On Wings Of Eagles

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Saturday, April 30, 2011

When the Floor Caves in, Where Will I be Standing?

John 14:2-3 (New International Version)

"I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

They had come in droves. Their purpose: to worship God. A Christian band was leading the way. With three fabulous records and with most songs written as a prayer to God, Starfield has touched the heart of millions of youth. The youngsters were excited. They were jumping up and down, hands stretched out in adoration towards the One that had sacrificed His life for them. They had no idea what would happen next.

Suddenly, the floor in front of the stage of that church in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, started to ripple, and before anyone realized it, the floor caved in. The gap left in the floor measure 25' x 25'! Pews, along with the worshippers who had occupied them, fell into the void, to find themselves interwoven in a mess of broken water pipes and spraying water.

More than forty people ended up in that unfinished basement that night, all of them uninvited. Some were dazed, some were hurt, and all were filled with panic. The rest of the building quickly emptied. Only a few stayed behind to help those who were hurt. Tim and Jon Neufeld, members of Starfield, didn't hesitate to jump into the hole in front of them to assist those in need. Youth pastors also joined the ranks to assist wherever help was needed. Miraculously, though several received serious injuries, no one was killed.

This incident made many realize that security is but an illusion of this world. If church floors can cave in, if planes can crush you into oblivion, if school shootings can occur, if drunk drivers may mistake you for a road and drive onto you, if hospitals think you don't need all of your organs, if your gas begins to leak at home, then anything can occur!

Families are not what they used to be! Divorce is rampant. Kids are either being ignored, abused, or neglected, and disrespect reigns in our homes. Some, if not most, of our churches have turned into lukewarm social clubs, where money is stressed, but people's needs are being ignored. Where can one find true love?

Not only did Jesus promise to be with us throughout our turbulent times, He also guarantees us that He will be preparing a safe place for us, and that He will come back for us! And this place is a place where sorrow and insecurities are unknown! "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Rev 21:4 NIV)

Insecurities are here to stay, temporarily anyway. But it will all change when Jesus comes back for us! What great news to share with those who have difficulties falling asleep!

Dear Lord we thank you for preparing a place for us that will always be safe. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Sun WIll Shine Again

Revelation 21:4 (New International Version)
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Many years ago, a newsboy, thinly clad and drenched by the soaking rain, stood shivering in a doorway one cold day in November. First one bare foot and then the other was lifted for a moment and pressed against his leg to get a little warmth. Every few minutes his shrill cry could be heard, "Morning paper! Morning paper!" A man who was well protected by his coat and umbrella stopped to buy the early edition. Noting the boy's discomfort, he said, "This kind of weather is pretty hard on you, isn't it?" Looking up with a smile, the youngster replied, "I don't mind too much, Mister. The sun will shine again." What a picture of the Christian life! Chilling winds of adversity and grey skies of a sinful environment can easily discourage us. But we can always count on better days because we know God is working in our lives.

Dear Lord we pray that we would have a positive look at live and that we would remember that you are in control of each thing that happens to us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Giving Your Cares to God.

Psalm 55:22 (New International Version)

Cast your cares on the LORD

and he will sustain you;

he will never let

the righteous be shaken.

One day an elderly man entered into a hospital. He was grumpy from being on medication and the nurses thought him to be insane, as he yelled for his wife to get the apple basket. By the time they had checked him into his room the nurses were exhausted from the fight he was putting up.

"Sir you have to calm down we are doing everything we can for you" they would try to explain.

"I don't need your help" the grumpy man would yell "I want my apple basket". He finally slept. The nurses sighed with relief and talked among themselves whether they should call the hospital psychologist about the old man and his obsession with the apple basket.

As they talked and laughed about the situation the wife came in carrying the basket of apples. They looked kind of stunned as she asked if she could see her husband and deliver his basket. Sure, they agreed as they watched her slip past into his room.

Curiosity consumed them over the next few weeks as they tended to the elderly man. He was eaten with cancer and the doctors had given him no hope of survival. He turned out to be a very calm, happy man once he had his basket. His wife, they noticed, would come in with apples and go out with apples and the curiosity grew even more till one nurse couldn't stand the suspense.

One night as he was nearing the end, the nurse sat down in a chair by the wife. "May I ask why do you have that apple basket? I just don't understand the significance."

"I am an apple farmer by trade he sighed. From the time I was 20 till the day I do die I will forever have my apples." The nurse nodded thinking she understood. He just likes his work, she thought, assured now he was a little bit crazy.

As she started to leave, the old man asked her to sit down. "At age 20 I was saved, I accepted the Lord as my savior." Oh no, the nurse thought. Here comes the lecture on religion. The old man continued.

"The day I accepted the Lord as my savior I got this basket, and each time I had a problem or concern that I could not handle, I put an apple in the basket un-shined."

"Why?" the nurse said shaking her head.

"Because it reminded me to give those problems to the Lord for him to shine. See my basket now, he stated. As my problems disappear so do the apples. As I get new problems, ones I cannot handle alone, I put an apple in."

The humble nurse looked into the basket. only one apple was there. With that, he took a big breath and grabbed his wife by the hand and faded into eternal sleep. The wife paused for a moment and got up from her place to take from the basket the last remaining apple. She whispered in his ear that his reward awaits him in heaven.

The nurse stayed still and asked with tears in her eyes, "what do you think his riches will be?"

The wife knew what they were, eternal life with Jesus Christ. But she could see the concern and sadness upon the young nurses' face and handed her the apple and said "the biggest apple pie you can imagine!"

That was the day the young nurse was saved, and from that day on she always had a basket by her bed.

You don't have to carry all the burdens of this world by yourself. Give them to God to ease your load. For he cares for you.

Dear Lord thank you for being there to take all our cares. We pray that we would remember to give all our cares to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Failure to being President

2 Chronicles 15:7 (New International Version)

But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”

If you think you have failed, remind yourself of the life story of Abraham Lincoln:

Age 22 - failed in business

Age 23 - ran for legislature and was defeated

Age 24 - failed again in Buenos

Age 26 - sweetheart died

Age 27 - had a nervous breakdown

Age 29 - defeated for speaker

Age 31 - defeated for elector

Age 34 - defeated for Congress

Age 37 - elected to Congress

Age 39 - defeated for Congress

Age 46 - defeated for Senate

Age 47 - defeated for vice president

Age 49 - defeated for Senate

Age 51 - elected president of the United States

This is the record of Abraham Lincoln. Throughout his life he suffered many more defeats than victories, but because he never gave up he won the highest office of the land.

Dear Lord we pray that we would have the perseverance to keep trying and not give up. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hercules and Strife.

Proverbs 20:3-7 (New International Version)

It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.

There is an ancient Greek myth that tells how Hercules encountered a strange animal on a narrow road. He struck it with his club and passed on. Soon, however, the animal overtook him. Now three times as large at it was before, Hercules was seriously threatened by the animal and began to fight it with all his might. Each time he struck it, the animal grew larger and deadlier.

Pallas appeared to Hercules and warned him to stop. "The monster's name is Strife," she said. "Let it alone and it will soon become as little as it was at first."

Strife really is a monster. And its ability to grow in proportion to our inability to leave certain issues alone is well-known to everyone. Your wife says, "The yard is going to need a lot of work this summer." So you say, "There you go again!" Your husband says, "Are you wearing that to the party?" So you say, "When were you assigned to the fashion police?" Or someone dares fax back a rejoinder to a "FAX of Life" that was on his desk Monday morning. So I . . .

Well, you have the picture. Strife rears its ugly head not only in California bars but in homes, between business partners and coworkers, or even in churches. Its work finished, there are divorces, lawsuits, and church splits.

The Bible speaks to the issue of strife in clear and specific ways. honorable men and women don't go around spoiling for fights. They are willing to seek win-win solutions for situations that come to them cast as win-lose scenarios. Not every contest is between right and wrong. Many are nothing more serious than contrasts in preference, taste, or method.

Dear Lord help us to we wise in the way we handle the strife that comes into our life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Goal: To Love

1 Timothy 1:5 (New International Version)
The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Rose Kennedy, the mother of the late President, once attended a Bible Study and she shared how she came to peace with God after being resentful of Him for giving her a retarded daughter.
"I was boiling over with resentment. There was a lovely woman who was one of our maids. She sensed my boiling soul.

'Please excuse me, Mrs. Kennedy; but I've been watching you the last few weeks. I love you very much, and I hate to see this destroy your life. I say this as gently as I know how: Mrs. Kennedy, you'll never be happy until you make your heart a manger where the Christ child may be born.' "I fired her on the spot! You have no idea how filled with anger, how isolated, how focused on doubt I became..

"That night, my mind ruminated relentlessly, keeping me awake until the late hours. I could not forget that lovely face, the sweetness of her countenance, the sub-surface joy that seemed to boil up continually in her spirit . and especially those deathless words: 'Mrs. Kennedy, you'll never be happy until you make your heart a manger where the Christ may be born.' "I have loved Christ all my life, and tried to be a good Catholic girl all my years; but this was one of those joyous moments of real contact with God and his Son. So I knelt beside my bed and prayed, 'Dear God, make my heart a manger where the Christ child may be born.' I felt a fresh new divine entry into my life, and there was born in me a passion, a love for retarded children. Oh, by the way, I rehired the lovely maid. She was with us for years, until her death."

The Lord will allow many different circumstances to come into our lives. Each one of them will be an opportunity to love only as Christ can love.

Dear Lord we thank you for the circumstances you have placed us in. In all things help us to show love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Risen Christ and Our Hope

Matthew 28:5-6 (New International Version)
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

It was Easter Day, 1973. Pastor Kefa Sempangi bravely and openly preached on the risen Lord in his Ugandan town's football stadium to over 7,000 people. After the service, five of Idi Amin's Secret Police followed Sempangi back to his little church and closed the door behind them. Five rifles pointed at Sempangi's face. "We are going to kill you for disobeying Amin's orders" said the captain. "If you have something to say, say it before you die."

Sempangi, thinking of his beautiful wife and lovely little girl, began to shake. But the risen Lord living in his heart gave him the courage to speak. "Do what you must," he said. "The Word of God says that in Christ I am already dead, and that my real life is hidden with Him in God. It is not my life that is in danger, but yours. I am alive in the risen Lord but you are still dead in your sins. May He spare you from eternal destruction?" The leader looked at Sempangi for a long time. Then he lowered his gun and said, "Will you pray for us?" Sempangi did, and from that day those five officers, now converted through the witness of Sempangi's bravery, protected the pastor with their very lives.

Dear Lord we pray that we would have the same trust that Sempangi did. Thanks for being there for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The 12 Days of Easter

Day 1 - small cracker pieces (represent the Last Supper) Mark14:22

Day 2 - feather (represents the Rooster ) Matt 26:33

Day 3 - Three silver dimes (30 pieces of silver) Matt26:14-15

Day 4 - Thorns (crown of thorns) Mark 15:17 (I used the thorn of a rose stem)

Day 5 - Nail (nails on the cross) Matt27:31

Day 6 - a small metal or paper cross (the cross) John19:17-18

Day 7 - Dice (casting lots) John 19:23-24

Day 8 - Toothpick (spear) John 19:34

Day 9 - White cloth (linen burial cloth) Matt 27:57-60

Day 10- Cinnamon Sticks (burial spices) Mark 16:1

Day 11 - Stone (over the mouth of the tomb) Matt 27:62-65

Day 12- Empty Egg (the empty tomb) Mark16:5-6

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Temper and the Nails.

Psalm 37:8 (New International Version)
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.

There was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, to hammer a nail in the back fence.

The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Then it gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.

The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. "You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out, it won't matter how many times you say 'I'm sorry,' the wound is still there. A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one.

Dear Lord we pray that we would be careful with the things we say knowing that what we say can hurt those around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Considering the Past and What We Can Learn.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (New International Version)
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." --Western Union internal memo, 1876.

"Everything that can be invented has been invented." --Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?" --David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." --Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." --Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year." --The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

"But what ... is it good for?" --Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." --Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

"640K ought to be enough for anybody." -- Bill Gates, 1981

It's amazing that we've accomplished so much technologically in this country considering the pessimistic views held by many (even more amazing when you consider that some of the achievements eventually came from people who at one time held the pessimistic views themselves).

What is your vision for the future? What would you like to accomplish? More to the point, what would you like to see God accomplish through you? There will likely be someone around you ready to tell you that "it can't be done", or "we've tried that before with no success", or "it's too much trouble".

And they may be right. Or they may have a "grasshopper complex" like the ten spies in Numbers 13 who were unable to see what God could accomplish because they were looking so intently at the obstacles in their way.

Dear Lord we pray that as we look into the future we will remember that you are in control. We pray that we will have a positive attitude rather than a negative one. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lessons from a Blind Horse

Matthew 6:26 (English Standard Version)
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Down a country road there is a field with two horses in it. From a distance, each looks like every other horse. But if one stops the car, or is walking by, one will notice something quite amazing.

Looking into the eyes of one horse will disclose that he is blind. His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a good home for him. This alone is amazing.

Listening, one will hear the sound of a bell. Looking around for the source of the sound, one will see that it comes from the smaller horse in the field. Attached to her bridle is a small bell. It lets her blind friend know where she is, so he can follow her. As one stands and watches these two friends, one sees how she is always checking on him, and that he will listen for her bell and then slowly walk to where she is -- trusting that she will not lead him astray.

Like the owners of these two horses, God does not throw us away just because we are not perfect or because we have problems or challenges. He watches over us and even brings others into our lives to help us when we are in need.

Sometimes we are the blind horse being guided by God and those whom he places in our lives. Other times we are the guide horse, helping others see God.

Dear Lord we pray that we would let you guide us through the fields of our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Just Who Do You Think You Are?

Ephesians 2:10 (New International Version)
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Each of the animals in the Barnyard had his or her own distinct personality. Friskey the horse was wild and untamed at times. Gale the goat, was quiet and fearful a lot, but curious about everything. Ben and Bret, Gale's brothers were out spoken and brash. Hitting everything head on, with a vengeance. Nell, the cow, was quite the thinker. She tended to be very bossy and always had to be right. Then there was Missy the kitten. She was quiet and honest. Nevertheless, Missy tended to try to be an animal pleaser. She just did not really like confrontations. She would never do anything wrong, but found it hard to stick up for her views and beliefs on right and wrong. She Just found it easier to "agree" with most, saved her the trouble of arguments or hurt feelings.

The head "honcho" Greg, the bull, was always sticking his nose in where it did not belong. He thought himself the final answer for everything, thus the nick name "honcho", but Charley could usually put him in his place. This would always lead to Mike, the rooster, putting in his two cents of advice on how to deal with Greg to Charley. Charley and Farmer had their hands full with all the different personalities that were in the Barnyard. However, Farmer and Charley, did not mind. They loved each one of the animals, with all their quirks and differences they had. Charley always said that was the part of his job, he loved the most. Being around so much diversity and differences in all the folks her knew.

One day when all the animals were in the yard, Friskey made a comment, about the way Missy licked her paw. "You know Missy, you really do that all wrong!" said Friskey. " I mean, who do you think you are anyway? The proper way to do that is front to back, not side to side."

"Who says so?" Asked Missy, "I have never heard there is a right way or wrong way about it."

"Well, there is." Said Friskey, "we all do it front to back. That has always been the way here. We would all prefer you to be like us, and do it our way."

Missy was quite taken back by this. She did not know exactly how to answer or handle the situation, so she just stopped grooming and walked away. She wanted to ask someone if what Friskey had said was true, but she was too afraid. She was afraid others would look down on her, or not like her, if she was different from them. She decided the best answer was to try to change and become more like the other animals. For the next few weeks, she carefully studied, all the animals, and how they groomed themselves. She took notes and watched for every little lick and move they made. Then she would go off alone, and practice, being like them. She was sure if she could master the way they did it, that it would make her fully acceptable to them, and a real; part of the family. As weeks went by, she would be in the yard, cleaning and grooming herself as the others did. Always being sure to use their techniques, and moves. One of those days, Charley was in the yard, and noticed Missy was acting quite different. Curious as to why she was not acting like her normal self, he approached her to ask.

"Missy, I noticed you are cleaning and grooming yourself in a very different way from normal. Why are you doing that?"

"I have decided to be like everyone else!" she replied, "I want them to like me, and not look at me like I am some sort of outcast."

"Why would you do that?" Charley asked. "You are just fine as you are."

"No. I am not." Replied Missy. "They have told me I do it all wrong, and need to do it like they do."

"Who told you that Missy?" asked Charley. Missy turned her head. She did not want to be a tattletale on anyone.

"Missy, I asked you, who told you that?" repeated Charley. "I will not say you told me, I just want to know. As your protector and teacher, it is important I know who is teaching you things I would not."

"Friskey told me I did it all wrong." Said Missy; "He told me I was not acting like the others. I want to be accepted here Charley, and if that means I have to change the way I do and say things I will. I don't want the others to not like me because I am different." Missy began to cry. Charley gently put his paw around her and sat with her for a few moments. He held his head low, and patted her gently to let her know he under stood. Finally Missy stopped crying, and looked at Charley.

"What am I to do Charley? I want so badly to do what is right by you and Farmer, but also be accepted by the other animals."

"I know you do Missy. I heard you weep, and felt your pain. I have also known rejection for being me."

"You have?" sobbed Missy.

"Oh yes, I have," said Charley. "I have often been misunderstood and rejected because of the way I have to do things around here. Many times, I have to hear from others, how they feel it should have been done. Nevertheless, ultimately, I have to be true to myself, and to what the Farmer has asked me to do. You see Missy; each one of us is different. We are all uniquely made, and wonderful in our differences. That is the way God made us to be. You cannot, and should not, try to be something or someone other than you. To do that is not really flattery to the other person, but rejection of who God made you to be. He loves you as you are. It does not matter if you are right or wrong to anyone else. This is the way He made you to be. Think how boring life would be if everyone acted and spoke the same? Would that not make for a very boring life?"

Missy shook her head in agreement.

"Yes it would Charley, but what do I say when the others tell me to do it their way?"

"You simply tell them, in love, that God likes you exactly this way that He made you. Then tell them, if God wants to make any changes, He has your permission to do so. For now, however, you are who you are, and that is it. Take it or leave it, you are right where you are supposed to be right now." Missy smiled at Charley, and went back to the yard. There, she began to clean and groom herself as she had always done in the past. Smiling to her self, in knowing that God loves her right where she is. She knows God will not leave her this way, and is willing to let Him change her. Nevertheless, for now, she is who she is, and God loves her. That is enough for Missy.

Dear Lord we pray that we would be happy with the way you made us. Help us not try to change to be what others are trying to make us be but be just who we are. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Do You have an "I Love You Any Way" Love?

1 Corinthians 13:7-8 (New American Standard Bible)
7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.

The fear of rejection may be one of the most basic fears of the human experience. Dr. Joe Harding tells a heart-warming story of a man who finally decided to ask his boss for a raise in salary. It was Friday. He told his wife that morning what he was about to do, All day the man felt nervous and apprehensive. Late in the afternoon he summoned the courage to approach his employer. To his delight, the boss agreed to a raise.

The man arrived home to a beautiful table set with their best china. Candles were lighted. His wife had prepared a festive meal. Immediately he figured that someone from the office had tipped her off! Finding his wife in the kitchen, he told her the good news. They embraced and kissed, then sat down to a wonderful meal. Next to his plate the man found a beautiful lettered note. It read: "Congratulations, darling! I knew you'd get the raise! These things will tell you how much I love you."

While on his way to the kitchen to get dessert he noticed that a second card had fallen from her pocket. Picking it off the floor, he read: "Don't worry about not getting the raise! You deserve it anyway! These things will tell you how much I love you."

Total acceptance! Total love. Her love for him was not contingent upon his success at work. In fact, just the opposite. If he were to fail there, if he were to be rejected by his boss he'd be all the more accepted at home. She stood behind him no matter what; softening the blows, healing the wounds, believing in him, loving him. We can be rejected by almost anyone if we're loved by one.

That's the way families can be with each other. And I like to think that's the way God is with us, too! "We love because he first loved us."

Dear Lord we pray that we would have a love that is strong in any situation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Lessons Learned from Ice Cream.

Romans 15:5-7 (New International Version)

5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

I have a real love for "ice cream" and anything to do with it. I love cones, sandwiches, sundaes, sodas, etc. Actually, you name it; I will eat it. Especially if it has chocolate and or peanut butter in it somewhere! As I was eating my ice cream tonight it reminded me of something I once read.

The first ice cream was vanilla, per-se, with fruit or nuts added to it. It was nothing more than frozen snow actually. Time and the inventive nature of man created our well-loved delectable flavors of today. We have gone from Vanilla, to an extraordinary array of flavors and added ingredients. They put, candy, nuts, cookie dough, cookies, syrup, fruit, or whatever you can imagine into ice cream today. Then add up all the crazy flavors out there. Vanilla is only one; there is chocolate, strawberry, coffee, butter pecan etc. The list goes on and on. Now add the extras to the flavors, and you have an endless supply of wild treats to tantalize the pallet. That my dear sweet Beloved is us!

God started out with one flavor. He produced it very carefully. Full of flavor and body. Then He realized it was lonely, so He created another flavor to complement the first. As time went on, the flavors became increasingly diversified, and so did the added ingredients. Now, I, just like so many others, tend to have preferences as to the flavors I will try. I am open to some stuff, and willing to try new taste experiences, as long as they are not too extreme. Problem with that is, I do not always have the best taste bud experiences I really could have. By picking and choosing the "right" flavor and additives, I narrow myself to only certain savory tastes. I actually cheat myself, so to say, of all that God has for me. If I don’t like the way something looks or smells, I will not even try it. Later I may find it was an exquisite flavor that I missed out on.

Once in a while, I’ll have the chance to try it again. Usually I will the second time, if only out of curiosity. Most times, I find it is wonderful, and I kick myself for being afraid to try it sooner. Hey, the thought of "bubble gum" in my ice cream did not thrill me, but the taste I found was wonderful, once I got past the eye gate to the mouth gate. Well friends, we are all ice cream that God has created. Some may be plain vanilla, but to God, they are "Primo," deluxe vanilla!

I think the main thing we need to keep in mind is that no one is the same flavor. No one. We all have different things added to us or mixed into us. However, we all started from the same source. If we turn to the chocolate and say, "I am not about to accept that flavor at all," we rob ourselves of the wonderful diversity/unity of the body of Christ. If God had wanted us to all be Vanilla, we would have. However, He choose to produce many varieties and flavors throughout the body, to give us each, a taste of the wonderful variety, of another’s different flavor. It is the differences that make us unique and so wonderful. The differences of opinions and ideas. The differences in speech and actions. The differences in personalities, colors, backgrounds, and heritage, are what make us strong, not weak. We are all of the same Spirit.

Next time somebody rubs you the wrong way, or acts differently, try to keep ice cream in mind. God made that flavor just the way it is! It has no right to try to be any other flavor or mixture. In addition, we have no right to try to add our own ingredients to it, to "improve" its taste. Let’s welcome the differences and flavors of each other as God intended us to be. Maybe if we do, we just might finally come to that "Unity" of the Spirit that God so wanted us to attain.

Dear Lord we thank you for ice cream and the lessons we can learn from it. Help us to accept the differences in others knowing that God made us each special. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Are we Judging with our Heart?

Luke 6:37 (New International Version)
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Here is a story told by an administrative advisor in California.

In 1988, I was working as an administrative advisor in California for a county welfare rights organization and represented people whose welfare benefits were threatened.

My client, an older gentleman, had been fired by the Salvation Army for having a beer with his lunch. If the charge against him was upheld, then he stood to lose his welfare because, in our state, indigent people without children had to work part time in order to qualify for benefits.

When the judge finally arrived, we entered the small side room which had been set up for the hearing. We took our positions at the various tables.

As the hearing began, the first person took the witness stand. I could hardly believe the heartlessness of the woman who had fired this kind faced old gentleman. She went on and on about how disgusting this man was and how dangerous he was to himself and to everyone in the building who had to work with him. She told the court that he was slow in getting up and down the stairs and that he needed to be reminded, almost everyday, that it was time for him to go home and that the work day was over.

Finally, I got my chance to question her. The first thing I asked was if she had ever had a drink with her meal while on her lunch break.

She was very quiet and acted as though she did not want to answer the question. Then she finally said, "I never drink beer."

"That is not what I asked you. I asked you if you had ever had a drink while eating a meal," I said.

"Yes, I have a wine with my lunch almost every day", she replied, in a harsh tone."

"Then why is it wrong for this gentleman to have a beer with his lunch?" I asked.

"Because people who drink beer are alcoholics," she told the court.

"Then that must make you a wine-o," I said.

Of course, the judge told me to tone down my comments and keep my personal opinions to myself. At that point in the hearing the woman started trying to change things around and told the court that the real reason she fired the old man was not because he had a beer, but because the old man was a danger to himself and to everyone working at their facility.

She said that the old man was psychotic and depressing and that he could possibly hurt someone if allowed to stay on the job.

The judge called for a recess and we retired for a one hour lunch break. I immediately drove over to the Salvation Army office and asked to see the old man's employment file, which the secretary denied me. I was told that I would have to request that information from her supervisor, who was presently appearing in court, and that she would not be back until after court was over. I asked the secretary her personal opinion of the old man and she told me that he was one of the most kind, sweet, and gentle human beings that she had ever met.

I then asked her why the old man had been fired if he was so nice and kind. She told me, off the record, that the old man had taken several old stained mattresses from the dumpster and had given them to a woman and her two small children because they could not afford to purchase new beds.

I could not understand why he would be fired for such a random act of kindness. It was explained to me that the law prohibited mattresses to be sold unless they had been sterilized. I understood what the woman was telling me. However, the mattresses were given away, not sold.

This led me to believe that this was a matter of the Salvation Army losing a sale. That could be the real reason behind this whole thing.

I told the secretary that the old man was going to be tossed out onto the street if we did not win this case. She then got up from her desk and walked over to a cabinet and took out a file. She put it on the desk and said she would return in 10 minutes.

It was the old man's file and I read it as quickly as I could, noting that the gentleman had been working at the facility for about four years. He was a hard worker and had been known to spending his own money on those in need, even though he had very little.

Before leaving, I noticed something in this file which I removed and stuck in my coat pocket.

The hearing resumed at 1pm and the woman once again took the stand, and I began to question her.

"So what you are telling this court is that the real reason that you fired this gentleman is not because he had a beer with his lunch but because he is a danger to himself, his work place, and all who work there with him. Is that correct?"

"That is correct," said the woman.

"What makes you think he is a danger at the work place?" I asked her.

"Because I have had to take pencils away from him for fear that he might stab himself or somebody else on the job," she replied.

"Why would he want to do that?" I asked her.

"Because, as I said, he is a psychotic alcoholic and he cannot follow directions. He is just an old man," she said.

I walked over to my coat, now hanging on the back of my chair, reached into the pocket and took out a piece of paper and began to unfold it.

"So what you are saying is that you have dismissed this man because he is old, drinks beer and will probably kill someone on the job one day. Is that correct?" I asked her.

"Yes, that is why I fired him," she told the court.

I turned towards the judge and held up the front page of the Modesto Bee newspaper. On the front page was a large picture. I turned the newspaper toward the woman sitting on the stand and said, "Is this the man that we are talking about?"

She just sat there not saying a word. Turning towards the judge, I showed him the front page of the newspaper. The large picture showed this same woman smiling from ear to ear while handing my client a large carving knife and fork. They were both standing in front of a long line of about two hundred people and were preparing to carve up fifty or so turkeys to feed the poor and homeless on Thanksgiving Day.

I turned to the court and said, "Your honor I believe this vicious killer has a partner in crime."

The judge looked directly at me, winked, smiled, and then said, "I think I have seen enough." He dismissed the entire case.

I will never forget that case or that old man for as long as I live. He sat there in that court room being talked about as though he was nothing more than an animal -- smiling kindly at everyone the entire time.

Though I spent most of my young life in an orphanage, reform school, jail and finally prison, I have always loved and respected the law. I just wish things could have been different for me as a young man.

If I had the chance to go to college, I know that I could have grown up to be the kind of lawyer that could have given the law "a heart."

Dear Lord we pray that we would not judge others but that we would look at them with our heart. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

You Are Being Watched.

Colossians 3:22-24 (New International Version)

22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

During a board meeting, the owner of a huge chain of fast-food restaurants announced his plans to pose as an entry-level employee at various restaurants in order to see what was going on.

So, he left his family, mansion, limousine, and other luxuries he normally enjoyed and checked in at a cheap motel, the kind that an entry-level employee might live in until he could afford better housing.

When he showed up for work the following morning, the manager showed him around and introduced him to his trainer. As he worked alongside that experienced employee, he noticed some fellow employees were doing a wonderful job; others had a “don’t care ‘bout this job” attitude.

As he struggled to learn procedures mandated by the company, he realized some of them needed to be modified. Also, he soon learned that some jobs that looked easy were very difficult, since he couldn’t do them well, no matter how hard he tried. Thus, he felt the frustrations caused by having to do demanding work—for little pay or praise.

After a week of that, he returned to the corporate office and called a meeting of the board to discuss the things he’d learned and to explain the changes he wanted to implement.

Next, he summoned a few of the employees (entry-level to supervisors) he’d met. Some he wanted to reward, some to reprimand. Naturally, they were stunned when they found out that the bumbling employee was actually the owner of the company. One lady, whom he praised for her work and then announced plans to give her something she longed for, wiped away tears of joy as she said, “[The company] has gone far beyond anything I ever expected; they’ve shown they care about me.”

Another dedicated employee was speechless, for a time, when he learned about the special assignment/promotion the company wanted to give him and about the thousands of dollars he would receive on behalf of his visually impaired son. When he was finally able to speak, he said, “I never believed anything like this would ever happen.”

That TV show brought to mind a parable (an earthly story with a heavenly meaning) told by Jesus and recorded in the 25th chapter of Matthew. In it, a man called his servants together and gave each of them a different sum of money to invest for him while he was away.

When he returned a long time later, he called his servants in for an accounting of how they’d managed the money he’d entrusted to them. Two of the three had doubled the master’s money and were not only commended for their faithfulness but also were given greater responsibilities and/or opportunities.

The third servant, on the other hand, failed to show any returns on the money entrusted to him. Whereupon, the master called him “useless” and ordered him thrown out.

Having told that story, Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in all His glory, all the nations will be gathered into His presence, and He will separate the righteous from the unrighteous. The unrighteous will go into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life and blessing.”

Though we, like the employees mentioned earlier, are unaware that our daily actions and attitudes are being observed, rest assured they are. And one day, we, too, will be brought before the Lord for an accounting of our lives.

Dear Lord we pray that what we do and how we do it would bring honor to you. Help us be aware that we are always being watched and that what we do will either bring somebody to You are turn them away. In Jesus’ name, Amen.