The Dilemma of Emotions

>> Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Do you remember Mr. Spock of the Star Trek television series? Mr. Spock was not human. One of his distinguishing features was that he had no emotions. He was completely logical. He could be objective in his decisions because they were not influenced by his feelings.

I grew up in a church that had the same philosophy. Emotions were not to be trusted and were of the devil. I remember a minister being asked to leave our church because he allowed the Music Director to stir up emotions with the songs he chose.

Another time, when I had just walked home from Junior High, I placed my books on the table a tad bit too hard. My mother was sure there had been some emotion in that placing and made me go to the altar and ask for forgiveness for my anger.

One time my sister took me to a Holy Roller church. I watched in amazement as people fell to the floor or put their hands in the air and shouted and screamed. My heart pounded with fear. I was sure the devil was lurking nearby.

You get the idea. Emotions were a weakness of the human being. Experiencing anger or sorrow meant you had allowed the devil to take control.

If anyone could demonstrate detachment from emotions, I thought it would be Jesus. However, a study of the gospels revealed a Jesus who was very emotional. A couple of times they mentioned that He wept. His actions while cleaning the temple of the racketeers revealed His anger.

Imagine my surprise!

And in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Bible says He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. This is Jesus we are talking about. He seems to be a little hurt and disappointed that His friends could not stay awake during His time of distress.

What about emotions? It’s a dilemma.

In Luke, the doctor tells us Jesus was in such agony that His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Why such agony? Jesus knew that his resurrection was only three days off. Had Jesus been like Mr. Spock and used only His logic, He would have calmly accepted the task before Him. But Jesus was like us in the sense that He had a heart of emotions.

The gospel writers paint their portraits of Jesus using a kaleidoscope of brilliant emotional colors. Jesus felt compassion; He was angry, indignant, and consumed with zeal; He was troubled, greatly distressed, very sorrowful, depressed, deeply moved, and grieved; He sighed; He wept and sobbed; He groaned; He was in agony; He was surprised and amazed; He rejoiced very greatly and was full of joy; He greatly desired, and He loved.

In my quest to stop being religious and start being like Jesus, I had to take a look at His emotional side. He was made in the image of God. So how could I knowingly stifle the emotions He gave me?

The very first emotion I took a look at was anger. My ex-husband’s actions toward me and our children should have caused some reaction. Yet I had never felt even a flicker of anger toward him.

About the time I began examining my lack of emotions, I moved from Nebraska to Idaho to start my life over. The church I decided to attend did not have a class for divorced women, so I began meeting with a class in a house across the street.

God has a sense of humour.

I had no idea the class I had chosen to attend was the renegade class, the ones that didn’t fit anywhere else. But it was the perfect class for me. No one in the class agreed on anything. It made me think for the first time about what I truly believed.

One of the members of that class was a Psychology professor. He would try to be friendly by placing his hand on my shoulder. I would immediately stiffen. No man was allowed to touch me. But he seemed like a very nice person.

One day I called his office and said, “Mac, I’ve been doing some thinking. I think I need to learn how to get angry.” He laughed and I cringed. But then he said, “If anyone else had told me that, I would say they already knew how to be angry. I don’t believe you do. I’ll even give you the sessions for free.”

It took me three one-hour sessions.

I learned that, as an emotion, anger is not wrong or sinful. It is what we do with anger that could be sinful. In fact there would be occasions when it would be sinful not to be angry. Anger was the hardest emotion for me to accept.

And so, over the years, I’ve worked on becoming more human. No longer am I a stoic and allow life to just happen to me. I feel deeply. I’ve become a hugger. I see things that trouble my spirit and other situations that bring me great joy.

It’s much easier to be like Mr. Spock … but oh so empty. Today I live a truly blessed life, with my very own kaleidoscope of brilliant emotional colors.

“When Jesus saw her sobbing and the Jews with her sobbing, a deep anger welled up within him. He said, "Where did you put him?"

"Master, come and see," they said. Now Jesus wept.

 The Jews said, "Look how deeply he loved him."
 Others among them said, "Well, if he loved him so much, why didn't he do something to keep him from dying? After all, he opened the eyes of a blind man."

 Then Jesus, the anger again welling up within him, arrived at the tomb. It was a simple cave in the hillside with a slab of stone laid against it.” John 11:33-38 (MSG)

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Brushing the Old Man's Hair

>> Sunday, March 27, 2011

Waiting to board the plane: I had the Bible on my lap and was very intent upon what I was doing. I'd had a marvelous morning with the Lord. I say that because I want to tell you it is a scary thing to have the Spirit of God really working in you. You could end up doing some things you never would have done otherwise. Life in the Spirit can be dangerous for a thousand reasons not the least of which is your ego.

I tried to keep from staring, but he was such a strange sight. Humped over in a wheelchair, he was skin and bones, dressed in clothes that obviously fit when he was at least twenty pounds heavier. His knees protruded from his trousers, and his shoulders looked like the coat hanger was still in his shirt. His hands looked like tangled masses of veins and bones. The strangest part of him was his hair and nails. Stringy gray hair hung well over his shoulders and down part of his back. His fingernails were long. Clean, but strangely out of place on an old man.

I looked down at my Bible as fast as I could, discomfort burning my face. As I tried to imagine what his story might have been, I found myself wondering if I'd just had a Howard Hughes sighting. Then, I remembered that he was dead. So this man in the airport ... an impersonator maybe? Was a camera on us somewhere?

There I sat trying to concentrate on the Word to keep from being concerned about a thin slice of humanity served on a wheelchair only a few seats from me. All the while my heart was growing more and more overwhelmed with a feeling for him. Let's admit it. Curiosity is a heap more comfortable than true concern, and suddenly I was awash with aching emotion for this bizarre-looking old man.

I had walked with God long enough to see the handwriting on the wall. I've learned that when I begin to feel what God feels, something so contrary to my natural feelings, something dramatic is bound to happen. And it may be embarrassing. I immediately began to resist because I could feel God working on my spirit and I started arguing with God in my mind.

 "Oh no, God please no." I looked up at the ceiling as if I could stare straight through it into heaven and said, "Don't make me witness to this man. Not right here and now. Please. I'll do anything. Put me on the same plane, but don't make me get up here and witness to this man in front of this gawking audience. Please, Lord!"

There I sat in the blue vinyl chair begging His Highness, "Please don't make me witness to this man. Not now. I'll do it on the plane." Then I heard it. "I don't want you to witness to him. I want you to brush his hair."

The words were so clear, my heart leapt into my throat, and my thoughts spun like a top. Do I witness to the man or brush his hair? No brainer. I looked straight back up at the ceiling and said, "God, as I live and breathe, I want you to know I am ready to witness to this man. I'm on this Lord. I'm you're girl! You've never seen a woman witness to a man faster in your life. What difference does it make if his hair is a mess if he is not redeemed? I am on him. I am going to witness to this man."

Again as clearly as I've ever heard an audible word, God seemed to write this statement across the wall of my mind. "That is not what I said, Beth. I don't want you to witness to him. I want you to go brush his hair." I looked up at God and quipped, "I don't have a hairbrush. It's in my suitcase on the plane, How am I supposed to brush his hair without a hairbrush?"

God was so insistent that I almost involuntarily began to walk toward him as these thoughts came to me from God's word: "I will thoroughly furnish you unto all good works." (2 Tim 3:17)

I stumbled over to the wheelchair thinking I could use one myself. Even as I retell this story my pulse quickens and I feel those same butterflies. I knelt down in front of the man, and asked as demurely as possible, "Sir, may I have the pleasure of brushing your hair?"

He looked back at me and said, "What did you say?"

"May I have the pleasure of brushing your hair?

To which he responded in volume ten, "Little lady, if you expect me to hear you, you're going to have to talk louder than that.”

I took a deep breath and blurted out, "SIR, MAY I HAVE THE PLEASURE OF BRUSHING YOUR HAIR?"

At which point every eye in the place darted right at me. I was the only thing in the room looking more peculiar than old Mr. Longlocks. Face crimson and forehead breaking out in a sweat, I watched him look up at me with absolute shock on his face, and say, "If you really want to."

Are you kidding? OF course I didn't want to. But God didn't seem interested in my personal preference right about then. He pressed on my heart until I could utter the words, "Yes, sir, I would be pleased. But I have one little problem. I don't have a hairbrush."

"I have one in my bag," he responded.

I went around to the back of that wheelchair, and I got on my hands and knees and unzipped the stranger's old carry-on hardly believing what I was doing. I stood up and started brushing the old man's hair. It was perfectly clean, but it was tangled and matted. I don't do many things well, but I must admit I've had notable experience untangling knotted hair mothering two little girls.

Like I'd done with either Amanda or Melissa in such a condition, I began brushing at the very bottom of the strands, remembering to take my time not to pull. A miraculous thing happened to me as I started brushing that old man's hair. Everybody else in the room disappeared. There was no one alive for those moments except that old man and me. I brushed and I brushed and I brushed until every tangle was out of that hair. I know this sounds so strange but I've never felt that kind of love for another soul in my entire life. I believe with all my heart, I - for that few minutes - felt a portion of the very love of God. That He had overtaken my heart for a little while like someone renting a room and making Himself at home for a short while. The emotions were so strong and so pure that I knew they had to be God's.

His hair was finally as soft and smooth as an infant's. I slipped the brush back in the bag, went around the chair to face him. I got back down on my knees, put my hands on his knees, and said, "Sir, do you know my Jesus?"

 He said, "Yes, I do."

Well, that figures, I thought. 

He explained, "I've known Him since I married my bride. She wouldn't marry me until I got to know the Savior." He said, "You see, the problem is, I haven't seen my bride in months. I've had open-heart surgery, and she's been too ill to come see me. I was sitting here thinking to myself. What a mess I must be for my bride."

Only God knows how often He allows us to be part of a divine moment when we're completely unaware of the significance. This, on the other hand, was one of those rare encounters when I knew God had intervened in details only He could have known. It was a God moment, and I'll never forget it.

Our time came to board, and we were not on the same plane. I was deeply ashamed of how I'd acted earlier and would have been so proud to have accompanied him on that aircraft. I still had a few minutes, and as I gathered my things to board, the airline hostess returned from the corridor, tears streaming down her cheeks. 

She said, "That old man's sitting on the plane, sobbing. Why did you do that? What made you do that?"

I said, "Do you know Jesus? He can be the bossiest thing!" And we got to share. I learned something about God that day. He knows if you're exhausted because you're hungry, you're serving in the wrong place or it is time to move on but you feel too responsible to budge. He knows if you're hurting or feeling rejected. He knows if you're sick or drowning under a wave of temptation. Or He knows if you just need your hair brushed. He sees you as an individual. Tell Him your need!

I got on my own flight, sobs choking my throat, wondering how many opportunities just like that one had I missed along the way … all because I didn't want people to think I was strange. God didn't send me to that old man. He sent that old man to me.

Beth Moore
April 20, 2005
Knoxville Airport

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

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When I Say I Am a Christian

>> Saturday, March 26, 2011

When I say that 'I am a Christian', I am not shouting 'I am clean living.’
I'm whispering 'I was lost, but now I'm found and forgiven.'  

When I say 'I am a Christian' I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say 'I am a Christian' I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak and need His strength to carry on.

When I say 'I am a Christian' I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed and need God to clean my mess.

When I say 'I am a Christian' I'm not claiming to be perfect.
My flaws are far too visible, but God believes I am worth it.

When I say 'I am a Christian' I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches, so I call upon His name.


When I say 'I am a Christian' I'm not holier than thou,
I'm just a simple sinner who received God's good grace, somehow!

(Author Unknown)

You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. Romans 2:1 (NLT)
        

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And They Say Blondes are Dumb

>> Friday, March 25, 2011

One day my housework-challenged husband decided to wash his sweatshirt.

Seconds after he stepped into the laundry room, he shouted to me, "What setting do I use on the washing machine?"

"It depends," I replied. "What does it say on your shirt?"

He yelled back, "University of Michigan."

And they say blondes are dumb..

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"It's just too hot to wear clothes today," Jack says as he stepped out of the shower. "Honey, what do you think the neighbors would think if I mowed the lawn like this?"

"Probably that I married you for your money," she replied.

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Q: What do you call an intelligent, good looking, sensitive man?

A: A rumor

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On wall in ladies room "My husband follows me everywhere..."

Written just below it, "I do not"


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Does God Exist?

>> Thursday, March 24, 2011

A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed.  As the barber went to work, they began to have a good conversation. They talked about many various subjects.  When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: “I don't believe that God exists.”

'Why do you say that?' asked the customer.

“Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn't exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can't imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things.”

The customer thought for a moment, but didn't respond because he didn't want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt.

The customer turned back and entered the barbershop again. He said to the barber: “You know what? Barbers do not exist.”

“How can you say that?” asked the surprised barber. “I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!”

“No!' the customer exclaimed. “Barbers don't exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside.

“Ah, but barbers DO exist! That's what happens when people do not come to me.”

“Exactly!' affirmed the customer. 'That's the point! God, too, DOES exist! That's what happens when people do not go to Him and don't look to Him for help. That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world.”

(Author Unknown)


“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” (Romans 1:20 NLT)


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See How Far We've Come

>> Wednesday, March 23, 2011

This is a statement that was read over the PA system at the football game at Roane County High School, Kingston, Tennessee by school Principal Jody McLoud, on September 1, 2000. It clearly shows just how far this country has gone in the wrong direction.

"It has always been the custom at Roane County High School football games to say a prayer and play the National Anthem to honor God and Country. Due to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, I am told that saying a prayer is a violation of Federal Case Law.

As I understand the law at this time, I can use this public facility to approve of sexual perversion and call it an alternate lifestyle, and if someone is offended, that's OK.

I can use it to condone sexual promiscuity by dispensing condoms and calling it safe sex. If someone is offended, that's OK.

I can even use this public facility to present the merits of killing an unborn baby as a viable means of birth control. If someone is offended, no problem.

I can designate a school day as earth day and involve students in activities to religiously worship and praise the goddess, mother earth, and call it ecology.

I can use literature, videos and presentations in the classroom that depict people with strong, traditional, Christian convictions as simple minded and ignorant and call it enlightenment.

However, if anyone uses this facility to honor God and ask Him to bless this event with safety and good sportsmanship, Federal Case Law is violated. This appears to be at best, inconsistent and at worst, diabolical. Apparently, we are to be tolerant of everything and anyone except God and His Commandments.

Nevertheless, as a school principal, I frequently ask staff and students to abide by rules with which they do not necessarily agree. For me to do otherwise would be at best, inconsistent and at worst, hypocritical. I suffer from that affliction enough unintentionally. I certainly do not need to add an intentional transgression. For this reason, I shall, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's," and refrain from praying at this time.

However, if you feel inspired to honor, praise and thank God, and ask Him in the name of Jesus to bless this event, please feel free to do so. As far as I know, that's not against the law----yet."

"Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's." Matthew 22:21 (NASB)


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Do You Smell That?

>> Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A cold March wind danced around the dead of night in Dallas as the doctor walked into the small hospital room of Diana Blessing. She was still groggy from surgery. Her husband, David, held her hand as they braced themselves for the latest news.

That afternoon, March 10, 1991, complications had forced Diana, only 24-weeks pregnant, to undergo an emergency Cesarean to deliver couple's new daughter, Dana Lu Blessing. At 12 inches long and weighing only one pound nine ounces, they already knew she was perilously premature.

Still, the doctor's soft words dropped like bombs. "I don't think she's going to make it," he said, as kindly as he could. "There's only a 10-percent chance she will live through the night, and even then, if by some slim chance she does make it, her future could be a very cruel one."

Numb with disbelief, David and Diana listened as the doctor described the devastating problems Dana would likely face if she survived. She would never walk, she would never talk, she would probably be blind, and she would certainly be prone to other catastrophic conditions from cerebral palsy to complete mental retardation, and on and on.

"No! No!" was all Diana could say.

She and David, with their 5-year-old son Dustin, had long dreamed of the day they would have a daughter to become a family of four. Now, within a matter of hours, that dream was slipping away.

But as those first days passed, a new agony set in for David and Diana. Because Dana's underdeveloped nervous system was essentially 'raw', the lightest kiss or caress only intensified her discomfort, so they couldn't even cradle their tiny baby girl against their chests to offer the strength of their love. All they could do, as Dana struggled alone beneath the ultraviolet light in the tangle of tubes and wires, was to pray that God would stay close to their precious little girl.

There was never a moment when Dana suddenly grew stronger. But as the weeks went by, she did slowly gain an ounce of weight here and an ounce of strength there. At last, when Dana turned two months old, her parents were able to hold her in their arms for the very first time. And two months later, though doctors continued to gently but grimly warn that her chances of surviving, much less living any kind of normal life, were next to zero, Dana went home from the hospital, just as her mother had predicted.

Five years later, when Dana was a petite but feisty young girl with glittering gray eyes and an unquenchable zest for life. She showed no signs whatsoever of any mental or physical impairment. Simply, she was everything a little girl can be and more. But that happy ending is far from the end of her story.

One blistering afternoon in the summer of 1996 near her home in Irving, Texas, Dana was sitting in her mother's lap in the bleachers of a local ball park where her brother Dustin's baseball team was practicing. As always, Dana was chattering nonstop with her mother and several other adults sitting nearby when she suddenly fell silent. Hugging her arms across her chest, little Dana asked, "Do you smell that?"

Smelling the air and detecting the approach of a thunderstorm, Diana replied, "Yes, it smells like rain."

Dana closed her eyes and again asked, "Do you smell that?"

Once again, her mother replied, "Yes, I think we're about to get wet. It smells like rain."

Still caught in the moment, Dana shook her head, patted her thin shoulders with her small hands and loudly announced, "No, it smells like Him. It smells like God when you lay your head on His chest."

Tears blurred Diana's eyes as Dana happily hopped down to play with the other children. Before the rains came, her daughter's words confirmed what Diana and all the members of the extended Blessing family had known all along.

During those long days and nights of her first two months of her life, when her nerves were too sensitive for them to touch her, God was holding Dana on His chest and it is His loving scent that she remembers so well.

“Do you smell that?”

(Author Unknown)

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them.” Matthew 19:14 (NLT)

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Who Told You?

>> Monday, March 21, 2011

Chuck Swindoll asked a question that caused me to think … on and on. Who told you about Jesus and led you to Him?

At the age of six my mother told me to go to the altar and receive Christ. And so I went to the altar. I have no memory of it. But I always did what I was told. This was a story she repeated through the years.

The church we attended didn’t really talk about Jesus. It was all about God … and His anger toward us.

My teen years were filled with multiple trips to the altar … always because my mother said so. I felt no joy in those trips, just a relief that she would leave me alone for a week or so. Each trip was because in some way I had displeased God.

No mention of Jesus and His love.

Then I was told to marry the preacher’s son … and I did. He became a preacher, but espoused the same religion his father had delivered. He certainly did not ever talk to me about Jesus. And so I continued to live in obedience to a doctrine that expected me to live by the list of rules dictated by our church.

No mention of Jesus and His love.

And then came the day that I was lying on my back in a hospital bed … and had been for several days. I was bleeding internally and the doctors were searching for the cause. Even though I had prayed the required prayers all my life, I had never talked to God. But I had no one else to turn to, so I asked, “God, I have done all that you have required of me, I’ve lived by the 637 rules of conduct, so why am I here? What did I do wrong to deserve this?”

I saw no flash of light … heard no thunder … but very clearly I heard, “I have no grandchildren.”

That was not helpful. What, exactly, did that mean? But since I had plenty of time to ponder it, my mind went to work.

My whole life had been lived under the direction of a human telling me what God wanted of me. As the days passed, I came to the understanding that God wanted a relationship with me … a concept totally foreign to me.

During the ten days I lay in that hospital bed, I began a relationship. No human came to my bedside, but Jesus was with me in that room. When I was dismissed, I returned home a different person.

I was no longer a grandchild, but a child of God.

Who told you? Can you remember the people in your life who pointed you in the direction of God’s love?

And now I ponder my life. Who have I told about Jesus? Can anyone point to me and say, “She helped me understand about His love?”

“For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us…” Hebrews 4:2 (NIV)

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Notches in Your Belt

>> Sunday, March 20, 2011

I became acquainted with Deanna when I got a new job. What an unlikely pair we were. I came from a strict religious background that had a list of sins.  Deanna had no “thou shalt nots”. She lived with Barry, an arrangement that was in its fourth year when I met her.

We shared stories. She had married at the age of 16, had two little girls and widowed by the age of 19. I had married at 17, had three girls and then my preacher husband left me.  

Many of our talks centered on my beliefs as a Christian. As we explored together, I came to the realization that my list of rules did not constitute being a Christian.  Deanna wanted to know more about this “Jesus” guy. She purchased a Bible and sent Barry packing. I began to understand that judging others was not my mission in life. Our growth continued.

My church announced a women’s retreat. It took me days to decide that maybe Deanna would like to go with me. We talked it over. After many questions, she agreed to go.

Free time on Saturday and Deanna wanted some time to stroll around the campground. Several women gathered around the fireplace in the lodge … and I joined them. The talk turned to evangelism. One lady in particular, Teresa, was being very vocal about what she thought. Finally I could contain myself no longer. I quietly talked of caring about the other person … getting to know them … where they were coming from. Teresa returned even stronger. Our duty was to bring them to the Lord … by knocking on their door or cornering them on the street. I requested that Deanna be allowed to just get used to being around a group of Christians … to allow her trust to grow.  

Sunday morning … the final service. Once again, Deanna wanted to sit near the back. It was a pleasant time and drawing to a close … with an altar call. Oh no!

Heads were bowed. Suddenly Teresa appeared at our row and pushed her way past several ladies to stand beside Deanna.

Not at all quietly, she told Deanna it was time for her to come to the front of the chapel and accept Christ.  Deanna whispered “no”. Teresa loudly urged her … this time taking her hand and pulling on Deanna’s arm.  Deanna whispered “no”. I wanted to stick my fist in Teresa’s face.

Finally Deanna gave in to the pulling … and allowed herself to be led to the front. I followed along behind, not knowing what to do. Loudly Teresa prayed and told Deanna what to say. My thoughts were such a jumble. Why had Teresa done this?

Teresa decided Deanna was through … and stood to smile at everyone.  Deanna and I quietly walked to the back of the chapel … but Deanna kept on walking. I grabbed our purses and left too.

 Deanna was very quiet. Too quiet. What could I say?

“ Deanna … I’m so sorry. I had no idea someone would do that”. Still silent, she pulled out her suitcase and began to pack. I copied her actions. She rolled up her sleeping bag. So did I. 

Soon we were in her car, bouncing down the gravel road. As we drove onto the highway and picked up speed, her torrent started. She became a little, dark volcano … spewing everywhere.

“Why? Why? Why did she do that? Did that make her feel like a big shot? I told her no. Why did she keep pulling? I went with her just to get her to shut up. Does she have ears? I SAID NO.”

The miles and the words kept flying by. “I felt like a notch in her belt”.

Sounded like a good analogy to me.

The trip took three hours and she was still spewing when we got home.

As Deanna let me out at my house, she said, “Don’t ever ask me to go to church with you again.”  And she drove off. Teresa had destroyed so much.

The next Sunday, from my place on the front row of the choir, I looked directly into the smiling face of Teresa sitting in the front row of the congregation. The pastor talked excitedly of the reports from the retreat … and of a major victory in leading an unchurched person to Christ. I felt like throwing up … as Teresa smiled and nodded.

Evangelism is not about “notches in your belt.”

“This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love.” John 15:12 (MSG)

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Chapstick

>> Friday, March 18, 2011

For those of you with little ones at home, this will get you laughing because you know in your heart this could be you. We are never as in control as we like to think.

We had this great 10 year old cat named Jack who just recently died. Jack was a great cat and the kids would carry him around and sit on him and nothing ever bothered him. He used to hang out and nap all day long on this mat in our bathroom.

Well we have 3 kids and at the time of this story they were 4 years old, 3 years old and 1 year old. The middle one is Eli. Eli really loves Chapstick. LOVES it. He kept asking to use my Chapstick and then losing it. So finally one day I showed him where in the bathroom I keep my Chapstick and how he could use it whenever he wanted to but he needed to put it right back in the drawer when he was done.

One Sunday we were having the typical rush around and trying to get ready for church with everyone crying and carrying on. My two boys were fighting over the toy in the cereal box. I was trying to nurse my little one at the same time I am putting on my make-up. Everything was a mess.

We finally have the older one and the baby loaded in the car and I am looking for Eli. I have searched everywhere and I finally round the corner to go into the bathroom. And there was Eli. He was applying my Chapstick very carefully to Jack's … rear end. Eli looked right into my eyes and said "chapped." Now if you have a cat, you know that he is right--their little butts do look pretty chapped. And, frankly, Jack didn't seem to mind.

The only question to really ask at that point was whether it was the FIRST time Eli had done that to the cat's behind.

(Author Unknown)

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Prayer for Tongue Control

>> Thursday, March 17, 2011

O Lord, keep me from getting talkative, particularly from the fatal habit that I must say something on every subject on every occasion.

Release me from the craving to straighten out everybody's affairs.

Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips when inclined to tell of my aches and pains. They are increasing with the years and my love of rehearing them grows sweeter as the years go by.

Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally it is possible that I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet. I do not want to be a saint. Some of them are hard to live with, but a sour old woman is one of the crowning works of the devil.

Help me to extract all possible fun out of life. There are so many funny things around us, and I do not want to miss any of them.

Make me thoughtful and not moody, helpful but not bossy.

With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity to not to use it all, but Thou, my Lord, knoweth that I want a few friends left at the end.

(Author Unknown)

So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!”
James 3:5 (NASB)

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Mistaken Identity

>> Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The light turned yellow just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.

The tailgating woman was furious and honked her horn, screaming in frustration, as she missed her chance to get through the intersection, dropping her cell phone and makeup. As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer.

The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a holding cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, "I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the 'What Would Jesus Do' bumper sticker, the 'Choose Life' license plate holder, the 'Follow Me to Sunday-School' bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk, so naturally … I assumed you had stolen the car."

Priceless!

"In a word, what I'm saying is, grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity."  Matthew 5:48 (MSG)

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Carl's Garden

>> Monday, March 14, 2011

Carl was a quiet man. He didn't talk much. He would always greet you with a big smile and a firm handshake. Even after living in our neighborhood for over 50 years, no one could really say they knew him very well. Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning. The lone sight of him walking down the street often worried us. He had a slight limp from a bullet wound received in WWII.

Watching him, we worried that although he had survived WWII, he may not make it through our changing uptown neighborhood with its ever-increasing random violence, gangs, and drug activity.

When he saw the flyer at our local church asking for volunteers for caring for the gardens behind the minister's residence, he responded in his characteristically unassuming manner. Without fanfare, he just signed up.

He was well into his 87th year when the very thing we had always feared finally happened. He was just finishing his watering for the day when three gang members approached him.  Ignoring their attempt to intimidate him, he simply asked, "Would you like a drink from the hose?"

The tallest and toughest-looking of the three said, "Yeah, sure," with a malevolent little smile.

As Carl offered the hose to him, the other two grabbed Carl's arm, throwing him down.  As the hose snaked crazily over the ground, dousing everything in its way, Carl's assailants stole his retirement watch and his wallet, and then fled.

Carl tried to get himself up, but he had been thrown down on his bad leg. He lay there trying to gather himself as the minister came running to help him. Although the minister had witnessed the attack from his window, he couldn't get there fast enough to stop it.

"Carl, are you okay? Are you hurt?" the minister kept asking as he helped Carl to his feet.

Carl just passed a hand over his brow and sighed, shaking his head. "Just some punk kids. I hope they'll wise-up someday."

His wet clothes clung to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose. He adjusted the nozzle again and started to water.

Confused and a little concerned, the minister asked, "Carl, what are you doing?"

"I've got to finish my watering. It's been very dry lately," came the calm reply.

Satisfying himself that Carl really was all right, the minister could only marvel. Carl was a man from a different time and place.

A few weeks later the three returned. Just as before their threat was unchallenged. Carl again offered them a drink from his hose. This time they didn't rob him. They wrenched the hose from his hand and drenched him head to foot in the icy water. When they had finished their humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the street, throwing catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at the hilarity of what they had just done.

Carl just watched them. Then he turned toward the warmth giving sun, picked up his hose, and went on with his watering.

The summer was quickly fading into fall Carl was doing some tilling when he was startled by the sudden approach of someone behind him. He stumbled and fell into some evergreen branches. As he struggled to regain his footing, he turned to see the tall leader of his summer tormentors reaching down for him. He braced himself for the expected attack.

"Don't worry old man, I'm not gonna hurt you this time."

The young man spoke softly, still offering the tattooed and scarred hand to Carl. As he helped Carl get up, the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket and handed it to Carl.

"What's this?" Carl asked.

"It's your stuff," the man explained. "It's your stuff back. Even the money in your wallet."

"I don't understand," Carl said. "Why would you help me now?"

The man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease. "I learned something from you," he said. "I ran with that gang and hurt people like you, we picked you because you were old and we knew we could do it.  But every time we came and did something to you, instead of yelling and fighting back, you tried to give us a drink. You didn't hate us for hating you. You kept showing love against our hate."

He stopped for a moment. "I couldn't sleep after we stole your stuff, so here it is back."

He paused for another awkward moment, not knowing what more there was to say. "That bag's my way of saying thanks for straightening me out, I guess." And with that, he walked off down the street.

Carl looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened it. He took out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist. Opening his wallet, he checked for his wedding photo. He gazed for a moment at the young bride that still smiled back at him from all those years ago.

He died one cold day after Christmas that winter. Many people attended his funeral in spite of the weather. In particular the minister noticed a tall young man that he didn't know sitting quietly in a distant corner of the church.
The minister spoke of Carl's garden as a lesson in life. In a voice made thick with unshed tears, he said, "Do your best and make your garden as beautiful as you can. We will never forget Carl and his garden."

The following spring another flyer went up. It read: "Person needed to care for Carl's garden."

The flyer went unnoticed by the busy parishioners until one day when a knock was heard at the minister's office door. Opening the door, the minister saw a pair of scarred and tattooed hands holding the flyer.

"I believe this is my job, if you'll have me," the young man said.

The minister recognized him as the same young man who had returned the stolen watch and wallet to Carl. He knew that Carl's kindness had turned this man's life around. As the
minister handed him the keys to the garden shed, he said, "Yes, go take care of Carl's garden and honor him."

The man went to work and, over the next several years, he tended the flowers and vegetables just as Carl had done. During that time, he went to college, got married, and became a prominent member of the community. But he never forgot his promise to Carl's memory and kept the garden as beautiful as he thought Carl would have kept it.

One day he approached the new minister and told him that he couldn't care for the garden any longer. He explained with a shy and happy smile, "My wife just had a baby boy last night, and she's bringing him home on Saturday."

"Well, congratulations!" said the minister, as he was handed the garden shed keys. That's wonderful! What's the baby's name?"

"Carl," he replied.

That's the whole gospel message simply stated. (Author Unknown)

"The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News, and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams."  Matthew 13:23 (MSG)

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To Realize

>> Saturday, March 12, 2011

To realize the value of a sister/brother:
Ask someone who doesn't have one.

To realize the value of ten years:
Ask a newly divorced couple.

To realize the value of four years:
Ask a graduate.

To realize the value of one year:
Ask a student who has failed a final exam.

To realize the value of one month:
Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby...

To realize the value of one week:
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize the value of one minute:
Ask a person who has missed the train, bus or plane.

To realize the value of one second:
Ask a person who has survived an accident.

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