventually a child becomes a teen, and chooses not to walk beside you. You still keep your eye on them, and you continue to walk in the same direction. You have already told them the destination, the goal, and they are headed in the right way. You keep communicating and you are there if they want to ask directions.

At the end of a school year, I am reflecting about the youth ministry over the last nine months. Where did we do well? Where do we need to improve? How could I have been more dependent on God? Where did I miss the sound of his voice when He wanted to give me direction? When should I have held more tightly to His hand?

Eventually, I lose everyone I am ministering to. Some will graduate and move on to better things and brighter teachers, but I know that we have the same destination and that we'll see each other when we get there. Others find a different church, perhaps with more kids, bigger programs, louder music and a dynamic speaker. That's harder to see, but again the goal is the same.

Others just walk away. You see them drifting and you want to give 
them a little space. Maybe they are busy with a job, something at 
school, or a new relationship and you let go of their hand. You 
take a few steps and turn for them to catch up. Some do. Some don't. They just walk farther and farther away until you have to say that they are going in a different direction. You don't know if they'll 
find their way.

I think about the father of the prodigal son. I think about how 
much he longed to run after his child and find him. He wanted to 
hold onto his hand and never let go. To carry him back home. He 
didn't. Instead he waited. He waited and prayed and eventually 
his son found his was back home. Some don't. Some do and there is much rejoicing.

"My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; and no
one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." John 10:29.
Brian Stofferahn - ElmCreek Community Church 

Provided by Free Christian Content.org

Just for Laughs


A little boy was overheard praying: "Lord, if You can't make me a 
better boy, don't worry about it. I'm having a real good time like I 

Walking on Water

A mother was watching her four-year-old child playing outside in 
a small plastic pool half filled with water. He was happily walking 
back and forth across the pool, making big splashes. Suddenly, 
he stopped, stepped out of the pool, and began to scoop water out of the pool with a pail. 

"Why are you pouring the water out, Johnny?" the mother asked.

"'Cause my teacher said Jesus walked on water, and this water won't work." The boy replied.