Monday, February 28, 2011

Attitude of Three Hairs

There was once a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and noticed she had only three hairs on her head.

"Well," she said, "I think I'll braid my hair today," so she did and had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw she only had two hairs on her head.

"Hmmm," she said, "I think I'll part my hair down the middle today," and she did just that and she had a grand day.

The next morning she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw she had only one hair left on her head.

"Well," she said, "Today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail."  So she did and it was a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there was not a single hair left on her head.

"YEAH!" she exclaimed, "I don't have to fix my hair today!"

Remember, you may not be able to control what someone says about you, or does to you, or some of the situations that life throws at you, but you can certainly control the way you react.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Child's Perspective

One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live.  They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what could be considered a very poor family.

On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?"

"It was great, Dad."

"Did you see how poor people live?" the father asked.

"Oh yes," said the son.

"So tell me, what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father.

The son answered: "I saw that we have one dog and they had four.  We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.  We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.  Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.  We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.  We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.  We buy our food, but they grow theirs.  We have walls around our property to protect us; they have friends to protect them."

The boy's father was speechless.

Then his son added, "Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are."

Isn't perspective a wonderful thing?

Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying about what we don't have.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

God Won't Ask

There are some things God won’t ask on the judgment day.
God won’t ask what kind of car you drove.  He’ll ask how many people you drove who didn’t have transportation.
God won’t ask the square footage of your house.  He’ll ask how many people you welcomed into your home.
God won’t ask about the clothes you had in your closet, He’ll ask how many you helped to clothe.
God won’t ask what your highest salary was. He’ll ask if you compromised your character to obtain it.
God won’t ask what your job title was.  He’ll ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.
God won’t ask how many friends you had.  He’ll ask how many people to whom you were a friend.
God won’t ask in what neighborhood you lived.  He’ll ask how you treated your neighbors.
God won’t ask about the color of your skin.  He’ll ask about the content of your character.
I wish that I could give credit to the individual who wrote these thought-provoking statements, but I can’t.  I received them from an email that was sent to me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

First, Cast Out the Log

The following article was written by Barry Haynes of the Northwest church of Christ in Lawton, OK.  I gave it the title above.  I hope you enjoy and profit from it.
A wife frantically called her husband because she saw a report on the news about a driver that was going the wrong way down the highway he usually used.  When the husband picked up the phone, she warned, “Honey be careful, there is one crazy person driving on the wrong side of the road.”  He agitatedly replied, “One!  There are dozens of them!”  It is hard to be unbiased when we look at ourselves.  Sometimes we are a bit too hard, but more often than not we have an attitude of arrogance.  We are right even if it means the world is wrong.  Paul reminds us in Romans 12:3, “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”  Before we jump to how everyone else is wrong, it might be a good idea to check ourselves first.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Did You Remember To Light Your Candle?

This article was written by Alan Smith of Fayetteville, NC.

   A circus owner walked into a restaurant to see everyone crowded around a table watching a little show. On the table was an upside down pot and a duck tap dancing on it.
   The circus owner was so impressed that he offered to buy the duck from its owner. After some wheeling and dealing they settled for $10,000 for the duck and the pot.
   Three days later, the circus owner runs back to the restaurant in anger, "Your duck is a rip-off! I put him on the pot before a whole audience and he didn't dance a single step!"
   "So?" asked the duck's former owner, "did you remember to light the candle under the pot?"
   Well, that might be one reason that someone would put a lighted candle under a pot, but that's not what candles are for!  As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, candles are meant to "give light to all who are in the house."  In like manner, our Christian lives are to "shine before men" (Matt. 5:16-17).  The reason is that we are to be a positive influence on others around us.  We sometimes speak of a "secret Christian" as if that's a possibility.  The truth is, unless our lives are reflecting the light of Jesus Christ, we're not living Christian lives at all.  If we don't influence the world around us for Christ, the world will influence us.
    "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth)" (Eph. 5:8-9).
    Did you remember to light your candle?

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Million Dollar Mistake

The following article was written by Larry D. Black.

John Barrier pulled his pickup truck into the U.S. Bank of Washington parking lot in Spokane. Dressed in his usual shabby clothes he paid a quick visit to his broker, cashed a check at the bank, and went outside to drive away. The parking lot attendant informed Barrier there was a 60 cent parking fee, but parking was free if he could get the ticket stamped by someone in the bank. Barrier had been a customer for thirty years so he ran inside to get the ticket validated.  Inside the teller took one look at Barrier's grubby clothes and refused to stamp the ticket. She said the bank only validated tickets when a customer made a transaction, and cashing a check was not one. After talking with a bank manager, Barrier was again refused. So he politely said, "Fine. You don't need me, and I don't need you." He then withdrew all his money - a million dollars - and took it down the street to another bank!

The Hebrews epistle says, "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels" (Hebrews 13:2). Nearly every time the church assembles visitors are present. How do we receive them? Do we show respect for some and ignore others? Let me suggest that you read the first few verses of James 2.  Do we go out of our way to make visitors feel welcome and wanted? If not, they may, as John Barrier, say, "Fine. You don't need me, and I don't need you," and as he did, they may withdraw and go down the street. For the church, such a loss will always be more than a million dollars, because a soul is at stake (Matthew 16.26).

Friday, February 18, 2011

How Excellent Is Thy Name

A young boy was walking along enjoying a very beautiful day.  The sky was blue, the sun was bright and warm, the grass was green – it was a beautiful sight.  As he walked along whistling, he stumped his toe.  It hurt a little so he stopped to look.  He found that he had hit an old silver dollar that was stuck in the ground.  He pulled the silver dollar out and shined it up, put it in his pocket, and kept walking.
But now, there was a big change.  Now, he didn’t whistle.  Now, he didn’t see the sky or feel the warmth of the sun.  Now, he didn’t notice the grass.  Now, he was unaware of the beauty around him.  Now, he didn’t look up.  He kept his eyes low on the ground.  Now, he was looking for another silver dollar.  And looking down cost him an awareness of what was really there.
“O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! Who hast set thy glory above the heavens… When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou has ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him?...O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” (Psalms 8:1,3-4, 9).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dealing With Depression

In the Peanuts comic strip, Charlie Brown comes up to Lucy who is seated behind her lemonade stand.  She is offering psychiatric help for five cents.  Charlie asks her if she can cure depression.  Lucy says, “Sure.”  Charlie asks, “Can you cure deep down, bottom of the barrel depression?”  Lucy says, “Sure.  All for the same five cents.”

      Now I don’t know her secret, but if she really had a five cent cure for depression, the world would line up at that lemonade stand.  Depression is something we all occasionally experience to one degree or another.  It is a devastating illness that affects the whole man physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

      I don’t have a five cent cure, but I believe there is a way to cope with depression.  There’s no easy way out, but we can begin to deal with it, even learn from it.

      Just for today – just for now – here’s a start.  Instead of an inward look, take an outward look.  Instead of focusing on the negatives of life, turn your attention to the positives and be grateful.  Paul said, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, ESV).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dirty Money

The following article appeared in the Feb. 13 bulletin of the Huntingdon church of Christ where Dan Winkler preaches.  The author is unknown, but I thought it would be of interest to others.  The title is one that I gave it.
A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill.  In the room of 200, he asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?”  When hands started going up, he said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this.”  He proceeded to crumple up the $20 dollar bill. 
He then asked, “Who still wants it?”  Still the hands were up in the air.  He replied, “What if I do this?”  He dropped it on the ground and ground it into the floor with his shoe.  He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty.  “Now, who still wants it?”  Still the hands went into the air.
He concluded, “My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson.  No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value.  It was still worth $20.  Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way.  We feel as though we are worthless.  But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value.  Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who love you.  The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by who we are and whose we are.”
“Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31).

Does Honesty Pay?

Dr. Bob Reccord tells of an experience he learned about while in the business world.  A major institution that ranked among the Fortune 500 was working to make an unheard-of move.  They were going to promote a thirty-eight-year-old vice president to president.  The man was an impressive businessman who wooed and awed the board of directors.  Upon completing the final interview process, the board broke for lunch, with plans to offer this man the prestigious position of president after they all returned from lunch.  This young man went to lunch alone at a cafeteria, but was unintentionally followed by several of the board members who stood in line behind him.  When the young man came to the bread section, he placed two three-cent butters on his tray and covered them up with his napkin.  As he checked out he never revealed the hidden six cents’ worth of butter.  When everyone returned to the boardroom for what was to be a joyous occasion, the mood had dramatically changed.  The promising young man was not only denied the helm of the company but was fired from his position as vice president – all because of six cents’ worth of butter.
Integrity and honesty, unfortunately, are in short supply these days; nonetheless, they should be pillars upon which life is built.  “Provide for things honest in the sight of all men,” Paul wrote (Rom. 12:17).  A trigonometry teacher once told his class, “I’m giving you two tests today – one in trigonometry and one in honesty.  I hope you pass both of them.  But if you can pass only one, be sure it’s the test in honesty, because there are a lot of good men who don’t know any trigonometry, but there are no good men who are not honest.”

Monday, February 14, 2011

"True Blue" Christianity

Addison Mizner was a famous architect and builder of the early 20th century who designed and built houses for the rich in south Florida.  He was noted for his unusual designs.  For instance, on one occasion he built a two-story house without a stairway.  A client once inquired about getting a copy of the set of blueprints Mizner was going to use in building a house for him.  He wanted to unveil to his friends the rather elaborate house he was having built.  Mizner retorted, “Why, the house isn’t built yet!  Construction first, blueprints afterward.”  Admittedly, it is unheard of to construct a building without a set of blueprints to follow.
Mizner’s response is as much a comment on life as it is on building philosophy.  People are often more interested in the product than they are the process.  Like the Pharisees mentioned in the New Testament, the exterior finish is more important to them than the interior.  They meticulously observe the law or command of God without giving much attention to the proper motivation.  However, in order to be pleasing to the Lord a person should obey the Lord while being properly motivated.
Jesus gave the blueprint for proper worship and service in the kingdom of heaven when He instructed, “Be careful not to make a show of your religion before men” (Mt. 6:1, NEB).  He illustrated His thesis by referring to three common practices: giving, praying, and fasting (Mt. 6:2-18).  Some give to be seen by others that they may bask in the adulation and praise it brings.  Hypocrites make prayer a meaningless ritual that is nothing more than an anemic exercise in formality.  Pharisees, in particular, fasted twice weekly (cf. Lk. 18:12) in order to demonstrate their superior godliness and deep devotion.  They did not comb their hair or wash their face during fasting.  They powdered their faces to look haggard and pale.  They wore soiled garments so that everyone would know they were fasting.  It was all an outward show without any substance to it.  “They do all their deeds to be seen by men” (Mt. 23:5).
“Lord, help us follow the blueprint found in Your word that we may worship and serve You in the right way and for the right reasons.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

Friday, February 11, 2011

What Really Counts?

In early January 1968 the ship USS Pueblo was sent on an electronic surveillance mission off the east coast of North Korea.  On January 23, 1968 Pueblo was attacked in international waters by North Korean naval and air forces.  Eighty two surviving crew members were captured and held prisoner for 11 months.  Earlier the sailors had discarded religious services aboard ship because only two showed up.  After their capture by the North Koreans and during their eleven months of imprisonment, that changed dramatically.  Spiritual matters became important to them.  They reconstructed by memory most of the books of the Bible, the Ten Commandments, and familiar scriptures such as the 23rd Psalm.  They engaged in daily prayers.
What are the most important values in the world?  The entertainment media spends many hours and untold amounts of money trying to convince the public that material values are of supreme importance.  In an article he wrote several years ago, the gospel preacher, Richard Jones, said that “commercials on television occur every seven minutes and on radio every three minutes brainwashing us to believe that happiness is found by buying it.”  It simply isn’t true.  Jesus said, “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Lk. 12:15, ESV).  Jones correctly observed, “A crisis can’t be met because there’s a Cadillac in the garage.”
On one occasion Rudyard Kipling, speaking to a group of college graduates, said, “You spend your time getting an education so that you can get a better job, have nicer clothes, make more money, and enjoy more of the good things of life.  But one day you will meet a man who cares for none of these things, and then you’ll know how poor you really are.”  Such a man was Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  He didn’t own real estate, or travel the world, or invest large sums of money in financial institutions; yet, undoubtedly, He was the wealthiest person who has ever lived on earth.  Through Him we have the opportunity of being spiritually enriched (2 Cor. 8:9).  Do we have to wait until some crisis occurs in our life before we realize what is really important?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Lord, Give Me Patience, Right Now!"

A young minister once asked an older minister to pray that he might have more patience, for he realized he was short in the area of patience.  The aged gentleman fell to his knees and began to pray that God would send trouble and difficulties upon the young man.  Finally, the young minister tapped him on the shoulder, and whispered, “You must have misunderstood me; I asked that you would pray that I might have more patience, not more trouble.”  The older minister replied, “Remember the Scripture says: ‘Tribulation worketh patience’ (Romans 5:3).  That is the only way!”
Experiencing trials and tribulations in life can have its benefits.  For that reason James said, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (Jas. 1:3-4).  The refiner puts gold in the furnace to refine it, not destroy it.  Certain fruits are produced only under the strain of severity.  For instance, apples do not grow where there is no frost.  In like manner, persimmons lose all traces of their bitterness while experiencing the severities of frost.  Peonies will not bloom if they have not been frozen.  Some of the greatest traits of character are developed only after experiencing trials in life, patience being one of them.  So, don’t begrudge trials; rather learn from them and grow.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Building Wisely

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house-building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife, enjoying his extended family.  He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.

The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go, and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor.  The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials.  It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career.

When the carpenter finished his work, the employer came to inspect the house. He handed the front-door key to the carpenter.  "This is your house," he said, "my gift to you."  The carpenter was shocked.  What a shame!  If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently.

So it is with us. We build our lives, a day at a time, often putting less than our best into the building. Then, with a shock we realize we have to live in the house we have built.  If we could do it over, we'd do it much differently. But we cannot go back.

You are the carpenter. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. "Life is a do-it-yourself project," someone has said.  Your attitudes and the choices you make today, build the "house" you live in tomorrow. Build wisely!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Heaven and Hell

There is a heaven to embrace.  In heaven there will no longer be any death, no hearse will be seen, no wreaths on doors, no more funeral processions, and no cemeteries.  There will be no more mourning, or crying, or pain.  Its beauty is beyond man’s comprehension.  The apostle John described its walls to be like jasper and its street like pure gold.  The foundation stones of the city wall will be adorned with every kind of precious stone.  Its twelve gates will be like twelve pearls.  There will be no need of the sun or moon for the glory of God is the light thereof.  Nothing unclean will ever enter it.  No profane people, fornicators, adulterers, murderers, child molesters, homosexuals, liars, drunkards, dope pushers or users, abusive, or church dividers will enter heaven.  The redeemed will live in absolute peace and serenity, without fear.  Won’t it be wonderful there?
There is a hell to shun.  It is a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.  It will be like a bottomless pit where there is the sensation of falling, yet never reaching the bottom.  It is a place not just of darkness, but outer darkness; a darkness so thick you feel like you could cut it with a knife.  A perpetual fire from which there is no relief will be the experience of hell.  The scum of the earth will be its occupants.  All liars, murderers, immoral persons, sorcerers, and idolaters will reside there forever with the devil and his angels, along with all hypocrites.
In his February newsletter, Ken Joines, a long-time gospel preacher wrote, “For the obedient believer, this world is the nearest thing to Hell you will ever experience.  For the unbeliever, this world is the nearest thing to Heaven you will ever know.  This simple truth should cause those of us who believe to persevere and never let our hope grow dim.  And it should cause the unbeliever to change the course of his or her life and decide to head for a better world.  The longer I live the more certain I am that I would hate to be trapped here forever.”  Amen, brother Ken, Amen!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Christian Character

Beyond a doubt, the Sermon on the Mount is the greatest sermon that has ever been preached or ever will be.  It is far superior to anything that has ever been written or spoken.  Its nobility of thought, depth of wisdom, and penetrating insight to life are beyond comparison.  Yet, its simplicity of expression is such that anyone can understand it. 
At the beginning of His earthly ministry Jesus laid the foundation for genuine discipleship.  This sermon has been called the “Magna Charta of the church,” the “spiritual Bill of Rights,” and the “Constitution of Christianity.”  It holds a unique fascination to all who read and study it.  It presents the quintessence of Jesus’ teaching.  The sermon makes goodness attractive and shames our shabby performance.
The beatitudes which are recorded in the first twelve verses of Matthew chapter five describe the kind of character that disciples of Jesus should develop.  Each of the eight qualities mentioned begin with the word “blessed.”  This word is a much deeper one in meaning than the word “happy.”  It is not dependent on outward circumstances such as material prosperity, good health, having many friends, or even the weather.  It refers to an inward state which is not altered by outside forces.  It is experienced by those who are impoverished in spirit, who mourn over sin, are meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness, who are merciful, pure in heart, are peacemakers rather than troublemakers, and who endure being persecuted for the sake of righteousness.  Deep-seated joy is experienced by those who develop these qualities even though the world around them may be experiencing misery and unhappiness.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Listening To The Rain

I woke up this morning at my usual early hour even though it is my day off.  Force of habit, I guess.  Only this morning there was the sound of rain on the roof.  When I woke up I sat on the edge of the bed and turned on the lamp and sat there for a couple of minutes listening to the rain and decided I would lay back down and listen to it some more.  It brought back some pleasant childhood memories when the gentle rain would fall on the tin roof of our farmhouse in Mississippi.  Occasionally the roof would leak and we would set a pot on the floor to catch the rain.  The sound of the rain dripping in the pot only added to the pleasantness of the moment.  I suppose if you were an adult, it wasn't very pleasant!  When it rained it meant that you wouldn't be plowing in the field, or picking cotton, or pulling corn, or doing the wash in a big black pot outside.  It was a relaxing time in which you sat around the house and visited with each other and told stories.  I always enjoyed those moments.  I still do...just listening to the rain!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Daily Bread: An Awesome God!

Daily Bread: An Awesome God!: "“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host…For he spoke, and it came to be, he commanded,..."

An Awesome God!

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host…For he spoke, and it came to be, he commanded, and it stood firm” (Psa. 33:6, 9).  “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it” (Psa. 139:6).  “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psa. 8:3-4).  The creative power of God is awesome, indeed.  It is beyond the capability of man to begin to understand it.  Even more awesome is the desire of the Almighty to redeem man from sin; yet, He is “…not wishing that any should perish, but that all shall reach repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).  It was Dwight L. Moody who observed that God first came down to create, then through His Son He came to save.  To create, God had only to speak; to redeem, His Son had to suffer on a cross.  He made man by His breath; He saved man by the blood of Jesus.  “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Rom. 11:33).

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Daily Bread: Change the Bottom Button

Daily Bread: Change the Bottom Button: "Have you ever been embarrassed by the discovery that the buttons on your coat or shirt were in the wrong holes because you missed the first ..."

Change the Bottom Button

Have you ever been embarrassed by the discovery that the buttons on your coat or shirt were in the wrong holes because you missed the first button?  I’ve had that experience more than once in my life.  It is especially embarrassing when you are attending an important meeting or are being introduced to someone for the first time.

Have you ever had a similar experience in some of the important relationships in your life?  Perhaps some of the great challenges in your life did not turn out right because you started out wrong.  Maybe you got off on the wrong foot with your employer on your first day at work.  Perhaps you don’t command the influence you would like or you don’t produce the results you should because you missed the first button.  Perhaps you started out on the wrong foot with a neighbor and now you rarely speak to one another.  It may be that your marriage is not satisfactory because you started out wrong.  Your home relationships are not what they should be because earlier you made some serious mistakes and it is now difficult to overcome them.

It’s so easy to blame circumstances, or education, or society, even our in-laws, or just about anything else, isn’t it, for the mess we find ourselves in right now?  One of the best ways to handle the messes we get ourselves into is to openly and honestly admit our mistakes.  Come clean with our own conscience and with other people and seek to do right.

Jesus Christ made this promise, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).  Now, that is the real answer to the problem; that’s starting out in the right button hole.

In order for us to start out right so that we can end up right, we must put God first.  Doing so will make us better employees, better neighbors and friends, better husbands and wives, and better children. 

The wonderful thing about serving God is that we may mess up and get “our buttons” out of order, but we can start all over and he will help us get it right.  We can never exhaust his grace or diminish his love for us.  He is willing to forgive and help us start anew.

It’s amazing what can happen when we make God the priority of our lives!  Seek his way, his wisdom, and his strength – FIRST!  No matter how tangled or twisted or complicated our lives become, things have a way of turning out much better when we put God in the first button-hole.