Saturday, March 31, 2012

When words abound...

"When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds the tongue is wise" (Proverbs 10:19); "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil..." (James 3:6).

"Words are like leaves; And where they most abound, much fruit of sense beneath is seldom found" (Pope). One cannot talk about nothing forever, so the talk finally degenerates into small rap about people. Some wonderful advice comes to us from the ancient Orient. We should test our words to see if they can pass through three golden gates:

1) Is it true?;
2) Is it necessary?;
3) Is it kind?

Dr. James T. Jeremiah of Cedarville College in Ohio gives an apt description of the backbiter: "It has been suggested that biting is not always done with the teeth. The tongue feels soft compared to your teeth, but it is twice as sharp. A backbiter is not a person who bites back, but one who bites behind your back." Hannah More handled backbiters and talebearers by asking them to go with her to the person slandered to see if the story was really true. Cuts from a knife heal, but we have no guarantee that cuts from our tongue will heal.

Proverbs is full of admonitions about what we do with our tongue. I particularly like The Message Proverbs, by Eugene H. Peterson. Here are a few on the tongue from Chapter 10:

“The mouth of a good person is a deep, life-giving well, but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse.”

“Hatred starts fights, but love pulls a quilt over the bickering.” What a lovely thought!

“The wise accumulate knowledge, a true treasure; know-it-alls talk too much, a sheer waste.”

“The more talk, the less truth; the wise measure their words.”

“The talk of the good person is worth waiting for; the blabber of the wicked is worthless.”

Where was God?

Donel McClellan, in a sermon titled “Sleeping Through Storms,” shares this:

A terrible tragedy engulfed a religion professor at Whitworth College. Gerald Sittser lost his wife, mother and four-year-old daughter in a single car accident. One by one, by the side of the road they died in his arms. Following the accident Sittser chronicled the emptiness of his life. With candor and matter of fact clarity he recalls the despair that threatened to overwhelm him—but amazingly, never did. He survived because he believed in the ancient Christian doctrine of grace. He believed in grace because he lived it. And he named the book he later wrote, A Grace Disguised.

He writes, ". . . [T]hough I experienced death, I also experienced life in ways that I never thought possible before—not after the darkness, as we might suppose, but in the darkness. I did not go through the pain and come out the other side; instead, I lived in it and found within that pain the grace to survive and eventually grow. I did not get over the loss of my loved ones; rather I absorbed the loss into my life, like soil receives decaying matter, until it became a part of who I am. Sorrow took up permanent residence in my soul and enlarged it."

Sometimes when I’m reading a particularly profound devotion, I experience what I call a “wow” moment, and this surely is one of my wows. To repeat: “Sorrow took up permanent residence in my soul and enlarged it.” Grace—this is such a cardinal tenet to our faith and we miss it, especially in times that tear our insides to pieces that only a loving Father can restore to a wholeness again. This dear man lost mother, wife and daughter. I thought of Job and the messenger who brought him the news that all his children had died together, gone, just like that.

So where was God while Dr. Sittser cradled his beloveds in his arms? God was right where He was when His Son died! I didn’t understand the profoundness of this until the night we heard our oldest son scream and then shoot himself to death. I do believe that what got me through the moments, minutes, hours, days and weeks afterwards was the absolute belief that our Father was there with us through it all. And I believed that God would give us the courage (yes--courage!) to crawl through this valley, and walk and run again (Isaiah 40:29-31). I hope this doesn’t sound blasphemous, but God depends on us as much as we depend on Him -- we have our part, too.

Gerald Sittser concludes in his book:

"To live in a world with grace is better by far than to live in a world of absolute fairness. A fair world may make life nice for us, but only as nice as we are. A world with grace will give us more than we deserve. It will give us life, even in our suffering."

Thank you, Dr. Sittser, for reaching beyond unfathomable grief and sharing with us your inspiring words. We are forever grateful to you.

"See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction" (Isaiah 48:10).

When do we really live? - Joseph Fort Newton

"I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).

When do we really live? When does life drop its veil and show what it is, what it was meant to be?

* When we have a faith fit to live by, a self fit to live with, a work fit to live for, and someone to love and be loved by.

* When we know how to earn a little and spend a little less, how to pull our own weight and lend a hand to lift the load of others.

* When we know how to fill time and not merely kill it, when we want less, love more, and add something to the sum of human good.

* When we are wise enough to live one day at a time, letting yesterday go and not living tomorrow until it arrives.

* When we can look out over the far horizon with a deep sense of our own littleness, and yet have faith, hope, and courage.

* When we know that every man is noble, as vile, as divine, and as lonely as we are, and learn to forgive and love our fellows.

* When we know that every day is a little life, every night a little death and that we pass this way but once in our journey.

* When we can sympathize with our fellows in their sorrows even in their sins knowing that each fights a hard fight against heavy odds.

* When we know how to make friends and keep them, despite their faults and ours, and above all how to keep friends with ourselves.

* When we know how to live and let live, how to live and help live, and how to be a little kinder than necessary every day.

* When we have learned a few great books full of beauty serenity, and vision, and treasure them as our guides and companions.

* When we know the one Great Book, how to live with it, letting its strength and tenderness and peace enter into our hearts.

* When we know how to worship, to yield our little fretful selves into the keeping of One who knows the worth and meaning of life.

* When we know how to throw off things, and not let them stick like burs and sting like bees, and how to forget our regrets.

* When we know how to relax, let down, unwind; how to ease the tension of life; how to be alone and not be lonely or afraid.

* When we know how to get out of our little selves into the lives of others, putting ourselves in their place, sharing life in fellowship, changing mirrors into windows.

* When we know that we are tied together in one bundle of life, that the hurt of one is the injury of all, that the common good is the good of every one.

* When the public iniquity is a private bereavement, and we cannot rest until we do our part, cast our vote, to cleanse it away.

* When we know how to make a living, but also how to make a life, giving ourselves to something greater than ourselves, asking no reward.

* When we know how to turn to a man the heart of a man, to a woman the heart of a woman, to a child the heart of a child.

* When we have learned how to walk out on those pesky imps, Fear, Worry, and Boredom, erect, free, unafraid of life or death.

* When we can meet the knocks of life and not be shocked, to suffer defeat and not be defeated, because we refuse to be knocked out.

* When we know how to give ourselves, to forgive others, and to live with thanksgiving, not taking life for granted, but for gratitude.

* When we love the silent beauty of flowers, the songs of birds, the wonder of morning, the mercy of evening and its benediction.

* When music sets us dreaming, when an act of pure goodness melts our hearts, and we feel the thrill of a forgotten joy in the laugh of a little child.

* When we know the fine art of being happy and high minded amid the meaner drudgeries of life, turning our job into a joy.

* When star crowned trees, and the sunlight falling on flowing waters, subdue us like the thought of one much loved and long dead.

* When we can look into a wayside puddle and see something beyond mud, and into the face of a forlorn mortal and see something beyond sin.

* When we can find good in every faith that helps any man to find divine meaning in life, whatever the name or rite of that faith may be.

* When we have learned to praise people for what they can do, and not criticize them for what they cannot do, since no one can do everything.

* When we are ruled by our admirations, not by our disgusts, seeking the best in people, giving every soul the benefit of the doubt.

* When we know how to love, how to pray, how to laugh, how to live with God, how to serve him, glad to live but not afraid to die.

Joseph Fort Newton

Friday, March 30, 2012

Dawn to Dusk


Elegant Dawn inspires the day with stroke of varied brush;
The hush of dusky hours gives way to holy blush.
She shouts in glorious tones: arise, embrace, enjoy my gift!
Promise there is of beginnings; she is God's philanthropist.
Radiance is her character; she rises in virility
And permeates God's earth with her nobility.
Unassuming, earnestly, she transfuses drowsy heart
With Spirit for another day; courage for its part.


The hush of dusky hours gives way to holy solitude;
Thoughts and acts, griefs and fears, are laid to rest in gratitude.
She binds within her shadows all our daily restlessness;
Assures us of tomorrow's promise: His and our success.
Solemn is her character, the dark demands a pensive mood;
Philosophical and thoughtful, repentive and subdued.
And then the hush of dusky hours gives way to holy blush;
The new tomorrow becomes today, God's brand new holy brush!

Passing on the Verities of Life

“Let us not forget” (Deuteronomy 4:9).

What a gift we have with a good memory! Without memory we would be unable to recall the many blessings we have received from both God and man. It also helps to keep in mind that we would lose our mind if we were not in Jesus' mind. It is this precious capability that enables us to accumulate and apply God's promises and precepts. But we must take care to stock up on memories that are excellent.

One of the best ways to remember is to pass it on to others. God’s Word advises us to pass on His truth to our children. They will then hand these verities on to the next generation. What better riches can we leave them than the good things which our eyes have seen and our ears have heard of the love of God?

One more suggestion about memories: When we die this is the greatest part of what we leave behind. Will our loved ones treasure our memory? “Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones” (Psalm 116:15). To paraphrase, precious in the lives of our loved ones is our life while we are still alive. Will our death leave loving memories, or will our death bring a tremendous relief? It’s something to think about when we want to report a delicious story or retort to a retort!

“How good a gift is memory! Of all the gracious benefits conferred on mortal men by God there is none more useful, none more precious. By memory we are enabled to lay by a store of precious thoughts and gracious reminiscences against the days to come. By memory we can stud our minds with promises and precepts from the Word of God, as the midnight heavens are studded with the twinkling of stars” (Anonymous).

Gracious Father, thank you from a full heart for memories of your love; help us to pass on these memories when we pass on!

Our Master Card - Anonymous

You have probably seen the catchy television commercials for MasterCard. They start by identifying some things that people can buy with their MasterCard, then show a moment that is priceless and end by saying, "There are some things money can't buy, for everything else there's MasterCard."
I'm here to advertise my credit card. I'm a card carrying representative for the Master's Card. That's right, the MASTER'S CARD. Let me tell you about it.
There are no finance charges, no payments due. My bill has already been covered . . . it's a prepaid deal. I couldn't afford the price. Jesus paid it for me and you.
It is accessible twenty-four hours a day from anywhere in the world. The MASTER'S CARD has so many benefits it's hard to list them all. Let me share some of them with you . . .
Just for starters there is unlimited grace. Apply for the MASTER'S CARD.
Looking for love in all the wrong places? Apply for the MASTER'S CARD.
Want real joy despite the difficulties of life? Apply for the MASTER'S CARD.
Want a lasting peace? Apply for the MASTER'S CARD.
How do you obtain the MASTER'S CARD? Dial 1-800-BeSaved for the following messages: Romans 10:9: "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Matthew 10:22: "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved."
Jesus is standing by right now to take your call. Don't delay. This great offer won't last forever.
There are some things money can't buy. For those things, there's the Master's Card.
- Author Unknown, Edited by Richard Wimer

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Returning Good for Evil

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13.

In his remarkable book, The Sermon on the Mount, Dr. Emmet Fox deals with our forgiving those who hurt us. In the chapter, “Resist Not Evil,” he states, "...When someone injures you, instead of seeking to get your own back or to repay him in his own coin, you are to do the very opposite--you are to forgive him, and set him free. No matter what the provocation may be, and no matter how many times it is repeated, you are to do this. You are to loose him and let him go, for thus only can you be freed yourself--thus only can you possess your own soul. To return evil for evil, to answer violence with violence and hate with hate, is to start a vicious circle to which there is no ending but the wearing out of your own life and your brother's, too. Antagonize any situation, and you give it power against yourself; offer mental non-resistance, and it crumbles away in front of you." Dr. Fox points out that "the mere rehearsing in thought of any difficulty endows it with new life. Going over old grievances mentally; thinking how badly someone at some time, for instance, and recalling the details, has the effect of revivifying that which was quietly expiring of neglect."

By mentally resisting what we feel is a bad circumstance, we give it power and life and, in the process, deplete our own spiritual energies and, perhaps, even our physical stamina. Resentment fosters self-pity which fosters inability to act and react in a Christ-like way. In our anger and frustration, we also are tempted to give others "a piece of our mind" and, in the process, lose our own peace of mind.
Years ago a friend gave me some wonderful advice. She suggested that I visualize Jesus standing between the person and myself, and imagine Him absorbing and redeeming the feelings of anger I had toward that person. It works! Another help, I would picture myself washing the feet of that person, as Christ washed the feet of Judas, His betrayer. Yet another help, I would remind myself that Jesus suffered and died for this very person!

Woe to Those Who Call Evil Good and Good Evil!

“They hid themselves among the trees” (Genesis 3:8b).

Adam and Eve sinned and they hid, and God looked for them. What a wonderful spiritual lesson there is here. The Lord God calls to us, "Where are you?" Where are we in our lives? God continually calls and finds us:
1) in conscience, the twinge of sorrow and guilt reminding us that we have injured Him and His;
2) in providence, for all is under His control;
3) in revelation, whether written or spoken.

The serpent convinced Eve that if she ate the forbidden fruit she would know good and evil. Until then Adam and Eve knew only good; they disobeyed and then they also knew evil. Only in that respect was the serpent, that liar, right. It wasn't just one sin but many: pride, ingratitude, disobedience, disbelief, discontentment (let us remember that their sin was committed in the very midst of paradise!), unholy curiosity, presumption upon God's goodness, and doubt upon His sincerity.

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil" (Isaiah 5:20). This is exactly what the serpent did in the Garden. Adam and Eve fell through the senses and lost common sense. Our senses are our servants, to be guarded ever so carefully. One of our first lessons in life is that we must have boundaries for the senses that war against our spirit. We can be sure that it is through the avenue of our sensations that the serpent will be tripping us up. God cautions us in His call to beware of what we see and hear and feel. If we sin with these wonderful gifts, then it is of the serpent, that liar. Nothing but good comes from God: "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good" (Genesis 1:31).

But God hath promised. . . .

"But He said to me, `My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness'." (2 Corinthians 12:9a).

When our oldest son died we chose this lovely poem for his funeral card. It seemed so appropriate:

God hath not promised
Skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways
All our lives through;

God hath not promised
Sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow,
Peace without pain.

But God hath promised
Strength for the day,
Rest for the labor,
Light for the way,

Grace for all trials,
Help from above,
Unfailing sympathy,
Undying love.
Annie Johnson Flint

By His grace are we saved from that which would destroy the holy quality of our life. He drapes His mantle of love over our depressed spirit and lifts our breaking heart to His healing heart. Emerson said, "The hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer." Perseverance is an essential word in the Christian's vocabulary. Jesus told His disciples, "... He who stands firm to the end will be saved" (Matthew 10:22).

Father, please help us to remember that Your grace is sufficient to keep us going through what we must endure, and it is sufficient to the end.
"Have nothing to do with silly and ill-informed controversies which lead inevitably, as you know, to strife" (2 Timothy 2:23 Phillips). "But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments, because these are unprofitable and useless" (Titus 3:9).
Defend me, therefore, common sense, I say,
From reveries so airy, from the toil
Of dropping buckets into empty wells,
And growing old in drawing nothing up.

Religion especially is not to satisfy our curiosity or to answer speculative questions. It is to restore our relationship with God; to sanctify our hearts and minds and prepare us for eternity. What good comes from stirring up strife over whatever does not help us with this goal?

Chaucer shared this humorous bit of wisdom: "One shouldn't be too inquisitive in life/Either about God's secrets or one's wife." Our question is not, "Is my name written there, on the page white and fair?" but, "Is my God written here, on my heart full of fear?" "What must [we] do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30) and "What must we do to do the works God requires?" (John 6:28) are the compelling questions.

"...What may be known about God is plain..." (Romans 1:19). It is "wise" men who have obscured the plain things. We have made a fine art of wrangling and wrestling from the very Word of God. "Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" (1 Corinthians 1:20). Yes, there are thoughts past our understanding, but God would not leave us without precepts and promises that we can indeed comprehend and believe beyond spiritual fatal doubts. What kind of God would leave us hanging in the winds of worry and misgiving if He professes to be Love?

“Huxley came to Baltimore to attend a general conference in 1820. A discussion arose on a question of order, whether presiding elders should be elected by preachers or not, and the dispute had waxed warm, not to say hot. Brother Huxley had said not a word through it all, but at the close of the session the Bishop called upon him to make the concluding prayer. He knelt and said, “Now, O Lord, Thou knowest what a time we’ve had here discussing and arguing about this elder question, and Thou knowest what our feelings are. We do not care what becomes of the ark; it’s only who drives the oxen.” (Christian Age.)

I wonder if the ark is faring any better in our day!

From might to mush!

The story is told of the little boy who loved to play with toy soldiers. His mother and father gave him a chocolate soldier, carefully wrapped in bright red foil, for his birthday. The little boy was ecstatic. He took it outside on a very warm afternoon and placed "General Julius," as he named his new addition to the family of soldiers, right up front.

He played with his little army for about an hour when his mother called him to come into the house to help her. While he was in the house, his precious little chocolate soldier melted into mush. He was not a strong leader anymore!

From might to mush, at the mercy of a muggy and merciless heat! When the fires of temptation and affliction bear down, do we melt? Are we made of chocolate--or tungsten? Tungsten is a rare and heavy metal whose melting point (3410 degrees centigrade) is higher than that of any other metal.

Are we chocolate or tungsten soldiers for Jesus Christ? Do we want to please our Commander or ourselves? Are we willing to take the cross directly from Jesus, or do we want to pad it with comforts, the best of health, and always doing things our way? Do we want to always walk in the Garden of Eden and never kneel with our Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane? Are we willing to eat the bitter herbs before we eat of the tree of life? Do we take flight if we see blood or tears on the cross? Are we willing to wipe from our hearts--with God's grace--all traces of revenge and lust and bitterness and flattery so that we may carry the cross with God's weights and not our own?

We can't cheat, either, by injecting the steroids of artificial happiness that give a temporary lift, but then attack later to finally destroy us. Happiness is deceptive and it is based on feeling. It is joy that we seek, and sometimes joy is rooted in sorrow. E. Stanley Jones said, "Anyone can have joy on account of, but Jesus had joy in spite of." "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross..." (Hebrews 12:2 NIV). Whatever humiliation and suffering there is, it is well worth the effort, for it is outweighed by the prospects of future real happiness of eternity with Him who died for us.

The Bible is replete with examples of both tungsten and chocolate soldiers--and even people of God who were made up of both materials. The greatest Man of tungsten was Jesus: "As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51). Jesus knew what His mission was, and He determined to face the horror rather than run away. What a lesson for us when we are tempted to run a race in the opposite direction of our problems! Jesus also "fell with his face to the ground and prayed, 'Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will'" (Matthew 26:39). So tungsten men and women may pray for the cup to be removed but the test is accepting God's will if it is to drink the cup to the bitter dregs.

Another tungsten man was Joseph. "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done..." (Genesis 50:20). Joseph, first-born of the barren Rachel, Jacob's favorite wife, was the favored son of twelve sons. Joseph's brothers sold him as a slave. Later, when Potiphar placed Joseph in charge of his household, it was Joseph's very integrity that led to his imprisonment. That he was able to remain loyal and kind and sympathetic through all the injustices in his young life is remarkable.

But what surely proved his mettle and metal was his forgiveness of his brothers' cruel act. Their intentional bane became Joseph's unintended boon and Joseph was able to forgive them. God rules and overrules in lives. "So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children. And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them" (Genesis 50:21). What graciousness!

Twelve Rules for Raising Delinquent Children

Begin with infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.

Quarrel frequently in the presence of your children. In this way they won’t be so shocked when the home is broken up later. 

When he picks up bad words, laugh at him. This will make him think he’s cute.

Give the child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his own.

Never give him any spiritual training. Wait until he is twenty-one and then let "him decide for himself".
Satisfy his every craving for food, drink, and comfort. See that his every sensual desire is gratified.

Avoid the use of "wrong". He may develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe later, when he is arrested, that society is against him and he is being persecuted.
Let him read any printed material, and listen to any music he can get his hands on. Be careful that the silverware and drinking glasses are sterilized, but let his mind feast on garbage.

Pick up everything he leaves lying around. Do everything for him so that he will be experienced in throwing all responsibility on others.
When he gets into real trouble, apologize to yourself by saying, "I could never do anything with him."
Take his part against neighbors, teachers, and policemen. They are all prejudiced against your child.
Prepare for a life of grief. You will likely have it.

Taken from a pamphlet entitled Twelve Rules for Raising Delinquent Children distributed by the Houston Police Department.


And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
Colossians 3:20

Be happy today! - Anonymous

We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they are. After that, we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, or when we retire.

The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when? Your life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway. Happiness is the way. So, treasure every moment that you have and treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time with...and remember that time waits for no one.

So, stop waiting:

--until your car or home is paid off
--until you get a new car or home
--until your kids leave the house
--until you go back to school
--until you lose ten pounds
--until you gain ten pounds
--until you finish school
--until you get a divorce
--until you get married
--until you have kids
--until you retire
--until summer
--until spring
--until winter
--until fall
--until you die

There is no better time than right now to be happy. Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

Author Unknown

Extracting our ounce of judgment

"By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you" (2 Corinthians 10:1).

Others had leveled some serious charges against Paul, and Paul wanted above all else to answer the charges in a Christ-like spirit of quietness, patience and compassion, mindful not so much of his own honor as that of Christ's. He wanted to be the Gentle Man's gentleman in dealing with those who would make Paul less than he knew he should be.

"When they hurled their insults at [Jesus], he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats" (1 Peter 2:23); ". . .Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart. . ." (Matthew 11:29). Gentleness is active and exhibited in the temperament we tender to others; meekness is passive and within our inner spirit; it is the temper of spirit in which we accept God's dealings with us without challenging His purposes or impugning wrong motives to others.

Had Jesus been Judge and Jury while on this imperfect earth and had He exacted His pound of flesh from those who misjudged His actions and motives, then we could extract our ounce of judgment from those who wound our pride. As it is, Jesus wants us to leave the sentencing to Him. The bonus for us is good mental and physical health, for "Gentle words cause life and health. . ." (Proverbs 15:4 TLB).

Society is not always kind to the gentle people. Sometimes the soft answer invites ridicule, but it is kindness that finally wins. It is the destructive forces that howl for our attention: the earthquake, the tornado, the angry voices that foretell of disaster. But it is the gentle shower, quiet and unassuming, that makes fruitful the land, and it is the peaceful and tender people of the earth who forge constructive relationships and worthwhile lives.

The True Hero

Years ago our six-year-old granddaughter, our four-year-old twin grandsons and a young friend of theirs and I gathered together for a poetry fun-shop. But before we got into the fun part I asked them to spend a few minutes talking about who their heroes are, a really heavy subject for such young folks. But as I get older and wiser, I'm discovering that we are short-changing our little ones terribly. Out of the mouths of babes come discriminating and perceptive thoughts. And they don't hesitate to tell you, too!

I asked them if they knew any people they considered special enough to imitate. Well, a huge silence ensued so I decided to share my wisdom of the ages, rather, my old-age wisdom. Seeing who gets all the publicity in the papers, I've always thought the "little person" lands on the very low end of the scale. So we talked about the "little person" and what he or she does, and what makes him or her a hero.

1. The true hero is willing to take responsibility for his or her actions.
2. The true hero drops the "victim" cloak and goes on with duties, whether it's raining or not. S/he doesn't expect the government to hand out raincoats or, better yet, stop the rain. After all, let's get real here!
3. The true hero doesn't cry if the prize isn't in the box, and s/he for sure doesn't sue the company!
4. The true hero gets out of bed every morning no matter how s/he feels and gets on with life and kids and work. It may not pay today but it will surely pay high dividends in ten or twenty years from now.
5. The true hero knows that bad things happen to good people. As Mort Crim so aptly stated: "Once we accept the fact that bad things do happen to good people, then we can get on with the business of living life to the fullest: giving, loving, creating, sharing, building, walking through every door of opportunity offered by this fragile, unpredictable, exciting experience called life."
6. The true hero can make a decision and stand by it. This takes more courage than we realize.
7. The true hero gives 110% if that is what is needed.
8. The true hero keeps promises. Only a child knows how important this is.
9. The true hero never complains. This is where we separate the heroes from us ordinary folks!
10.The true hero loves in spite of instead of spite!

These wonderful children decided that their true heroes were their moms and dads!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Little Things - Edward Heppenstall

How particular do you think we ought to be in little things? None of us likes a check list. It does not really deal with how to live the Christian life. There is the danger of losing our sense of proportion, of becoming censorious in trifles. How do you suggest we deal with all the frailties and foibles that belong to human nature?

[It is a] principle that the individual who senses his responsibility in small matters can be trusted in larger things. What we are habitually in small things determines and affects the whole of our moral and spiritual living. What we really are behind all the words and deeds determines our fidelity all the way through.

Our allegiance to God and to His will leaves nothing out. There are no exceptions. There is no situation and no circumstance in life so small that it is not part of our religion. Our faith takes it all in, all there is of us and about us, small and great. This is very much like sculpturing a statue or painting a picture. Details make the difference between a genius and the average man. Great paintings can stand the test of the microscope in the examination of details.

Especially is this true of what we believe and practice. Those who hold a wrong theory as to what is truth, even in small things, find themselves in error. No chain is stronger than its weakest link. No character is stronger than its weakest point. According to a story, a little Dutch boy in Holland saw a small leak in one of the dikes. He tried to plug it up with his finger. If the hole became larger there was danger of the whole dike giving way. Morally and spiritually this is very much to the point.

We are to call upon God and the help of the Holy Spirit to become strong in the small things as well as in the large. We are to be true to Him in all things. We shall triumph at last if we are willing to make every sacrifice that truth may require at our hands. In everything, small and great, we cast our life and our fortune with One who is eternal. It is our privilege to walk in the full light of truth.

Edward Heppenstall, In Touch With God

Count your blessings!

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep ... you are richer than 75% of this world.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace ... you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness ... you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation... you are ahead of 500 million people in the world

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful ... you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

If you can hold someone's hand, hug them or even touch them on the shoulder ... you are blessed because you can offer a healing touch.

If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you, and furthermore, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world that cannot read at all.

Have a good year, count your blessings, and pass this along to remind everyone else how blessed we all are.



"I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord" (Philippians 4:2).

Here we have two women Paul respected and admired. Apparently these two ladies were good and active leaders and workers, but a dispute arose between them. Strife of any kind is regrettable but, when it is in the church, it is doubly so. Cooperation is essential to the health of any enterprise, religious or secular. Paul was most concerned for the peace of the church that these two ladies settle their differences in a Christ-like manner so the church could get on with larger issues.

True compromise is the willingness to meet each other on our journeys. No church, home or business can thrive if each is traveling to the right or left and not even trying to find common ground. "Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?" (Amos 3:3). Mediation is civil meditation. It is the peacemaker and the reconciler. "It is to a man's honor to avoid strife ..." (Proverbs 20:3); "Blessed are the peacemakers ..." (Matthew 5:9); "There is ... joy for those who promote peace" (Proverbs 12:20).

"It is a grim thought that all we know about Euodia and Syntyche is that they were two women who had quarreled! It makes us think. Suppose our life was to be summed up in one sentence, what would that sentence be? Clement goes down to history as the peacemaker; Euodia and Syntyche go down as the breakers of the peace. Suppose we were to go down in history with one thing known about us, what would that one thing be?" (William Barclay).

Dr. Johnstone gives us the mode of Paul's interference that we might all heed:

(1) He makes not the slightest reference to the cause of dissension. In most cases reconciliation is more likely to be effected by letting the matter sleep and die.
(2) From his apostleship and relations with the Philippians he might have been much bolder in Christ to enjoin them that which was convenient; yet for love's sake he rather beseeches them.
(3) He beseeches them separately, and treats them with exactly the same consideration.
(4) He calls in a common friend to help them to a reconciliation (verse 3), a thoroughly discreet friend of both could do not a little to smooth the way...This is a form of delicate work, and is often shunned; yet none more likely to produce blessed results.

Help us to be aisles, not isles!

"Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it" (Ezra 10:4).

So many days we want to give in and give up! We have such a difficult time believing that God and our loyal friends support us. On the other hand, matters in another's hands means our support and loyalty and love to that person. We may be just the one to hold up heart and hands of someone in need: "Aaron and Hur held [Moses'] hands up -- one on one side, one on the other -- so that his hands remained steady..." (Exodus 17:12).

"That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain..." (Exodus 18:22c); "They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone" (Numbers 11:17c). Pride often says no to help but here God helps us to bear by telling us to share. Often just a listening (h)ear(t) lifts the load off the heart and mind of another.

"Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus..." (Mark 2:4). Here the paralytic's friends demonstrated the faith that moves a friend through a mountain of difficulties and discouragements. This is the kind of love and support we all need at times, both to give and to receive. This man's friends had courage and faith to do the unthinkable. We, too, may need to make an opening for someone we love, or perhaps someone we don’t love.

"He went to him and bandaged his wounds..." (Luke 10:34). Perhaps our friend has a heart wound that needs our compassion and heart muscles that need strengthening so he or she can go on with duties. We can bandage and bolster with an unconditional love that understands. We each have our tasks to fulfill, but at times the tasks seem overwhelming; it is then that God grants a gift of a faithful friend who can talk it through with us. Courage and encouragement, operation and cooperation are within this sage advice. God raises up men and women to sustain the burdens for us all, and it is the group's duty to be with the person in heart and mind. The leader, whether minister, captain, manager, employer -- whatever -- has the duty to be courageous and to operate on the needs; it is for the rest of us to cooperate and encourage so the person in charge may be successful for us all. We make or break each other.

Father, help us to be aisles, not isles!
~ Reconciliation ~

When George Washington was stationed in early life at Alexandria, with a regiment under his command, his spirit became heated one day at an election, and he said something very offensive to a Mr. Payne. In response, Payne felled him to the ground with one blow of his cane. On hearing of the insult offered to their commander, the regiment, burning for revenge immediately started for the city; but Washington met them and begged them by their regard for him to return peaceably to their barracks. Thinking himself in the wrong in his hasty expressions, he nobly resolved to make an honorable reparation. The next morning Washington sent a polite note requesting Payne to meet him at the tavern. Payne took it for a challenge, and went in expectation of a duel. However, what was his surprise to find, instead of pistols, a decanter of wine on the table.

Washington rose to meet him and said with a smile, "Mr. Payne, to err is human; but to correct our errors is always honorable. I believe I was wrong yesterday. You have had, I think, some satisfaction; and, if you deem that sufficient, here is my hand. Let us be friends."

Such an act of justice and courtesy few could resist; and Payne became, from that moment through life, an enthusiastic friend and admirer of Washington, who in all of his victories never won a more glorious triumph when, by ruling his own spirit, he subdued the anger of his enemy and won his confidence and love.

—Dictionary Of Illustrations

I have set before you an Example!

"I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you" (John 13:15).

Are we angry with someone? Do we feel another's hostility? Is there a rupture of any kind with another person for whom our dear Jesus died? Have we a breach of love or confidence that we need to repair? Are we allowing misunderstandings to stand in the way of happiness, our own and another's?

"I have set before you an example..." What a mean service to render to lowly men, taking up a towel and washing their feet! And yet this is not how Jesus viewed it at all. "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve" even the man who was to betray Him! O! what a lesson there is here in this grand action by our Creator and Redeemer! It defies sinful imagination but fires up a restored and Spirit-filled imagination to go to that person who irritates and angers us and kneel before him or her and immerse their feet -- and our own hurting and hating heart -- in the cleansing water. How on earth can we continue to harbor bitterness in our hearts after doing this, even if only in our imagination? By beholding our Jesus doing it for us, and our doing it for others, then we can love them with His love.

Jesus could have easily let His beloved disciples wash their own feet. Peter in his human pride said to Jesus, "No, you shall never wash my feet" (v.8). But Jesus lovingly explained to Peter that, unless He washed his feet, Peter would have no part with Him. When He was finished, Jesus asked them, "Do you understand what I have done for you?" (v.12). Could they -- or we -- possibly understand what He has done for us all in this supreme act of love and humility?

The thought of His humble action and His great love is overwhelming. May we in spirit and in Spirit follow His example and may we pray to be worthy of His towel ministry.

FAITH - Ella Wheeler Wilcox

When our oldest son died I discovered this poem and read it daily for comfort and courage:

I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails;
I will believe the Hand which never fails,
From seeming evil worketh good for me.
And though I weep because those sails are tattered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered:
"I trust in Thee."

I will not doubt, though all my prayers return
Unanswered from the still, white realm above;
I will believe it is an all-wise love
Which has refused these things for which I yearn;
And though at times I cannot keep from grieving,
Yet the pure ardor of my fixed believing
Undimmed shall burn.

I will not doubt, though sorrows fall like rain,
And troubles swarm like bees about a hive;
I will believe the heights for which I strive
Are only reached by anguish and by pain;
And though I groan and writhe beneath my crosses,
I yet shall see through my severest losses
The greater gain.

I will not doubt. Well anchored in this faith,
Like some staunch ship, my soul braves every gale;
So strong its courage that it will not quail
To breast the mighty unknown sea of death.
O, may I cry, though body parts with spirit,
"I do not doubt," so listening worlds may hear it,
With my last breath.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Monday, March 19, 2012

Prayer for our Leaders

Holy Spirit, we come before you this day in humility and gratitude to beg Your choicest blessings upon those in charge of our life and liberty.

Grant them in abundance Your gifts of:

that they may always be guided to place the spiritual good of the nation as the highest good.

that they may recognize the simplicity of truth.

that they may recognize the will of God under circumstances that discourage lesser men.

that they may be given the spiritual and physical strength to accept the inevitable burdens of leadership with courageous endurance.

that they may know the vastness of their mission and yet retain humility of spirit and charity for each and every soul.

that in the manifold duties of their offices they may always find time to communicate quietly with God and therein find peace of soul.

that they would forego worldly honors and recognition rather than bow to the will of evil men.

May you bless and direct our leaders for as long as it is Your will for them to guide the destiny of this nation and the world.

Father, we thank You that You hear our prayer. Please remind us, too, that You are still in charge!


Why NOT Divorce? (Booklet)

The nuptial idea is used as a primary symbol for the relationship between God and His people in both the Old and New Testaments, and it is the highest relationship between a man and a woman. Jesus honored marriage by granting His first miracle at the wedding at Cana in Galilee. Marriage is meant to illustrate the mystical union between Christ and His church, and between husband and wife.

Then why do we make it so difficult for ourselves? Years ago an article I read in a church periodical placed the primary responsibility for submission upon the wife, but the article also stressed the corresponding need for submission of the husband to his wife. Indeed, mutual submission is inseparable from Christian love, for it is only within Christian love that there is true submission. Otherwise, tyranny results. Only in love is there the freedom to say, "I will." And the only way to keep that promise, that nuptial covenant, is mutual submission under God's dominion. The true standard of Christ cancels out the double standard that exists in so many marriages. In a truly Christian marriage two egos succumb to the I AM. Where this is not the case, the two egos clash.

In my own marriage, as in so many marriages, the sweet icing of attraction and intensity turned sour for us once the heavy responsibilities overwhelmed the once carefree days and nights. In the heat of anger and frustration I began to doubt the wisdom of this much-touted institution of marriage. I became convinced it was an institution of the penal type, with no time off even for good behavior. My friends, who I unwisely let in on my problems and who were locked in the same woeful situation, readily agreed, of course. "Misery loves company," goes the adage. One truth is certain: discontent breeds quicker than rabbits. We did not help each other!

Then one short-fused day something I heard on the radio helped me to accept the idea that staying in my marriage was God's will: "You may think you have gone against God's will when you married, but don't ever consider it a mistake, because God can cut the cloth to fit the pattern." I was so impressed with that image of God fitting us to His will. That day I prayed for faith to believe that in the human circumstances of misunderstandings, fatigue and all the other robbers in marriage (Satan is the robber baron), God would trim and shape our frayed cloths of pride and selfishness, our hurts and hates.

One's imagination can make a valuable contribution to life. It can also be like a wild bacterial disease racing through the mind, growing rapidly and pushing out positive and constructive thoughts. In marriage, as in any close relationship, the faculty of imagination must be brought under spiritual control, just as all other members of our bodies must be given to His control. Satan, knowing how easy it is to take control of our minds, insinuates the idea that our spouse no longer loves us because he or she forgets to do something, or says something in the distress of fatigue or illness that hurts us. For some reason it's all right for the neighbors to have an off day, even the in-laws, but the spouse is expected to be in top emotional and mental shape 24 hours a day, 366 days a year.

As I prayed and thought about our marriage, I found a major problem was my own overactive reactive imagination that reveled in rehashing past hurts that should have been long forgiven and forgotten. When I wrote the list of my husband's good points and my own bad ones, I decided to regroup images into a more constructive pattern. I wanted to "see" - with a productive imagination - the good marriage we could still have. When the imagination started to conjure up the bad memories and experiences, I prayed to the Holy Spirit to remove the unholy spirit that is the source of our destructive thoughts.

I want to stress here that I realize there are unbearable situations in families in which separation is the only recourse that will bring peace and harmony. My stepfather finally divorced my mother after she got drunk and threatened him with a gun. I watched with horror as she put the gun to his chest. The shock triggered a massive heart attack. Somehow he survived, and when he was well enough he got a divorce - and me! I don't believe God requires us to remain in impossible situations.

My concern here is with the marriage that shipwrecks on the rocks (pebbles, really) of those nits of misunderstanding and impressions that lead to depressions. But the battered hull is salvageable, and it can be repaired with God's hammer and wood, and re-varnished with a coat of God's love. I know to the despairing this may sound like something written by the angels who have no earthly experiences. It may seem impossible to start again and to love again. Certainly I thought so. Then after I read 1 Corinthians 7:12-14, I was ashamed to admit that I couldn't be Christian enough to remain with a situation that I helped forge with my own hot tongue and temper. Scripture compelled me to step back and take an extensive and objective view of my spouse. I was forced to recognize and admit that he is a good, decent, dependable and hardworking man.

When I searched Scripture, the final arbiter of my actions, I couldn't come up with an excuse to do what I wanted to do. The only message from the Bible that came through so clearly was the necessity of unconditional love and understanding on my part and, above all, forgiveness. I prayed to better understand my own motivations and lack of innovations to make the marriage work. I begged God to give me the strength and grace to be a true helpmeet for my husband.

Had I ever known the meaning of love as Jesus translated it in Gethsemane and on the Cross? "Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. If you love someone you will be loyal to him, no matter what the cost. You will always believe him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, TLB).

No! I hadn't reached that pinnacle of spiritual success, and probably never will. And if I, as a professing Christian, had to admit that I failed every day and fell so short of the glory of God, what right did I have to blame my husband for any failures, alleged or real? And what right had I to leave him, considering the damage I had inflicted on us?

If, as already stated, one of the reasons for the rush to dissolve marriages is lack of appreciation, another is the diminution of the sense of responsibility towards others. The "me-first" blocks we use to build the precarious foundations of families and societies eventually become stumbling blocks. Like it or not, we have a responsibility to others, primarily our spouse and our children. We cannot possibly measure the present and future effects of the thought, words and deeds of our lives, or even our deaths, for what we do and say lives on in the hearts and minds of those entrusted to our care while on this earth. Yes, it is an awesome responsibility!

If we are normal, we all have days when we would like to say to our children, "I'm fed up with all these demands and chores, kids, so I'm taking the day off from smother-hood." Or to our spouse, "I've had it up to my fast-graying hair with having to account to you for everything. I think I'll take a month off and do my own thing." If I had a nickel for every time I've nursed those temptations, I could afford a divorce! But the fact remains that when we say those vows we also accept the obligations and burdens that accompany them. Even so, you say, God gave us choice. We can walk out on it. We can also choose to stay with it. But for the serious Christian who can find no excuse to divorce, there is no moratorium until we reach the mortuary! Again, let me stress that I realize there are indeed impossible situations that demand relief. This is not an attempt to pass judgment on anyone else's circumstances.

One day my husband and I were discussing the impending divorce of friends of ours who had been married many years. Our state law has what is known as the "dissolution clause." My husband unwittingly called it the "disillusion clause." I laughed, then thought how appropriate, really. We go into these lifelong contracts with great illusions and expectations, only to discover that we all have feet of clay and hearts of stone. The only way we are going to be freed from idolatry and slavery is to pray for new hearts of tender flesh and new minds of tolerance and understanding.

I have discovered that forgiveness is the real essence of a close relationship. This is the gold vein in the gold mine of love. But how my heart rebelled against it. Forgiveness! Had I not every right to resent what was done or not done? Said or not said? "No, God," I vowed, "I won't forgive!"

It's amazing how we nurture snakes in our proud bosoms. I nurtured hatred, and I wasn't going to let anyone take that prized possession from me. Then one day a friend brought me a book that gave new words to an age-old lesson that we so often refuse to learn. The author made statements, in terms I could not mistake, that we are responsible for our sinful hearts, our sick minds, and our lawless natures, in the sense that we can be rid of them if we want. The author suggested that the sooner we learn it is our own attitudes and reactions that make us happy or unhappy, and not others' actions, we would be that much closer to a healed mind and contented heart. It was a distasteful dose of spiritual medicine, but one I needed desperately at the time. I dropped to my knees and begged the Holy Spirit to "create in me a clean heart ... and renew a right spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10).

The book also helped me to view my husband from the perspective of my own sins and shortcomings rather than through the clouded lens of his alleged faults. The light reflected back on me, and I saw my own black heart. If God can wipe away that blackness from my heart, the buildup of years of myopic self-pity, I thought, then surely He can give me the power to forgive my husband, someone He had already forgiven long ago. It was the only route I could travel, the final option open that would keep us together. If Jesus at the Last Supper with patience and love and humility could wash the feet of twelve bickering disciples (including the man who betrayed Him!), then a sinner such as I must forgive fully and freely and in turn be freed from the prison of hate.

I methodically studied the gift of forgiveness in the Holy Scripture and other religious books. There is no mistaking God's demand that we are to be peacemakers. A paragraph by A.P. Stanley from a treasured book Daily Strength for Daily Needs, written many years ago, spoke directly to my heart: "We may, if we choose, make the worst of one another. Every one has his weak points; every one has his faults; we may make the worst of these. We may fix our attention constantly upon these. But we may also make the best of one another. We may forgive, even as we hope to be forgiven. We may put ourselves in the place of others, and ask what we should wish to be done to us, and thought of us, were we in their place. By loving whatever is lovable in those around us, love will flow back from them to us. Life will become a pleasure instead of a pain, and earth will become like heaven, and we shall become not unworthy followers of Him whose name is Love."

I constantly reminded myself that there is a law which operates in this lovely but difficult business of forgiveness: God forgives us, and we forgive each other. But if we don't forgive each other, then He can't forgive us. Above all, we can't extract the last ounce of payment before we grant full pardon. The story is told of a married man who went further than indiscretion with a certain lady. He expressed his profound sorrow to his wife. She then spent the next several years salting the festering wound, never letting it heal. Finally one day the long-suffering man had suffered long enough and he told his wife that he was leaving. She began to cry and she begged him to stay, assuring him that she now would forgive and forget his sin against her. "Oh no, you don't," he snapped back as he walked out the door. "You can't give me something I paid for years ago!"

Marriage is proudly called a 50-50 proposition, but a successful union calls for 100 percent of our effort. The IOUs add up in the drawer of our mind, and we pull out the drawer during stress times. Instead of keeping track of our spouse's IOUs we might try putting our own into the empty space: IOU for taking on the responsibility of a family; IOU for loving me enough to overlook my moods; IOU for letting me pursue my hobbies without question; IOU for being kind enough to leave me alone when I need that aloneness; IOU for being willing to stay home alone when I go on fishing trips, etc. We can think of many more, I'm sure. In the thrust of anger we might try pulling out a few of these. They're guaranteed to make us feel ashamed when we realize how much we take for granted! Our own IOUs take the "contentIOUs" of our marriage!

Gratitude seems to have become a lost art, if not a lost cause. In this age of scientific advances, when material goods are so plentiful, it's too easy to forget the Giver. Likewise in marriage, it's too easy to forget the human giver. Only when food becomes unavailable do we really get hungry. Only then do we appreciate what we had when food was there for the taking. The analogy can be applied to our loved one. Perhaps, along with our morning worship, we should visualize an empty chair where our spouse usually sits, and consider the loss and what its effect on the family would be.

Gratitude is a sign of maturity and spiritual perception. "There were not found any that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger" (Luke 17:18). Jesus honored the one who returned to thank Him. We forget to thank many people, and those we thank the least are those with whom we spend the most time. It should never be said among family members that "familiarity breeds contempt." Instead, close association should develop love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control. And our spouse and children should have first pick of that rare and beautiful fruit of a converted spirit.

Gratitude also implies contentment in whatsoever state we are, literally and figuratively. Paul had experienced the best and the worst and he could be happy with either. That is quite an accomplishment and a goal devoutly to be wished for in our own lives. If gratitude is on one side, then the flip side of the matrimonial coin is that forgiveness we discussed earlier. If we can keep our minds filled with the positive values, then the mind won't be free to wander into forbidden territory. There won't be room for Satan to return with his seven devils of impatience, pride, irritability, resentment, selfishness, injustice, and rudeness that strangle the life out of marriage, as well as other relationships, including our children.

Now in fairness to the "staff" (whether rod of authority or crutch), I would like to speak for the distaff side of the couple. I realize we have been "liberated," but only when a man is able to bear a baby in all senses of the word will I be convinced that male and female are truly equal. At the risk of setting back "progress" two centuries, I state my belief that if both men and women performed the roles assigned them by God from the beginning, there wouldn't be such a mighty attempt to neuter the world.

Christ Himself paid the supreme compliment to women by personifying the church as both mother and bride. This alone should convince us of our sublime purposes and responsibilities. Thomas Otway, who lived from 1651 to 1685, speaks glowingly, "O woman! Lovely woman! Nature made thee / to temper man; we had been brutes without you; / Angels are painted fair, to look like you; / There's in you all that we believe of heav'n, / Amazing brightness, purity, and truth, / eternal joy, and everlasting love." We women haven't changed much since the 17th century. Imagine a 21st century man coming home to such a lovely wife!

This fits in with what Peter says of the meek and quiet spirit of woman: "Your adornment is rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the unfading beauty of a calm and gentle disposition. This is precious in God's eyes" (1 Peter 3:4, NAB). We may attempt external beauty through lotions from the drug store, but we can attain loveliness of character only through God's grace, recognizing that our role is that of comforter and not combatant. Men and women were created to complement each other - and a compliment a day would help, too! Not even the women can blame the men for their anger if the men hear demands for "rights" while the "duties" are left home crying. Soon the men count more wrongs than rights. A woman once told me that she wished the females who seem so intent on their rights would leave hers alone. She enjoys the privileges of not having to compete for a living, and she likes being treated as "the weaker sex," although we gals know this is not true!

I firmly believe that the family is the basic unit of society. If we can mend our families, then we will have a mended society. But this indeed takes the mind of Christ, a mind that can wade through instant gratification and the tyranny of the now with its consequences, to the quiet, everyday love and loyalty that ensures domestic and societal tranquility. It may not be as much fun, but it certainly is more rewarding! With prayer and a willing spirit, we can achieve it.

Commentary on the Pledge of Allegiance - Red Skelton

As a schoolboy, one of Red Skelton's teachers explained the words and meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance to his class. Skelton later wrote down, and eventually recorded, his recollection of this lecture. It is followed by an observation of his own.

I - Me; an individual; a committee of one.

PLEDGE - Dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self-pity.

ALLEGIANCE - My love and my devotion.

TO THE FLAG - Our standard; Old Glory; a symbol of Freedom; wherever she waves there is respect, because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts, Freedom is everybody's job.

UNITED - That means that we have all come together.

STATES - Individual communities that have united into forty-eight great states. Forty-eight individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose. All divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common purpose, and that is love for country.

AND TO THE REPUBLIC - Republic--a state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern. And government is the people; and it's from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.


ONE NATION - One Nation--meaning, so blessed by God.

INDIVISIBLE - Incapable of being divided.

WITH LIBERTY - Which is Freedom; the right of power to live one's own life, without threats, fear, or some sort of retaliation.

AND JUSTICE - The principle, or qualities, of dealing fairly with others.

FOR ALL - For All--which means, boys and girls, it's as much your country as it is mine.

And now, boys and girls, let me hear you recite the Pledge of Allegiance:
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands; one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country, and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance: "Under God." Wouldn't it be a pity if someone said that is a prayer, and that it would be eliminated from schools, too?

Red Skelton

Bill of No-Rights

This has been around for a while but it needs to make the rounds again!

The following has been attributed to State Representative Mitchell Kaye from GA.

"We the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone get along, restore some semblance of justice, avoid more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior, and secure the blessings of debt free liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great-grandchildren, hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt ridden, delusional, and other liberal bed-wetters.

We hold these truths to be self evident: that a whole lot of people are confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim they require a Bill of NO Rights."

ARTICLE I: You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV, or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.

ARTICLE II: You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone -- not just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc.; but the world is full of idiots, and probably always will be.

ARTICLE III: You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful. Do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.

ARTICLE IV: You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes.

ARTICLE V: You do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we're just not interested in public health care.

ARTICLE VI: You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim, or kill someone, don't be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair.

ARTICLE VII: You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat, or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won't have the right to a big screen color TV or a life of leisure.

ARTICLE VIII: You do not have the right to a job. All of us sure want you to have a job, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful.

ARTICLE IX: You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to PURSUE happiness, which by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an over abundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights.

ARTICLE X: This is an English speaking country. We don't care where you are from, English is our language. Learn it or go back to wherever you came from.


ARTICLE XI: You do not have the right to change our country's history or heritage. This country was founded on the belief in one true God. And yet, you are given the freedom to believe in any religion, any faith, or no faith at all; with no fear of persecution. The phrase IN GOD WE TRUST is part of our heritage and history, and if you are uncomfortable with it, TOUGH!!!!