THE SEED Author Unknown

In the Far East the emperor was growing old and knew it was time to choose his successor. Instead of choosing one of his assistants or his children, he decided to do something different. He called young people in the kingdom together one day. He said, "It is time for me to step down and choose the next emperor. I have decided to choose one of you."

The children were shocked, but the emperor continued. "I am going to give each one of you a seed today - one very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from this one seed. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next emperor."

One boy, named Ling, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his mother the story. She helped him get a pot and planting soil, and he planted the seed and watered it, carefully. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown..

After about three weeks, some of the other youths began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Ling kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants, but Ling didn't have a plant and he felt like a failure. Six months went by -- still nothing in Ling's pot.

He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Ling didn't say anything to his friends, however. He just kept waiting for his seed to grow. A year finally went by and all the youths of the kingdom brought their plants to the emperor for inspection. Ling told his mother that he wasn't going to take an empty pot. But his mother asked him to be honest about what happened.

Ling felt sick at his stomach, but he knew his mother was right. He took his empty pot to the palace. When Ling arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other youths. They were beautiful -- in all shapes and sizes. Ling put his empty pot on the floor and many of the other children laughed at him. A few felt sorry for him and just said, "Hey, nice try."

When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young people. Ling just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown," said the emperor. "Today one of you will be appointed the next emperor!"

All of a sudden, the emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered his guards to bring him to the front. Ling was terrified. He thought, "The emperor knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me killed!"

When Ling got to the front, the Emperor asked his name. "My name is Ling," he replied. All the kids were laughing and making fun of him. The emperor asked everyone to quiet down. He looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, "Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!"

Ling couldn't believe it. Ling couldn't even grow his seed. How could he be the new emperor?

Then the emperor said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone here a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds that would not grow. All of you, except Ling, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Ling was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he Is the one who will be the new emperor!"

If you plant honesty, you will reap trust. If you plant goodness, you will reap friends. If you plant humility, you will reap greatness. If you plant perseverance, you will reap victory. If you plant consideration, you will reap harmony. If you plant hard work, you will reap success. If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation. If you plant faith, you will reap miracles.

So be careful what you plant, now; it will determine what you will reap tomorrow. The seeds you now scatter will make life worse or better for you or for the ones who will come after you. Someday you will enjoy the fruits or you will pay for the choices you make.

Two thousand years ago someone else told the same story with fewer words, "What you sow, so shall you reap". If you know who said this, nothing else needs to be said.

WHO IS JESUS? by Daphne Harrington

Jesus' birth day (the day we celebrate His coming to earth in human form) is celebrated all over the world and his fame has not diminished in 2,000 years. But sometimes the way in which his birthday is "celebrated" is anything but what it should be. Much of the time it is with disrespect. His name is used to sell merchandise. This is the only time of the year when the stores play Christian music and we hear the name of the Lord in the public square. At other times there would
probably be lawsuits over mentioning Christ in these places.

The name of Jesus has been so maligned these past 2,000 years yet, according to the Bible, His name is above all names. Among other things, He is the Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Wonderful Counselor, The Holy One, The Lamb of God, the Prince of Life, The Word of Life, Author and Finisher of Our Faith, our Advocate. He is The Way, the only Begotten Son of God, the Messiah, The Truth, Savior, Lord of All, The Righteous Judge, The Light of the World, The Resurrection and Life, our Horn of Salvation. He is The Alpha and The Omega, The Beginning and The End. These names describe His essence, His character, and His provision for us.

He is not just another prophet. In the Old Testament as well as in the new, there are lists of "begats." These are long lists of family lines, as in Genesis5:3 where it says, "And Adam ... begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth." In the New Testament we are told that Jesus is the only BEGOTTEN Son of God. (Therefore, God begat Jesus - a Sonin His own likeness.) "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring fortha son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" Matthew 1:23. Jesus is God in the flesh and He was sent to "save His people from their sins" Matthew 1:22.

We, as sinful men cannot come to God, the Holy Father, by ourselves. We must have a mediator and God provided that in His Son. We read in 1 John 2:23, "The man who will not recognize the Son cannot possibly know the Father, yet the man who believes in the Son knows the Father as well"(Phillips Translation) . This thought continues in 1 John 5:11-12.

"...God has given men eternal life and this real life is to be found only in His Son. It follows naturally that any man who has Christ has this life; and if he has not,then he does not possess this life at all."

So Jesus is God's love gift to us. He says, "...the greatest demonstration of God's love for us has been His sending His only Son into the world to give us life through Him. We see real love, not in the fact that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to make personal atonement for our sins" 1John 4:9-10 (Phillips Translation).

Simply put, without Jesus we perish eternally. But by faith in Him, we are forgiven our sins and united with God both now and forever. This Christmas,let' s celebrate Jesus for who He really is.

A PRAYER Author Unknown

Dear Lord:

Every single evening
As I'm lying here in bed
This tiny little prayer
Keeps running through my head.

God bless my mom and dad,
And other family.
Keep them warm and safe from harm
For they're so close to me.

And God, there is one more thing
I wish that you could do.
Hope you don't mind me asking,
Bless my computer too.

Now I know that it's not normal
To bless a mother board,
But listen just a second
While I explain to you my Lord.

You see, that little metal box
Holds more than odds & ends
Inside those small compartments
Rest so many of my FRIENDS.

I know so much about them
By the kindness that they give
And this little scrap of metal
Takes me in to where they live.

By faith is how I know them
Much the same as you
We share in what life brings us
And from that our friendship grew.

Please, take an extra minute
>From your duties up above
To bless those in my address book
That's filled with so much love!

Wherever else this prayer may reach
To each and every friend,
Bless each email inbox
And the person who hits send.

When you update your heavenly list
On your own CD-Rom
Remember each who've said this prayer
Sent up to


SOAP IN MY EYES By Sally I Kennedy

And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Humming some mindless oldie goldie lyrics in the shower, I lathered up the shampoo. I felt the soap run down onto my face. Instinctively, my eyes shut tight, so the soap wouldn't get in them. Too late. My eyes were burning! I was glad in a few moments, when they were fine, after running some clear water over them.

Reminded me of when I need an attitude adjustment. Or the Lord wants to get my attention. Or He wants to correct something going on with me. He has this way of gently putting 'soap in my eyes" - a little sting, a prick to the conscience. Nothing seriously painful, or permanent. Just a momentary way of getting a message across to me.

Isn't He a wonderful Father?! He wants to keep us on the right path. We are always on His mind, always on His heart. He holds us, day and night, in the palm of his hand.

Next time I'm in the shower, and get a little shampoos in my eyes, perhaps it will be a reminder to listen to the Lord's nudging, and get back to simply loving God, loving others, and doing the next right thing.

BOTTLE IT UP! By Marion Smith

Our vacation in Pebble Beach was wonderful. The weather was delightful, food superb and we had perfect conditions for golf. The views of the ocean pounding against the sides of cliffs took my breath away. The happy antics of the sea otters frolicking in the ocean lifted my spirits, and the seals amused me as I watched them dive for food and sun on the rocks. The resonance of their barking to each other was a sound that was pleasing to me, as was the crashing of the waves as they rolled into shore. I experienced marvelous visual sights and sound, and when it was time to return home to reality, I wasn't ready to leave.

Sights and sounds so wonderful.... I wanted to bottle them up and take them home with me to keep the joy I experienced alive. I could just let a little of it out each time I faced a trial at home... I could recapture the way I felt - joy, peace and thrill of beauty unsurpassed.... I could allow the happy memories help me face the setbacks of the real world.

But of course, this was impossible, for we cannot "bottle up" joyful experiences and then just pour them out when we want a dab of them, like we would perfume.

There is, however, a bottle full of God's grace, and glory, peace and acceptance, faith, hope and love ready for us to receive. As a matter of fact, it says in the bible- Romans 5:5, that there is so much God wants to give us - we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit. That is wonderful news. I am so glad God has a miraculous way to share all He has with us. It is beyond human understanding, but I know from personal experience that if I go to the bottle of God's love, remove the stopper and ask for His help, He will pour into my spirit what I need. He does the same for all His children, for He loves us all equally.

Remember when you are in dire circumstances or the pressures of life are getting you down, just go to God's bottle of grace, and He will pour out to you a good measure, not just a dab, but a good measure of whatever it is you need. He is faithful!

ROOTS By Sally I Kennedy

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him,rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7

The roots on our "eyeball tree" , as my grandaughter used to call them, keep shooting out. I think it may be 'elephant ear philodendron'. At any rate, those roots are strong and fibrous, thin and flexible. When they get long enough to reach down into the decking, I wrap them around the trunk to prevent their rooting in the
earth under the wood deck.

As I was gardening there one day, I thought, "Aren't we like those roots? Springing up and reaching out, waving in the breeze, always turning toward the sun. And, isn't God always there, gently turning us downward so our roots can be firmly and deeply in Him. "

He is continuously and gently doing this, even though it is barely noticeable most of the time. It is necessary, though, in order to steady the large, heavy top growth of the plant - the visible part. Then when the storms come, we will not topple, but stand firm, rooted deeply in Him.

Thank you, Lord, for faithfully taking care of rooting us, even though we are not aware of it.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please help me to grow deep, sturdy roots in You, through communion in prayer with You each day, and through the soaking in your Word. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus' name, Amen.

AS LONG AS POSSIBLE By Sally I. Kennedy shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord... Exodus 12:14

Do you like birthdays? I love my birthday. So much so that I don't even mind what the double digits are registering. Holidays are for everyone. But your birthday is YOUR day!

There is only one of you. That is something to celebrate! My friends know how much I love my birthday; before it ever arrives they call to arrange a lunch or something. If I can stretch it out for a few days, that is good. The whole month is even better!

Actually I have two birthdays. First, the day my mother gave birth to me physically. Second, the day I was born spiritually. You might know the date precisely, or, you might "just know".

A conversation Nicodemus had with Jesus when he sneaked over in the cloak of darkness, went like this: Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born. Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." (John 3:3-8)

Here's the good news: every one of us can have two birthdays. If we believe in our hearts, and confess with our mouths, that Jesus is Lord, we are "born a second time". We can celebrate that every single day of the year. And how about this: we can celebrate as long as we live, then even longer! As long as possible, with God - eternity and forever.

That is definitely good news.

I REFUSE Author Unknown

I refuse to be discouraged, To be sad, or to cry;
I refuse to be downhearted, and here's the reason why:
I have a God who's mighty, Who's sovereign and supreme;
I have a God who loves me, and by grace I'm on His team.

He is all-wise and powerful. Jesus is His name;
Though everything is changeable, My God remains the same.
My God knows all that's happening; Beginning to the end;
His presence is my comfort; He is my dearest Friend.

When sickness comes to weaken me, To bring my head down low,
I call upon my mighty God; Into His arms I go.
When circumstances threaten to rob me of my peace;
He draws me close unto His breast, Where all my strivings cease.

When my heart melts within me, and weakness takes control;
He gathers me into His arms, He soothes my heart and soul.
The great "I AM" is with me. My life is in His hand.
The "Son of the Lord" is my hope. It's in His strength I stand.

I refuse to be defeated. My eyes are on my God;
He has promised to be with me, As through this life I trod.
I'm looking past all my circumstances, To Heaven's throne above;
My prayers have reached the heart of God I'm resting in His love.

I give God thanks in everything. My eyes are on His face;
The battle's His, the victory mine; He'll help me win the race.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!!!!


GOD knew that everyone needs
companionship and cheer,
He knew that people need someone
whose thoughts are always near.

He knew they need someone kind
to lend a helping hand.
Someone to gladly take the time
to care and understand.

GOD knew that we all need someone
to share each happy day,
to be a source of courage
when troubles come our way.

Someone to be true to us,
whether near or far apart.
Someone whose love we'll always
hold and treasure in our hearts.

That's Why GOD Gave Us Friends.


As the threatening "Clouds of Chaos"
Gather in man's muddled mind;
While he searches for an answer
He alone can never find;
May God turn our vision skyward
So that we can see above ...
The gathering clouds of darkness,
And behold God's brightening love.

For today we're facing problems
Man alone can never solve,
For it takes much more than genius
To determine and resolve,
The conditions that confront us
All around on every side,
Daily mounting in intensity
Like the restless, rising tide.

But we'll find new Strength and Wisdom
If instead of proud resistance ...
We humbly call upon the Lord
And seek Divine Assistance;
For the spirit can unravel
Many tangled, knotted threads
That defy the skill and power
Of the world's best hands and heads.

For the plans of growth and progress
Of which we all have dreamed,
Cannot survive materially
Unless the spirit is redeemed.
So as another New Year dawns,
Let us seek the Lord in prayer
And place our future hopes and plans
Securely in God's care.


"How do I make them remember?" he asked me.

"You can't," I replied.

"But I want them to remember these times," he said.

I placed my hand on his shoulder and said, "Then make these times worth remembering. "

I was trying to understand what it was about Christmas that makes my family love it so.

The music? The cookies? The presents? The people? The giving? The getting? The twinkling lights? The laughter or the "Silent Night?"

Yes, and so much more.

But what was at the center of it all for me? It would be the right thing to say, I suppose, the proper and most wonderful answer to give, by saying the expected and most obvious reply...the birth of Christ.

Dare I say anything else?

I will.

I suddenly discovered that the center of it all, the beginning and the focus for this family is the tree.

The celebration begins and ends there.

Wait. Do not bow your head and pray for this sinner yet.

I do not suggest that it ranks higher in importance than Jesus Himself.

Still, nothing happens in our home until the pagan ritual of selecting, decorating, and caring for the Christmas tree is complete.

I have shared my story with you about the talking Christmas tree, the journey to find the perfect one and the final words of thanks I offer it on the last night.

My son Keith has had his very own tree for a number of years and my youngest son, Evan, was presented with his own bow saw this year. He and Crystal ventured out in search of their tree. It was a big event worth noting. A crossing over, a standing on his own, a passing of the torch giving me the satisfaction of knowing the tradition will go on.

It was a moment all alone, a silence, not in the night, but in the brightness of a sunny afternoon, that embraced my heart bringing peace to my very soul and joy into my life once again.

I was lost somewhere wandering around the forest of pine, listening for the whisper.

Glancing across the field I noticed for the very first time that both the smallest and the largest trees cast big shadows.

Suddenly, I heard my family calling me.

"I'll be right there," I shouted. I turned to capture one last image of the beauty of this sunlit still shot.

"One day, I will not be here with them," I thought. "They will walk among these trees and pausing here, perhaps in this very spot, they will think of me and smile.

I hope they see the shadows beyond the trees. That is where I'll the shadow of a memory."

How powerful. To see not only the beauty in what stands before you, but in the eternal forever-ness of the memories left behind them.

This new revelation helped me to better understand what my friend meant when he asked, "How do I make them remember?"

I was struggling with that very same thought when I came across the perfect answer.

It was a suggested gift in a collection of ideas I found on the internet. I clicked on the link and there it was...the image of a candle lit pine tree casting a shadow against the wall.

"That's it!" I said. I could clearly see the purpose, the gift, the power of the light, the beauty of the tree and the memory of it, flickering off in the distance.

Much like our lives. We are given a purpose, a gift to fulfill it, the power of faith to light our way, the beauty of our own image becomes a reflection of our Creator and the memory of all we were, cast forever like a shadow behind us.

Look for me there my sons. When the day comes when I am no longer walking by your side through the forest of Christmases past and future. I will be there... "In the shadow of a memory."

"I believe in You!"

CAPTURED By Sally I Kennedy

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalm 139:16 NLT

The rosy sunset began seeping across the sky. I quickly grabbed my new camera, all excited for an opportunity to capture and hold onto the glorious sight.

When I received the camera as a gift last Christmas, it came with an instruction manual. The section on how to best photograph subjects and landscapes, etc., was spelled out in great detail. The thick booklet described how to capture the moment.

Today, at the grocery store, I saw a pre-schooler in the parking lot. She was bent over, completely fascinated by something on the ground. Maybe a bug, or a leaf, or a rock, or a piece of paper. Whatever it was, she was trying, without success, to get her mother's attention to come look at it.

The child was oblivious to the fact that Mom wanted to get in the store and get the grocery shopping done, back home, unpacked, and put away. She did not realize Mom had many other things to do today, She was totally captured by the moment.

God is in every moment we have. How awesome to be so enthralled with the moment. There used to be a phrase, "Stop and smell the roses." Each moment is truly a gift from the Lord.

Today, may I be filled with gratitude, to my Creator, and see the beauty and awe of "the moment".

ALPHABET Author Unknown

A lthough things are not perfect

B ecause of trial or pain

C ontinue in thanksgiving

D o not begin to blame

E ven when the times are hard

F ierce winds are bound to blow

G od is forever able

H old on to what you know

I magine life without His love

J oy would cease to be

K eep thanking Him for all the things

L ove imparts to thee

M ove out of "Camp Complaining"

N o weapon that is known

O n earth can yield the power

P raise can do alone

Q uit looking at the future

R edeem the time at hand

S tart every day with worship

T o "thank" is a command

U ntil we see Him coming

V ictorious in the sky

W e'll run the race with gratitude

X alting God most high

Y es, there'll be good times and yes some will be bad, but...

Z ion waits in glory...where none are ever sad!

"I AM Too blessed to be stressed!"

The shortest distance between a problem and a solution is the distance
between your knees and the floor.

The one who kneels to the Lord can stand up to anything.


He has made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11

Several days had passed since I bought the beautiful big, plump rose. I cut the stem at an angle, under water (as the directions suggested). Then I placed it in a special bud vase, and set it on my husband's washstand. Ben loves roses, and although this flower didn't have much fragrance, it was lovely to look at.

The flower just wasn't opening like I thought it should.

"I'll help it," I thought. So carefully, I pried the blush color petals open.

Perhaps you have tried to force a flower to open before it is ready. It didn't work for me, that's for sure.

So often I am impatient with how things are going, and I just have to get involved and try to "help" speed up the process. I am an action person, so have always prided myself on not procrastinating; rather taking the bull by the horns and jumping in.

Forcing this flower to open clearly brought home the message to me that, even though it is ok to be an action person, it is also wise to be patient. There is a rhythm, and a time, for everything. My impatience helps nothing!

Thank you , Lord, You make everything beautiful, in Your time. That is Good News.

THE FATHER DIED by George Prins

Frederick Buechner tells a story about a boy of twelve or thirteen who, in a fit of anger and depression, got hold of a gun and fired it at his father, who died shortly afterwards. When the authorities asked the boy why he had done it, he said that it was because he hated his father who demanded too much of him. And then later on, after he had been placed in a house of detention, a guard was walking down the corridor late one night when he heard sounds from the boy's room, and he stopped to listen. The words that he heard the boy sobbing out in the dark were, "I want my father, I want my father."

Reading this story reminded me of how society has tried to kill off God, the Father. Faith in Him has become so meager as "enlightened" people contemplate the "fallacy" of God's existence. "Where is God?" we ask as the killings in Kosovo continue, as children are forced into drugs and prostitution at an early age, and as terrorists find nuclear toys to tinker with. The weeping of society does not abate and the media noisemakers darken the whereabouts of a God, saying we perhaps have outgrown Him.

And yet, within each of us, there is a deep longing to find fulfillment. We are given the freedom to find gratification in anything we desire, only to discover that only God satisfies our hunger. As Augustine aptly wrote: "Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee." Likewise, Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher wrote: "There is in each of us a God-shaped vacuum that only God can fill."

A suggested prayer:

"God, my heart and mind are restless, ever racing against time and place.Where do I find satisfaction? How can faith in you relax me and give me hope and peace? God, I often think that I have outgrown you. Forgive my failures, my doubts and my meager faith in You. I ask you to take my vacuum, my void, my aching, and fill it with Your
presence. Thank You for taking my burdens when You died on the cross and rose
again. You knew myname already then! So You investigate my life and get all the facts straight. Let me be an open book to You for I am never out of Your sight.

You know me inside and out and know every bone of my body. I thank You,Father, that You are not dead but let Your Son die to give me a future. Amen!"


An elderly woman wrote in to nationally-syndicated columnist, Dear Abby, because she had done something that many of us do: wrongfully judge someone based on first impressions.

The woman felt awful because she had terribly pre-judged a male neighbor, simply by how he looked. When he first moved into the neighborhood, and she saw him all dressed in black; even black nail polish and eye-liner, she marked him as a "devil worshipper." Months later, his long hair was completely shaved off, and her next harsh conclusion was that he must now be a radical "skinhead!"

It was only when she took the time to actually get to know her neighbor, that she learned he attended the local university, and was merely dressed in costume for an event the first time she spotted him, and that his long hair was now missing because he regularly donated his fast-growing locks to a charitable association which uses human hair to make wigs for cancer patients who have lost their hair.

The woman felt bad for judging a book by its cover, and wrote in to warn others of doing the same.

How thankful we should be that God does not judge us the way mankind often does; only by what is seen on the outside. Our Heavenly Father is more concerned about what's going on in the inside; within our hearts and minds, as it is these which control our actions and what comes out of our mouths.

Do you love God and His Son, Jesus Christ? Do you treat others as you yourself wish to be treated?

If yes, you do well, but if not, it is never too late to take that first positive step toward salvation.

Reach out your hand whether it is yellow, black, red, brown or white, for God is the Master Painter who created all these beautiful colors of the spectrum!

Extend out those fingers regardless of whether they have long or short nails; are adorned with color or not, for God wants your love, not your nail polish, fashions trends, hair styles, or makeup techniques.

Prayer: "Dear God, please forgive me if I have been shallow, and in my criticism of others, I may have missed rich opportunities to share your truth, or to know someone wonderful. I ask You, God, to help me see others as You do; to give me the same patience You have given me, and to allow all I do and say to be a walking testimony of Your merciful love. This I ask in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen."

MORNINGS By Sally I Kennedy

The Lord's great love...... his compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Lamentations 3:22-23

This morning I rolled out of bed with my eyes not quite open, and headed for the coffee pot. It might have resembled sleepwalking as I began unloading the dishwasher. Routinely, I stacked the cups and glasses to put in the cupboards. That was when I noticed a coffee stain in one of the mugs. And, there were only a couple of plates in the bottom of the dishwasher. "Oh, no!" I thought. "I hate when I do stuff like this." Especially early in the day. A morning person I'm not, to which my family and friends will quickly attest.

Everything went back in. I finished loading and ran it. Out of the corner of my eye, now much more open, I saw on the counter our daily calendar with the scripture verse for the day. Proverbs 17:22, "A cheerful heart is good medicine".

Into my mind popped, "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!! OK, so I started getting the message. And yes, it WAS a glorious day.

Mornings. They're like new beginnings. And thank God, He is gracious, because of his great love and compassion, to give us plenty of those. All we need, in fact.

That's good news.


May you find serenity and tranquility in a world you may not always understand.

May the pain you have known and the conflict you have experienced give you the strength to walk through life facing each new situation with optimism and courage.

Always know that there are those whose love and understanding will always be there, even when you feel most alone.

May you discover enough goodness in others to believe in a world of peace.

May a kind word, a reassuring touch, a warm smile be yours every day of your life, and may you give these gifts as well as receive them.

Remember the sunshine when the storm seems unending.

Teach love to those who know hate, and let that love embrace you as you go into the world.

May the teaching of those you admire become part of you, so that you may call upon them.

Remember, those whose lives you have touched and who have touched yours are always a part of you, even if the encounters were less than you would have wished.

May you not become too concerned with material matters, but instead place immeasurable value on the goodness in your heart.

Find time in each day to see the beauty and love in the world around you.

Realize that each person has limitless abilities, but each of us is different in our own way.

What you may feel you lack in one regard may be more than compensated for in another.

What you feel you lack in the present may become one of your strengths in the future.

May you see your future as one filled with promise and possibility.

Learn to view everything as a worthwhile experience.

May you find enough inner strength to determine your own worth by yourself, and not be dependent on an other's judgments of your accomplishments.

May you always feel loved.

PAIN AND CHOICE by Lolita Jardeleza

How I love that saying, "Pain is inevitable but misery is optional." I definitely am one of those people who do not like to suffer more than I have to. I fully believe that trying to live life without suffering is like trying to take a shower without getting wet. But you will not catch me volunteering for more suffering than is already built-in in life. What suffering life sends me I will join to the sufferings of Jesus on the cross, hopefully, with a gracious spirit but I do not believe in horsehairshirts and self-flagellation. I think our enjoyment of God's blessings also please God when we do it for His glory (1 Cor. 10:31)

That is why I have latched on to humor as a pain-reliever as are prayer and looking at things philosophically. I try to see if another angle might diminish suffering. For example, "Why do I think this new arthritic pain in my knuckle is painful? If I thought it was pleasurable, would I still think of it as pain?" So while I'm experimenting with those attitudes, Iam distracted long enough to not feel the pain for the duration of the distraction.

I have also reflected on what causes us the most pain. I thought that maybe if I identified all the things that could bend me out of shape, I would somehow learn how to deflect them the way the Shaolin monks deflected spears in "Kung Fu."

Surely for me, the loss of Papa. To be separated by eternity from the person who held life's meaning for me took everything I had to make sense of living. Loneliness is hideous. There is simply no way we can get around the soul-shredding grief that comes from losing someone we love dearly in death.

There is a pain in missing those we hold dear from whom we are separated by distance. Happily, e-mail allows us to stay bonded in mind and heart from day to day. The love and relationship can keep thriving because the investment of time and caring remains unabated.

Ongoing silence from the ones we love is the subtlest and the most painful rejection of all. But one learns to live with it. We do not have to accept the punishment others deal us because it gives them a sense of power.

Silence is a spear I can deflect.

Loss of friendship is painful. Without explanation, without rhyme nor reason, someone you thought and valued as a friend is no longer there. Thankfully, I have never lost a friendship though because I have never put my end of the friendship down. "He drew a circle that shut me out Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout / But Love and I had the wit to win / We drew a circle that took him in." (Edwin Markham)

Physical pain and loss of health are major crosses. Yet we take good health for granted and merrily abuse our bodies as if we were invincible. So we take care of our health as assiduously as we care for our possessions because health is a primary asset.

Loss of material things we value is nothing to sniff at either. It is an ongoing struggle not to be attached to the things we own. So we meet and get acquainted with St. Francis' Lady Poverty.

Failure doesn't faze me because failure is my familiar as well as my teacher. Churchill said, "Success is never final. Failure is never fatal.

It is courage that counts." I claim I have never failed because I'm stillin here trying.

Criticism, disapproval, insult, anger - all hurt. And so we turn to "Do good to those who hurt you. Bless those who curse you." And constantly I remind myself that WE LOVE GOD AS MUCH AS THE PERSON WE LOVE THE LEAST.

Feeling that we don't measure up, that we fall short, that we are inadequate nags even the strongest of us. So God says, "My grace is sufficient for thee" and I can say, "When I am weak, then I am strong," for God's power is made perfect in my weakness.

Spear, deflect. Arrow, deflect. Bullet, deflect. We have that choice - we are not at the mercy of life. We are bigger than life.

LONELINESS by Christopher Notes

"Language has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone, and the word solitude to express the glory of being alone." This comment by theologian Paul Tillich points out how much our feelings color our experience.

To be lonely is to feel isolated - cut off from others and locked into ourselves. It is to feel loss and sadness and self-pity.

But to experience solitude is to be alone with something, such as a book or music - or with God, in meditation or prayer. It is to feel peace and well-being.

To turn loneliness into solitude, we need to concentrate on something outside ourselves. That's why prayer can free us from isolation. It connects us with the beautiful and the universal, with God.

O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; and by night, but find no rest. Yet You are enthroned on the praises of Israel. In You our ancestors . . . trusted, and You delivered them. (Psalm 22:2-4)

When the "lonelies" come, God my companion, console me.

CLOSED DOORS Author Unknown

We need to learn to praise the Lord as much for a closed door as we do an open door. The reason God closes doors is because He has not prepared anything over there for us. If he didn't close the wrong door, we would never find the right door.

God directs our path through the closing and opening of doors. Once a door closes, it forces you to change your course. Another door closes, it forces you to change your course again. Then, finally, you find the open door and you walk right into your blessing.

The Lord directs our paths through the opening and closing of doors, but instead of praising him for the closed door (which keeps us out of trouble); we get upset because we "judge by the appearances. "

You have an ever-present help in the time of trouble that is always standing guard. Because He walks ahead of you, He can spot trouble down the road and set up a roadblock or detour accordingly. But through our lack of wisdom, we try to tear down the roadblocks or push aside the detour sign. Then the minute we get into trouble, we start crying, "Lord, how could You have done this to me?"

We have got to realize that the closed door can be a blessing. Didn't He say that no good thing would He withhold from them that love Him?

If you get terminated from your job, praise God for the new opportunities that will manifest themselves: it might be another job, it might be school.

If that man or woman won't return your call, it might not be them, it might be the Lord setting up a roadblock (just let it go).

One time, a person had a bank they had been in business with for many years tell them "No!" to a $10,000 loan. The Lord put in their spirit to call another bank. That bank gave them $40,000 at a lower interest rate than the first bank was offering.

We can sometimes trap ourselves in doubt and discouragement through judging by appearances. Be grateful for the many times our Father has closed doors to us just to open them in the most unexpected places.

The Lord won't always say in spoken words: "Go to the left, now to the right" ... sometimes He will just close the doors that are wrong for you.

God Bless You Always!

DRIPPY & DRIZZLY By Sally I. Kennedy

Sounds like the two dwarfs who didn't make the cut for the Disney movie. Drippy and drizzly. That is how it's been for the past 2 days. When you are on vacation, that's the last thing you want: rain. But you know what they say, "can't do much about the weather".

I watched the clouds drip onto the water, making hypnotic little circles that merged into other circles. How the years melted, and I was transported to a place far away.

At a remote spot, at the end of a long dirt road, was the clearing with a pretty spring-fed lake and a sprinkling of cottages; one of which my parents honeymooned in, then later purchased.

I spent summers there as a child. Rustic hardly describes it. Today, I believe camping would be more sophisticated than life at our cottage was back then.

It was the best time of my life. Well, one of the very best, for sure.

Life was so simple. We enjoyed reading stories and books; we put together lots of puzzles. Outdoors there were limitless opportunities for creative play and on sunny afternoons, we could swim.

Every summer we would borrow a farm dog, and he'd be our friend for the months we were there. He, my sister, and I had many an adventure in the old rowboat, scouting bullfrogs on lily pads.

Today I am thankful for time to be still, like those days. To just "be", and not "do". I am too often guilty of operating as a "human doing" and not a "human being".

God can really use our drippy, drizzly days, to quiet our minds, minister to our souls, and settle our spirits.

That is good news.

Psalm 46:10 (NIV) Be still, and know that I am God Psalm 55: 6-8 (MSG) Get me out of here on dove wings; I want some peace and quiet. I want a walk in the country. I want a cabin in the woods. I'm desperate for a change from rage and stormy weather. Psalm 4:4 (ASV) Stand in awe, and sin not: Commune with your own heart upon your bed,
and be still. Ps 131:2 (NKJV) Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul.

APPRENTICE By Marion Smith

The day we put our house on the market for sale, a real estate agent came by to view it. With her was a young girl- her apprentice, she said. They walked all around the house, and the seasoned agent showed specific attributes and features to her apprentice. She was training and molding this apprentice in the finer points of her profession.

In certain skilled crafts, an apprentice spend his time with the master before going out on his own. The same is true with the teaching profession but the apprentice time is called student teaching. Many times a mentor will take a yearling under his wing, helping and guiding him along the way in his chosen profession. The medical
profession, too, have apprentice times called internship and residency.

In the realm of spirituality, each person has an opportunity to be an apprentice. We can stand under the awesome guiding hand of Jesus, allowing Him to teach us how to live. He exemplified God's love through actions and words, telling us about the way God wants us to live and love.

Just reading about Jesus and His teachings will not equip us for the abundant life, however. We must first personally ask Him to abide in our hearts, and accept Him as Lord and Savior. Then... we are open for all He has to teach us. We will be life long apprentices to Jesus, ever learning and growing. On the day we leave this earth, we will come into full perfection, to abide with Him for eternity.

Being an apprentice to Jesus is a wonderful position to have. If you have never done so, ask Him to be your teacher today. Invite Him into your heart, and start to learn about and live the abundant life.

THE MONASTERY Author Unknown

A man is driving down the road and his car breaks down near a monastery.

He goes to the monastery, knocks on the door, and says, "My car broke down. Do you think I could stay the night?" The Monks graciously accept him, feed him dinner, even fix his car.

As the man tries to fall asleep, he hears a strange sound. A sound not like anything he's ever heard before. The Sirens that nearly seduced Odysseus into crashing his ship comes to his mind. He doesn't sleep that night. He tosses and turns trying to figure out what could possibly be making such an intriguing and seductive sound.

The next morning, he asks the Monks what the sound was, but they say, "We can't tell you. You're not a Monk."

Distraught, the man is forced to leave.

Years later, after never being able to forget that sound, the man goes back to the monastery and pleads for the answer again. The Monks reply, "We can' t tell you. You're not a Monk."

The man says, "If the only way I can find out what is making that beautiful sound is to become a Monk, then please, make me a Monk."

The Monks reply, "You must travel the earth and tell us how many blades of grass there are and the exact number of grains of sand. When you find these answers, you will have become a Monk."

The man sets about his task.

After years of searching he returns as a gray-haired old man and knocks on the door of the monastery. A Monk answers. He is taken before a gathering of all the Monks.

"In my quest to find what makes that beautiful sound, I travelled the earth and have found what you asked for:

By design, the world is in a state of perpetual change. Only God knows what you ask. All a man can know is himself, and only then if he is honest and reflective and willing to strip away self deception."

The Monks reply, "Congratulations. You have become a Monk. We shall now show you the way to the mystery of the sacred sound."

The Monks lead the man to a wooden door, where the head monk says, "The sound is beyond that door." The Monks give him the key, and he opens the door.

Behind the wooden door is another door - it is made of stone. The man is given the key to the stone door and he opens it, only to find a door made of ruby. And so it went that he needed keys to doors of emerald, pearl and diamond.

Finally, they come to a door made of solid gold. The sound has become very clear and definite. The Monks say, "This is the last key to the last door."

The man is apprehensive to no end. His life's wish is behind that door!

With trembling hands, he unlocks the door, turns the knob, and slowly pushes the door open. Falling to his knees, he is utterly amazed to discover the source of that haunting and seductive sound......

THE ROAD OF LIFE Author Unknown

At first, I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there sort of like a president, I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I really didn't know him. But later on when I met Christ, it seemed as though life were rather like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike; and I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal. I don't know just when it was that He suggested we change places, but life has not been the same since.

When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable. It was the shortest distance between two points. But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains and through the rocky places at breakneck speeds. It was all I could do to hang on! Even though it looked like madness, He said, "Pedal!" I worried and was anxious and asked, "Where are you taking me?" He laughed and didn't answer, and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure. And when I'd say, "I'm scared," He'd lean back and touch my hand.

He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance and joy. They gave me gifts to take on my journey, too, my Lord's and mine. And we were off again. He said, "Give the gifts away; they're extra baggage, too much weight." So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving I received, and still our burden was light.

I did not trust Him, at first, in control of my life. I thought He'd wreck it; but He knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, knows how to jump to clear high rocks, knows how to fly to shorten the scary passages. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I'm beginning to enjoy the
view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ.

And when I'm sure I can't do anymore, He just smiles and says... "Pedal."

HEART PRINTS Author Unknown

Whatever our hands touch-
We leave fingerprints!
On walls, on furniture
On doorknobs, dishes, books.
There's no escape.
As we touch we leave our identity.

Oh God, wherever I go today
Help me leave heartprints!
Heartprints of compassion
Of understanding and love.

Heartprints of kindness
And genuine concern.
May my heart touch a lonely neighbor
Or a runaway daughter
Or an anxious mother
Or perhaps an aged grandfather.

Lord, send me out today
To leave heartprints.
And if someone should say,
"I felt your touch,"
May that one sense YOUR LOVE
Touching through ME.

I WILL MOVE THE ROCK By Sheilah Manuel

A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and the Savior appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might.

This the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.

Seeing that the man was showing signs of discouragement, Satan decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the man's mind such as: "You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn't budged. Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it."

Thus giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure, these thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man even more. "Why kill myself over this?" he thought. "I'll just put in my time, giving just the minimum effort and that will be good enough."

And that he planned to do until one day he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to the God. "Lord," he said, "I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is
wrong? Why am I failing?"

To this the Lord responded compassionately, "My friend, when I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to me, with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewed and brown, your hands are callused from constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much and your abilities now surpass that which you used to
have. Yet you haven't moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. This you have done.

"I, my friend, will move the rock," says the Lord.

At times when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants, when actually what God wants is just simple obedience and faith in Him...

"By all means, exercise the faith that moves mountains; but it is still God who moves the mountain."


Each morning and evening I have the same routine. Yours may be similar. I apply my make up each morning and remove it at night. I take off my night gown and put on my work clothes. I remove my bite guard in the morning and replace it before bed. I even have these cycles in other areas of my life. I take off weight, then put it on
again. I shed my life of extra activities, then take them back on again. Off and on, off and on.... What a routine!

God tells us there is something we need to take off, and we only need to do it once. That sounds really good to me! It is our old nature (called our sin nature in the Bible). It leads us into nothing but trouble and is rotten through and through. (Ephesians4:22) When we take that off, God gives us a new nature. One where we have a
spiritual renewal of our thoughts and attitudes. We will display this new nature because we are made new people after we have learned the truth that is in Jesus. Attributes of this new and wonderful nature are righteousness, holiness and truth, for our new nature displays that we have been created in God's likeness.

I am glad I have shed the old nature and received the new. And, I am thankful it is a one time swap! God is so good!


If someone is rude, if someone is impatient, if someone is unkind, I will not respond in a like manner.

If I come across someone who treats me harshly or unfairly, I will quietly ask God to bless that individual. I understand "enemy" could be a family member, neighbor, co-worker or stranger.

I will carefully choose and guard my words being certain that I do not spread gossip.

I will find ways to help share the burden of another person.

I will forgive any hurts or injuries that come my way.

I will reach out anonymously and bless the life of another.

I will practice the golden rule. "Do Unto others as I would have them do unto me"- with EVERYONE I encounter.

My smile, my words, my expression of support, can make the difference to someone who is wrestling with life.

I will eat less . . . I will eat only healthy foods. I will thank God for my body.

I will spend a little more time in prayer today. I will begin reading something spiritual or inspirational; I will find a quiet place (at some point during this day) and listen to God's voice.

Luke 10:27
He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

Luke 10:27
We learn three principles about loving our neighbor: (1) lack of love is often easy to justify, even though it is never right; (2) our neighbor is anyone of any race, creed, or social background who is in need; and (3) love means acting to meet the person's needs.

Wherever you live, there are needy people close by. There is no good reason for refusing to help.

Remember, today is a gift from God so treat it preciously.

ANTIQUES By Marion Smith

There is a television show called The Antique Road Show. The t.v. show sends professional appraisers from one city to another, rent large meeting facilities and set up shop. Camera, lights and ....action! The show is ready to be filmed.

When an announcement is made in a city that the show will be filmed there, people get busy. They scurry to their attics to seek out hidden treasures, hoping that they will have that "special and very valuable" antique. They take what they have discovered to one of the professional appraisers and the stage is set!

Some of their finds are lovely to look at, and I would think they have great monitory value. Others look old and worn, and just plain strange. I wouldn't give two cents for them..!

The interesting thing is that the professional appraiser can look for certain identifying marks to let them know if a particular item is a valuable find. It may be a small engraved date, a certain style of craftsmanship, or another clue that the ordinary person would not recognize. They inspect the item, then make the announcement the owner is waiting for. I usually make my personal assessment before the professional one is given. More times than not, I am totally wrong! I think a piece is pretty or looks good to me, and it is a replica or a forgery. I think something looks old and grungy, and it is very worthy!! I am not a very good judge of antiques, that's for sure.

Christians are like antiques, you know. Some are shiny and pretty on the outside-looking well put together, and others are really old and worn; scruffy and shabby. How quick I am to judge someone by his appearance or by his works. I could be as far off base as I am about the antiques. It's a good thing God sees the heart of each person and knows the intent of each ones' actions. People can fool others, but NO ONE ever fools God. I think I had better just live my life and walk in love, not condemning or judging anyone. I believe I will just leave that up to God.. for He is the great appraiser of each one on this earth.

TO SEE IN THE DARK By: Bro. Andrew Maria

A boy and his father are walking through a large forest. To cross to the other side, they have to pass through a long dark tunnel. The boy hesitates at the entrance.

"Father," the boy says, "how can I walk in there when it is so dark? I will not see where I am going. We have neither candles nor torches to light our way."

The father calmly tells his son, "Once inside, close your eyes for several minutes to give them a chance to get accustomed to the dark. When you open them again, I assure you that you will be able to see the way through the tunnel."

The boy does what his father has told him. After closing his eyes for sometime, he is able to see inside the tunnel. Through it is very dark, he and his father are able to cross safely to the other side.

"Son," the father tells him, "if you don't have anything with which to light the darkness, use darkness to see in the dark."

FAITH is that darkness....


I saw another senseless thing under the sun: a man alone, without son or brother, working endlessly, his greed never satisfied with wealth ' For whom do I work and deprive myself of pleasure?' This, too, is nonsense and mistaken investment." (Ecclesiastes 4:7-8)

I was in a bookstore the other day and a clerk came up to me and said, "Can I help you?"

"I don't know what I want," I answered. "But when I find it, I'll let you know."

Most of us are like that. We're really not sure what we want. And even if we stumbled onto what we thought it was, we would probably find out that it wasn't what we wanted anyway.

The most unhappy person in the world is not someone who didn't get what he or she wanted. The most unhappy person is the one who got what he or she wanted and then found out that it wasn't as wonderful as expected. The secret of a happy life is not to get what you want but to live with what you've got. Most of us spend our lives
concentrating on what we don't have instead of thanking God for what we do have . Then we wake up, our life is over, and we missed the beauty of the present. You think about that.

What do you really want out of life? In your pursuit of it, are you missing anything along the way? Could you even be missing greater joys? Don' treat these questions flippantly. Your answers will reveal a lot about what you hold most dear, and what your answers don't include may tell you what you're missing in the process.

Is this pursuit really worth the process?


I was holding a notice from my 13-year-old son's school announcing a meeting to preview the new course in sexuality. Parents could examine the curriculum and take part in an actual lesson presented exactly as it would be given to the students.

When I arrived at the school, I was surprised to discover only about a dozen parents there. As we waited for the presentation, I thumbed through page after page of instructions in the prevention of pregnancy or disease. I found abstinence mentioned only in passing. When the teacher arrived with the school nurse, she asked if there were any questions. I asked why abstinence did not play a noticeable part in
the educational material.

What happened next was shocking. There was a great deal of laughter, and someone suggested that if I thought abstinence had any merit, I should go back to burying my head in the sand. The teacher and the nurse said nothing as I drowned in a sea of embarrassment. My mind had gone blank, and I could think of nothing to say. The teacher explained to me that the job of the school was to teach "facts," and the home was responsible for moral training.

I sat in silence for the next 20 minutes as the sexuality course was explained. The other parents seemed to give their unqualified support to the materials.

At the break time, the teacher announced that there were donuts in the back of the room and requested that everyone put on a name tag and mingle with each other. Everyone moved to the back of the room. As I watched them affixing their name tags and shaking hands, I sat deep in thought. I was ashamed that I had not been able to convince them to include a serious discussion of abstinence in the educational
materials. I uttered a silent prayer for guidance.

My thoughts were interrupted by the teacher's hand on my shoulder.

"Won't you join the others, Mr. Layton?" The nurse smiled sweetly at me. "The donuts are good."

"Thank you, no," I replied.

"Well, then, how about a name tag? I'm sure the others would like to meet you."

"Somehow I doubt that," I replied.

"Won't you please join them?" she coaxed.

Then I heard a still, small voice whisper, "Don't go." The message in my head was unmistakable: "Don't go!"

"I'll just wait here," I said.

When the class was called back to order, the teacher looked around the long table and thanked everyone for putting on name tags. She ignored me. Then she said, "Now we're going to give you the same lesson we'll be giving your children. Everyone please peel off your name tags and look at the back of the tag."

I watched in silence as the tags came off. "Now then, I drew a tiny flower on the back of one of the tags. Who has it, please?" the teacher asked.

The gentleman across from me held it up. "Here it is!"

"All right," she said. "The flower represents disease. Do you recall with whom you shook hands?" He pointed to a couple of people. "Very good," she replied. "The handshake in this case represents intimacy. So the two people you had contact with now have the disease." There was laughter and joking among the parents.

The teacher continued, "And whom did the two of you shake hands with?" The point was well taken, and she explained how this lesson would show students how quickly disease is spread. She concluded by saying, "Since we all shook hands, we all have the disease."

It was then that I heard the still, small voice again. "Speak now," it said, "but be humble." I wryly noted the latter admonition, then rose from my chair. I apologized for any upset I might have caused earlier, congratulated the teacher on an excellent lesson that would impress the youth, and concluded by saying I had only one small point I wished to make.

"Not all of us were infected with the disease," I said. "One of us ... abstained."


Earlier this year, I went through a time of great frustration in my job. It was partly due to fatigue, I think. We'd had some deaths in my family, which left me worn down. And then I went through a patch where nothing I did seemed right.
I proposed projects which got shot down, and when I wrote on assignment, editors scraped away at my prose until only scraps were left. That's normal, part of the process, but I felt frustrated and unappreciated.

I had to go back and relearn the right attitudes.

I need the right attitude to work hour to hour and long term.

Hour by hour, it's simple: do the work. I had to stick my rear in my chair and not get up until I had finished a major chunk of work. That meant resisting distractions from phone calls and emails and news reports.

If you don't stick to it hour to hour, your discouragement will build. But if you work hard in the short term, you'll accomplish something. You'll find the work itself meaningful - and there's a good possibility your failures will turn around. That happened to me.

Long term, I had to remember why I was working in the first place. I had to believe in my vocation all over again. In the deepest sense, I needed to know that I do the work because God wants me to do it.

Why are you in your job? Maybe you're there to fulfill a special gift. Maybe you're there to make a living for your family. Maybe you're there because the work needs to be done for the good of society. To overcome discouragement, you need an attitude that takes the focus off your sense of frustration. You need to remember why your work is valid. You need to remember that God is behind it.

Both these attitudes, long term and short term, reflect what Paul wrote to the Philippians: "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." He goes on to describe how Jesus became a humble servant, obedient even to the point of death (Phil. 2:5-8).

Hour by hour, a servant's focus is very limited. Servants listen for directions, and they do exactly what their boss expects. In the longer term, servants know why they are working: because they have a master who has called them to service.

We are meant to be servants of God.

Listen to your Boss, he'll tell you what to do. Believe in your vocation because you know who called you to it. And do your work because God is behind it.

MAGIC MIRROR By Sally I. Kennedy

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.1 Corinthians 13:12

"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?"

In the Disney children's classic, the magic mirror always told the wicked queen that she was the fairest in the land. Until Snow White, that is. Then the magic mirror became a reflection of truth.

What if we had a magic mirror like that? It might reveal things about us we'd rather not see, and face up to. Perhaps we would view things as they really are, not as we want them to be.

I've a long list of questions to ask in heaven. I suspect many others do, too. One day the questions will be answered. We will understand.

Meantime, while on this earth, we can be a mirror, and "magically" supernaturally reflect the love of God.

St. Paul says, in 2 Corinthians 3:18, "And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit. " (AMP)

Lord, today, may others see Your kindness and Love, mirrored in me, through Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name. Amen.


It's not enough to want better things for yourself. You must find ways to make things better.

It's not enough to say the world is in turmoil. You must find ways to bring peace into it.

It's not enough to point at someone else and blame them for what is wrong. You must welcome them in and ask how you can help them make it right.

It's not enough to say "Someone ought to do something about it!" You are someone, do it!

It's not enough to pray and ask for God's help. You must thank him for the challenge and the opportunity to learn from it.

It's not enough to tell a child what is right. You must be what is right so they learn from your example.

It's not enough to blame your government for what is wrong. You must participate in the process to make it right.

It's not enough to wish. You must work to make it so.

It's not enough to ask. You must give to earn the right.

It's not enough to say "I tried!" You must try and try again.

It's not enough to want to be loved. You must learn how to love first.

It's not enough say "I care." You must show how much and why.

It's not enough to wake up. You must thank God you did.

It's not enough to just earn a living. You must create a life.

It's not enough to begin. You must always follow through.

It's not enough to have a friend. You must learn to be one, too.

It's not enough to believe in someone. You must tell them so. "I believe in you!" and "I wish you enough!"

Bob Perks

ALLIGATOR By Marion Smith

As I sat in our rental townhouse in the Landings on Skidaway Island, Ga., I was mesmerized with the sight before my eyes. The lagoon behind our place seems so peaceful and serene, drawing me to sit on the bank and enjoy the beauty of the surroundings. Then I notice a ripple in the water- maybe it was a turtle surfacing to get some air. But, no! All of a sudden I am able to distinguish 2 big eyes.

This is definitely no turtle! I ran to my husband saying, an alligator! There is an alligator right in our back yard! I rushed back to continue my viewing, never taking my eyes off the rather large reptile. He moved through the water with grace and ease, barely making a ripple at all. His eyes were alert, looking for prey to devour. He would come upon his next meal as it was totally unaware of his presence ,gobbling it up and satisfying his hunger.That is one way Satan attacks people. He is such a smooth operator- sneaky and almost completely disguised, as he swims his way over to the unsuspecting prey on the bank of life. He makes no big ripples in this instance, but just eases himself closer and closer until he can attack us. Then he grabs us in sin and devours us, licking his massive jaws afterwards. He uses his huge teeth which are made of lies, corruption, greed and self absorption to lock around our hearts with an unrelenting grip.

There is only one way for this death grip hold to be broken, and that is through Jesus Christ. He can take that sneaky Satan and turn him right over on his back- completely immobilizing him just the way a professional alligator wrestler can do with an alligator. Jesus is victorious and sin is defeated! I am thankful I have asked Him to be there for me. To live in my heart and wipe away my sin - once and
forever. Jesus IS my champion!

ANGEL TALK Author Unknown

Just inside the Pearly Gates
Underneath a gorgeous sky
Two angels hovered near a cloud
(They don't sit like you and I!)

"I just don't understand it,"
Said angel number one,
"I've watched and studied everything
Those foolish souls have done."

The second angel gave a shrug,
"Why do you even care?
It's no concern of ours at all
What they choose to do down there."

"Maybe not," the first one said,
"But still I'd like to know
With all the blessings they've received
What makes them quarrel so?"

The second angel stretched his wings
Then smoothed a ruffled feather,
"It's just about a hopeless cause
For men to live together."

"The Master's working very hard
Has been for generations. ....
And still they fight among themselves
causing death and devastation. "

The older angel softly sighed,
"You can't change things, little one,
The Master's tried everything
He even sacrificed His Son!!"

The young angel nodded slowly,
"That's what seems so bad!
He suffered, bled and died for them!
He gave them all he had!"

"Oh, He still has more to give,"
The other looked both sad and wise,
"For I've seen Jesus when souls are lost,
And I've held Him while He cries."

"For to Him each one is precious
With a value beyond measure.....
He wants them all up here with Him
To share in Heaven's treasure."

"And sometimes, someone down on Earth
Will kneel in fervent prayer
Crying out, 'Please help me, God!
Show me that You're there!'"

"And when that happens you will hear
All the bells of Heaven ring!
As the Master's love pours down like rain
And the Heart of Jesus sings!"

NOT TOO FAR by Anastasia Joseph

I called to him again, "Dario, slow down". He stopped, turned around, smiled, waited for me to get a little closer then turned around and continued walking. This happened about every three minutes as we made the walk to the nearby supermarket. How can he walk so fast? I pondered.

Doesn't he realize that we're on a pretty busy road and I need him to stay close to me so that I can guide him or grab his hand before something bad happens? Whenever I felt that he was too far away from me my heart beated a little faster. "He's getting too far away, he should be closer." Each time he heeded my call and looked back, his
little cute smile sent a message, "Ok, I guess I'm too far ahead, I'll wait for you." And as I got sufficiently closer to him, I'd smile back, "It's ok now, you can continue".

The moral of the story: God allows us to follow our course in life, walking behind of us, watching us to be sure we are on the right track and gently guiding us. Whenever it looks as if we're getting too distant from Him, he calls us to slow down. We should heed his voice, stop, wait for Him to get closer and then await his permission to go on again. If, per chance, we venture off in the wrong direction, then that is when we get lost and have to retrace our steps to find Him as he patiently, and lovingly looks for us also. It is not he who is lost, but us. He is still on the right track but we strayed, therefore causing him to attempt to find us.

The most important thing is to heed His voice. I, myself am still struggling with this. But, if we do not heed his call to us to slow down, then we stray too far away and soon, in looking back, we may not even see Him. And then we become frantic! "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them,and they follow me" John 10:27

ALIGNMENT By Marion Smith

The tire bounded off the curb as I rounded the corner a little too fast, and I thought, "there goes the alignment!" Then, unable to avoid a couple of potholes in the road, I was sure the car would have to go in the shop.

When things are not in correct alignment, they are just "off kilter." They do not mesh well, give a smooth ride or get to their intended goal. Another example of this is teeth. Many children need braces to align their teeth into a proper biting position. Or, in the sports world, putting is an example. You have to line that golf ball up with the hole to sink the putt. If you are off the mark- another stroke (or more) is the price you pay.

Spiritual alignment is also important. We may profess Jesus as our savior and quote scripture, but do our actions line up with our words? Do we just admonish others to pray, attend worship, read the Bible and serve others, or do we put our theories into practice? We will be spiritually out of alignment if our actions don't reflect what God has placed in our hearts. Mouth service is not enough. God has called us to live the life of love, walking through each obstacle we face with patience and living our lives with a outstretched hand to those in need. Let's get in line with God's plan for us.... Being in correct alignment with God doesn't make Him love us more, but it sure makes our time on this earth more rewarding and fulfilling.

Marion Smith
comments and feedback welcome

HOSTA LILIES Author Unknown

Many years ago I bought and planted in my yard my first hostas. These hardy perennials grow in clumps and flower once a year. I knew when I bought them they could be divided by just cutting each clump apart and replanting it. I have many hostas now, and early spring is the time of the year I divide and share my hosta lilies.

As I divided these plants, boxed them up, delivered them to friends and helped replant them, I wondered if I shared important things just as freely.

When was the last time I verbally shared my joy in walking the Christian walk? Or what did it mean to me to have Christ to lean on while my husband went through cancer surgery? When did I tell a friend in the secular world how God has revealed spiritual understanding to me through all the Bible studies He has opened for me? What have I said that might make a difference in the life of someone for the cause of Christ? I must remember to be bold and speak about the wonderful way God has taken me, personally, by the hand, and led me down His magnificent path.

Probably more important than just talking about my faith to others is living it moment by moment, day by day. What do my actions reflect to my husband and children? To neighbors, relatives, members of my church, and prayer partners? Do I live my life as if I were indwelled by the Holy Spirit? Do I give generously as God has told me to do? What about praying for others, and putting their needs ahead of mine? Do I get so busy with the urgent, that I neglect the eternal important?

I want to divide and share all of the peace, beauty, assurance and love God has given me. These are gifts are just too good to keep to myself! I pray I will be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in each of these matters and follow His directions as He places them on my heart.

All these questions are applicable to you also! Is it time to take inventory? Let's divide and share what we have experienced with God and learned through our daily walk in life.

COFFEE CUPS Author Unknown

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite. He told the group to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: "If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink.

What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups....and then you began eyeing each other's cups.

Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of the Life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us.

God brews the coffee, not the cups.....Enjoy your coffee!"

The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

You are the miracle, my friend, your life either shines a light - or casts a shadow.

TEMPTATION by Melanie Schurr

John A. Shedd, author of "Salt from My Attic," had this to say about temptation," Many men have too much will power. It's won't power they lack."

This sentiment of not giving in to one's desires seems to go against what society tends to support; the idea that man should not deprive himself of everything he craves.

Want a burger and fries even though the doctor said your cholesterol was too high? Go and get it at the local fast food restaurant! Getting tired of your spouse? Divorce them and find a new one! Bored? Go out and have a fling! Feeling down in the dumps? Let's get drunk and stoned! After all, everybody is doing it!

Not every urge, craving, and desire is a worthy one, for even the drug addict hungers for his next high, yet we all know drugs are bad for you!

Saying,"No," to temptations seems to not only go against the "Go for it" philosophy many people in our society promote, but even our body and mind seems to fight as we deprive it of the fuel it hungers for, regardless if this "fuel" is good or bad for our spiritual and emotional welfare.

Many people perceive temptation as a bad thing. The reality is that it is not a bad thing, but a human thing. Everyone has faced temptation of one form or another in their life.

Temptation shows us where our weaknesses lie, and it is the wise man who uses this information to his best advantage. These weaknesses that become revealed to us through temptation are areas in our life which the devil knows he may find either an open door, or even a tiny crack he can slip into.

The good news is, the more we say, "no" to temptation and ungodly desires, the more we actually strengthen those weak spots! God does not desire us to run and hide from temptation, but to face it head-on so that we may clearly see the potential pit before us. Our heavenly Father desires us to confess our sins, admit our weaknesses, and to ask Him for the strength and wisdom we need to stand against evil.

Today, thank God for loving you so much that He has allowed you to use temptation as a means of seeing, and thus overcoming, your sinfulness.


Oh, God, make me a better parent.
Help me to understand my children,
to listen patiently to what they have to say
and to answer all their questions kindly.

Keep me from interrupting them,
talking back to them and contradicting them.
Make me as courteous to them
as I would have them be to me.

Give me the courage to confess my sins
against my children and to ask of them forgiveness,
when I know that I have done them wrong.

May I not vainly hurt the feelings of my children.
Forbid that I should laugh at their mistakes or
resort to shame and ridicule as punishment.

Let me not tempt a child to lie and steal.
So guide me hour by hour that I may demonstrate
by all I say and do that honestly produces happiness.

Reduce, I pray, the meanness in me.
May I cease to nag:
and when I am out of sorts,
help me, O Lord, to hold my tongue.

Blind me to the little errors of my children
and help me to see the good things that they do.
Give me a ready word for honest praise.

Help to treat my children as those of their own age,
but let me not exact of them the judgments
and conventions of adults.

Allow me not to rob them of the opportunity
to wait upon themselves,
to think, to choose, and to make decisions.

Forbid that I should ever punish them
for my self satisfaction.
May I grant them all of their wishes
that are reasonable
and have the courage always to withhold
a privilege that I know will do them harm.


Grandmother Helen told a story about me when I was little. We were coloring together in a coloring book and I wanted her to draw me a rainbow. She took a brown crayon and made a half circle on the page. "Gasp!" said my three-year-old mind. I informed her that there was NO brown in rainbows and got so upset that I went and told my mom. When I came back, still upset, I wanted to rip the page out of the book. "No," said my grandmother. "We do not rip pages out of books. We turn the page and move on." So we did.

Has someone been drawing you brown rainbows recently: Maybe a parent, friend, teacher or even yourself? I know when I get brown rainbows like mistakes or disappointments, I want to rip out that page and throw it away, much like I did when I was three. I want to eliminate them from my life, so only the pretty, clean pages with the colorful rainbows remain. That would be nice but it's not very realistic. Now I see that my grandmother did not intend to upset me. She was only trying to please me and I can look back and appreciate her effort. Often brown rainbows look different with time and age. What offended me when I was three is now devotional material and a good lesson for me at sixteen.

In Genesis 9:15-16, God says: I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the water become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth. God made rainbows as a promise to us that He would ever again destroy us.

Often brown rainbows can seem like they are breaking the promise but actually they are a fulfillment of it. God is saying, "Look, even though these rainbows are brown, they are still rainbows. One day, although probably not tomorrow, they will turn bright and colorful and will be a reminder to you of bad things you might have done and how you don't want to do them again."

Brown rainbows happen to everyone but ripping the page out isn't the way to handle them. It's best to take my grandmother' s advice: "turn the page and move on." One day these rainbows will be bright and colorful and God-inspired, giving you a better life and a stronger faith. Dear God, please help me deal with my brown rainbows, turn the page and move on. Amen.

BREITLING Contributed by George Prins

Brian Jones and Bertrand Piccard had the hardest decision of their life to make as they entered the final leg of their journey with Orbiter 3. Bertrand was on the phone with his wife, his "weather eye," pondering if they should attempt crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Fuel was low for the 180 foot high Breitling Orbiter 3 after it had begun its historic journey sailing into the sky 2 weeks before from Chateau
d'Oex, Switzerland. At the rate they were going, they would never be able to complete the journey.

But his wife was trying to reassure him saying, "If you allow Orbiter 3 to go a few hundred feet higher, you will catch another jet stream. Just a few hundred feet," she had pleaded. In desperation, he fired up the burners, obeying her suggestions. With grandeur, the ship rose to 36,000 feet and into this new jet stream where the winds were 2-3 times faster, topping 230 miles per hour. They crossed the Atlantic quickly and soon were over the deserts of the Sahara landing near Mut, in southwestern Egypt. On March 21, 1999, they landed, having covered 29,055 miles.

With their fuel nearly spent and after riding the winds for 19 days, 21 hours and 55 minutes, the two pilots--Piccard, a Swiss psychiatrist whose grandfather invented the pressurized capsule for high-altitude ballooning, and Jones, a veteran British balloonist-- took title to being the first balloonist to circumnavigate the globe, claiming the $1 million prize.

"Did you sense something spiritual, an awakening or force in your trip?" they were asked.

"Yes," they responded, but somehow, they could not put their finger on exactly what it was. They did see Mother Earth releasing her dew and fragrance to nurture and sustain earth's creatures. Yes, they were overwhelmed and captivated by the closing scenes of the sand dunes in the desolate Sahara Desert. Yes, they were in awe that
something symmetric, sovereign and stupendous had to design this creation. Yet, they could not put their finger on exactly what it was. St. Augustine agreed when he wrote: "If something cannot be explained, it most likely is God-designed. "

Just a few hundred feet higher. That's what did it! That's what could make it for you as well when you decide to sail past your limits and see a new life in God. Just a little higher and you may sense the finger of God working within your life, your capsule. If you step out in faith, spend just a little more fuel and reach just a little higher, you can reach that jet stream.

You may be in the closing scenes of your desolate Sahara Desert but God can do a great wonder within you if you but ask Him into your life and take charge or control. It may be the hardest decision in your life but the prize is well worth it. This quote may be yours: If something cannot be explained, it most likely is God-designed. He is symmetric, sovereign and stupendous!

ISLE OF LATER by Marion Smith

Sometimes we isolate ourselves on our own personal island, doing what we deem necessary to fulfill our lives. We get caught up with meal preparations, household chores, driving the children here and there, or spending extra hours pursuing our careers.

Recently I heard a sermon titled "The Isle of Later". As we sit on our island of what we think is important, many ships of opportunity come by, beckoning us to jump aboard and participate in their endeavor. We usually have good intentions. Saying" Oh, yes, that's a good cause... I'll do it later." I'll sing glorious songs to the Lord in the choir... later, when the issues in my life are not as demanding ; I'll teach Sunday school, minister to the elderly, be a coach, cook a meal for the needy, write a note of thanks to my minister or a friend, be a good listener to someone in need, or share the gospel story to someone... yes, I'll do it later ! When I have more time to give to these things.

Well, my husband and I have been to five funerals in the last month, and for these folks there was no later. Each died suddenly, not having time to "do" things of great importance which were probably on their "to do" list. These funerals have made me take a second look at what I deem meaningful. The first and foremost important thing is my relationship with God. Then, I want to spend my time wisely - using it in matters of eternal value. I want to show my love and respect to my husband, nurture my children and grandson with God's love, extend grace and mercy to those I encounter, pray for myself and others as I am led by the Lord, and invest my time here on earth sharing God's love and the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to shed the superficial, let go of the non essential, and discard the selfish. From this day
on, my desire is to live each day as God directs me. If I do that, I know I will be on the right path.

How about you? I hope it doesn't take a funeral to jar you into the reality of the brevity of our time here, and the opportunity we have to use our time wisely - according to God's will. It may be time for all of us to reevaluate the priorities in our lives. Ask God today for direction. He will keep you off the Isle of Later.... Living each day for Him now!

WHAT YOU WILL BE Author Unknown

As I gazed up at the mountains, I was awed by their majesty; I bowed my head and asked myself, "Why should He care for me? I am not great like the mountains that tower so high above, What is there about me that God can find to love?"

"Father, I am not strong like the wind that makes your tall trees sway, I cannot sing sweetly like your birds; will you love me anyway? But most of all, I am simply me, and often have cause to fear, In spite of all my weaknesses, do you promise to be near?"

With eyes closed tight against my tears, I wished He could hear me pray. Then I felt His Spirit tell me, "Child, look up, I have something to say. "You are simply you, the spirit I love, a part of my great plan. I put you here to learn of life and to return to me again."

"You are more beautiful to me than the loveliest mountain I made, And your strength exceeds that of the wind's, so do not be afraid. I love you not for what you are, but for what I know you will be. I am always beside you watching you grow, you are very special to me."

A smile touched my lips - I knew it was true, my Father had always been there. Giving me comfort and blessings and love and my own special talents to share. So I do my best to make Him proud. I am not afraid, for you see, He loves me not for what I am, but for what He knows I will be.


Once upon a time the colors of the world started to quarrel. All claimed that they were the best. The most important. The most useful. The favorite.

Green said: "Clearly I am the most important. I am the sign of life and of hope. I was chosen for grass, trees and leaves. Without me, all animals would die. Look over the countryside and you will see that I am in the majority."

Blue interrupted: "You only think about the earth, but consider the sky and the sea. It is the water that is the basis of life and drawn up by the clouds from the deep sea. The sky gives space and peace and serenity. Without my peace, you would all be nothing."

Yellow chuckled: "You are all so serious. I bring laughter, gaiety, and warmth into the world. The sun is yellow, the moon is yellow, the stars are yellow. Every time you look at a sunflower, the whole world starts to smile. Without me there would be no fun."

Orange started next to blow her trumpet: "I am the color of health and strength. I may be scarce, but I am precious for I serve the needs of human life. I carry the most important vitamins. Think of carrots, pumpkins, oranges, mangoes, and papayas. I don't hang around all the time, but when I fill the sky at sunrise or sunset, my beauty is so striking that no one gives another thought to any of you."

Red could stand it no longer he shouted out: "I am the ruler of all of you. I am blood - life's blood! I am the color of danger and of bravery. I am willing to fight for a cause. I bring fire into the blood. Without me, the earth would be as empty as the moon. I am the color of passion and of love, the red rose, the poinsettia and the poppy."

Purple rose up to his full height: He was very tall and spoke with great pomp: "I am the color of royalty and power. Kings, chiefs, and bishops have always chosen me for I am the sign of authority and wisdom. People do not question me! They listen and obey."

Finally Indigo spoke, much more quietly than all the others, but with just as much determination: "Think of me. I am the color of silence. You hardly notice me, but
without me you all become superficial. I represent thought and reflection, twilight and deep water. You need me for balance and contrast, for prayer and inner peace."

And so the colors went on boasting, each convinced of his or her own
superiority. Their quarreling became louder and louder. Suddenly there
was a startling flash of bright lightening thunder rolled and boomed.
Rain started to pour down relentlessly. The colors crouched down in
fear, drawing close to one another for comfort.

In the midst of the clamor, God began to speak: "You foolish colors, fighting amongst yourselves, each trying to dominate the rest. Don't you know that you were each made for a special purpose, unique and different? Join hands with one another and come to me."

Doing as they were told, the colors united and joined hands.

God continued: "From now on, when it rains, each of you will stretch across the sky
in a great bow of color as a reminder that you can all live in peace. The Rainbow is a sign of hope for tomorrow." And so, whenever a good rain washes the world, and a Rainbow appears in the sky, let us remember to appreciate one another.

THE RIVER Author Unknown

Walking through the forest, a seasoned hiker came upon a broad, slowly moving river. He stopped to gaze over the waters, appreciating the beauty, when suddenly he heard a faint cry coming from upstream.

Looking in the direction of the noise, he saw an obviously drowning man floundering in the river and drifting slowly toward him.

The hiker was stunned momentarily, but he sprang into action when he saw the man disappear beneath the waters. Throwing off all of his cumbersome gear, he dove into the river and swam like a madman toward the spot where the man went under.

Upon reaching the spot he plunged below the surface and frantically hauled up the helpless man. He then laboriously towed the victim to shore. Heaving the lifeless body up on the riverbank, the hiker attempted to revive the man, who eventually spit up water and began to breathe.

Relieved, the hiker paused to catch his breath. But no sooner had he done so than he heard another voice out on the water. Another drowning person!

Once again he swam out and pulled the person to shore, a little more slowly this time. As the hiker-turned-lifeguard revived the second victim, he heard yet another cry for help.

All day long the hiker worked, rescuing one person after another as they came drifting down the river. There seemed to be no end of drowning victims, and the hiker didn't think he could keep it up.

Just when he was about to collapse from exhaustion, he spotted another man walking rapidly beside the river, headed upstream. "Hey mister!" he cried out. "Please help me! These poor people are drowning!"

Amazingly, the man kept walking upstream. The astonished hiker called out again. Without even acknowledging the cry, the man kept going.

Indignant and angry, the hiker leapt to his feet, ran toward the uncompassionate man, stood directly in his path, and in a loud voice demanded, "Sir! How can you possibly walk past all these drowning people? Have you no conscience? Must I force you to help me save these people?"

The stranger stopped, looked at him for the first time and said with a calm, focused voice, "Sir, please get out of my way. I am headed upstream to stop the guy who is pushing all these people in."

Each of us has a role to play in rescuing those who are drowning in sin. Some of us pull people from the water and resuscitate them with counseling, food and shelter, a rehabilitation program, a support group, or financial aid. Affirm those doing these important ministries.

Others of us find our place of ministry upstream, opposing the one pushing people into the river. We do this by introducing those people to Jesus Christ. Knowing Christ sets a person free from sin and releases them from Satan's power over them.

By itself, pulling people from the water isn't enough. We need to help people deal with the problem of sin at its source.

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