29 October, 2012

posted 25 Oct 2012, 20:24 by C S Paul   [ updated 30 Oct 2012, 20:15 ]

29 October, 2012


The Rented Room

Provided by Free Christian Content.org 

Our house was directly across the street from the clinic entrance of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.  We lived downstairs and rented the upstairs rooms to outpatients at the clinic.

One summer evening as I was fixing supper, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to see a truly awful looking man. "Why, he's hardly taller than my eight-year-old," I thought as I stared at the stooped, shriveled body. But the appalling thing was his face, lopsided from swelling, red and raw.

Yet his voice was pleasant as he said, "Good evening. I've come to see if you've a room for just one night. I came for a treatment this morning from the eastern shore, and there's no bus 'til morning."

He told me he'd been hunting for a room since noon but with no success; no one seemed to have a room. "I guess it's my face. I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says with a few more treatments..."

For a moment I hesitated, but his next words convinced me: "I could sleep in this rocking chair on the porch.  My bus leaves early in the morning."

I told him we would find him a bed, but to rest on the porch. I went inside and finished getting supper. When we were ready, I asked the old man if he would join us. "No thank you. I have plenty." And he held up a brown paper bag.

When I had finished the dishes, I went out on the porch to talk with him a few minutes. It didn't take a long time to see that this old man had an oversized heart crowded into that tiny body. He told me he fished for a living to support his daughter, her five children and her husband, who was hopelessly crippled from a back injury.

He didn't tell it by way of complaint; in fact, every other sentence was prefaced with a thanks to God for a blessing. He was grateful that no pain accompanied his disease, which was apparently a form of skin cancer. He thanked God for giving him the strength to keep going.

At bedtime, we put a camp cot in the children's room for him. When I got up in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded, and the little man was out on the porch. He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, haltingly, as if asking a great favor, he said, "Could I please come back and stay the next time I have a treatment? I won't put you out a bit. I can sleep fine in a chair." He paused a moment and then added, "Your children made me feel at home. Grownups are bothered by my face, but children don't seem to mind." I told him he was welcome to come again.

And on his next trip he arrived a little after seven in the morning. As a gift, he brought a big fish and a quart of the largest oysters I had ever seen. He said he had shucked them that morning before he left so that they'd be nice and fresh. I knew his bus left at 4 a.m., and I wondered what time he had to get up in order to do this for us.

In the years he came to stay overnight with us there was never a time that he did not bring us fish or oysters or vegetables from his garden.

Other times we received packages in the mail, always by special delivery; fish and oysters packed in a box of fresh young spinach or kale, every leaf carefully washed. Knowing that he must walk three miles to mail these and knowing how little money he had made the gifts doubly precious.

When I received these little remembrances, I often thought of a comment our next-door neighbor made after he left that first morning. "Did you keep that awful looking man last night?  I turned him away! You can lose roomers by putting up such people!"

Maybe we did lose roomers once or twice. But, oh!  If only they could have known him, perhaps their illness' would have been easier to bear. I know our family always will be grateful to have known him; from him we learned what it was to accept the bad without complaint and the good with gratitude to God. 


BEN-HUR: A TALE OF THE CHRIST 

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 IV

Scarcely was Ben-Hur gone, when Simonides seemed to wake as from sleep: his countenance flushed; the sullen light of his eyes changed to brightness; and he said, cheerily,

"Esther, ring--quick!"

She went to the table, and rang a service-bell.

One of the panels in the wall swung back, exposing a doorway which gave admittance to a man who passed round to the merchant's front, and saluted him with a half-salaam.

"Malluch, here--nearer--to the chair," the master said, imperiously.

"I have a mission which shall not fail though the sun should. Hearken! A young man is now descending to the store-room--tall, comely, and in the garb of Israel; follow him, his shadow not more faithful; and every night send me report of where he is, what he does, and the company he keeps; and if, without discovery, you overhear his conversations, report them word for word, together with whatever will serve to expose him, his habits, motives, life. Understand you? Go quickly!

Stay, Malluch: if he leave the city, go after him--and, mark you, Malluch, be as a friend. If he bespeak you, tell him what you will to the occasion most suited, except that you are in my service, of that, not a word. Haste--make haste!"

The man saluted as before, and was gone.

Then Simonides rubbed his wan hands together, and laughed.

"What is the day, daughter?" he said, in the midst of the mood.

"What is the day? I wish to remember it for happiness come. See, and look for it laughing, and laughing tell me, Esther."

The merriment seemed unnatural to her; and, as if to entreat him from it, she answered, sorrowfully, "Woe's me, father, that I should ever forget this day!"

His hands fell down the instant, and his chin, dropping upon his breast, lost itself in the muffling folds of flesh composing his lower face.

"True, most true, my daughter!" he said, without looking up. "This is the twentieth day of the fourth month. To-day, five years ago,

my Rachel, thy mother, fell down and died. They brought me home broken as thou seest me, and we found her dead of grief. Oh, to me she was a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of En-Gedi! I have gathered my myrrh with my spice. I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey. We laid her away in a lonely place--in a tomb cut in the mountain; no one near her. Yet in the darkness she left me a little light, which the years have increased to a brightness of morning." He raised his hand and rested it upon his daughter's head.

"Dear Lord, I thank thee that now in my Esther my lost Rachel liveth again!"

Directly he lifted his head, and said, as with a sudden thought, "Is it not clear day outside?"

"It was, when the young man came in."

"Then let Abimelech come and take me to the garden, where I can see the river and the ships, and I will tell thee, dear Esther, why but now my mouth filled with laughter, and my tongue with singing, and my spirit was like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices."

In answer to the bell a servant came, and at her bidding pushed the chair, set on little wheels for the purpose, out of the room to the roof of the lower house, called by him his garden. Out through the roses, and by beds of lesser flowers, all triumphs of careful attendance, but now unnoticed, he was rolled to a position from which he could view the palace-tops over against him on the island, the bridge in lessening perspective to the farther shore, and the river below the bridge crowded with vessels, all swimming amidst the dancing splendors of the early sun upon the rippling water.

There the servant left him with Esther.

The much shouting of laborers, and their beating and pounding, did not disturb him any more than the tramping of people on the bridge floor almost overhead, being as familiar to his ear as the view before him to his eye, and therefore unnoticeable, except as suggestions of profits in promise.

Esther sat on the arm of the chair nursing his hand, and waiting his speech, which came at length in the calm way, the mighty will having carried him back to himself.

"When the young man was speaking, Esther, I observed thee, and thought thou wert won by him."

Her eyes fell as she replied, 

"Speak you of faith, father, I believed him." 

"In thy eyes, then, he is the lost son of the Prince Hur?" 

"If he is not--" She hesitated.

"And if he is not, Esther?"

"I have been thy handmaiden, father, since my mother answered the call of the Lord God; by thy side I have heard and seen thee deal in wise ways with all manner of men seeking profit, holy and unholy; and now I say, if indeed the young man be not the prince he claims to be, then before me falsehood never played so well the part of righteous truth."

"By the glory of Solomon, daughter, thou speakest earnestly.

Dost thou believe thy father his father's servant?"

"I understood him to ask of that as something he had but heard."

For a time Simonides' gaze swam among his swimming ships, though they had no place in his mind.

"Well, thou art a good child, Esther, of genuine Jewish shrewdness, and of years and strength to hear a sorrowful tale. Wherefore give me heed, and I will tell you of myself, and of thy mother, and of many things pertaining to the past not in thy knowledge or thy dreams--things withheld from the persecuting Romans for a hope's sake, and from thee that thy nature should grow towards the Lord straight as the reed to the sun.... I was born in a tomb in the valley of Hinnom, on the south side of Zion. My father and mother were Hebrew bond-servants, tenders of the fig and olive trees growing, with many vines, in the King's Garden hard by Siloam; and in my boyhood I helped them. They were of the class bound to serve forever. They sold me to the Prince Hur, then, next to Herod the King, the richest man in Jerusalem. From the garden he transferred me to his storehouse in Alexandria of Egypt, where I came of age. I served him six years, and in the seventh, by the law of Moses, I went free."

Esther clapped her hands lightly.

"Oh, then, thou art not his father's servant!"

"Nay, daughter, hear. Now, in those days there were lawyers in the cloisters of the Temple who disputed vehemently, saying the children of servants bound forever took the condition of their parents; but the Prince Hur was a man righteous in all things, and an interpreter of the law after the straitest sect, though not of them. He said I was a Hebrew servant bought, in the true meaning of the great lawgiver, and, by sealed writings, which I yet have, he set me free."

"And my mother?" Esther asked.

"Thou shalt hear all, Esther; be patient. Before I am through thou shalt see it were easier for me to forget myself than thy mother....

At the end of my service, I came up to Jerusalem to the Passover. My master entertained me. I was in love with him already, and I prayed  to be continued in his service. He consented, and I served him yet another seven years, but as a hired son of Israel. In his behalf I had charge of ventures on the sea by ships, and of ventures on land by caravans eastward to Susa and Persepolis, and the lands of silk beyond them. Perilous passages were they, my daughter; but the Lord blessed all I undertook. I brought home vast gains

for the prince, and richer knowledge for myself, without which I could not have mastered the charges since fallen to me....

to be continued


A Little Bit of Joy...

 -- Author Unknown 

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. It was a cowboy's life, a life for someone who wanted no boss. What I didn't realize was that it was also a ministry. Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional. 

Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, made me laugh and weep. But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night. 

I responded to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partyers, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or a worker heading to an early shift at some factory in the industrial part of town. 

When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away. But I had seen too many poor people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. 

Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needed my assistance, I reasoned to myself. So I walked to the door and knocked. 

"Just a minute," answered a frail, elderly voice. 

I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie. 

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knick- knacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware. 

"Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she said. 

I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. 

"It's nothing," I told her. "I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated." 

"Oh, you're such a good boy," she said. 

When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, "Could you drive through downtown?" 

"It's not the shortest way," I answered quickly. 

"Oh, I don't mind," she said. "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice". 

I looked in the rearview mirror. Her eyes were glistening. 

"I don't have any family left," she continued. "The doctor says I don't have very long."

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. "What route would you like me to take?" I asked. 

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. 

She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing. 

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, I'm tired. Let's go now." 

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. 

They were attentive, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair. 

"How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse. 

"Nothing," I said. 

"You have to make a living," she answered. 

"There are other passengers," I responded. 

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. 

"You gave an old woman a little moment of joy," she said. "Thank you, Dear." 

I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life. 

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? 

On a quick review, I don't think that I have done very many more important things in my life. We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. 

But great moments often catch us unaware - beautifully wrapped in what others may consider small ones. 


Power of Positive Thinking

 by Norman Vincent Peale


Chapter 10

Power to Solve Personal Problems 

I WANT TO tell you about some fortunate people who found the right solution to their problems.They followed a simple but highly practical plan and in each case the outcome was a happy and successful one. These people are in no sense different than you. They had the same problems and difficulties that you have, but they found a formula which helped them to get the right answers to the difficult questions facing them. This same formula applied by you can get similar results.

First, let me tell you the story of a husband and wife, longtime friends of mine. For years Bill, the husband, worked hard until he finally reached the rung next to the top of the ladder in his company. He was in line for the presidency of the firm and felt certain that upon retirement of the president he would be advanced to that position. There was no apparent reason why his ambition should not be realized, for by ability, training, and experience he was qualified. Besides, he had been led to believe he was to be chosen.

However, when the appointment was made he was bypassed.A man was brought in from the outside to fill the post. I arrived in his city just after the blow had fallen. The wife, Mary, was in an especially vindictive state of mind. At dinner she bitterly outlined all that she would "like to tell them." The intense disappointment, humiliation, frustration, focused in a burning anger which she poured out to her husband and me.

Bill, on the contrary, was quiet. Obviously hurt, disappointed, and bewildered, he took it courageously. Being essentially a gentle person, it was not surprising that he failed to become angry or violent in his reaction. Mary wanted him to resign immediately. She urged him to "tell them off and tell them plenty, then quit."

He seemed disinclined to take this action, saying perhaps it was for the best and he would go along with the new man and help him in any way that he could.

That attitude admittedly might be difficult, but he hadworked for the company for so long that he would not be happy elsewhere, and, besides, he felt that in the secondary position the company could continue to use him.

The wife then turned to me and asked what I would do. I told her that I would, like herself, undoubtedly feel disappointed and hurt, but that I would try not to allow hate to creep in, for animosity not only corrodes the soul, but disorganizes thought processes as well.

I suggested that what we needed was Divine guidance, a wisdom beyond ourselves in this situation. There was such an emotional content in the problem that we might possibly be incapable of thinking the matter through objectively and rationally.

I suggested, therefore, that we have a few minutes of quietness, no one saying anything, that we sit quietly in an attitude of fellowship and prayer, turning our thoughts to the One who said, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20)

I pointed out that there were three of us, and if we sought to achieve the spirit of being gathered in "His" name, He would also be present to quiet us and show us what to do.

It was not easy for the wife to accommodate herself to the mood suggested, but basically she was an intelligent, high- type person, and she joined in the plan.

Presently, after a few quiet minutes, I suggested that we join hands, and even though we were in a public restaurant I would quietly offer a prayer. In the prayer I asked for guidance. I requested peace of mind for Bill and Mary, and I went a step further and even asked God's blessing upon the new appointee. I also prayed that Bill would be able to fit in with the new administration and give more effective service than before.

After the prayer we sat silent for a time, then with a sigh the wife said, "Yes, I guess that is the way to do it. When I knew you were coming to dinner with us I feared that you would tell us to take a Christian position on this. Frankly, I didn't feel like doing that. I was boiling inwardly, but of course I realize that the right answer to this problem is to be found through that approach. I will try it faithfully, as difficult as it may be." She smiled wanly, but the animus was gone.

From time to time I checked with my friends, and found that while everything was not entirely as they desired, they gradually became fairly contented under the new arrangement. They were able to overcome their disappointment and ill will.

Bill even confided to me that he liked the new man and in a way enjoyed working with him. He told me that the new president often called him in for consultation and seemed to lean on him.

Mary was nice to the president's wife, and in fact they went to the fullest extent to be co-operative.

Two years passed. One day I arrived in their city and telephoned them.

"Oh, I am so excited I can hardly speak," Mary said.  

I commented that anything that could put her in that state must be of unusual importance. Ignoring this remark, she cried, "Oh, the most wonderful thing has happened. Mr. So-and-So," naming the president, "has been selected by another company at a big promotion for a special job which will take him out of our organization into a much better position and"—she posed the question—"guess what? Bill has just been notified that he is now president of this company. Come over right away and let the three of us give thanks together."

Later, as we sat together, Bill said, "Do you know, I am beginning to realize that Christianity isn't theoretical after all.

We have solved a problem according to well-defined spiritually scientific principles. I shudder to think," he said, "of the terrible mistake we would have made had we not gone at this problem according to the formula contained in the teachings of Jesus.

"Who in the world," he asked, "is responsible for the silly idea that Christianity is impractical? Never again will I let a problem come up without attacking it in just the way the three of us solved this one."

Well, several years have passed, and Mary and Bill have had other problems, and to each of them they have applied this same technique, invariably with good results. By the "put it in God's hands" method they have learned to solve their problems right.

Another effective technique in problem solving is the simple device of conceiving of God as a partner. One of the basic truths taught by the Bible is that God is with us. In fact, Christianity begins with that concept, for when Jesus Christ was born He was called Immanuel, meaning "God with us."

 to be continued

 


We Are All Pumpkins

Provided by Free Christian Content.org

A lady had recently been baptized. One of her coworkers asked her what it was like to be a Christian. She was caught off guard and didn't know how to answer; but when she looked up, she saw a jack-o'-lantern on the desk and answered: "It's like being a pumpkin."

The coworker asked her to explain that one.

"Well, God picks you from the patch and brings you in and washes off all the dirt on the outside that you got from being around all the other pumpkins. Then he cuts off the top and takes all the yucky stuff out from inside. He removes all those seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc. Then he carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all to see.

 

Just for Laughs

Long Memory

The devil told the pope," No one in the world has a better memory than I do." The Pope responded to that," Oh! Well I know this Indian guy who has the best memory in the world and I'll even prove it." Then the devil replied, "Ok I'll take your offer and if I have a better memory I get your soul" "It's a deal" He replied. Then they shook hands to make the deal official. 

They went to a remote village in Africa to bring out the deal. There they meet Roaming Bull (who the Pope was talking about). The devil asked him," Do you like eggs?" The indian replied," Wo wo" (which means Yes in English )

Fifty years passed and everyone is still alive and most have forgotten about the deal. Then the devil also forgot about the deal. He went back to the village in Africa and said to Roaming Bull, "How"(which is the proper greeting for an Indian, as you know )

The Indian replied," Scrambled."


Did You Know ?

  • An ostrich can run up to 43mph (70 km/h).

  • An annoyed camel will spit at a person.

  • The world’s smallest dog is the Chihuahua, which means “tiny dog in the sky.”

  • Pea crabs (the size of a pea) are the smallest crabs in the world.

  • 75% of wild birds die before they are 6 months old.

  • The pig is rated the fourth most intelligent animal but are mentioned only twice in the Bible

  • Sheep are mentioned 45 times and goats 88 times in the Bible. Dogs are mentioned 14 times and lions 89 times, but 

    domestic cats are not mentioned.

  • Rock drawings from the Red Sea site of Wadi Hammamat, dated to around 4000 BC show that Egyptian boats were made from papyrus and reeds.

  • The world’s earliest known plank-built ship, made from cedar and sycamore wood and dated to 2600 BC, was discovered next to the Great Pyramid in 1952.

  • The Egyptians created the first organized navy in 2300 BC.

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