Two people immediately come to mind when I think about preparing our kids to make courageous choices. Jerry and Cheryl are parents of three beautiful daughters. Their girls have been the beneficiaries of a loving and stable spiritual environment. But even with all this godly teaching and understanding, with all this love and security, Jerry and Cheryl knew that without courage their daughters could easily fall to outside pressures.

Just about the time their oldest daughter, Shelly, blossomed into a beautiful young woman, they decided to do something memorable to help her maintain courage. It was easy for them to develop a plan because they knew what character traits they were trying to encourage.

They took some of their own gold jewelry, had the jeweler form it into a key, strung the key on a chain, and made it into a necklace. They washed their car, dry-cleaned Jerry's suit, and bought a simple corsage. Then Jerry took his daughter out on her first "adult" date.

They enjoyed an elegant dinner in one of their town's finest restaurants. During the meal Jerry talked to Shelly about the courage she would need to stay morally pure. When dessert was served, Jerry took out the gift-wrapped jewelry box containing the necklace. But before she put it on, he told her its significance.

The gold symbolized her purity and the key symbolized the key to her heart. She was to wear it as a reminder of the moral purity that God wanted her to bring to her honeymoon bed. Every time she went on a date, and anytime she might be tempted to compromise her purity, this gold key around her neck was to remind her of God's view of marriage. Then, on the night of her honeymoon, she could take it off and give it to her husband. With it she could let him know that she had preserved her
purity as a gift for him.

Maybe that's why I like Jerry and Cheryl so much. They realize that courage doesn't come easy; but regardless of its cost, it must be transferred to their children.

APPLES Author Unknown

A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night's dinner.

In their rush, with tickets and brief-cases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of baskets of apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly missed boarding. All but one. He paused, took a deep breath, got in touch with his feelings, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl
whose apple stand had been overturned.

He told his buddies to go on without him, waved goodbye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor.

He was glad he did.

The 16 year old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her, no one stopping, and no one to care for her plight.

The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them into the baskets, and helped set the display up once more. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket.

When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, "Here, please take this $20 for the damage we did. Are you okay?"

She nodded through her tears. He continued on with, "I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly."

As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, "Mister...." He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes.

She continued, "Are you Jesus?"

He stopped in mid-stride, and he wondered. Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul: "Are you Jesus?"

Do people mistake you for Jesus?

That's our destiny, is it not? To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace.

If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting Scripture and going to church. It's actually living the Word as life unfolds day to day. You are the apple of His eye even though we, too, have been bruised by a fall. He stopped what He was doing and picked you and me up on a hill called Calvary and paid in full for our damaged fruit.

Let us live like we are worth the price He paid.


"What has God ever done for me?" grumbled an angry twenty-three year old man named Victor. "I mean, why should I believe this so-called God guy loves me as you say He does when He hasn't done anything to help me or my life?!"

"Oh?" said his uncle sitting next to him on the bus. "What do you feel has gone wrong in your life that God caused?" he continued.

Victor snapped, "I didn't say God caused it, but He sure didn't do anything to help me out! I had to deal with some pretty bad things all on my own, and, no thanks to Him, I fixed them all on my own too!"

His uncle nodded slightly and replied, "I assume you are referring to the hard time you began having when you got involved in street drugs and heavy drinking?"

"That's part of it," responded Victor as he glared out the bus window.

His uncle turned to look at him, and then said, "Did your parent's teach you, or tell you to get involved with these dangerous substances that can affect how you think and behave?"

"Of course not!" snapped Victor.

"I'm guessing they tried warning you, but you chose not to obey, correct?" responded his uncle as he straightened himself out in his seat. He continued, "And they probably taught you the importance of eating right, taking care of your health, staying close to God, and being careful about the friends you chose, right?"

Victor hesitated, then angrily replied, "Alright!, They were MY choices, not my parent's! I take full responsibility for my actions!"

Victor's uncle again turned to look at him, then quickly replied, "Do you? About everything?"

Victor looked puzzled. "What are you talking about?"

His uncle straightened his back one more time, and replied, "Do you also take responsibility for the fact it was YOU who turned your back on God? You keep asking what has God done for you, but it would seem to me that the question really is, what have YOU done for God lately?"

Victor immediately snapped at his uncle, "Hey, I prayed out to God a few times to make all the bad things go away, but He didn't!"

His uncle nodded, reached for Victor's hand, and said, "He (God)
didn't, or YOU didn't?"

Victor quickly replied, "I kept on drinking, doing drugs, being disrespectful to my family, and other things I probably shouldn't have, but God could have stopped me, made all the bad things go away, and He didn't! He ignored me, or maybe He doesn't even exist at all so that's why He did nothing!"

As he held his nephew's hand, Victor's uncle calmly responded, "Victor, God is not a puppet master who pulls our strings so we will do what He wants us to do. He loves us so much that He gave us free- will. Even though you may have wanted God to take all the bad things away, your actions and choices revealed that you really didn't want anything to change. How do I know that? Because isn't it true you kept on drinking, taking drugs, and being disrespectful to your family?"

Victor was at a loss for words.

"Words are often shallow, Victor. It is our actions which prove what is really in our heart. What do you think your actions have showed God? Have they showed Him you love Him and want to be close to Him; that you want Him to be Lord of your life? Or, do they show Him that you want to ignore His commands, and remain in the lifestyle you have been living, and only call on Him when the going gets tough?"

The look on Victor's face began to change. The anger and resentment he had been holding in so long toward his family and God suddenly seemed to melt away. "I guess I had been blaming my parents and God, when I should have been blaming my self," he said quietly. Real life application: Many people blame God for what they themselves have chosen. We must remember, when we choose the action, we also choose the consequence.

As a loving Heavenly Father, God wants the best for us, and He is willing and able to deliver us from even the most dire circumstances. However, we need to also want it for ourselves, not just through lip-service, but through word AND deed.


You ask why I follow this Jesus?
Why I love Him the way I do?
When the world's turned away from His teachings
And the people who serve Him are few.

It's not the rewards I'm after
Or gifts that I hope to receive
It's the Presence that calls for commitment
It's the Spirit I trust and believe.

The Lord doesn't shelter His faithful
Or spare them all suffering and pain,
Like everyone else I have burdens,
And walk through my share of rain.

Yet He gives me a plan and a purpose,
And that joy only Christians have known,
I never know what comes tomorrow,
But I do know I'm never alone.

It's the love always there when you need it;
It's the words that redeem and inspire,
It's the longing to ever be with Him
That burns in my heart like a fire.

So you ask why I love my Lord Jesus?
Well, friend, that's so easy to see,
But the one thing that fills me with wonder is
Why Jesus loves someone like me.

PURSUE KINDNESS By Whitney Von Lake Hopler

Every time you interact with another person - which likely happens many times a day - you have an opportunity to be kind to him or her. If you choose kindness, God's love will flow between you, blessing you both. Here are some ways you can strive to be more kind:

Rely on God's strength rather than your own. Ask God to give you compassion for others and enable you to help them in ways they need help.

Take time to thank God for His presence in your life and the many kind ways He interacts with you. Be willing to freely give others the gift of your kindness, as you recall how freely God has blessed you.

Never underestimate the value of a particular person or act of kindness. Each time you reach out to others with kindness, you effort is worthwhile, Not only that, but God will be pleased.

Never overestimate your own role in situations. You must be humble to be an effective servant.

Ask God to show you ways in which He would like you to extend kindness to people you regularly encounter (such as family, friends, co-workers) as well as people you randomly meet. Devise a plan for performing acts of kindness for each of the people you know, taking into account their needs and desires. Pray to be ready to offer
kindness to people you don't know when opportunities arise.

Pay special attention to the needs of people who are poor, since God identifies with them. Explore ways that you can help the poor, such as volunteering at a food pantry or homeless shelter and simplifying your lifestyle to use the Earth's resources more responsibly.

With the Holy Spirit's help, forgive people who have hurt you.

When serving others, respect their dignity and privacy.

Don't expect other people to repay you when you're kind to them, but know that God will always reward you somehow for your kindness.


A young man was learning to be a paratrooper. Before his first jump, he was given these instructions:

Jump when you are told. Count to ten and pull the rip cord. In the unlikely event your parachute doesn't open, pull the emergency rip cord.

When you get down, a truck will be there to take you back to the airport.

The young man memorized these instructions and climbed aboard the plane. The plane climbed to ten thousand feet and the paratroopers began to jump. When the young man was told to jump, he jumped. He then counted to ten and pulled the rip cord. Nothing happened. His chute failed to open. So he pulled the emergency rip cord. Still, nothing happened. No parachute.

"Oh great," said the young man. "And I suppose the truck won't be there when I get down either!"

Have you ever felt like that young man? Have you had so many failures and disappointments in life that you just don't expect anything to go right for you?

Well, unlike the young man in our story, there is hope. In Jesus Christ, we can be forgiven for the failures of the past and we can start all over. Christianity is sometimes called the "gospel of the second chance" because our failures never have to be fatal. That's what the grace of God is all about. Even though our parachutes fail to open, we can always fall into the loving arms of our heavenly Father.

Edited from More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice.
Copyright 1995 by Youth Specialties, Inc.


"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he cknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation." -Psalm 91:14-16

A storm was blowing in from the Atlantic. The wind was howling, waves slapped the shore line and sand was blasting at a sharp clip, stinging me as I walked on the beach. I am always observant of the scene which God displays before me as I take my beach walks, and today was no exception. Today my eye was drawn to the difference between two set of trees. One set was out in the open- unprotected from the relentless wind - and taking a terrible beating! The other set had been planted in a sheltered area, with a house and a privacy wall affording
protection on two sides.

God tells us in Psalm 91, TLB. that He is our shelter; "We live within the shadow of the Almighty, sheltered by the God who is above all gods. ) He is our safe haven and we are protected under His wing. When the trials of this life slap me around and push me one way or another as the wind did to the unprotected trees, I will remember that I am in the sanctuary of God's love. What a wonderful place to abide! Won't you
join me there?

WHO'S YOUR DADDY? Author Unknown

A seminary professor was vacationing with his wife in Gatlinburg, TN. One morning, they were eating breakfast at a little restaurant, hoping to enjoy a quiet, family meal. While they were waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting with the guests. The professor leaned over and whispered to his wife, "I hope he doesn't come over here." But sure enough, the man did come over to their table.

"Where are you folks from?" he asked in a friendly voice.

"Oklahoma," they answered.

"Great to have you here in Tennessee" the stranger said. "What do you do for a living?"

"I teach at a seminary," he replied.

"Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I've got a really great story for you." And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with the couple.

The professor groaned and thought to himself, "Great . . . Just what I need another preacher story!"

The man started, "See that mountain over there? (pointing out the restaurant window). Not far from the base of that mountain, there was a boy born to an unwed mother. He had a hard time growing up, because every place he went, he was always asked the same question, 'Hey boy, who's your daddy? "Whether he was at school, in the grocery store or drug store, people would ask the same question, 'Who's your daddy?' He would hide at recess and lunch time from other students. He would avoid going in to stores because that question hurt him so bad.

"When he was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to his church. He would always go in late and slip out early to avoid hearing the question, 'Who's your daddy?'. But one day, the new preacher said the benediction so fast he got caught and had to walk out with the crowd. Just about the time he got to the back door, the new preacher, not knowing anything about him, put his hand on his shoulder and asked him, 'Son, who's your daddy?'

"The whole church got deathly quiet. He could feel every eye in the church looking at him. Now everyone would finally know the answer to the question, "Who's your daddy'.

This new preacher, though, sensed the situation around him and using discernment that only the Holy Spirit could give, said the following to that scared little boy..."'Wait a minute! he said, "I know who you are, I see the family resemblance now." "You are a child of God." With that he patted the boy on his shoulder, and said, "Boy, you've got a great inheritance, go and claim it." With that, the boy smiled for the first time in a long time and walked out the door a changed person.

He was never the same again. Whenever anybody asked him, 'Who's your Daddy?' he'd just tell them, "I'm a Child of God'." The distinguished gentleman got up from the table and said, "Isn't that a great story?"

The professor responded that it really was a great story!

As the man turned to leave, he said, "You know, if that new preacher hadn't told me that I was one of God's children, I probably never would have amounted to anything!" And he walked away.

The seminary professor and his wife were stunned. He called the waitress over and asked her, "Do you know who that man was who just left that was sitting at our table?"

The waitress grinned and said, "Of course, everybody here knows him.
That's Ben Hooper. He's the former governor of Tennessee!"

THE HUMAN TOUCH Author Unknown

It's a digital world. Everything is going digital.

Every time I get to speak to bankers all over the country I would chide them and poke them with this provoking thought. Straight into their eyes this is what I say: "You guys boast of your excellent service. Your TV ads show your tellers transacting with a smile. But every time I call up your bank I never get a chance to talk to a human being. I get to talk to an answering machine."

Why? Because everything is digital these days. My friends have installed answering machines in their homes. I used to have one but I removed it. Somebody says, this is the recorded message in one of the answering machines he heard: Hi! This is John. If you are the telephone company I already sent the money. If you are my parents please send me more money. If you are my friends you owe me money but if you are a female… don't worry… I've got lots of money!!!"

Don't you hate those answering machines?

Call up your service provider and you have an urgent need yet what do you hear?

"*ring* ... *ring* ... *click* Thank you for calling so and so…. your call is important to us… but our operators are currently busy now… so please stay on the line and listen repeatedly to our awful company jingle and we'll be with you within a few hours because we care for you!"

It's like their company slogan goes this way: "We're not satisfied until YOU ARE NOT SATISFIED!"

I got this material from the Internet and I could not remember who made this up but it's crazy:

*ring* ... *ring* ... *click*

Hello! Welcome to the Psychiatric Hotline.

If you are obsessive-compulsive, please press 1 repeatedly.

If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2.

If you have multiple personalities, please press 3, 4, 5, and 6.

If you are paranoid-delusional , we know who you are and what you want. Just stay on the line so we can trace the call.

If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a little voice will tell you what number to press.

If you are manic-depressive, it doesn't matter which number you press. No one will answer.

Technology may have made us more efficient yet it has isolated us from human interaction as well.

Sally Toh is my friend residing in Kuala Lumpur and she handles my speaking schedule and invitations there. I will never forget what she said one day. Sally said: "I am so busy that I can only use the email to communicate with my daughter who is in the next room…!"

Now before we become judgmental and condemning.. . how many among us use the SMS as the main means of communicating with our children? I guess we are not very different from Sally are we?

Here's the key.

In an era of high tech we need high touch.

My children need it and so do the people in the organization and more so with our customers.

In his leadership newsletter, Stan Toler wrote:

"There she stood in the line at the post office, a line that wound its way almost out the front door. A fellow customer spoke to the elderly lady waiting to buy some stamps. "Ma'am, you must be very tired. Did you know there's a stamp machine over there in the corner?" He pointed to the machine built into the wall.

"Why yes, thank you," the lady replied, "but I'll just wait here a little while longer. I'm getting close to the window."

The customer became insistent. "But it would be so much easier for you to avoid this long line and buy your stamps from the machine."

The woman patted him on the arm and answered, "Oh, I know. But that old machine would never ask me how my grandchildren are doing."

Stan says, "Leaders would be well advised to spend less time on the organizational machinery and more time on the people within the organization. Remember, people will not sweat, invest or risk for an organization. But they will stretch beyond themselves for human connections. "

In other words, it's "People first!"

Now you know why I removed my answering machine and now you understand why there is no answering machines in my own companies.

We take each call personally.

Just an idea. What if we run our business and boldly advertise: "We don't use answering machines…we take each call personally because you are important to us." Now that's a lot more credible wouldn't you say so? Put your money where your mouth is.

Just a thought. I'm glad that God does not use an answering machine. Because He takes each call (prayer) personally…the line is high speed… the earthquake in Taiwan or anywhere in the world will ever disrupt it… you don't need gadgets, all you need is a pair of bended knees and guess what? The line is never busy. Because HE really cares!


A man found a cocoon of an emperor moth. He took it home so that he could watch the moth come out of the cocoon.

On the day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the moth for several hours as the moth struggled to force it body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther. It just seemed to be stuck. Then the man, in his kindness, decided to help the moth, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The moth then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the moth because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened!

In fact, the little moth spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the moth to get through the tiny opening were God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the moth into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Freedom and flight would only come after the struggle. By depriving the moth of a struggle, he deprived the moth of health.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles. He would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. How true this is! How many times have we wanted to take the quick way out of struggles and difficulties, to take those scissors and snip off the remaining bits in an attempt to be free. We need to remember that our loving Father will never give us more that we can bear and through our trials and struggles we are strengthened as gold is refined in the fire.

"May we never let the things we can't have, or don't have, or shouldn't have, spoil our enjoyment of the things we do have and can have." Don't focus on the things you DON'T have, enjoy each moment of every day God has given you. This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. So let's take today, even with its struggles and make it a good day ... our loving Father God has given this day to me to use as best as I can. The struggles of life won't go away, but remember that God is allowing us to go through it for a reason.

Disturb us, O Lord when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little, when we arrived in safely because we sailed too close to the shore. Disturb us, O. Lord when with the abundance of the things we possess we have lost our thirst for the water of Life; when having fallen in love with time we have ceased to dream of Eternity; and in our efforts to build the new earth have allowed our vision for the New Heaven to grow dim.

Stir us, O Lord to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas, where storms shall show Thy mastery, where losing sight of land we shall find the stars. In the name of Him who pushed back the horizons of our hopes and invited the brave to follow Him.

THE LORD'S TEST Author Unknown

I woke up this morning and knew that today,
The sun would not be shining and the clouds would be gray.
As I stepped outside, rain fell upon my head.
My car wouldn't start so I walked to school instead.

I forgot all of my assignments
I failed all of my tests.
I dropped my head in disgust and asked the Lord for one request.

"Lord, why is it that things won't go my way?"
He gently replied, "Dear child it is because you didn't thank me yesterday.
I woke you up and enabled you to see the sun again.
I gave you shelter, protected your family, and even let you make a new friend.
I blessed you far greater than I ever had before.
But you were too busy to thank me once more.

You didn't feel sick because I maintained your health.
You had money in your pocket because I maintained your wealth.
You had shoes on you feet and clothes to wear, too.
You had plenty of food to eat and what did you do?
You ignored me and went about your tasks.
But when you wanted something you never hesitated to ask.

I was there when you needed me and that wasn't too long ago.
But when things started going your way, it was me you did not know.
As if that weren't enough, I provided your favorite luxuries.
This was something I didn't have to do-they weren't even necessities.
And when it was time to get on your knees and show your gratitude,
You decided that after such a fulfilling day, you weren't in the mood.

So I decided to give you just a little test.
To show you how it would feel to stop being blessed."
I began to realize what the Lord was saying..
He said, "My child, you have learned and you know I do forgive.
But remember to remember this day as long as you shall live.
I love filling your life with joy, and your pain I'll alleviate it.
But just a simple thank you would show how much you appreciate it."

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