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Thorns  
Whose Fault Is It?
 The Living Bible 
"Does God still speak to people?"
PUSH 
NEW SCHOOL PRAYER 
THE CRACKED POT 
THE SURGEON 
WHY JESUS IS BETTER THAN SANTA CLAUS... 
THE RIFLE  
THE TRUE MEANING OF THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS 
IN GOD WE TRUST

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THORNS
Sandra felt as low as the heels of her shoes when she pulled open the florist shop door, against a November gust of wind. Her life had been as sweet as a spring breeze and then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a "minor" automobile accident stole her joy. This was Thanksgiving week and the time she should have delivered their infant son. She grieved over their loss. Troubles had multiplied.  Her husband's company "threatened" to transfer his job to a new location. Her sister had called to say that she could not come for her long awaited holiday visit. What's worse, Sandra's friend suggested that Sandra's grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. "She has no idea what I'm feeling," thought Sandra with a shudder.

"Thanksgiving? Thankful for what?" she wondered. "For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended me?--For an airbag that saved my life, but took my child's?"

"Good afternoon, can I help you?"

Sandra was start led by the approach of the shop clerk. "I . . . I need an arrangement," stammered Sandra.
 
"For Thanksgiving? I'm convinced that flowers tell stories."  She continued, "Are you looking for something that conveys 'gratitude' this Thanksgiving?"

"Not exactly!" Sandra blurted out. "In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong."  Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the clerk said, "I have the perfect arrangement for you."
              
Then the bell on the door rang, and the clerk greeted the new customer... "Hi, Alyce, let me get your order." She excused herself and walked back to a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and what appeared to be long-stemmed thorny roses. Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped, there were no flowers.

"Do you want these in a box?" asked the clerk. Sandra watched - was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed.

"Yes, please," Alyce replied with an appreciative smile. "You'd think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn't be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again," she said, as she gently tapped her chest.

Sandra stammered, "Ah, that lady just left with . . . uh . . . she left with no flowers!"
 
"That's right," said the clerk. "I cut off the flowers. That's the 'Special'.  I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet. Alyce came into the shop three years ago, feeling much as you do today," explained the clerk. "She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had just lost her father to cancer; the family business was failing; her son had gotten into drugs; and she was facing major surgery. That same year I had lost my husband," continued the clerk. "For the first time in my life, I had to spend the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too much debt to allow any travel."

"So what did you do?" asked Sandra.
 
”I learned to be thankful for thorns," answered the clerk quietly. "I've always thanked God for the good things in my life and I never questioned Him why those good things happened to me, but when the bad stuff hit, I cried out, 'Why? Why me?!' It took time for me to learn that the dark times
are important to our faith! I have always enjoyed the 'flowers' of my life, but it took the thorns to show me the beauty of God's comfort! You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we're afflicted, and from His consolation we l earn to comfort others."

Sandra sucked in her breath, as she thought about what her friend had tried to tell her. "I guess the truth is I don't want comfort. I've lost a baby and I'm angry with God."

Just then someone else walked in the shop.  "Hey, Phil!" the clerk greeted the balding, rotund man.  "My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement . . twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems!" laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator. 

"Those are for your wife?" asked Sandra incredulously. "Do you mind telling me why she wants a bouquet that looks like that?"
 
"Four years ago, my wife and I nearly divorced," Phil replied. "After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord's grace and guidance, we trudged through problem after problem, the Lord rescued our marriage. Jenny here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she had learned from "thorny" times. That was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific "problem" and give thanks for what that problem taught us."  As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, "I highly recommend the Special!"
 
"I don't know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life" Sandra said to the clerk. "It's all too . . fresh."
              
"Well," the clerk replied carefully, "my experience has shown me that the thorns make the roses more precious. We treasure God's providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember that it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love....Don't resent the thorns."
 
Tears rolled down Sandra's cheeks. For the first time since the accident , she loosened her grip on her resentment. "I'll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please," she managed to choke out.
 
"I hoped you would," said the clerk gently. "I'll have them ready in a minute."
 
"Thank you. What do I owe you?"
 
"Nothing.  Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart...The first year's arrangement is always on me."
 
The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. "I'll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first."

It read: "My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain.  Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant."

 Praise Him for the roses; thank Him for the thorns.

God Bless all of you. Be thankful for all that the Lord does for you.

WHOSE FAULT IS IT?

A preacher and an atheist barber were once walking through the city slums. Said the atheist barber to the preacher: "This is why I cannot believe in a God of love. If God was as kind as you say, He would not permit all this poverty, disease, and squalor. He would not allow these poor bums to be addicted to dope and other character-destroying habits. No, I cannot believe in a God who permits these things."

The minister was silent until they met a man who was especially unkempt and filthy. His hair was hanging down his neck and he had a half-inch of stubble on his face. Said the minister, "You cannot be a very good barber or you would not permit a man like that to continue living in this neighborhood without a haircut or a shave."

Indignantly the barber answered: "Why blame me for that man's condition. I cannot help it that he is like that. He has never come in my shop; I could fix him up and make him look like a gentleman!"

Giving the barber a penetrating look, the minister said: "Then do not blame God for allowing these people to continue in their evil ways, when He is constantly inviting them to come and be saved. The reason these people are slaves to sin and evil habits is that they refuse the One who died to save and deliver them."

THE LIVING BIBLE 

His name is Bill. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans, and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college.

He is brilliant. Kind of profound and very, very bright. He became a Christian while attending college.

Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very conservative church. They want to develop a ministry to the students but are not sure how to go about it.

One day Bill decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair. The service has already started and so Bill starts down the aisle looking for a seat.

The church is completely packed and he can't find a seat. By now, people are really looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything.

Bill gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit, and when he realizes there are no seats, he just squats down right on the carpet.

By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick.

About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, a deacon is slowly making his way toward Bill.

Now the deacon is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, and a three-piece suit. A godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly. He walks with a cane and, as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves that you can't blame him for what he's going to do.

How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid on the floor?

It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy.

The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the man's cane. All eyes are focused on him. You can't even hear anyone breathing. The minister can't even preach the sermon until the deacon does what he has to do.

And now they see this elderly man drop his cane on the floor. With great difficulty, he lowers himself and sits down next to Bill and worships with him so he won't be alone.

Everyone chokes up with emotion.
When the minister gains control, he says,"What I'm about to preach, you will never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget."

"Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some people will ever read!"


I asked the Lord to bless you
as I prayed for you today.
To guide you and protect you
as you go along your way....
His love is always with you,
His promises are true,
And when we give Him all our cares,
You know He will see us through.

 

"Does God still speak to people?" 
A young man had been to Wednesday night Bible Study. The Pastor had shared about listening to God and obeying the Lord's voice. The young man couldn't help but wonder, "Does God still
speak to people?" 
After service he went out with some friends for coffee and pie and they discussed the message. Several different ones talked about how God had led them in different ways.
It was about ten o'clock when the young man started driving home. Sitting in his car, he just began to pray, "God...If you still speak to people speak to me. I will listen. I will do my best to obey."
As he drove down the main street of his town, he had the strangest thought to stop and buy a gallon of milk. He shook his head and said out loud, "God is that you?" 
He didn't get a reply and started on toward home. But again, the thought, buy a gallon of milk. The young man thought about Samuel and how  he didn't recognize the voice of God, and how little Samuel ran to Eli. "Okay, God, in case that is you, I will buy the milk." It didn't seem like too hard a test of obedience. He could always use the milk. He stopped and  purchased the gallon of milk and started off toward home. As he passed Seventh Street, he again felt the urge, "Turn down that street."
This is crazy he thought and drove on past the intersection. Again, he felt that he should turn down Seventh Street. At the next intersection, he turned back and headed down Seventh. Half jokingly, he 
said out loud, "Okay, God, I will". 
He drove several blocks, when suddenly, he felt like he should stop. He pulled over to the curb and  looked around. He was in semi-commercial area of town. It wasn't the best but it wasn't the worst of
neighborhoods either. The businesses were closed and most of the houses looked dark like the people were already in bed. 
Again, he sensed something, "Go and give the milk to the people in the house across the street." 
The young man looked at the house. It was dark and it looked like the people were either gone or they were already asleep. He started to open the door and then sat back in the car seat. "Lord, this is
insane. Those people are asleep and if I wake them up, they are going to be mad and I will look stupid."
Again, he felt like he should go and give the milk. Finally, he opened the door, "Okay God, if this is
you, I will go to the door and I will give them the milk. If you want me to look like a crazy person, okay. I want to be obedient. I guess that will count for something but if they don't answer right away, I am out of here."
He walked across the street and rang the bell. He could hear some noise inside. A man's voice yelled
out, "Who is it? What do you want?"  
Then the door opened before the young man could get away. The man was standing there in his jeans and T-shirt. He looked like he just got out of bed. He had a strange look on his face and he didn't
seem too happy to have some stranger standing on his doorstep. "What is it?"
The young man thrust out the gallon of milk, "Here, I brought this to you."
The man took the milk and rushed down a hallway speaking loudly in Spanish. Then from down the hall came a woman carrying the milk toward the kitchen. The man was following her holding a baby. The baby was crying. The man had tears streaming down his face. 
The man began speaking and half crying, "We were just praying. We had some big bills this month
and we ran out of money. We didn't have any milk for our baby. I was just praying and asking God to show me how to get some milk."
His wife in the kitchen yelled out, "I ask him to send an Angel with some. 
Are you an Angel?" 
The young man reached into his wallet and pulled out all the money he had on him and put in the man's hand.  He turned and walked back toward his car and the tears were streaming down his face.
He knew that God still answers prayers.

PUSH
A man was sleeping one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with
light and the Savior appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to
do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained
that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. This the man
did, day after day.

For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely
against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing it with all
his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out,
feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.

Seeing that the man was showing signs of discouragement, the adversary
decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the man's weary mind:
"You have been pushing against this rock for a long time, And it hasn't
budged. Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it."

Thus giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he
was a failure. These troubling thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man.

"Why kill myself over this?" thought the man, "I'll just put in my time,
giving just the minimum effort and that will be good enough."

And that is what he planned to do until one day he decided to make it a
matter of prayer and take his thoughts to the Lord. "Lord" he said, "I have
labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do which
you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even been
able to budge that rock. What is wrong? Why am I failing?"

The Lord responded compassionately, "My friend, When I asked you to
serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against
the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I
mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And
now you come to me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed.
But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled,
your back sinewy and brown, your hands are calloused from constant pressure,
and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have
grown much and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. Yet you
haven't moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and
to exercise your faith and trust in my wisdom. This you have done. I, my
friend, will now move the rock."

At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to
decipher what he wants, when actually what God wants is simple obedience 
and Faith in him...

By all means exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know that it is
still God who moves the mountains.

P.U.S.H.!

When everything seems to go wrong, ... Just P.U.S.H.!

When the job gets you down, ... Just P.U.S.H.!

When people don't react the way you think they should, ... Just P.U.S.H.!

When money is short and bills are due, ... Just P.U.S.H.!

When people just don't understand you, ... Just P.U.S.H.!

When the pressure at school is to much, ... Just P.U.S.H.!

P.U.S.H. ----- PRAY UNTIL SOMETHING HAPPENS!

P.U.S.H. ...... PRAISE UNTIL SOMETHING HAPPENS!

God Bless & Have a Wonderful Day!
Phillipians 4:13
Darlene Fischer


NEW SCHOOL PRAYER
This was written by a teen in Bagdad, Arizona.
This is incredible!!!!!!!!!!!

Now I sit me down in school
Where praying is against the rule
For this great nation under God
Finds mention of Him very odd.
If Scripture now the class recites,
It violates the Bill of Rights.
And anytime my head I bow
Becomes a Federal matter now.
Our hair can be purple, orange or green,
That's no offense; it's a freedom scene.
The law is specific, the law is precise.
Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice.
For praying in a public hall
Might offend someone with no faith at all.
In silence alone we must meditate,
God's name is prohibited by the state.
We're allowed to cuss and dress like freaks, And
pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks.
They've outlawed guns, but FIRST the Bible.
To quote the Good Book makes me liable.
We can elect a pregnant Senior Queen,
And the 'unwed daddy,' our Senior King.
It's "inappropriate" to teach right from wrong,
We're taught that such "judgments" do not belong.
We can get our ******* and birth controls,
Study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles.
But the Ten Commandments are not allowed,
It's scary here I must confess,
When chaos reigns the school's a mess.
So, Lord, this silent plea I make:
Should I be shot;
My soul please take!

WHY JESUS IS BETTER THAN SANTA CLAUS...

Santa lives at the North Pole ... JESUS is everywhere.

Santa rides in a sleigh ...  JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

Santa comes but once a year ...  JESUS is an ever present help.

Santa fills your stockings with goodies ...  JESUS supplies all your needs.

Santa comes down your chimney uninvited ...  JESUS stands at your door and knocks, and then
enters your heart when invited.

You have to wait in line to see Santa ...  JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

Santa lets you sit on his lap ...  JESUS lets you rest in His arms.

Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is  "Hi little boy or girl, what's your name?" ...

JESUS knew our name before we were born.  Not only does He know our name,
He knows our address too. He knows our history and future and He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.

Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly ... JESUS has a heart full of love

All Santa can offer is HO HO HO ...  JESUS offers health, help and hope.

Santa says "You better not cry" ... JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you."

Santa's little helpers make toys ... JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts,
repairs broken homes and builds mansions.

Santa may make you chuckle but ... JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.

While Santa puts gifts under your tree ...  JESUS became our gift and died on a tree.... The cross.

We need to put Christ back in CHRISTmas, Jesus is still the reason for the season.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him
should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16


THE RIFLE
Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.
It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted so bad that year for Christmas.

We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we
could read in the Bible. So after supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead he bundled up and went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all the chores. didn't worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.

Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. "Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight."

I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in
the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. 

Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what.  Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up the big sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. 
I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. "Here, help me." The high sideboards! It had been
bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high sideboards on. 

When we had exchanged the sideboards Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood---the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?"

You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what? "Yeah," I said, "why?" 
"I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few
chips. They're out of wood, Matt." That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. 
We loaded the sled so high that began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. "What's in the little sack?" I asked. "Shoes. They're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy
too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split
before we could use it.  We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us. It shouldn't have been our concern. 

We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible,
then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?" "Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt. Could we come in for a bit?"

Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The
children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with match and finally lit the lamp. "We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children---sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out.
"We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said, then he turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring
enough in to last for awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up." 

I wasn't the same person when went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and,
much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks
and so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak. My heart swelled within me and joy filled my soul that I'd never known before. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when
it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord himself
has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never
thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it. 
Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes. 
Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the
kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their pa, and was glad that I still had mine. At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones  around again. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two older brothers and two older sisters were all married and had moved away. 

Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, "'May the Lord bless
you,' I know for certain that He will."  Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had done a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to
know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me
little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and started into town this morning to do just that. But on the way saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. So, Son, I spent the money for shoes and little candy for those children. I hope you understand." 
I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Just then the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children. For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life. 



THE TRUE MEANING OF THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS.

There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me. What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol  as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning. The surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ. 
Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit
- Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership and Mercy.
The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit - Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
Ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments. 
The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles Creed.

So there is your history for today. This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how that strange song became "a Christmas Carol" so I will pass this
on. 

The Cracked Pot
"A water bearer in India had two large pots,  each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck.  One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.  For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master's house. Of  course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.  "Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?" 
"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to  leak out all the way back to your master's house.  Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts,"  the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."  Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it somewhat. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so  again it apologized to the bearer for its failure. 

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side?  That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of  it.  I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them.  For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table.  Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this  beauty to grace his house."

The moral of this story:  Each of us has our own unique flaws.  We're all cracked pots. In this world, nothing goes to waste.  You may think like the cracked pot that you are  inefficient or useless in certain areas of your life, but somehow these flaws can turn out to be a blessing in disguise."  

Kind of makes ya proud of being a cracked pot.

 

THE SURGEON
"Tomorrow morning," the famous surgeon began, "I'll be opening your heart..."
"You'll find Jesus there!" the boy grinned. The surgeon looked up, annoyed.
"I'll CUT your heart open," he continued, "to see how much damage has been done..." "and when you Cut open up my heart, your gonna find Jesus in there." He smiled.

The surgeon looked to the parents, who sat quietly. "When I see how  much damage has been done, I'll suture your heart and chest back up and  there will be pain. Afterwards I'll plan what to do next." "Yep and you'll find Jesus in there. The Bible says He does. The songs all say He lives there. You'll find Him in my heart." He said this quietly now.  The surgeon suddenly stood up as HE had had enough of this. "I'll tell you what I'll find in your heart. "I'll find damaged muscle, low blood supply, and weakened vessels. And I'll find out if I can make you well."  "Okay. You'll find Jesus in there too.", the boy whispered with eyes downcast.

The surgeon left shaking his head. What had gotten into him he  wondered? Why was he determined to crush a young child's beliefs even though they weren't exactly his own. Even if any healing was (of course) going to be by his hands and not Jesus! He still did care a great deal, he just wasn't sure
why it had bothered him so. He decided he had faith in himself and not in much else and decided to shrug it off, he would fix the boy.

The surgeon sat in his office, recording his notes after the surgery, "...Damaged arteries, damaged pulmonary vein, damaged aorta, widespread muscle degeneration. No hope for transplant; No hope for cure. Therapy: Complete bed rest and Pain relief. Full care required. Prognosis: here he paused, "Death Imminent."   He stopped the recorder, but there was more to be said. There had to be more. Frustrated that he could not save the boy he shouted to the room ...  
"Hey! Why?" "Why did You do this?" "You're supposed to have put him here, so then its You who has put him in this pain. I thought I could help him!  I didn't want him to suffer! And You've cursed him to an early death. Normally, I should have been able to save him but nothing could have fixed this. Nothing! "Why?" He laid his head down on his desk for a silent moment. 
Quietly the Lord answered and said, "The boy, My little lamb, was Not meant to remain with you for long, for he is a part of My flock, and will forever be. Here, with me, he will no longer feel pain, and he will be comforted beyond what you could now imagine." "His parents will one day join him here, and they will know peace." 
The surgeon's tears were hot, but his anger and doubts were greater.  Although surprised to find his  question being answered, and not quite sure he really was hearing this he went on. "You ... you created that boy and You created that heart. He'll be dead any time. I have Never seen this much damage." "Why?" 
The Lord answered, "The boy, My little lamb, shall return to My flock, for he has done his best. I did not put My little lamb with your flock to lose Him but to retrieve another lost lamb, You." 
Shocked to silence, he  knew from the look of that heart that this had to be so. The surgeon wept.

From that moment the surgeon sat day and night beside the boy's bed;  the boy's parents quietly sat across from him. The boy awoke for a last few moments and in a choked whispered, avoiding the
surgeons eyes asked, "Did you cut open my heart?" 
"Yes, I did" said the surgeon as he reached out and brushed a small  wisp of hair from the boys forehead. Surprised and amazingly comforted by the incredibly gentle touch he looked up into a
kind face. "What did you find?" asked the boy as his eyes began to close and a hint of a smile
touched his lips.
"I found Jesus in there," said the surgeon. 

 

IN GOD WE TRUST
INTERESTING THAT A HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL CAN SEE THE PROBLEM, BUT OUR SOCIETY CANNOT.  IF THIS OFFENDS ANYONE, NO  APOLOGY IS OFFERED.    
Tennessee Football
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 McLeod

"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 life style," 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 worship religiously and praise the goddess "Mother Earth" and call it "ecology."

I can use literature, videos and presentations in the classroom that depicts 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 to ask HIM to Bless this event with safety and good sportsmanship, then Federal Case Law is violated.

This appears to be inconsistent at best, 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 inconsistent at best, 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."

One by one, the people in the stands bowed their heads, held hands with one another and began to pray.

They prayed in the stands. They prayed in the team huddles. They prayed at the concession stand and they prayed in the Announcer's Box!

The only place they didn't pray was in the Supreme Court of the United States of America- the Seat of "Justice" in the "one nation, under GOD."

Somehow, Kingston , Tennessee Remembered what so many have forgotten. We are given the Freedom OF Religion, not the Freedom FROM Religion. Praise GOD that HIS remnant remains!

Evangelism Resources
Evangelism Resources

For more info on sharing your faith with others, 
see the monthly columns written by 2 God fearing evangelists Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort!
Or better yet, check this TV listing guide to see if your satellite or cable TV provider airs the great new show called "Way of the Master" for these two fellows teaching people how to share their faith. If not, you can view the program on your computer at the TBN network website! www.TBN.org

  

 

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