Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Burning of the Money

Two men were out drinking one night. The first man said to his friend, "Watch this." He placed a five dollar bill over a candle and burned the money up.

"Oh yeah!" his friend replied. "Well watch this." He took a ten dollar bill out and lit it on fire.

The first man took all of the money out of his wallet and burned it. Then the second man did the same thing.

Soon the two men were withdrawing money from their bank accounts and burning it as fast as they could, until both were broke and destitute.

This is how we treat our souls and the gifts God has given us. We become drunk on earthly pleasures. Then we start destroying what is most valuable to us, slowly at first, but soon we cannot destroy our souls fast enough.

And no man does so alone. Because evilness wants to be shared, so it is in pairs and groups that we conspire to destroy all that God made holy.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Three Runners

Three runners were in the final moments of preparation for a race. Before the race began, a woman walked up to the first runner.

"It looks like you will lose this race," she told him. The man looked at his competition and his heart sank.

She said to the second runner, "You look like you will run very fast today." The man looked at his competition, and his confidence rose.

To the third runner she said, "The Lord is with you on this day. It is already decided that you will win, and that God will help you run faster than you have ever run before." The man did not look at his competition. Instead he looked to the heavens and his heart was filled.

The race started. The first runner ran slower than he had ever run before. The second runner ran fast because he was confident in his abilities. But the third runner ran faster than he had ever run in his life, because he knew for a fact that God had chosen him to win.

Criticism and degrading words can bring a man down, while encouragement will lift a man up. But the word of the Lord takes a man to new heights, allowing him to do things he never thought possible.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Today's Post

Today's post is up because of an inspiring story and blog I read today. Click Here for the story on Yahoo! Sports, and then click here to read Brian's Blog.

The Man in the Wheelchair

A disabled man had been refined to a wheelchair since birth. One day, a woman who had just lost her job was standing nearby him wailed, "I have lost my job! Now what will I do?" Then seeing him refined to his electric wheelchair, she said, "But I see the state that you are in, and I realize that things could be so much worse."

Being unable to speak, he typed into a computer these words, that were then spoken in an electronic voice.

"Ha!" the electronic voice said, as he typed. "Why do you pity me? When I was a small child, I received a wheelchair. 'I have legs!' I said to myself. Then when I was older, I received this machine that speaks for me. 'I have a voice!' I said to myself. Then when I was even older, I took my first ride on an airplane. 'I have wings!' I said to myself.

"Each day I wonder what new and wonderful gift God will give me.

"But you. You have real legs, but you don't use them. Instead of moving forward with your life, you stand there complaining. You have a real voice, but rather than using it to lift people up, you whine about your small problems. And you ignore the freedom that wings can give to you, to go anywhere and do anything is not a challenge to you. But you are ignorant of this.

"You stand there pitying me, but it is you whom I feel pity for. Because I have something you do not. I have eyes to see the blessings that God has given me throughout my life. But you are blind to all of your own."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

After the Coma

A man woke up from a coma after ten years. It was an amazing thing, so friends, family, and reporters gathered around to ask him questions.

"Are you angry for having missed so much of your life?" they asked him.

"No, I am not angry," he replied.

"Then you must be very happy because of this!" they said.

"No, I am not happy," he responded.

The people were confused by his responses, so they asked him, "Then what are you feeling?"

"I'm scared," the man said. "Before the coma, I lived a selfish life focused only on myself. But now I have lost ten years of my life. God obviously wants me to live for some reason, but I do not know what it is. So I am afraid because I must find that reason and then pursue it with all of the days I have remaining."

This was not something that the media wanted to hear. Nor were his friends and family happy with the answer he had given, so they all left him, grumbling amongst themselves.

But one reporter stayed behind. He approached the man and said, "That was a wise answer you gave. I believe there is something that God wants to do with my life too, but I do not know what it is. I am willing to give up my career to join you."

The man said to the reporter, "Are you afraid too?"

"Yes," the reporter replied.

"Then we will certainly do great things together," the man said.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The King of the Jungle

The lion said to himself, "I am the king of the jungle. There is nothing greater than me."

Then one day he came to the edge of his jungle and saw that a huge number of trees had been cut down and that his territory was now considerably smaller. But he did not know why, so he did not worry about it. "There is still nothing greater than me," he said to himself.

Not too much later he heard some of the other lions talking about seeing some new animal off in the distance that walked on two feet. "Well, it can't be greater than me," the lion thought to himself.

Then a few weeks after that, he fell into a deep pit and became trapped. He did not know who or what had created this pit, but the lion became scared. And he did not realize that he was not the most powerful thing on earth until the human lurked over the side of the pit with a rifle and killed the lion.

In the same way, men walk around thinking they are lords of the earth. They ignore the way God shapes our environment, the people who talk about the Lord and His power, and it is not until man is trapped and punished for his pride that he finally realizes his prideful mistake.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Three Sailors

"This rain is very heavy," said one sailor to his two friends. "I can barely see through it, but it looks as if the captain is yelling at us because he is angry."

His companion said, "I can't tell what the captain is saying, because the wind is too loud. But I do not think he is angry. I think he may be singing."

"No, no," said the third sailor, "Look at his face. It is hard to tell because this boat is moving so much, but I think he is afraid."

The entire time they debated, the captain yelled to them, "Hurry, men! Get down below where it is safe!" But the men focused so much on the small details of their captain that they completely ignored the storm raging around them.

It was not until the waves swept them all overboard and it was too late that they realized why he had been yelling at all.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Jesus' Tomb on the National Geographic Channel

This is not a typical parable post, but something that I felt compelled to comment on.

As I type this, I am watching a special called Jesus' Tomb I recorded on the National Geographic Channel. At one point, the narrator says, "The disciples may have had something to hide. As it says in Matthew 28:13-15, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away...And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.'"

As soon as I heard this, I got angry. I have a lot of respect for National Geographic, and to hear them adjust the gospel of Matthew just to create controversy infuriated me!

Here is what Matthew 28:11-15 says to put it back into context. After the angel appears and frightens the guards that the Jewish priests had put in place specifically to guard Jesus' body from the disciples, "some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, "You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.' If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day."

I know and accept the fact that many TV shows and movies like to take Christian text out of context in order to create controversy and gain ratings. But this was a great example of our own holy text being used to confuse the nominally and non-religious and make even believers question their faith.

When you use parts of the Bible, do so to honor God and to help your brothers and sisters. To do otherwise is a cruelty greater than almost any other. God does not want to be separate from us. It's something equivalent to spiritual kidnapping.

The Confused Tourist and the Two Languages

An American tourist wandered into a town in Mexico. Two men approached him.

The first said in Spanish, "You are not from around here, are you? Come to my house, and I will feed you. You can stay with me at no cost. Because I want you to feel comfortable in my homeland."

But the foreigner could not understand what this man said, because he did no know or understand Spanish.

Then the second man spoke in English, "Come with me, my friend. I know where you can eat for only ten dollars. And a place where you can sleep for only fifty dollars. And I will be your guide for only forty dollars."

Because the American could understand this, he agreed to these terms. And rather than enjoying hospitality with a friend for free, he paid one hundred dollars to a thief.

So when someone comes asking about God, if you do not speak in a language that they can understand, you will drive them away. And then they are easily led astray by thieves and liars who can speak to them of earthly things they can understand.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The White Christmas

Two men sat in a pew at church. One prayed to the Lord, “God, give us a white Christmas this year. The beauty of the snow You send always reminds me of the glory of Your son who came to save us from our sins.”

The other man prayed, “O merciful Lord, do not let it snow this Christmas. So many of Your people are homeless this year, and I do not want them to freeze or suffer. The mercy You show to the poor always reminds me of the glory of Your son who came to save us from our sins.”

On Christmas there was snow. Not because the Lord cared more for the first man’s prayers, nor because He did not want to show mercy to the poor and homeless. The Lord allowed it to snow because the snow would bring out the best in both men.

For if the snow did not come, the first man would not feel close to God, and the second man would stay home forgetting about the poor. But because it did snow, the first man felt the sense of peace and holiness he desired, and the poor were shown mercy when the second man went out in the cold to care for the homeless.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Tree with the Beautiful Branch

A hollow, burned out old tree trunk stood on a farmer’s land. But out of the battered and scarred hulk shot forth a vibrant branch, full of blossoms.

Some people came and saw the tree. They said to one another, “Let’s cut away the old trunk, so that we can better enjoy this beautiful branch.”

“You fools!” cried the farmer. “If you cut down the trunk, the branch will die too!”

But they did not listen to him. They chopped down the tree and stuck the beautiful branch into the dirt. But without roots, it quickly withered and died. And the people stared stupidly at it, trying to understand what had happened.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Three Fires

There were three fires along a beach one night. A man who was walking along the beach could see all three.

As he came upon the first one, it was a roaring bonfire fifteen feet tall. Several people were dancing around it. “Join us!” they called wildly. “No other fire burns as large or as bright as ours.” But the man passed on.

He came to the second fire. It was a smaller fire around which some people talked amongst themselves. “Join us,” they said, “for our fire is comfortable and peaceful, and you can rest here with us.” But the man passed on.

He came to the third fire. It had burned down and was now just a pile of embers and hot coals. “Join us,” the people said quietly, “for our fire is old and small, but it is good for cooking and you can still be warmed by it.” But the man passed on again, and soon he was far down the beach.

And as the night grew cold around him, he found he had no warmth and no friends to be with.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Lighthouse

A lighthouse stood alone on a point, guiding ships away from the dangerous rocks below. Every once in awhile, the huge light bulb would burn out. When this happened, one of the people manning the lighthouse would quickly run and fetch a new bulb, so that the light would not be out for long.

So we are the same way. Some people are called to be lighthouses, shining the light of the Lord upon the nations. Some of us are called to man the lighthouse, supporting it so that the light does not go out. For if the lighthouse were unmanned, the light would go out forever.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Three Gifts of Money

A generous man went to three friend and he gave them each a bit of money.

The first man took his money and threw it in the river.

The second man gambled with his money and lost it all.

The third, upon seeing a child starving, bought the child a meal.

When the generous man saw his friends the next day, he asked them each what they had done with their gifts.

After hearing what the first man had done, he said, "You fool! You are no friend of mine!"

After hearing what the second man had done, he said, "You wasteful man! You are no friend of mine!"

After hearing what the third man had done, he said, "Ah! You took a gift from me and made it into an even greater gift for someone else. You are no friend of mine. You are now my brother."

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Magician's Engagement

A famous magician who had toured all over the world and was known by all was at home one evening with his girlfriend. He said to her, "Watch this." Then seemingly out of thin air, he pulled a small box holding a diamond ring. He opened up the box and said, "I love you. Will you marry me?"

Did the woman reply, "Show me the trick again," or, "Do another magic trick"? No. She accepted his love and married the one who loved her.

So why do you ask to see miracles again? Why do you say, "Do another magic trick, then I will believe." Did you not pay attention when the Lord proved He loved you and wanted you to be close to Him?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Murderer's Execution

A man was to be executed for killing another man and leaving the dead man's wife widowed and his children fatherless. On the date of the execution, friends and family members for both the murderer and the victim assembled to watch the murderer die. Some hurled insults. Some wept.

Then just before the execution was to take place, the son of the victim stood up and cried, "Do not kill this murderer! Kill me instead!"

So the innocent boy was placed in a noose and hanged to save the wicked.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Injury and the Sabbath Law

A man loved God very much, and always lived according to God's law. One Sabbath, his son was outside playing. The boy slipped and fell down a hill, breaking his leg.

The boy screamed out in pain and his father came running. Seeing his son at the bottom of the hill, the man had a sudden crisis. He wanted to help his son, but to carry the boy up the hill would break the Sabbath law of refraining from work.

So the man called to his son, "I cannot break God's law. Just wait until nightfall and then I will come to get you."

For several hours the child lay there in anguish. Then when darkness fell the man rushed to his son, put him in the car, and drove him to the hospital.

After the doctors had set the boy's leg, he returned home with his father, but things were never the same. From then on the boy hated his father, hated God's law, and hated God.

What is more important than giving mercy to those in need? No law should cause you to ignore caring for your brothers and sisters. Not man's law, nor God's law. For to ignore your neighbor in the name of the Lord is to curse your neighbor, yourself, and God.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Two Women of God

A child was raised to know and love God since she was an infant.

At five years old, she never asked what God wanted of her, because she already knew. So she faithfully prayed and worshiped Him every week.

At fifteen years old, she never asked what God wanted of her, because she already knew. So she faithfully prayed and worshiped Him every week.

At fifty years old, she never asked what God wanted of her, because she already knew. So she faithfully prayed and worshiped Him every week.

A different girl was raised in a household that did not know God, nor did her parents ever take the time to teach her about Him.

At five years old, she wondered what the other children were talking about when they spoke of God. She asked questions, seeking to understand this new idea. But she did not pray and she did not worship Him.

At fifteen years old, she read scripture, asked questions, and tried to wrap her mind around the concept of a being who controlled the universe, but whom she could not see. Sometimes she thought she believed, and sometimes she laughed at the idea, and sometimes she wept because she did not understand. And still she did not pray and she did not worship Him.

At fifty years old, after decades of questions, study, and confusion, she realized that she had come to believe in God and to love the hope He gave to her. She felt inadequate in prayer and clumsy in worship of Him, but in her joyous frenzy she went to all of her friends who were also confused by faith and God. Without judging them, she spent all of her remaining years explaining her questions, and how they had been answered. And many of these people too came to feel the joy that she experienced and came to know the Lord, though not all.

When these two women both died, the Lord looked at them both and said, “I have loved you both for your whole lives.” Then to the first woman he said, "You have loved Me and worshiped Me, but you did not go out to share the joy that you have known in Me. You became comfortable with Me, and took Me for granted.” Then turning to the second woman, He said, “But you did not know Me, and through all of your questions, I was there. And through all of your doubt, I was with you. And when you finally came to know Me late in life, you worshiped Me best of all by sharing Me with others. So for you, I have many treasures, because although you have not loved Me as long, you have loved Me best.”

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Feast

A man laid out a great feast and threw a lavish party for his guests. Hundreds of people came to the man’s party, but all of the guests had eaten before they arrived, so they looked at the man’s table of food, turned up their noses and left.

At first the man called after them, asking them to come back. But few returned, so the man packed up all the food, put it in his vehicle and took it down to a homeless shelter. About fifty people were at the shelter, and upon seeing the amount of food that the man had, how fine it was, and knowing that they had friends starving all over town, they immediately ran to tell their friends. Soon there were more than five hundred people at the shelter, and each made sure that his friend had enough before he ate his fill.

In so doing, everyone was full, and all were grateful to the man for providing such a fine banquet.

So the Lord’s table is full, but if you take too much from the world, you will turn up your nose even when He offers you the greatest gifts. But those who are poor of spirit and possessions and hungering for what He has to provide, will eat their fill and bring others to the table as well.

Thoughts on Today's Post

The one I'm posting today is merely a spin on a parable Jesus told. The main difference is that this post is focused not on the rejection by the faithful, but on the fact that the poor in spirit, after they have found hope, want to share it with others they know who are poor in spirit as well. I find that when I was a nominally religious person and I finally found truth, hope, and joy in God, I wanted to share that more than I ever believed possible. But those who have always had the faith that I lacked for so long...well, it often seems that they have become accustomed to it, take it for granted, and judge those of us who don't understand yet. I think we all need to remember and hold dear that experience of finally coming to understand that God really does love us and wants us close to Him.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Worshipper and His Wife

In a town, there was a small house of worship that followed old traditions very strictly. Only men were allowed to worship in the holy place. Women were strictly forbidden from entering.

So each weekend, on the day set aside for worship, a man and his wife would walk down to the holy place. The man would say goodbye to his wife and enter the holy place, where he would spend more than two hours in prayer and meditation, thinking on the will of God.

During the time of worship, his wife would go across the street and into the orphanage. She would spend more than two hours playing with the children, reading them stories, caring for the sick ones, and working with many of the other wives whose husbands were in worship.

When they were old, they both passed away and stood before God. The man said, “Lord, I have worshipped You faithfully in Your holy house every weekend for my whole life.”

The Lord said, “You have ignored My holy place for your entire life. But your wife has been with Me every weekend of her life.”

“But God,” cried the man, “I went to Your house of worship!”

“You walked past My house. Your prayer and meditation were a blessing to you and were nothing to me. But the care your wife showed to My little ones was a blessing to many and true worship of Me.”

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Boy and His Father

A boy’s father was called by the principal of the boy’s school. The principal said that the boy was in trouble for fighting, so the boy’s father asked his son, “Why were you fighting?”

His son said, “Another boy said you were stupid.”

The father appreciated that his son stood up for him, but he told his son, “I do not want you fighting.”

The next day, the boy was again in trouble for fighting. His father said, “I thought I told you that I did not want you to fight.”

“But a boy at school said that he could beat you up!” the boy stated.

“That may be, but I do not want you to fight.”

The next day it happened again, and the father asked his son, “Why does this keep happening?”

And his son told him, “Today was the worst of all. A boy called you a liar!”

Then the father said, “Son, I love you. I don’t want you to fight, because there is always a better solution than fighting. If another boys says something bad about me, rather than fighting him, I want you to invite him to come home with you. That way he can meet me and know the truth.”

In the same way, if someone disparages the Lord, He does not want someone to fight on His behalf. It only drives the person away from God. If someone curses God, God is not angry with that person. Instead He yearns for his sheep to return to the flock, so He calls us to invite the lost to meet Him. Only in that way can anyone know the truth.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Widower and the Donkey

A man had sat by his wife’s bed for several months as she became more and more ill. Finally, one day the woman passed away. In grief, the man fled from the room and ran through the fields.

“Why?” he cried out to God. “Why did You take my wife from me?”

He saw a donkey nearby that was tied to a cart, though his master was nowhere in sight. In anger, the man yelled at the donkey, “Why do you pull your master’s cart, you stupid animal? Don’t you know that you will only die after a long life of servitude?”

The donkey replied, “That is true. But in my life I have always been very happy. Each day, after a long day of work, my master rubs me down and gives me fresh hay to eat.”

“What good is that?” the widower responded. “Hay is worthless. You would be better off if you were free. You could make something of your life.”

“What good could I do if I were free?” the donkey replied. “If I were free, who would pull the cart? If I were free, where would I get such lovely hay to eat? If I were free, who would give my master’s children rides around the stable?”

“But there is nothing that greets us but death. I just sat for months next to my wife, only to have her die in my arms,” the widower moaned.

“So you are free now of that burden,” said the donkey, “but you are far worse off than I. Do you not realize that each of us is a beast of burden? But when I am ill, my master lightens my load or lets me rest. So too will your Master.

“Go home to your family and friends. You will find that each bears some of the weight that you cannot until you are ready again. When you are ready, you must take up the cart again, because it is only through your work in life that you find the things that matter most. So the time you spent with your wife near the end will become a joy in your life, even though her death is so sad.”

The man wept openly at this, and asked desperately, “But why did God take her from me?”

The donkey answered quietly, “Perhaps it is because He is a loving God. He loves your wife, so He took her away from her pain. He loves you too, which is why He broke the axle of my wagon today. Because if my master had not had to go home to fetch a spare today, who knows what your grief would have driven you to.

“And the Lord loves me, because I know my master will return with a carrot and a kind word. Now go home in both grief and joy, and be greeted with a carrot and a kind word.”

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Injured Sons

A man received a call alerting him that his son had been attacked and badly wounded. The man rushed to the hospital and saw that his son’s face was horribly scarred.

“My beautiful son!” he cried. “What have they done to you?”

In a rage, he found the man who had committed the crime and killed him.

A second man received a call alerting him that his son had been badly wounded in a similar attack. He rushed to the hospital and saw his son’s face too was horribly scarred.

“My beautiful son!” he cried. “What have they done to you?”

In a fury, he applied to medical school and studied each day so that he might become the best plastic surgeon possible. The man went on not only to repair his own son’s face, but the faces of many other men’s sons as well.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


This November, my son, who is two years, old began telling me in his broken English, "Jesus...comin'...front door." And when I said, "Jesus is going to come through our front door?" he said, "Yeah!" in his high-pitched, excited voice.

I thought it was so sweet.

And I didn't believe him.

But he keeps saying this and I get more and more excited. Especially with Christmas approaching. And the idea of Jesus walking through my front door got me thinking about the Second Coming.

Will Jesus come again...physically, I mean? And if so, will he come as an infant and grow up, or will he come as an adult and immediately start his work? Is he already here?!

Or have we completely misinterpreted the message? Is the Second Coming supposed to be happening every day inside of us? Are we each called to be the reincarnation of Christ by trying to live as Christ instructed us? Is that what was really meant?

If we live our lives believing that we are to each be the Second Coming, not only do we live a better life, but we create a better world as well. And though we can and should hope that Christ will come bodily, if we live like this we expect that our lives must be a fulfillment of his words.

So many believe that the Second Coming will be the stereotypical Armageddon. But to imagine a world in which everyone lives their life as if they are the fulfillment of the Second Coming is to imagine a paradise...not an apocalypse. Christ's message was one of hope through love, not hope through destruction. His message was acceptance, assistance, and care. Not pestilence, plague, and war.

We are interested in mortal annihilation because that is our nature. But Christ was interested in immortal salvation, because that was his nature.

If that was Christ's nature, why do are we all anticipating (and desiring!) a holy war to accompany his arrival? Why shouldn't we expect Christ to allow us to choose his way or an earthly path, as he did during his ministry and testimony?

And why shouldn't he walk through my front door and greet me with love?

Each time somebody comes to my house now, I can't help but think about what my son said. And I try to look for Christ and God's word in each person who enters. And I have to remind myself that I too must be Christlike to them.

Christmas and advent are times to remember, "Jesus...comin'!" So prepare for his Second Coming in your heart, mind, and spirit.

And watch your front door.

The Poor Country’s Students

A rich country’s students take their education for granted. They complain of the time they must spend, the work that they must do, and the lectures they must endure.

But the poor country’s students, having endured famine or bloody upheavals, embrace their education. They know that it alone can be their salvation, and is something they must hold onto and never release, for only through education can they be free.

So the salvation of the Lord shared with the wealthy and successful often falls on deaf ears, while those who have suffered and those who are in need of hope hear the words to be as clear and crisp as a mountain stream. Man is more blessed by hope than wealth.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Foreigner in India

An American man went to India, and when he stepped off the plane, he looked around at the throngs of people and saw that none looked like him. At that moment he felt that he was truly in a foreign land.

Then a man approached him and asked in English, “May I help you with your bags?” Upon hearing his native tongue, the man felt more comfortable immediately.

“Thank you,” the man said, handing his bags over. The baggage handler took him out to the street and to the line of cabs. He chose a cab at random and loaded the man’s bags in the trunk.

The American was terrified when he realized that he was about to be abandoned by the only man he had met who spoke English. But to his surprise, the cab driver said clearly, “Where may I take you too, sir?”

Relieved and surprised, the American told him which hotel he was staying at. The American and the cab driver had a lively conversation all the way to the hotel. When he was dropped off, he was still nervous about being in a strange culture, but not nearly as nervous as he had been just thirty minutes before.

As he approached the front desk, the man behind the counter said, “Good day, sir. How may I help you?” and once again the man was put at ease.

By the time the man’s trip was over, he was not only comfortable with the Indian people and their culture, but the personal care and attention they had paid to him had inspired him to go back to his own country and do the same for both visiting foreigners and citizens.

So this is also the way you are to treat those who visit the house of God. They feel like foreigners, and they fear your strange sayings and beliefs. But if from the very first moment they hear a pleasant voice and are made comfortable with the people before you try to share the word of the Lord with them, then they will be willing to listen to your beliefs and may grow to love them as their own. But if you assault them with teachings, beliefs, and words that they do not understand, you will have driven them and all they know away forever.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Teacher and the Student

A wise teacher shared a piece of wisdom with his student. The student was so amazed by his teacher’s words that he went out and shared it with everyone. Soon, people began to come to the student seeking his wisdom.

The student, now drunk on his own fame, abandoned his teacher to share his own wisdom with these new students. But soon, his well of knowledge expired, because he did not have the wisdom of his teacher to support him.

In desperation, he went back to his teacher and confessed what he had done. His teacher said to him, “Did you really think I did not know what you were doing? I knew that you had taken my words and passed them off as your own. But why should I care? Does a man truly own the words that come out of his mouth? God inspires men, and men inspire other men to turn to God. That is how it has always been.”

“But what should I do about all of these new students?” the man cried out.

“What do you think you should do?” the teacher responded.

“I should tell them the truth and dismiss them.”

“You fool! Men have come to you wanting to learn. Would you send them away empty handed? Bring them to me. I will share what I know with you and with them, and together we will create teachers for future generations. For no starving man should be turned away by the baker. And no man who seeks knowledge should be turned away by a teacher.”

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Tattered Book

A poor man carried his Holy Book into worship and the leader saw that it was tattered to the point that the book was nearly useless. Seeing that this congregant had so faithfully sought the word of the Lord, the leader took a new Holy Book down from his shelf and gave it as a gift to the man. The man wept with joy at the gift.

So God, when seeing a person who has been worn out from faithfully seeking His word shall give that person a new life as a gift. Each of us is too poor to afford such a thing on our own. In that gift the Lord’s word and will are ever present.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Judge

Two men were brought before a judge. The first man had stolen $10,000 in jewels, and was using the money to buy and sell drugs. The judge, on hearing what he had done, sentenced the man to five years in prison.

The second man had stolen $200 in food, and was using the food to feed his family and his neighbor’s family because they were starving. The judge, on hearing what he had done, sentenced the man to five years in prison.

Which man’s sentence was worse?

One might say that it was the man who had stolen the food, but his sentence was the easiest, because he knew that he had broken the law, but that he had done so for noble intensions.

Others might say that it was the man who stole the jewels, but his sentence was still not the worst, because although he had broken the law, he was paying for his crime.

The worst sentence was reserved for the judge, because although he upheld the law, he did so without mercy or justice. So in the end, his sentence was five thousand times 5 years.

Seek mercy and justice in everything, lest you bear the greatest sentence of all.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Doughnut

Three men went into a bakery. On one of the shelves was the most beautiful doughnut, and each man desired it.

The first man said, “Wait! Before any one of us takes that doughnut, we should know how it was cooked and what it was cooked in. What is it made of? Is there a filling? We must know that it is good and proper before we eat it, even though it looks very good indeed.”

The second man said, “No. There is a much greater issue than that. We must truly examine it from all sides. We must contemplate the doughnut’s size relative to its hole. It must be compared against all other doughnuts.”

“No,” said the third man, “both of your ideas are fine, but we must first determine why this doughnut is greater than all others before it. We must be sure in our argument so that we can tell others about it and make them believe us.”

Just then the baker took the doughnut off the shelf and handed it to another customer.

“What are you doing?!” the three men yelled.

“While you were arguing, this man bought the doughnut.”

“And it is delicious!” the customer said, as he took a bite.

Stop arguing and eat the doughnut.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Two Towns

There was a fearsome king who sent a message to one of his towns saying, “I am coming to your town. Prepare the way for me.” The townspeople feared the king, so they sent all their workers out to fix the road and repair the potholes to prepare for his arrival. When the king arrived, a festival was thrown to welcome him, and he was overjoyed by them, saying, “You are my greatest subjects!”

Then the king sent a message to another town saying, “I am coming to your town. Prepare the way for me.”

The townspeople feared the king, so they said amongst themselves, “If we do not fix the road, his caravan will not be able to make it to our town,” so they did not repair the road.

Finally, the day came and the king and his entire entourage arrived at the town’s gate. The people called out, “How did you get here? We did not fix the road.”

The king replied, “You wicked people! Am I not the king! I filled in every hole in the road with the bodies of my enemies. I made my own path smooth. I know that you did not fix my path because you fear me. How much more shall you fear me now that you have set yourselves against me and know what I do to my enemies!”

Make straight the path of the Lord and prepare for His coming. For He shall come, and when He does, it is our decision whether he arrives in love or fury.

Today's Post

I'm posting a new one today, that is a bit similar to an earlier one, with just a little bit of a different take on one of my favorite statements from the Bible: "Make straight the path of the Lord."

The post after that one has a much lighter, more humorous spin on parables. I hope you like them both, and I hope each speaks to you in a different way.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Man with the Wicked Son

There was a man who had ten sons. His youngest was hotheaded and rebellious who ran away from home when he was fifteen years old. When the police brought him home, the man hugged the boy tight and kissed him. But the man’s neighbors told him, “You should disown him, for he has disowned you.”

“No,” the man said, “I love my son.”

When the boy was sixteen, he was caught in a robbery while on drugs. Each Saturday the man went to visit his son in Juvenile Hall. But his neighbors said, “Look what has become of your son. You should disown him as we told you to do a year ago.”

“I will not,” the man said. “I love my son.”

When the boy was nineteen, the son killed a man and was sentenced to life in prison. The man’s neighbors said, “See! We told you. Now you must disown him.”

“Never!” the man said.

“But you have nine good sons. Why have you spent so much time on this wicked son? He has brought you nothing but pain.”

“I will never turn from any of my sons. If I do not love and forgive my son, how can I ever expect God to forgive my own sins.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Men in the Grove of Trees

Three men were in a grove of trees. One said, “This tree’s fruit is delicious. Come and try it.”

The second man said, “Never! My tree’s fruit is the best of all.”

Then the third said, “You are both wrong. My tree bears the best fruit.”

Then a traveler approached and each man called out to him, “Come and try my fruit, for it is better than the others.”

“You stupid men!” the traveler yelled. “Do you know nothing at all? You are standing in a grove, but each of you are eating from the same tree. Your fruit is exactly the same!”

But the three men ignored him. They would not listen to common sense, so why should they be expected to understand wisdom?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Man and the Walled Town

There was a walled town, and the townspeople did not want to pay taxes to their foreign king. Instead, knowing that the king would punish them, they decided to use the money to build up their walls, for they were very afraid.

But one poor man saw that the road leading to their town had not been well maintained. He said to the townspeople, “Shouldn’t we spend our money to make the road smooth? I think more good can come of that than of building up our walls. Besides, the king is so powerful, even our stronger walls will not be able to hold him back.”

“You fool,” they said to him, “that is the road the king will come down when he seeks to destroy us. Do not make it easier for him!”

But despite their warnings, the poor man took all he had and spent all of his money, efforts, and time to fix the road by himself.

When the king finally came to punish the townspeople, they closed the gates to him, and he yelled to the people hiding behind the walls, “Why have you wicked people refused to pay the taxes you owe to me? Instead you have spent that money to build up your walls and this fine road. Did you not know that I would have done these things for you had you been loyal?”

But the townspeople cried, “We spent none of your money on that road. This man did all of that.” Then they threw the poor man out of the gate, hoping this sacrifice might appease their king. In fear, he fell at the king’s feet.

The king looked at the poor man and said, “Did you do what these people say?”

“Yes,” the man replied, trembling.

The king lifted the man to his feet and said, “You have made the road smooth and straight for me, while these evil ones have spit on my name. You shall be as loved and honored as if you were my own son.”

Then the king turned to his armies and said, “Destroy this town. Leave not one brick standing nor one person alive.” But the poor man was given a robe of scarlet and crown and led away as a prince.

Back from India

I'm back from India, so I'll try to do a better job of posting on a regular basis. Sorry for a little bit of laziness on my part.

It was good to be there, because I like the people we work with so much, but it is so nice to be back in Kansas City!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Things We Don't Really Need

I am in my hotel room as I try to work to get on a plane back to India. Actually, my parents are trying to help me with this, as my cell phone does not stay connected all the time in India. So it is 9:30pm Saturday here and it is 10:00am Saturday in Kansas City.

There are more than 7.5 million people in the city of Chennai, but few people in the US have ever heard of it. According to Wikipedia Chennai is the 34th largest metropolitan area, but the numbers they show are too low. It's the 4th biggest city in India.

No explanation can do it justice. No description can explain how many people there are, the squalor that some live in, the pollution, the traffic, or the joy that many of them find in life.

As Americans (which I know most readers of this blog to be), we take for granted everything that we have. We feel that we "need" things that we don't actually need. Here is an extreme example: You don't NEED toilet paper.

Think about that for a minute. TP is cheap, right? So everyone should have it. Not true. In fact, in Chennai and a large part of the third world, they don't use it. They use their left hand which they then clean in a bucket of water. Sounds disgusting? It is. But it is something that we think we need, but we don't. think of all the things that you would give up BEFORE you gave up using toilet paper and started using your left hand!!!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Queen and the Dream

Having a terrible dream, a queen feared for her husband’s life, for if the king were dead, the country might crumble. She sought answers in the stars, in the telling of dreams, and in signs.

She asked her favorite astrologer, “Will my husband live?” and he replied, “Yes, he will live.” So she was pleased.

But on his way back to the castle, the king’s parade inadvertently interfered with when a beggar cut across the path. In anger, the king kicked the poor man mercilessly. As the king beat him and cursed him, the lowly beggar asked the Lord, “Protect me, God.”

So a lightening bolt came out of the clear blue sky and struck the king dead. And the beggar was spared.

The queen, seeing in this a failure by her astrologer, had him killed. After all this had occurred, the country fell to its foe.

The Lord looks over all of His subjects and cares for them. But the weak and defenseless hold a special place to Him. Those who call out to the Lord shall find Him. And the powerful who defy the Lord shall find He destroys their line and all around them.

Monday, November 5, 2007

From India

I have not posted in several days, because I left on Friday for Chennai, India, where we have our overseas office. This is my third time to Chennai, so I’m quite used to it, but I haven’t been during the rainy season. The streets are flooding, and it’s warm and humid. Which is so different than the rainless, hot, and humid days I’ve experienced in April when I’ve been here.

Anyway, my posts will be fewer for the next two weeks because of the fact that I’m working halfway around the world, and I'm working really long days. It is so interesting to be in the heart of the Hindu nation and to be working side by side with Hindus, Christians, and Muslims.

There are only two sights that are worth seeing here in Chennai, and one is quite interesting:

1. The Mylapore Temple - a beautiful painted temple with more than 10,000 Hindu statues on it.

2. The San Tome Cathedral - the cathedral in which the apostle Thomas (Doubting Thomas) was buried.

When Jesus sent the apostles forth to spread the Good News, Thomas was sent to India, and there is apparently a cave nearby where Thomas lived (I haven't seen it, and nobody has ever mentioned it except I read about it on a website once last year). Thomas was killed very near to the cathedral. His body was buried and marked by the Christian converts and when the cathedral was built, it was built over the place he was buried. His body has sense been moved to Rome.

Anyway, it’s amazing to be halfway around the world in a country that most people consider very non-Christian and to be in the same city where one of the twelve disciples was buried.

And it made me think of the doubt that we all sometimes experience. The times when we ask ourselves whether we truly believe in something real or if we just want it to be real so badly. I do believe in God and that Jesus was His son and the Messiah. But sometimes I find the logical part of my brain asking me tough questions to prove my beliefs. And that is difficult because faith is belief without proof.

India has actually given me a little bit of insight into this. When we send a project to our Chennai team, they often come back and say, "I have doubts." The first few times this happened, I worried that they meant they doubted whether they could do the project or not. Not true. What they meant was, "I have questions." But because of the way they are taught, they often substitute the word 'doubts' for 'questions.'

Doubts are perceived negatively, while questions are perceived as a positive part of our intellect. So perhaps when I worry about 'doubts' I have related to faith, maybe I ought to consider that 'questions' is a better way to look at the ideology and beliefs upon which my faith is founded.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Ship in the Storm

Two boats were upon the sea when a powerful storm blew up. The first boat was small and crewed by only one man. He fought to keep his boat righted in the storm, but it was his strength against the gale of the hurricane, and he was capsized by the waves.

The second boat had a full crew, all knowing and doing their jobs. They pulled down the sales and battened down each hatch. Despite the fury of the waves, they could not overcome the team of men. And when the storm had passed, not one man was lost.

So one man alone is not safe in a storm, but when surrounded by friends the full gale cannot reach him.

God wanted man to be surrounded in friendship, so He made for Adam a companion in Eve, and when He saw Adam and Eve together it was good. So too, the son gathered disciples to him, knowing that alone he would not accomplish his full mission after his death.

Even the sun is not meant to be alone, for it has gathered the planets to it.

In fellowship, a man is like a thick tree trunk that cannot be easily cut down.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Right of Naming

A man had a vision in which God visited him.

God said to the man, “In the beginning, I named Adam. Then I told Adam to name all the plants and animals. Today a father names his child, and a child names his dog.

“Until the child names it, that dog is merely a dog. But once named, it is the child’s dog. Until a baby is named by its father, it is merely a baby. But once named, the father has stamped the child as his.

“In the same way, I have named you, for you are mine. The name your father gave you is your earthly name, but that is not the name I gave you. Nor is your father’s earthly name the one that I gave to him.”

Then the man said to God, “Tell me my name, Lord.”

But God replied, “I will tell no one the name that I have given to them until men stop trying to name Me. For I do not belong to men. All of their names…Allah, God, Yahweh…are intended to possess Me. But I cannot be possessed. Even Moses wanted to know my name so that he too might possess Me. But I told him, ‘I AM who I AM.’ No man on earth and no angel in heaven can ever possess Me.

“Be at peace and know that I have named you. Do not worry about your name, and do not worry about My name. For both will be made known to you at the end.”

Be possessed by Him, but do not try to possess Him.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Good Question from a Friend

I had a friend ask me a question about my very first post, and I thought it was difficult to answer, but a wonderful issue to explore.

He wrote, "In your first post you touched on Jesus being baptized. I just read that the other day and it talks about the "Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him" do you read this that until then he did not have the spirit of god with him, on him? obviously this is when he started his ministry, and had lived the life of a carpenter prior, but was he really just a human who happened to be God's some conceived by the virgin mary before this point? just thoughts..."

This is one of those questions that can't be truly answered, so all I am doing is giving it my own shot, so here is my (condensed) response:

"It's true that this is the point at which Jesus begins his adult ministry. He did have some kind of ministry as a child, but we don't know a lot about it, or about the time in between.

I personally think that the point of the Spirit descending upon Jesus is the Lord being proud of his son for getting ready to do his duty. The voice of God speaks, and I think it's the only time in the New Testament that God speaks other than the visions in Revelation (I might be wrong on that), and God says, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." That's a statement you say when you are a proud father. How could there be any Father who was ever more proud of His son? So I think God was always with him, but at this point, His son was taking on the job that he had been created for. And the Lord saw that it was good."

I am of the opinion that Jesus was human. I could get into an argument over the trinity, but what does that ultimately accomplish. That's the problem we have faced in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam for centuries. We argue over the minutiae and ignore the big picture...that we are to worship the Lord God Almighty in all that we do, and that everything comes from Him.

I have a son, and although he is still only a toddler, he does things that make me so proud. But if he told me, as an adult, "Dad, it's time for me to do what the Lord has called me to do," I think I would fall down in praise and say, "This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

I know...pride can be a sin...but it doesn't have to be. Pride can also be a wellspring of joy.

Special thanks to my friend who asked me this wonderful question.

The Mountain and the Heart

God uses the greatest amount of pressure, force, and time to create each mountain. Yet only the smallest forces are required to destroy it: wind, rain, and sand. Only God can create a mountain, and only He may destroy it.

But the barriers that we throw up in our hearts, we do so with the smallest amount of pressure and resistance, and in such short amounts of time. Yet it takes the greatest amount of force to tear those barriers down, because we are such stubborn people.

Be careful that you do not put up barriers to God, for though He can destroy them as easily as He can a mountain, you must come to God of your own accord.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Father and His Three Sons

A father had three sons. The firstborn honored his father, but he was stubborn and obstinate. The second had a good heart and loved his father, but he was easily led astray. The third was as loyal a son as any father has ever seen, but as a brother he was hateful and often cursed his own blood.

Many came to the man, saying, “You should cast out your stubborn and obstinate son,” or, “Stop allowing your wayward son to return to you,” or, “Your hateful son will be your downfall.”

But the father only replied, “They are my sons, and I love them all.”

Today's Post

Okay, I'm going to post my next parable, and it does not come right out and say what it is about. My hope is that someone reading it will want to leave a comment about what they think it says. I know what is intended, but the power of a parable is that the reader (or the person who hears it), must interpret for him or herself.

So if you have a question about its meaning, or you want to see if you can decipher the meaning, please post a comment about it. I love reading comments!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The King and the Cobbler

The king looks at his sons running around his feet and wonders, ‘Which one will kill me when I am old?’

The cobbler looks at his sons running around his feet and wonders, ‘Which one will care for me when I am old?’

The king wishes he were the cobbler, and the cobbler wishes he were a king.

Every man wishes for what he does not have. Very few wish for the right things.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Bar Owner

A man owned a bar, and each day many people would visit to drink his beer and to enjoy themselves.

But each day a small group of people would gather outside the bar and hurl insults at the man. “You wicked man!” they would yell. “The people who come here might drink your beer and become drunk.”

The bar owner would greet the mockers kindly and invite them in, saying, “Come in and see for yourself. Have a taste of the beer I have to offer. I think you might enjoy it.”

“Never,” the crowd would respond in protest, then walk away. Each day this happened, and each day the result was the same.

Until the end of his days, the Bar Owner was surrounded by many friends. Though a few became drunk and uncontrollable, most drank in moderation and were friendly with their brothers.

But the crowd of mockers were never happy. They remained miserable each day the bar was open out of fear that they might become drunk on his beer.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Two Fields of Corn

Two farmers had fields next to one another, both full of corn stalks.

One farmer feared that his stalks of corn would be broken if the local children played in his field, so he took great measures to frighten them and yell at them so that they stayed away from his land.

The other farmer enjoyed watching the children play, so he encouraged them to play amongst his corn, even though they would sometimes break a stalk or two.

When it came time to harvest, the farmer who had frightened the children away found that most of his crop had been picked clean by crows and by vermin.

The farmer who had encouraged the children to play in his field, however, had a beautiful crop. The playing children had frightened all the birds and rats away. With nowhere else to go, they had gone into the other farmer’s field.

The farmer who befriended the children was doubly blessed, because of the great crop he reaped, as well as for the many hours he had been granted watching the children at play.

He who shuns the Lord’s children shall be cursed, while he who invites them in shall be doubly blessed.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Make Straight the Path of the Lord

I had not told my wife that I had started this blog, because I was afraid that she would either be embarrassed by my actions or think I was crazy. Sometimes I worry that I am crazy.

But today at lunch I told her and she gave me some sage advice. She said, "I don't know if you're truly God-inspired or if you just have a really good way of writing down religious thoughts in a way that's reminiscent of the way Jesus spoke. Maybe it's both. But either way, if you're going to do this, do it with some humility."

First off, I was relieved that she wasn't embarrassed or irritated. But second, she touched on the whole reason I waited so long to even start posting these parables. I too wonder whether I am God-inspired or whether I can just write in this style. I am afraid that I will be perceived as a crazy person who had some delusion of grandeur of being the second coming of Christ, when that couldn't be further from the truth.

John the Baptist was "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'" (Matthew 3:3).

Isn't this what we are all called to do? We are told to be ready at all times. Well, I know that I am not. I fall short, but as I struggle in my efforts to prepare the way for the Lord, I think this is one of the ways I am meant to do so.

I am not crazy. And I do not know why or from where my inspiration comes. All that I have comes from God, so I can take no pride in my words for they too come from the Lord.

The Thief in the House of Sin

Each man, like a thief, will enter the house of sin. But tread lightly, for in this house, the occupants will rush out to greet you if they hear your footsteps. They will take you deeper into the house, loading you up with all the treasures they can find, and they will make your burden so heavy that it will be very hard for you to ever leave.

But if you are quiet, and you go unnoticed, you can exit the house in stealth, having realized that there was never actually anything of real value to be found.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Parable of the Beautiful Song

Three men were sitting together listening to some music. Suddenly, the most beautiful song they had ever heard began to play.

The first man thought, “This song is so gorgeous, it reminds me of the love I have for my wife.” So he got up and went home to see her.

The second man thought, “This song is so lovely, it reminds me of the love I have for my children.” So he got up at once and went off to see them.

The third man thought, “This song is so glorious, it reminds me of the love God has for me.” So he got up at once and set off to share it with anyone who would listen.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Parable of the Two Brothers

A father had two sons. To the older, he said, “God is everywhere and nowhere. He is without form, and yet He is in everything.” And his eldest son believed him. To the younger son, he said, “God lives and dwells in this house. That way He is near to us always,” and the younger son believed him.

When the boys had grown to be men, the older said to the younger, “We should move from this place, for there are many other places out there to explore.”

“No,” the younger said, “God lives in this house. We cannot move from here.”

“God does not dwell only here, you fool,” the older brother said. “God is all around us. He is not confined to a building.”

So the younger went to his father and asked, “Father, is God in our house?”

“Yes,” his father answered. Satisfied, the young man went back and told his brother what their father had said.

Then the elder brother went to their father and said, “Father, I thought God was not limited to just a house, but that He lived everywhere.”

“What you say is correct,” his father told him. Satisfied, he went back and told his younger brother what their father had said.

And so the two brothers hated each other, though they both worshipped God faithfully. They warred with one another, as did their children, and all their descendants to this day.

Does God call people to start a blog?

As a Christian, I feel that God can and does talk to people. Not necessarily the voice of God coming down from on high to tell us what we should and shouldn't do. He hasn't spoken to humans that way since His son was baptized. However, God does put things in front of us several times until we finally realize that He wants us to do something.

So a few months ago as I was sitting in church a thought popped into my head which I thought was interesting. I mulled it around for a second and then I promptly began to forget it. But strangely, I couldn't forget it. I actually tried. And I kept getting the feeling that I needed to write it down and save it.

Despite this fact, I still tried to forget it and I refused to write it down, until it finally occurred to me that it was beyond my control. I had to write it down or it would end up driving me crazy. So I did.

Then it happened again. And again. And again.

It wasn't always at church. Sometimes it was as I was lying in bed, or when I was at work, or when I was just trying to spend some time with my son. So I have compiled a set of what I can only describe as New Parables to share. I don't have enough to start writing a book. But I do have enough to start writing a blog. So my next post, which I will do in just a few minutes is the first of these parables...the one that was driving me crazy.

I don't know who will read this, if anyone. But for the past month I have felt compelled to start this blog, and in my typical stubborn way I have tried to ignore this sensation. But the word of the Lord cannot be ignored. So I guess what I am saying is that I feel God has called me to start a blog (which looks crazy to me as I type it out!). But God also called 11 men to go to countries they weren't familiar with and to start talking with complete strangers...and to die for His word.

So who am I to complain? I just have to type something into a computer.