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.