Resurrection: Past, Present, Future by Tony Cooke

Resurrection: Past, Present, Future
Tony Cooke

Past, Present, FutureNo, I’m not confused about what month it is. I know that Easter is not until next month. I believe, though, it’s important that we not only think about resurrection when Easter comes around. I wonder how many believers appreciate all the ramifications of resurrection, and recognize its multi-dimensional influence in our lives.

Our word resurrection is from the Greek word anastasis, which means a rising again, a resurrection from death, raised to life again, to stand up again, raising up. While it’s important to know the meaning of the word, it’s just as important to understand the diversity of how resurrection applies in our lives. When people celebrate Easter, their primary focus (and rightfully so) is on the past, when Jesus was resurrected. However, we will miss much if we neglect the present and future aspects and applications of resurrection.

Resurrection is:

  • An historical fact to be celebrated
  • A current reality to be experienced
  • A future event to be anticipated

Let’s look at each of these.

1. Resurrection is an historical fact to be celebrated.

The culmination and crescendo of each of the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. According to Paul, the resurrection is of first importance. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 says, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…”

The doctrine of the resurrection is absolutely central to the Christian faith. If the resurrection of Jesus is not totally true, then everything in the Bible and in the life of Jesus that precedes it (Genesis through the end of the Gospel Accounts) and everything that follows it (The Book of Acts through the Book of Revelation) is absolutely meaningless.

Of what are considered the great faiths or religions of the world, Christianity alone stakes its entire claim and bases its entire existence on the Resurrection of its Founder; nothing more, nothing less. Christianity is not based on a set of ideas, creeds, morals, beliefs, lifestyle, discipline, or practices. Christianity may produce some of those things, but genuine, biblical Christianity is based entirely and squarely on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:4 says that Jesus was, “…declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” His resurrection is the basis for all of our hope! Jesus said, “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19).

2. Resurrection is a current reality to be experienced.

Most believers recognize and celebrate the past resurrection of Christ, and most are also aware of the future resurrection spoken of in Scripture, but I’m not sure how many Christians realize that there is an aspect of resurrection power that is available to us all at this very moment. What we can experience now is not the full-blown resurrection of receiving new, glorified bodies, but rather, what we might call (using the words of the old song), “a foretaste of glory divine.” Consider the on-going, day-to-day, moment-by-moment resurrection power that Paul said we could all experience:

10 [For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from his resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] 11 That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].
– Philippians 3:10-11 (Amplified)

There is what we could call a “resurrection power” that is available to us right now. Paul said that “…we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.” (Romans 8:23, NLT). We’ll get brand new, resurrected bodies in the future, but right now we have, as Paul said, “a foretaste of future glory.”

Romans 6:4 says, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we get to walk in the newness of life right now! We are new creatures in Christ because of His power that has worked and does work in us. We don’t have to wait until heaven to walk in the newness of life!

Though we don’t receive the full dose of resurrection power now, we do have the “foretaste” of His glorious power that has made alive our spirits, comforts and strengthens our souls, and can even quicken our mortal bodies. A great illustration of this is shared by Kenneth Hagin. Having been bedfast for 16 months, he received his healing, and then, after only a couple of months he got a job pulling two-year old peach trees.

He wrote (in “Exceedingly Growing Faith”), “Each morning before sunup we would meet, and every day some of the boys would say, ‘Well, I didn’t think you’d make it today. You know, two or three quit yesterday.’ Even as a young man, Brother Hagin responded, ‘If it weren’t for the Lord I wouldn’t be here, I would answer, for you see, His strength is my strength. The Bible says, The Lord is the strength of my life.’” He also related, “Now, if I had gone by my feelings I would never have gotten out of bed! I was never so weak in my life. I felt as if I couldn’t do it. But I stayed with it. I acted upon the Word because I knew what faith was.”

Brother Hagin ended his testimony about his early work experience saying, “When we began to work each morning I wouldn’t have any strength, but when we started on the first tree (or sometimes the second) I would feel something hit me in the top of my head. It would go through my body, out the ends of my fingers, and out the ends of my toes. Then I would work all day long like a Trojan.” Finally, he said, “In the natural I was the weakest and the skinniest, but I was the only man left of the original crew. I had proved God’s Word.” Resurrection power can make us stand right now! Resurrection power can lift our spirits, encourage our souls, and bring life and strength to our mortal bodies!

3. Resurrection is a future event to be anticipated.

We could never praise God enough for the resurrection of Christ and the eternal life His resurrection has made available to us. But we must remember that what Jesus did in His past speaks volumes about what will occur in our future!

Even in the Old Testament, a future resurrection was perceived and prophesied.

  • Daniel 12:2 (NLT) says, “Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace.”
  • Even Job recognized and proclaimed resurrection. “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26).
  • Isaiah 26:19 (NLT) says, “But those who die in the LORD will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead!”

And of course, the New Testament is loaded with powerful promises about our future resurrection. For example, “…the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29).

“And God will raise us from the dead by his power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead” (1 Corinthians 6:14, NLT). Paul went on to say, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep… (1 Corinthians 15:20) and shortly after wrote, “…each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:23). In other words, our future resurrection is based on His past resurrection. He is the firstfruits or the prototype for our future.

“…our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body…” (Philippians 3:20-21).

The future resurrection we will experience not only gives us hope for the future, but conveys to us the great value that God places upon our bodies. Unlike the Greeks, Jesus and Paul did not perceive the body as an evil prison from which our primary aspiration is to escape. We belong to God—every part of us! Paul said, “…your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Because our bodies belong to God, and because God’s claim on our bodies extends into eternity, what we do with our bodies now is significant. This is why Paul told believers to, “…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God…” (Romans 12:1).

Resurrection is what happens when the life of God touches and influences everything else. Resurrection is an historical fact to be celebrated, a current reality to be experienced, and a future event to be anticipated. Make sure that you are celebrating, experiencing, and anticipating God’s life to the fullest.

25 Tips for Managing Stress, The Blues, and Grief During the Holidays.

25 Tips for Managing Stress, The Blues, and Grief During the Holidays. 

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25 Holiday Tips

The Lesson of His Lineage


The Lesson of His Lineage
Rev. Tony Cooke

Tony CookeWe all know about Joseph and Mary, the Inn of Bethlehem, the shepherds, the star, and the wise men. They’re all part of the wonderful story we remember and tell this time of year. There’s more to the story, though. Obscure and often overlooked, buried in Matthew’s genealogy and leading up to the birth of Christ are four women.

Matthew 1:1-6
1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: 2 Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. 3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. 4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. 5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, 6 and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.

Most Christians don’t get excited about the genealogies; they are the sections of Scripture that we typically skim over. But there’s something very unique about the inclusion of these four women. It was not customary in those days for women to be a part of such listings. As a matter of fact, women then had little or no legal rights, and were merely the possession of their fathers or husbands.

Consider these four women—all ancestors of Jesus—that Matthew, inspired by the Holy Spirit, included in his Gospel:

Tamar (Genesis 38)

This woman was married to one of the sons of Judah. Her husband died, leaving her childless. She married his brother (according to a custom of that day), but he died, also leaving her childless. Judah told her to wait for his youngest son, but really had no intention of having them marry (he probably considered her to be “bad luck,” the cause of his first two sons’ deaths).

Tamar then posed as a prostitute and had a sexual encounter with Judah, her father-in-law. Another of Jesus’ ancestors (Perez) was born of this illicit act.

Rahab

A Cannanite woman and a prostitute in Jericho. However, she came to recognize Jehovah as the true God, saved the Hebrew spies, and through faith, found the favor of God and became a part of God’s covenant people. She said, “…the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (Joshua 2:11).

The “scarlet cord” she tied in her window to bring safety and deliverance to her family is considered to be a type of the blood of Christ (Joshua 2:15-21).

Rahab is listed in the great “Hall of Faith” (Hebrews 11:31) and is also mentioned by James as an example of faith (James 2:25). Rahab later married an Israelite and became an ancestress not only to Jesus, but (according to rabbinic tradition), an ancestress to eight of Israel’s prophets, including Jeremiah.

Ruth

A woman of Moab, a despised and outcast people. The Moabites and the Ammonites had their origin through incest when Lot’s two daughters got their father drunk and became pregnant by him (Genesis 19:30-37).

Deuteronomy 23:3 says, "An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD forever…”

Though not part of the commonwealth of Israel, Ruth displayed courageous love and unshakeable loyalty (Ruth 1:16-17), became the great-grandmother of King David, and took her place in the lineage of Christ.

Bathsheba

The woman David had an adulterous affair with before he put her husband, Uriah, to death. After marrying David, she became the mother of Solomon, and like the other women mentioned, is an ancestress of Jesus.

What is amazing is that Matthew made no attempt to cover any of this up! The Bible doesn’t “candy coat” the facts. Instead, he highlighted these four women in an age when women were typically ignored. Further, he neglected to mention any of the other women in Jesus’ lineage, even “respectable women” such as Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah.

William Barclay said of these four women, “If Matthew had ransacked the pages of the Old Testament for improbable candidates he could not have discovered four more incredible ancestors for Jesus Christ. But, surely, there is something very lovely in this. Here at the very beginning of the gospel we are given a hint of the all-embracing width of the love of God. God can find his servants amongst those from whom the respectable orthodox would shudder away in horror.”

Perhaps the very reason that these were included was to demonstrate the great mercy and grace of our God. The Heavenly Father may have been communicating to all of humanity: “It doesn’t matter where you’re from, what matters is where you’re going. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, what matters is what you’re doing.”

I enjoy the trees and the lights and all the festivities of the season, but the true beauty of Christmas is not found in any of these. It’s found in the eternal fact that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

All through history, God has sought us. Even when our attitudes and actions were against Him, He was for us. When we were at our very worst, God gave us His very best!

The Good News Is that Once…

Ephesians 2:12-14, 17-18
12 “you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

Jesus has broken down the wall of separation!

  • The outsiders have become insiders.
  • Rejected ones have been accepted.
  • People who were put down have been lifted up.
  • Those that were cast out have been brought in.
  • The forsaken have been embraced.

Galatians 3:28 (The Message)
28 In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ.

All of this really is about barriers coming down. William Barclay articulated these three points:

  1. The barrier between Jew and Gentile is down. Rahab, the woman of Jericho, and Ruth, the woman of Moab, find their place within the pedigree of Jesus Christ. Already the great truth is there that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek. Here, at the very beginning, there is the universalism of the gospel and of the love of God.
  2. The barriers between male and female are down. In no ordinary pedigree would the name of any woman be found; but such names are found in Jesus’ pedigree. The old contempt is gone; and men and women stand equally dear to God, and equally important to his purposes.
  3. The barrier between saint and sinner is down. Somehow God can use for his purposes, and fit into his scheme of things, those who have sinned greatly.I came, said Jesus, Not to call the righteous, but sinners; Matthew 9:13.

We can have hope, realizing that if God can embrace and use people such as Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba, then God can embrace and use us. Moses had murdered a man. Peter denied Christ. Even Paul had committed great sin.

1 Timothy 1:12-16 (NLT)
12 How thankful I am to Christ Jesus our Lord for considering me trustworthy and appointing me to serve him, 13 even though I used to scoff at the name of Christ. I hunted down his people, harming them in every way I could. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. 14 Oh, how kind and gracious the Lord was! He filled me completely with faith and the love of Christ Jesus. 15 This is a true saying, and everyone should believe it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — and I was the worst of them all. 16 But that is why God had mercy on me, so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.

Satan desires to use shame in our lives to keep us from God. Some Christians have been legally forgiven of their sin, but they haven’t been experientially delivered from shame.

  • Shame over things we’ve done.
  • Shame over things others have done to them. People who are abused or abandoned often “internalize” it and feel inferior and condemned – what happened affects their sense of self-worth and becomes a part of their identity.

“Shame is a spin-off from guilt. We may feel guilty for what we did, but we feel ashamed of who we are.”
– Dr. Les Parrott

We know that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary – born of a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. But naturally speaking, Jesus had a lineage, a genealogy, and Matthew, inspired by the Holy Spirit, gave us that genealogy. He highlighted four women in particular, something that was very uncommon.

I believe the Holy Spirit wanted us to know that Jesus did not come from a perfect line of people. He did not come into a perfect world to save perfect people.

Jesus came from a lineage of imperfect people, fallen people. He came into a world of sinners to save sinners. He came to break down the wall of separation and make us one in Him.

  • One in forgiveness.
  • One in righteousness.
  • One in acceptance.

Because of Jesus, we can celebrate and experience the reality of Romans 8:1: There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…

TOP TEN SIGNS YOU OVERDID IT AT THANKSGIVING DINNER


The Top Ten Signs You Overdid it at Thanksgiving Dinner:

10. Paramedics have to bring in the Jaws of Life to pry you out of the La-Z-Boy.

9. The "Gravy Boat" your wife set out was a real 12′ boat!

8. You receive a Sumo Wrestler application in your e-mail.

7. Friday you set off three earthquake seismographs on your morning jog.

6. Pricking your finger for cholesterol screening only yielded gravy.

5. A guest quotes a Biblical passage from "The Feeding of the 5,000."

4. That rash on your stomach turns out to be steering wheel burn.

3. Representatives from the Butterball Hall of Fame called twice.

2. You consider gluttony your patriotic duty.

And the No. 1 sign you overdid it at Thanksgiving dinner:

1. Your arms are too short to reach the keyboard and delete this.

– Unknown

Freedom to Trick-or-Treat

Freedom to Trick-or-Treat
By Danny Royer

There is a strong trend in today’s church toward nonparticipation in Halloween and its customs. No trick-or-treat for the kids. No jack-o’-lanterns on the porch.

The main concern over Halloween seems to be its so-called pagan origin. I could only find two paragraphs of factual information at the library. The 1984 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica says that in medieval England, the Christian church observed a holy day called “All Hallows Eve” on October 31. (So why doesn’t anyone ever mention the Christian origin?) On that same day, the pagans observed the Feast of Samhain. They carved faces in turnips and wore masks to frighten off spirits of the risen dead.

According to the encyclopedia, Halloween as we know it today is a secular, non-religious observance. It is not the Feast of Samhain. It is not All Hallows Eve. It is neither Christian nor pagan. The Christian who participates takes part in a non-religious observance. Those who trick-or-treat and carve pumpkins do so without religious significance.

Just how far do we go with this question of origins? According to Childcraft’s How and Why Library, the practice of putting candles on birthday cakes goes back to ancient Greece. Pagans there worshipped Artemis, goddess of the moon. To celebrate her birthday, they brought special cakes to her temple. The cakes were round like a full moon, and because the moon glows with light, they were decorated with candles. How many birthdays have you celebrated the same way?

All seven days of the week are named for pagan gods. Does participating in a Wednesday prayer meeting imply worship of the Norse god Woden, for whom the day was named?

Many new Christians may not realize that non-participation in Halloween is a fairly recent trend. I was raised in a fundamentalist church. I can tell you that the church of the 1960s was more cautious and sensitive to worldliness than the church of today! We were taught that drinking alcoholic beverages and attending movies were sinful. Playing cards were not allowed in the house. Any entertainment associated with worldliness was shunned.

Yet Halloween was not on the hit list. It was considered a fun time for children. We dressed up in fun costumes and collected candy from friends’ homes.

Among Christians today, alcohol in the home is common. (The emphasis is on moderation.) Movies are attended and videos are rented with little discretion as to content. Divorce is commonplace and is even a growing phenomenon among ministers. This is the church that takes a bold stand against Halloween fun?

I was a youth pastor when I first heard the message on the ‘evils’ of Halloween. I was shocked and upset. Our church decided to have a Christian alternative that year. Kids were asked to come as Bible characters. Then someone pointed out that Satan, demons and the man who ran naked through the tomb were all Bible characters. So we changed the theme to Bible heroes and felt safe. But how were we to know if a child dressed as an angel was coming as Gabriel or Lucifer? One 13-year-old boy came as Jesus—complete with realistic nails through his hands and fake blood smeared over his body. Small children cried and ran in fear.

Some say Christians should not have parties at all on Halloween. Instead, they should schedule prayer meetings to combat the prayers of satanists. (It’s been said that Satan worshippers spend this night in prayer for the destruction of the church.) That brings up a question. Does Satan answer prayer? We know the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. What about the fervent prayers of the unrighteous? The prophets of Baal were leaders of a cult so prominent that a nation was divided on whom they would serve. Their fervent prayers went unanswered (I Kings 18).

Do the presence of black cats, owls and jack-o’-lanterns invite evil spirits into our homes? As for cats and owls, they are creations of God whose reputations have been slandered by rumor and superstition. And whatever their history, jack-o’-lanterns have no religious significance today. Just ask around. Survey your neighbors who are not born-again Christians: Are they trying to frighten away spirits with those pumpkins on their doorsteps?

Aren’t Christians today straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel? Aren’t we giving in to superstition and fear? We hide from shadows, and invite evil in the front door. Satan’s greatest weapon is enticement. Sin is not ugly, dark and sinister-looking. It is attractive.

Thoughts Regarding Fathers and Sons

Thoughts Regarding Fathers and Sons
Rev. Tony Cooke

The Top 10 Things You’ll Never Hear a Dad Say:

10.  “Well, how ‘bout that? I’m lost! Looks like we’ll have to stop and ask for directions.”

9.  “You know Pumpkin, now that you’re thirteen, you’ll be ready for un-chaperoned car dates. Won’t that be fun?

8.  “I noticed that all your friends have a certain hostile attitude. I like that.

7.  “Here’s a credit card and the keys to my new car. Go crazy!!!

6.  “What do you mean you wanna play football? Ballet is not good enough for you, son?

5.  “Your Mother and I are going away for the weekend. You might want to consider throwing a party.

4.  “Well, I don’t know what’s wrong with your car. Probably one of those doo-hickey thingies—ya know—that makes it run or something. Just have it towed to a mechanic and pay whatever he asks.

3.  “No son of mine is going to live under this roof without an earring. Now quit your belly-aching and let’s go to the mall.

2.  “Whaddya wanna go and get a job for? I make plenty of money for you to spend.

And the number one thing you’ll never hear a dad say:

1.  “What do I want for Father’s Day? Aahh—don’t worry about that. It’s no big deal.” (actually they might say this, but they don’t mean it).

I like the idea of a Father–Son Banquet. This is a special relationship, and it’s definitely a two-way street.

The relationship between a Father and his children is something that is very precious to God.

ABRAHAM was chosen by God for a very special purpose…

Genesis 18:19 (KJV)

19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

Malachi 4:5-6 (NKJV)

5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. 6 And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers…

Notice here that God was not only interested in turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, but also in turning the hearts of the children to the fathers.

Ephesians 6:1-4 (Amplified)

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord [as His representatives], for this is just and right. 2 Honor (esteem and value as precious) your father and your mother–this is the first commandment with a promise– [Exodus 20:12.] 3 That all may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth. 4 Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord.

Notice again the two-way nature of this relationship… children have a responsibility to their parents, and parents have a responsibility to their children.

 

1. The Father’s Relationship to His Son

An Old Soldier’s Prayer
“Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory. “Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know Thee…and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge. “Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high, a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past. “And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom and the meekness of true strength.

“Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, “I have not lived in vain’.” – Gen. Douglas A. MacArthur

MacArthur wanted more than just a son in the biological sense.

His prayer reflected his desire that his son have certain characteristics… certain character traits built into him.

In one sense, sons – children in general – come into being through a transaction, but MacArthur was after more than this… he wanted a son who had undergone a transformation.

Many men throughout history, even very godly men, have had great success in certain areas—career & achievement—but they’ve had heartache when it comes to the way their children ended up.

1 Samuel 8:1-3

1 Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel.2 The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba.3 But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.

I don’t think any of us should try to be God, and I’m not saying that every wrong decision made by a child is the fault of the parents –

  • God was the first parent, and his kids made some really unfortunate decisions.
  • In the story of the prodigal son, there’s no indication that the son’s rebelliousness and poor decisions were the result of negligence or poor parenting on the part of the Father.  Every indication of him in Scripture is that he was a merciful, kind, and gracious father.

However, I want to make sure as a Father, that I do everything I can do have a relationship with my son and my daughter – and to truly bring them up in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord.

In The Effective Father, Gordon MacDonald writes:
It is said of Boswell, the famous biographer of Samuel Johnson, that he often referred to a special day in his childhood when his father took him fishing. The day was fixed in his mind, and he often reflected upon many things his father had taught him in the course of their fishing experience together. After having heard of that particular excursion so often, it occurred to someone much later to check the journal that Boswell’s father kept and determine what had been said about the fishing trip from the parental perspective. Turning to that date, the reader found only one sentence entered: “Gone fishing today with my son; a day wasted.”

I read about a little girl who drew a pretty picture. She went in her dad’s office. Crawled on his lap. And said, “Daddy, come and see my picture.”

And the dad said, “Not now, honey. Dad’s busy.”
About 10 minutes later, she came back again. Crawled on his lap. And said, “Daddy, will you come see my picture now?”
And the dad got frustrated. And said, “Can’t you see I’m busy? Don’t bother me right now. I’ll come and look at your picture later. When I’m ready.”
A couple of hours later, the dad came out. And he said to the daughter, “Can I see the picture now?” And the girl said, “Sure.” And it was a picture of her and her brother and her mom standing on the lawn, with the family dog, with big smiles, and on a sunny day. But the dad noticed that he wasn’t in the picture. And so the dad said, “That’s a nice picture, sweetheart. But how come I’m not in the picture?”

And the girl said, “Because you’re working in your office, daddy.”
The dad was crushed. Because it dawned on him that of the most loving and caring people in his daughter’s life, he wasn’t even in the picture!

Not only is there the time issue, but there’s also an issue of discipline… of guidelines… of boundaries…

Discipline: Illustration from Dr. James Dobson
In the absence of parental leadership, some children become extremely obnoxious and defiant, especially in public places.  Perhaps the best example was a ten-year-old boy named Robert, who was a patient of my good friend Dr. William Slonecker.  The Dr. said his pediatric staff dreaded the days when Robert was scheduled for an office visit.  He literally attacked the clinic, grabbing instruments and files and telephones.  His passive mother could do little more than shake her head in bewilderment.

During one physical examination, Dr. Slonecker observed severe cavities in Robert’s teeth and knew the boy must be referred to a local dentist.  But who would be given the honor?  A referral like Robert could mean the end of a professional friendship.  Dr. Slonecker eventually decided to send him to an older dentist who reportedly understood children.  The confrontation that followed now stands as one of the classic moments in the history of human conflict.

Robert arrived in the dental office, prepared for battle.  “Get in the chair, young man,” said the doctor.

“No chance!” replied the boy.

“Son, I told you to climb onto the chair, and that’s what I intend for you to do,” said the dentist.

Robert stared at his opponent for a moment and then replied, “If you make me get in that chair, I will take off my clothes.”

The dentist calmly said, “Son, take’em off.”
The boy forthwith removed his shirt, undershirt, shoes, and socks, and then looked up in defiance.

“All right, son,” said the dentist. “Now get on the chair”.
“You didn’t hear me,” sputtered Robert. “I said if you make me get on that chair, I will take off all my clothes.”
“Son, take’em off,” replied the man.

Robert proceeded to remove his pants and shorts, finally standing totally naked before the dentist and his assistant.

“Now, son, get in the chair,” said the doctor.

Robert did as he was told, and sat cooperatively through the entire procedure.  When the cavities were drilled and filled, he was instructed to
step down from the chair.

“Give me my clothes now,” said the boy.

“I’m sorry,” replied the dentist.  “Tell your mother that we’re going to keep your clothes tonight.  She can pick them up tomorrow.”
Can you comprehend the shock Robert’s mother received when the door to the waiting room opened, and there stood her pink son, as naked as the day he was born?  The room was filled with patients, but Robert and his mom walked past them and into the hall.  They went down a public elevator and into the parking lot, ignoring the snickers of onlookers.

The next day, Robert’s mother returned to retrieve his clothes, and asked to have a word with the dentist.  However, she did not come to protest. These were her sentiments:

“You don’t know how much I appreciate what happened here yesterday.
You see, Robert has been blackmailing me about his clothes for years.
Whenever we are in a public place, such as a grocery store, he makes unreasonable demands of me.  If I don’t immediately buy him what he wants, he threatens to take off all his clothes.  You are the first person who had called his bluff, doctor, and the impact on Robert has been incredible.”

Dusty Like Dad
At the first church that I pastored, I had the job of mixing feed to supplement my income. For a period of about two weeks, each day that I came home from work, my two boys, ages 2 and 3 would look at me, smile, and would say, “Boy, dad, you sure are dusty!” I would reply, “Yes, I sure am dusty.” Then I would get cleaned up.

I didn’t think too much of this until I was washing my car and saw my oldest son doing something very strange. He was picking up the gravel and stones that were in our drive and rubbing them into his pants. I asked him, “What are you doing?”

He replied, “I want to be dusty like you dad!”

I realized that if a child would look up to his father for being dusty and want to copy his father, a child could look up to his father and follow him for anything. What are you passing on to your son?
– Unknown

“My father didn’t tell me how to life; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”

– Clarence Budington Kelland

“There is just one way to bring up a child in the way he should go, and that is to travel that way yourself.”

– Abraham Lincoln

“You don’t raise heroes; you raise sons.  And if you treat them like sons, they’ll turn out to be heroes, even if it’s just in your own eyes.”

– Walter Schirra Sr.

“A boy loves his mother, but he will follow his father.” So the question to you men is — where are you leading your children?

On August 13, 1995, one of the greatest legends in baseball, Mickey Mantle died.

“God gave me everything and I blew it. For the kids out there, don’t be like me!”

“Recent media reports tell the sad details of his life off the field: How teammates taught him to drink, carouse and be irresponsible. How liquor destroyed his marriage and crippled his family. How he taught his sons to drink until they, too, became alcoholics. How the bitter fruit of his lifestyle caused tremors, “and I should note, that his constant drinking was the cause of the liver disease and cancer that eventually took his life according to Doctors. The words of Steve Wulf in his Time Magazine article in the obituary section are sobering. “Though Mantle had been sober for more than a year, 42 years of drinking caught up to him on May 28, when he entered Baylor Medical complaining of stomach pains…” You know the rest of the story. (Mike Randall, Editor of The Baptist Bible Tribune.)

The reason Mickey Mantle said, “God gave me everything and I blew it. For the kids out there, don’t be like me!” is because, as he looked back on his life, he realized he was a poor role model and accomplished little of lasting value. He did not want kids to be like “the Mick.”

Before he died, his former team-mate, Bobby Richardson, led him to the Lord.[i]

“A godly father is the unseen spiritual submarine who lurks below the surface of every activity of his child’s life. A man who has put on the full armor of God and with that armor, goes to warfare on his knees for his children, is a force to be reckoned with…we cannot be with our children 24 hours a day…through our prayers we have the ability to affect situations even when we are not physically present. You may be undetected but that does not mean you are ineffective.”

2. The Son’s Relationship to His Father

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”

– Attributed to Mark Twain

 

When I was …

  • Four years old: My daddy can do anything.
  • Five years old: My daddy knows a whole lot.
  • Six years old: My dad is smarter than your dad.
  • Eight years old: My dad doesn’t know exactly everything.
  • Ten years old: In the olden days, when my dad grew up, things were sure different.
  • Twelve years old: Oh, well, naturally, Dad doesn’t know anything about that. He is too old to remember his childhood.
  • Fourteen years old: Don’t pay any attention to my dad. He is so old-fashioned.
  • Twenty-one years old: Him? My Lord, he’s hopelessly out of date.
  • Twenty-five years old: Dad knows about it, but then he should, because he has been around so long.
  • Thirty years old: Maybe we should ask Dad what he thinks. After all, he’s had a lot of experience.
  • Thirty-five years old: I’m not doing a single thing until I talk to Dad.
  • Forty years old: I wonder how Dad would have handled it. He was so wise.
  • Fifty years old: I’d give anything if Dad were here now so I could talk this over with him. Too bad I didn’t appreciate how smart he was. I could have learned a lot from him.

 

Proverbs 23:22-25

22 Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old. 23 Buy the truth, and do not sell it, Also wisdom and instruction and understanding. 24 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who begets a wise child will delight in him. 25 Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her who bore you rejoice.

[i] http://logosresourcepages.org/mantle.html

The Gifts of the Wise Men by Tony Cooke

The Gifts of the Wise Men
By Tony Cooke

Matthew 2:1-11 (NKJV)
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem,
2 saying,”Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
5 So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
6 But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.'”
7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”
9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.
11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The wise men were seeking the one who was “born King of the Jews.”

It was customary in that day that no one approach the king without offering him a gift.

When the wise men were summoned by King Herod, even though he was in his royal palace, in his royal garments, there is no indication that they were impressed or offered him gifts.

The wise men were preoccupied with finding the One they sought.

Jesus had been born in Bethlehem (literally, The House of Bread).

Jesus later called Himself:

* The Bread of Life
* The Living Bread
* The Bread Which Came Down From Heaven

They not only offered Him gifts, but they worshipped Him as well.

The gifts they brought to Jesus are very interesting, and I want us to look at what these gifts might represent.

I want to be careful not to over-spiritualize matters and try to make everything symbolic.

On the other hand, though, it would seem that these three gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh – speak of three major aspects of what this child would accomplish.

Gifts should reflect something about the receiver.

1. MYRRH was a gift for one who would die.

Among other things, myrrh was a perfume used in embalming and in preparing bodies for the grave.

John 19:38-40 (NKJV)
38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus.
39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.
40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.

How ironic that at this time, there would be a reminder that Jesus was born so that He could die.

His substitutionary death was pre-determined. Jesus is called “The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8)

A song entitled “He Gave His All” has these words:

He was born the baby Jesus, in a cradle made of hay.
God made good His promise, He had jointed those made of clay.
A baby bound for glory, over shadowed by the cross,
The Father knew He must give all, so that all would not be lost.

Scripture after scripture tells us of the death of Jesus Christ.

The Old Testament prophesies it.

The Gospels record it.

The Epistles explain it.

He died so that man could be forgiven, justified, cleansed, and redeemed.

He died to destroy him that had the power of death – that is, the devil.

He died to bring us to God and to make us new creatures.

He was born that He might die.

He died that we might be born-again.

Actually, if it weren’t for His death and resurrection, we’d have no reason to celebrate His birth.

2. FRANKINCENSE was a gift suited for a priest.

Under the Old Covenant, the priests would offer up frankincense…

1. Along with the sacrifices.
2. At the golden altar of incense in the Holy Place.

When Jesus rose from the dead, He began to function as our great High Priest.

So much of our thinking and preaching had focused on what Jesus did for us, but it’s very important that we understand what Jesus is doing for us now at the right hand of God.

The book of Hebrews describes in detail how Jesus became our High Priest, and what He’s doing now.

Hebrews 9:11-12 (New Living Translation)
11 So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that great, perfect sanctuary in heaven, not made by human hands and not part of this created world.
12 Once for all time he took blood into that Most Holy Place, but not the blood of goats and calves. He took his own blood, and with it he secured our salvation forever.

Back in Hebrews 7, Paul contrasts Jesus’ priesthood with the Levitical priests of the Old Testament.

Hebrews 7:15-28 (New Living Translation)
15 The change in God’s law is even more evident from the fact that a different priest, who is like Melchizedek, has now come.
16 He became a priest, not by meeting the old requirement of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but by the power of a life that cannot be destroyed.
17 And the psalmist pointed this out when he said of Christ, “You are a priest forever in the line of Melchizedek.”
18 Yes, the old requirement about the priesthood was set aside because it was weak and useless.
19 For the law made nothing perfect, and now a better hope has taken its place. And that is how we draw near to God.
20 God took an oath that Christ would always be a priest, but he never did this for any other priest.
21 Only to Jesus did he say, “The Lord has taken an oath and will not break his vow: ‘You are a priest forever.’ ”
22 Because of God’s oath, it is Jesus who guarantees the effectiveness of this better covenant.
23 Another difference is that there were many priests under the old system. When one priest died, another had to take his place.
24 But Jesus remains a priest forever; his priesthood will never end.
25 Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save everyone who comes to God through him. He lives forever to plead with God on their behalf.
26 He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has now been set apart from sinners, and he has been given the highest place of honor in heaven.
27 He does not need to offer sacrifices every day like the other high priests. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he sacrificed himself on the cross.
28 Those who were high priests under the law of Moses were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made perfect forever.

Hebrews 8:1-6 (New Living Translation)
1 Here is the main point: Our High Priest sat down in the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand.
2 There he ministers in the sacred tent, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands.
6 But our High Priest has been given a ministry that is far superior to the ministry of those who serve under the old laws, for he is the one who guarantees for us a better covenant with God, based on better promises.

In the Latin language, the word priest means: bridge builder.

Jesus received the gift of frankincense because He would become our priest… He is our bridge builder… the One who made it possible for us to come into relationship with the Heavenly Father!

3. GOLD is a gift for a king: a precious metal suitable for royalty.

The wise men were seeking the one who was “Born King of the Jews.”

Yet Jesus made it clear that His kingdom, “Is not of this world.”

John 18:36 (NKJV)
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

When Jesus had multiplied the bread and the fishes, the people wanted to take Him by force and make Him King…

John 6:15 (NKJV)
Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.

While Jesus valued being able to meet the natural needs of people, His Kingdom was not going to be established that way. His Kingdom would be built through changed hearts – lives that were changed by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus now rules in the hearts and lives of those yielded to Him.

The Day is Coming…

Revelation 11:15-17 (NKJV)
15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying,”The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”
16 And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God,
17 saying: “We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty,The one who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.”

Today, He is our King and our Lord, but He will return to this earth (Revelation 19:16) as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!

Conclusion

Myrrh – spoke of His death – We honor Him today as the One who died for us!

Frankincense – spoke of His priesthood – We honor Him today as the One who is our Bridge… the One who brings us to the Father!

Gold – spoke of His royalty, His kingdom – We honor Him today as the One who rules in our hearts and lives, and as the One who will return to this earth as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!

Have Yourself a Merry Substantive Christmas


Have Yourself a Merry Substantive Christmas Rev. Tony Cooke

OK, maybe it doesn’t have the flow of the song title, but I think it’s an important thought.  Every year, countless voices decry the superficiality and materialism associated with Christmas.  But what can we do to reclaim the richness and depth of this season?  Being raised in a denominational church, I grew up hearing and singing many of the great hymns of the church, but I failed to recognize how rich many of them are in spiritual truth.  At this time of year, I’m also reminded of how very powerful some of the great Christmas Carols are that have been written through the ages. 

Oh Holy Night

Before we can really esteem the value of the Good News, we need to understand just how bad the bad news really was.  Before the significance and joy of Jesus’ birth can be fully appreciated, there must first be a realization of the world’s absolute hopelessness and despair if it had not been for the Savior who would come.  “Oh Holy Night” (written in France in 1847) captures that sense of despair prior to Jesus’ arrival. 

Long lay the world in sin and error pining.  Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

I checked “pine” and “pining” in Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, and it says these words imply, “languishing, wasting away, to bemoan in silence.”  A more modern definition says that pining means, “to yearn intensely and persistently especially for something unattainable.”  Humanity was lost, and we had no way of saving ourselves.  Jesus did not come into a world that was having just a bit of trouble, or that merely needed some encouragement, motivation, or a better self-image. 

Jesus came into a world that was “condemned already” (John 3:18), a world that was “sitting in darkness, in the shadow of death, and bound in affliction and irons” (Psalm 107:10; Matthew 4:16).  Just how dark was it before Jesus came?  Paul said in Ephesians 2:12 that we were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”

The Advent—the coming of Jesus—truly resulted in “the soul feeling its worth.”  In spite of the sin and error that caused us to languish, God was saying to every human soul: “You are the object of my affection.  I value you and have come to make you My Own.”

“Oh Holy Night” continues with, “His law is love and His gospel is peace.  Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother.  And in his name all oppression shall cease.”  Thank God for a substantive Christmas!

Oh come, Oh Come, Emmanuel

A Latin hymn from the 12th century also speaks to the bondage and oppression of the world—even of God’s covenant people—prior to Jesus’ coming: “Oh come, oh come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.”

Mourning in lonely exile?  A captive people that needed ransoming?  Is it possible that God’s people had really been kidnapped?  Sin separates, and man needed far more than a good example or a teacher of morality; man needed a Redeemer.  The hymn goes on to say:

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave 

Someone wisely said:

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator; If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist; If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist; If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer; But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.

Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

In 1739, Charles Wesley wrote “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.”  I marvel at how succinctly and powerfully Wesley was able to weave so many weighty theological themes into this hymn (the virgin birth, the incarnation, the new birth, etc.).  Some of the lyrics include:

Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth

Earlier in the hymn, in the first verse, is one line that sums up the Gospel: God and sinners reconciled.

Even if this has been a really tough year for you… perhaps a year of great challenges, we pray that you have a Merry Substantive Christmas.  We have been redeemed unto God, and we belong to Him.  Satan’s tyranny no longer reigns over us, we no longer sit in the shadow of death, and because of Christmas, our soul does feel its worth.

Quotes, Stories, and Illustrations for the 4th of July

Quotes, Stories, and Illustrations for the 4th of July

Two web-sites that are very helpful with patriotic information are www.amerisearch.net (William J. Federer) and www.wallbuilders.com (David Barton).

"Do not let anyone claim tribute of American patriotism if they even attempt to remove religion from politics."
– George Washington’s Farewell Address to Nation

"Sure I wave the American flag. Do you know a better flag to wave? Sure I love my country with all her faults. I’m not ashamed of that, never have been, never will be."
– John Wayne

"America was established not to create wealth but to realize a vision, to realize an ideal – to discover and maintain liberty among men."
– Woodrow Wilson

General Omar Bradley said, "America today is running on the momentum of a godly ancestry, and when that momentum runs down, God help America."
Bradley also said, "We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount… The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants."

"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not but religionists but by Christians, not on religion but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
– Patrick Henry

"We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel."
– Benjamin Franklin (From the debates at the Constitutional Convention, June of 1787)

2 Chronicles 7:14 – if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Proverbs 14:34 – Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made for a moral and religious people… it is wholly inadequate to the government of any other…"
– John Quincy Adams

Only in America

1. Only in America can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance.
2. Only in America are there handicap parking places in front of a skating rink.
3. Only in America do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions, while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.
4. Only in America do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries and a DIET coke.
5. Only in America do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our junk in the garage. Hello.
6. Only in America do we use answering machines to screen calls and have call-waiting so we won’t miss a call from someone we didn’t want to talk to in the first place.
7. Only in America do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.

The Inscription on the Statue of Liberty, written by Emma Lazarus
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me;
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

No King But Jesus!
The Colonists grew in their resilience and confidence in God, to the point where one Crown-appointed Governor wrote of the condition to the Board of Trade back in England: "If you ask an American who is his master? He will tell you he has none, nor any governor but Jesus Christ."

The Committees of Correspondence soon began sounding the cry across the Colonies: "No King but King Jesus!"

From America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations, William J. Federer, Fame Publishing.

"It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible."
– George Washington

1 Timothy 2:1-4

1. Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,
2. for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
3. for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
4. who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

"In reading over the Constitutions of all fifty of our states, I discovered something which some of you may not know: there is in all fifty, without exception, an appeal or a prayer to the Almighty God of the universe…. Through all fifty state Constitutions, without exception, there runs this same appeal and reference to God who is the Creator of our liberties and the preserver of our freedoms."
– D. James Kennedy

"History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster."
– General Douglas MacArthur

"I speak as a man of the world to men of the world; and I say to you, Search the Scriptures! The Bible is the book of all others, to be read at all ages, and in all conditions of human life; not to be read once or twice or thrice through, and then laid aside, but to be read in small portions of one of two chapters every day, and never to be intermitted, unless by some overruling necessity."
– John Quincy Adams

"Under God" and the Pledge of Allegiance
The words "under God were taken from Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address, "…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth…" and were added to the Pledge of Allegiance on June 14, 1954 by a joint resolution of Congress, 243 (Public Law 83-396). (The Pledge was initially adopted by the 79th Congress on December 28, 1945, as Public Law 287.) On June 14, 1954, President Eisenhower signed into law the pledge:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which is stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

President Eisenhower gave his support to the Congressional Act, which added the phrase, "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance, saying:

"In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war."

President Eisenhower then stood on the steps of the Capitol Building and recited the Pledge of Allegiance for the first time with the phrase, "one nation under God."

From America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations, William J. Federer, Fame Publishing.

"In America, nobody says you have to keep the circumstances somebody else gave you."
– Amy Tan

"My County, ‘Tis of Thee" was written by a Baptist minister, Samuel Francis Smith.
"The Pledge of Allegience" was written in 1892 by a Baptist minister, Francis Bellamy.
The words "In God We Trust" are traced to the efforts of Rev. W.R. Watkinson.
Rev. John Witherspoon, a Presbyterian minister was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

"The choice before us is plain: Christ or chaos, conviction or compromise, discipline or disintegration. I am rather tired of hearing about our rights and privileges as American citizens. The time is come – it is now – when we ought to hear about the duties and responsibilities of our citizenship. America’s future depends upon her accepting and demonstrating God’s government."
– Peter Marshall

"Every generation of Americans needs to know that freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought."
– Pope John Paul II

"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."
– John Adams

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
– Edmund Burke

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
– Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we will pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of Liberty."
– President John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, Friday, January 20, 1961

"In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it."
– John F. Kennedy

"Freedom is the last, best hope of earth."
– Abraham Lincoln

"…I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’"
– Martin Luther King, Jr. (From his "I Have a Dream speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963)

"Patriotism is not so much protecting the land of our fathers as preserving the land of our children."
– Jose Ortega Y Gasset

A teacher went into her classroom about fifteen minutes before the class was supposed to begin and caught a bunch of boys in a huddle on their knees in the corner of the room. She asked what they were doing, and one of them shouted back, "We are shooting craps." She replied, "That’s all right. I was afraid you were praying."

During the dark days of the American Revolution, when the Continental Army had experienced several setbacks, a farmer who lived near the battlefield approached Washington’s camp unheard. Suddenly his ears caught an earnest voice raised in agonizing prayer. On coming nearer he saw it was the great General, down on his knees in the snow, his cheeks wet with tears. He was asking God for assistance and guidance. The farmer crept away and returned home. He said to his family, "Its going to be all right. We are going to win!" "What makes you think so?" his wife asked. "Well," said the farmer, "I heard General Washington pray out in the woods today—such fervent prayer I have never heard. And God will surely hear and answer that kind of praying." And the farmer was right! It happened because Washington put his hope in God.

"The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death." – Thomas Paine

"I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death."
– Patrick Henry

"The U. S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself."
– Benjamin Franklin

In June of 1863, just weeks before the battle of Gettysburg, a college president asked Abraham Lincoln if he thought the country would survive. President Lincoln replied: "I do not doubt that our country will finally come through safe and undivided. But do not misunderstand me… I do not rely on the patriotism of our people… the bravery and devotion of the boys in blue… (or) the loyalty and skill of our generals… But the God of our Fathers, Who raised up this country to be the refuge and asylum of the oppressed and the downtrodden of all nations will not let it perish now. I may not live to see it… I do not expect to see it, but God will bring us through safe."

"Finally, let us not forget the religious character of our origin. Our fathers were brought hither by their high veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society, and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil, political, or literary. Let us cherish these sentiments, and extend this influence still more widely; in full conviction that that is the happiest society which partakes in the highest degree of the mild and peaceful spirit of Christianity."
– Daniel Webster.

The United States of America is 226 years old today (July 4, 2002). That’s a long time for a nation to remain free. But, when you take the long, historical view, America is just a CHILD among the nations. Egypt, China, Japan, Rome, or Greece all make America’s history seem so short. Consider what a brief time we’ve really been here as a nation: When Thomas Jefferson died, Abraham Lincoln was a young man of 17. When Lincoln was assassinated, Woodrow Wilson was a boy of 8. By the time the nation mourned the death of President Wilson, Ronald Reagan was a boy of 12.

Edward Gibbon, author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, has attributed the fall of the Empire to:

1. The rapid increase of divorce; the undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis of human society.
2. Higher and higher taxes and the spending of public monies for free bread and circuses for the populace.
3. The mad craze for pleasure; sports becoming every year more exciting and more brutal.
4. The building of gigantic armaments when the real enemy was within, the decadence of the people.
5. The decay of religion–faith fading into mere form, losing touch with life and becoming impotent to warn and guide the people.

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Delivered November 19, 1863
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

"I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in the Assembly every morning…"
– Benjamin Franklin, 1787 Constitutional Convention

TRIBUTE TO THE UNITED STATES
This, from a Canadian newspaper, is worth sharing.
America: The Good Neighbor.

Widespread but only partial news coverage was given recently to a remarkable editorial broadcast from Toronto by Gordon Sinclair, a Canadian television Commentator. What follows is the full text of his trenchant remarks as printed in the Congressional Record:

"This Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous and possibly the least appreciated people on all the earth. Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts.

None of these countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States. When France was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up, and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. I was there. I saw it.

When earthquakes hit distant cities, it is the United States that hurries in to help. This spring, 59 American communities were flattened by tornadoes. Nobody helped. The Marshall Plan and the Truman Policy pumped billions of dollars into discouraged countries. Now newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent, warmongering Americans.

I’d like to see just one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion of the United States dollar build its own airplane. Does any other country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet, the Lockheed Tri-Star, or the Douglas DC10?

If so, why don’t they fly them? Why do all the International lines except Russia fly American Planes? Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or woman on the moon? You talk about Japanese technocracy, and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy, and you get automobiles. You talk about American technocracy, and you find men on the moon – not once, but several times – and safely home again.

You talk about scandals, and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everybody to look at. Even their draft-dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They are here on our streets, and most of them, unless they are breaking Canadian laws, are getting American dollars from ma and pa at home to spend here.

When the railways of France, Germany and India were breaking down through age, it was the Americans who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose. Both are still broke.

I can name you 5000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble. Can you name me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don’t think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake.

Our neighbors have faced it alone, and I’m one Canadian who is tired of hearing them get kicked around. They will come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their nose at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles. I hope Canada is not one of those."

Stand proud, America! Wear it proudly!

Quotes by Ronald Reagan
"I believe this blessed land was set apart in a very special way, a country created by men and women who came here not in the search of gold, but in search of God. They would be free people, living under the law with faith in their Maker and their future."

"Our liberty springs from and depends upon an abiding faith in God."

"The truth is, politics and morality are inseparable, and as morality’s foundation is religion, religion and politics are necessarily related. We need religion as a guide."

"If we lived by the Golden Rule, there would be no need for other laws."

"I believe with all my heart that standing up for America means standing up for the God who has so blessed our land. We need God’s help to guide our nation through stormy seas. But we can’t expect Him to protect America in a crisis if we just leave Him over on the shelf in our day-to-day living."

"My fellow citizens, those of you here in this hall, and those of you at home. I want you to know that I have always had the highest respect for you, for your common sense and intelligence and for your decency. I have always believed in you and in what you could accomplish for yourselves and others.

And whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears; to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way.

My fondest hope for each one of you, and especially for the young people here, is that you will love your country, not for her power or wealth, but for her selflessness and her idealism. May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will make the world a little better for your having been here.

May all of you as Americans never forget your heroic origins, never fail to seek Divine guidance, and never lose your natural God-given optimism.

And finally, my fellow Americans, may every dawn be a great new beginning for America and every evening bring us closer to that shining city upon a hill…My fellow Americans, on behalf of both of us, goodbye, and God bless each and every one of you and God bless this country we love."

Maximizing Ministry on Patriotic Holidays By Pastor Tim Davidson

Maximizing Ministry on Patriotic Holidays
By Pastor Tim Davidson
Word of Faith Church and Outreach Center, Bismarck, North Dakota

A few weeks before Veteran’s Day, one of the men in the church, who was a veteran, came to me and said he had seen a flag folding ceremony at an event in town, and thought it would be a wonderful thing to have in church on the Sunday before Veteran’s Day. He asked if we could do that. I said yes and put him in charge of the arrangements. I wanted to do it because I want to back up the ideas of the people in the church whenever possible.

This gentleman had seen this particular ceremony, and it had Christian values in it. I thought it would be good to honor the veterans and use it as an outreach opportunity – people in the church can invite veterans, and we’ll advertise it in the newspaper.

So on that Veteran’s Sunday we had shortened worship time, and our quartet sang the National Anthem. We then invited the American Legion to conduct a flag folding ceremony. They presented the colors, and we said the pledge of allegiance. They had a reading that they presented over each folding of the flag.

The captain of this group asked me to call each of the veterans in the service forward, and he saluted each of them and gave each of them an American flag pin and thanked them for their participation in the armed services. (Note: It’s important to not only recognize those that did serve, but also to express gratitude to any present that are currently serving in the military.)

When it came time for the message, I preached a message called “Band of Brothers” based on Romans 8:28-29 in the BBE (The Bible in Basic English).

The rest of my message was stories of heroic action from World War II, Medal of Honor winners. My goal was to tie in the fact that we, too, have a purpose, and some things are more important than our own welfare, and that we should be willing to give our lives for our cause.

Not only did the veterans seem very touched, but so did everyone else. There was hardly a dry eye in the house.

What follows are the notes to the message I preached that morning. If you’d like to obtain a copy of the tape, you can do so by calling 701-222-1004.

BAND OF BROTHERS

Rom 8:28-29(The Bible in Basic English)
And we are conscious that all things are working together for good to those who have love for God, and have been marked out by his purpose. Because those of whom he had knowledge before they came into existence, were marked out by him to be made like his Son, so that he might be the first among a band of brothers:

The WW2 generation was called of God to save the world from 2 natural enemies, Hitler in Germany and Hirohito in Japan.

Characteristics of the WW2 Generation

The whole world was at stake.

There were only 16 democracies left in the world at that time.

It was a whole nation that accepted the commission not just a few. Orv Larson, my brother in law, said about the American people during those years, “Everyone was an optimist.”

All sacrificed. (Gas and food rationing was nationwide. No new cars were even built for a period of time during the war years. Tom Brokaw said they went 10 years without a new car in his family. Billye Brim’s folks moved and worked in a war plant in Oklahoma during the war years. The national speed limit was set at 35 mph for a time to conserve fuel.)

No one thought that they were heroes. All thought it was their duty.
(Eddie Albert) who rescued floating wounded Marines off shore under fire from four machine guns said, “Those guys were in the water and they had to get out. There wasn’t anything heroic about it.

Dr. Charles Van Gorder, who operated for 36 hours straight on hundreds of GIs, at times on his stomach on the floor because of the bullets flying through the medical tent.

Soldiers, to get the job done, had to think of something other than themselves and their own comfort.

17-year-old Marine Jacklyn Lucas, who had enlisted at the age of 14 by lying about his age, hurled himself on two grenades on Iwo Jima rather than let the explosions kill the other members of his fire team. Surviving the blast, he said stoically, “One of us had to go.” He was the youngest Marine to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Consider Captain John P. Cromwell, U.S. Submarine Commander, who after a valiant fight realized his sub was disabled. He knew that if he was captured and tortured by the Japanese he might give up valuable secret information. So he chose not to be captured. After passing the word to abandon ship to his crew he and 11 officers dived the submarine with all hatchets open to the bottom of the ocean. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Gena’s dad (my father-in-law) Ray Harman was a flight engineer on a B17 in the 401st Bomb Group. He made 18 missions over Germany before being shot down over France. He was wounded, taken as a POW, and later escaped from the Germans with the help of the French underground. He made it back to Allied lines. All this was done in a waist down cast because of a broken leg. This all happened after a life threatening injury on a previous mission that qualified him for a desk job. But when asked why he chose to fly again he said he had joined up and come over to fly and so volunteered to return to bombing runs when the chance of completing the assigned number of missions was about zero.

(Unknown marine received the Congressional Medal of Honor) when he charged five Jap tanks in the Philippines taking them all out and killing the crews. He was killed later by a Japanese sniper. (Dorrie Miller) First black sailor medal winner at Pearl Harbor was a cook on the Arizona but manned a gun and shot down two enemy planes. He was later killed in the Pacific when his galley was torpedoed. James Fisk, who is a tour guide at Pearl Harbor and is seen on the famous Life Magazine photo, stood at his post on his gun turret on the West Virginia in Pearl Harbor until ordered off. Audie Murphy, 5th grade dropout, who was and still is the most decorated soldier in history.

Gordon Larsen, South Dakota, joined the 3rd Marine Division, 9th regiment and was sent to the south Pacific where he was a Browning automatic rifleman. He was in some of the heaviest fighting over World War II, landing at Guadalcanal, Guam, Okinawa. Gordon’s brother Jim was also in the 3rd Marines and was killed in action. The group Gordon Larsen trained with was 240 men. Only eight returned alive and uninjured. One day, on Halloween some years after the war, Gordon was in the post office where Tom Brokaw’s mother worked. Gordon was upset that some of the teens of the town had been rowdy the night before. Tom Brokaw’s mother said, “Why Gordon, what were you doing when you were seventeen?” He looked at her for a moment and said, “I was landing on Guadalcanal.”

Victory in spite of the cost. (Winston Churchill and FDR) Churchill said in 1941about the U.S entering the war after Pearl Harbor “so we have won after all.” (Ike) Eisenhower ordered thousands to battle and lived with the decision. George “Blood and Guts” Patton said God had anointed him for war. General Anthony McAuliffe Who said, “Nuts” to overwhelming odds at Bastone.

They also had many costly mistakes. (D Day Omaha Beach, 82nd Airborne in Operation Market Garden – movie – A Bridge Too Far.)

Their enemy wouldn’t surrender. (Iwo Jima). U.S. causalities were 7,000 dead. 19,000 wounded for a rock in the Pacific. We killed 21,000 Japanese and only took 8 prisoners.

Unity to purpose and not to personality was a requirement of the assignment. Many soldiers hated their leaders but followed them to victory.

They took ownership of their lives. (Tom Broderick, Chicago) was blinded for life when hit by an enemy bullet. He had served in the Merchant Marine. He then volunteered for 82nd Airborne and was dropped into France. He was shot in head and blinded for life. Later when asked about the life changing ordeal, he simply said, “I got my head too high in my foxhole.”

Quotes from “Flags of Our Fathers” a book about the men who raised the flag on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima.

“Battles are won by teams working together not by heroic individuals fighting on their own. The central function of boot camp was to erase the impulses of individuality and to get the recruit thinking as a member of a team.”
“We trust and depend on one another and that’s how it will be in combat.”
“The Japanese soldiers would fight to the death for the Emperor. That made him a formidable foe. But our boys would fight to the death for one another. And that motive made them invincible.”
“When facing a dangerous task one Marine told his son years later, I kept saying to myself if he can do it, I can do it. I just follow the back of the next Marine.”
“It wasn’t a matter of living or dying of fighting. It was a matter of helping your friends.”

That WW2 generation was called of God to save the world from a natural enemy.

This generation of people today is called of God to save the world spiritually.

We have to think of something other than our own comfort and ourselves.
We are to lose our impulse of individualism and join a team and become part of a cause greater than ourselves. We develop Unity to purpose not to personality. It’s not really about me.

In the popular mini series The Band of Brothers, the 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles where featured. One survivor, Paul C. Rogers, was asked what kept them going through so many battles and with so many casualties?
“We were special because we banded together and were like a big family. I was in one squad in the same platoon all through the war. We formed into a family. I know more about some of those men than I do my own brothers. Throughout it all we stayed together, fought together and were bonded together like a band of brothers.”

Phil. 3:18-19
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.

Each local church today is to be a band of brothers who care for each other and do what it takes to accomplish the mission we are on.

Maximizing Ministry on Patriotic Holidayswith Pastor Tim Kutz

Maximizing Ministry on Patriotic Holidays
An Interview with Pastor Tim Kutz of Victory Church, Bartlesville, Oklahoma

Last year on Memorial Day we had one particular individual that I thought I’d never see in church, and he and another individual got saved. I believe it was a result of the Lord and the Word that was preached that day. It was a different kind of word. As ministers we will preach a Mother’s Day sermon and a Father’s Day sermon. I remember Pastor Hagin talking about being in the pulpit on special days, and I really learned from Pastor Hagin the importance of special days. But Memorial Day was always hard for me. I’m sure different preachers have done it, but I don’t ever remember hearing anybody preach what I would call a Memorial Day sermon.

The only thought I had of Memorial Day was that it was a time when a lot of people left town. The people that did attend (usually a smaller group) were typically the really dedicated ones, so they wanted to hear a good word. I would always endeavor to give them a really good word. And that’s all that Memorial Day was in my thinking.

I had been really meditating for the last six or eight months before Memorial Day, and the focus of much of my preaching was on developing character in people’s lives. I was endeavoring to address what I saw as an over-emphasis on the teaching of prosperity and how it could affect people. I observed some people becoming so introspective and self-centered that they really couldn’t function as servants, or even have a heart to give themselves to other people. I had been seeing people getting so discouraged because the prosperity message wasn’t working the way they expected it to, and yet we are so blessed in this country!

I’ve made many missionary trips to Nepal, and if you travel all over the world you will see how bad people have it in many countries. I believe the reason we have it so good here is because God is at the center of much of what we do in this country, and He is involved in many people’s lives and He’s blessed this nation. He’s blessed us! The poorest people (or the people of the least means) in my church are so much better off than ninety percent of the people in the world. So, in reality, prosperity really is working and is active in their lives.

I was somewhat motivated by what I was hearing from so many different TV ministers. I’m not picking on any person because I believe that there are people who are called to address prosperity. Brother Hagin taught a well-balanced prosperity message, and he taught that we needed to be qualified and be faithful. Isaiah said if we were willing and obedient that we’d eat the good of the land, and you can’t discount that. But at what point do you say, “Okay, this is working, I’m prospering, I’m blessed,” and then move on to the next level and ask, “Now what can I do to be a blessing to others?” So much of what I was seeing was based on materialism and money, and people having to always have the newest item, and having to have the best of everything. Everything has to be new or for some reason or another (in their mind) the Gospel wasn’t working. I saw people getting discouraged because they were trying to live in their perception of prosperity (by worldly, materialistic standards), but many of them were just getting into debt.

We need to be careful that we aren’t just turning into selfish people, asking, “Why isn’t this working for me?” and never developing a heart for other people. I began first of all to take a look at myself and to realize that I really am content. I’m very satisfied with what I have, very thankful for what I have, but I had to get in touch with how thankful I was for everything I had. I had to take time to remember all that the Lord has done for me from great things to small things, and then I had to articulate that to the Lord. We take so much for granted, and I began to see that the issue with people is that they weren’t thankful. That was what had been working on the inside of me… people wanting more and more and more, but not stopping to be thankful for what they had.

All this is leading up to Memorial Day. So I began to get up early in the morning, which wasn’t my habit. I would get up early and just spend extra time with the Lord, thanking him for healthy children, for the house we live in (which is not an extremely expensive house, but it’s nice, and we like it). Thanking God for health in my body. Thanking God that I didn’t die in car accidents. Thanking God that when I was selling drugs and got sent to prison, that He didn’t give up on me. He didn’t tell me, “You’re a lost cause now.”

He’s always been faithful in situations, and I began to bring situations to my own remembrance and thank God for different things… just developing thanksgiving in my life for what I have. This became my platform for ministering to other people concerning being thankful for what they have. I really think that a pre-requisite for us walking in more and receiving more is to be thankful for what we have, and to take care of and be good stewards over what we have.

I had already prepared my message for that weekend (Memorial Day), and it was going to be a good word for the faithful people who would be there. But from meditating on thankfulness and the importance of remembering, I realized I needed to go a different direction. Having spent time remembering all that God had done, it just kind of clicked in me: Memorial Day is about remembering! I realized: I had never heard anybody preach “a remembering sermon” on Memorial Day. I had never heard anybody memorialize on Memorial Day.

What did we end up doing on Memorial Day? We remembered the people who died in battle, those who had given their life, who had paid the supreme sacrifice for us. Many in America today don’t take time to remember and be thankful – they don’t care. There are real people who died so we could live the way we live today. I believe if anybody is godly, that has to touch their heart. And that’s what Jesus did for us!

I began to think, “If this is Memorial Day and we’re supposed to remember these people, then we need to remember them. So I began to do a search on the Internet to find people who gave their lives, and I found a site that tells about those who have earned the Congressional Medal of Honor (www.army.milcmh-pgmoh1.htm). At that site you will find a list of Congressional Medal of Honor winners from the time the awards were first issued.

I especially looked for people who reacted in such a way that they didn’t have time necessarily to think about it. In other words, I looked for people who I thought had already made the decision: “This is what I’m going to do if certain things happen.” During the Vietnam War (I was in the military at that time, but I was not in Vietnam) I remember hearing about people who would throw themselves on hand grenades when there were eight or ten people around, and of course, they would be killed instantly. But everybody around them (because their body absorbed the blast) would be saved.

Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

To me, that’s the type of person we really want and need to remember. So I looked specifically for people who jumped on hand grenades, and I found several. I found a person from World War I, World War II, one from Korea, one from Vietnam, and one from the first war in Iraq. I also picked a black American from World War II, because no black Americans were awarded the Medal of Honor for that war until 1993. Then I read about them, read where they were from, what their names were, where they were born, and how old they were when they died. This web-site gives a little personal information about them, and then describes the circumstances around what they did and how they gave their lives… the things that led to them receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor.

I talked about these individuals in my sermon, and there were people crying in the sanctuary. I stated, “This is Memorial Day and we’re supposed to remember. But how many of you have ever heard of these people?” Nobody had ever heard of these people, and my question was, “Why haven’t we heard of them?” The answer is that we simply haven’t talked about these heroes the way we should have. We haven’t been remembering!

We’re supposed to remember these people, but we’ve just kind of generically said, “Okay, people have died for us. That’s good.” But it needs to become personal to us. Acknowledging specific individuals really brought a different atmosphere into our service for Memorial Day than I had ever seen. Just studying for it touched my heart, but everyone in the church was also touched by it.

In my message, I then went into remembering Jesus and the circumstances of how He gave His life for us. That just made it so much more powerful. We went from the natural realm to the spiritual realm. And it just made so much sense to people, because freedom in both realms is based on the fact that people selflessly and sacrificially gave their lives for us.

I referred earlier to the individual that I never thought I’d see in church, and I was watching him because I’d met him several years before. He was married to the daughter of a lady in my church. I had performed the wedding, but it wasn’t in the church because he didn’t want to be in the church. So we did the ceremony in our Community College gymnasium. The first time I met him he called himself Little Lucifer, and he had his hair styled so they looked like little horns in his hair. I’m not exaggerating when I say that he had probably 25 piercings on his face. He was a different looking sort of fellow.

There he was that morning, Little Lucifer, and this really made sense to him, and he got saved. I was so excited. I’m excited about everyone that gets saved, but when a person like that gets saved, you realize that God can reach anybody.

Afterwards I began to think about this coming Memorial Day, and there is a step that I may be adding this year. I will be looking at Fox’s Book of Martyrs, and perhaps adding somebody from that book as we move from the natural to the spiritual, but we will still end up remembering Jesus. At the end of last year’s service, we had Communion. Of course, Communion is all about remembering – it is a memorial in and of itself. As often as we do this, we do it in remembrance of Him (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).

I also found something from World Magazine’s web-site (www.worldmag.com). They have a link that refers to issues from previous weeks. The issue of May 24, 2003, has an article in there called “Sons and Daughters.” I began to read that article and it really touched me. These were the real life stories of people who went to Iraq, and gave their lives serving our country. I began to think how important it was, and how we could remember and honor these people, because they are due honor.

I found out that from our state, Oklahoma, there are people who went to Iraq and gave their lives in very recent times. There’s one from Waggoner, which is about 65 miles from where I pastor. I have yet to contact the family, but I’m going to contact them. I’m going to see if they would be willing to come to our church and allow us to honor their son. We might have them talk about him, and perhaps there would be an entrance into their lives for the Gospel. If they got saved as a result of this, it wouldn’t necessarily build our church, but it would build the Kingdom. Not only that, it would help make Memorial Day real to us all. It would give people an opportunity to put faces to what this holiday is really all about. I believe that it would serve to help further build an attitude of thanksgiving in people’s lives.

We have two parents from our church whose sons are Marines and they are going to Iraq now in this deployment in the next couple of months. And that’s something that we’ll keep before the Body, and we’ll be praying for them as well as all the troops. I think this next Memorial Day service is something that we can promote in the community and draw people who have a natural, or a patriotic interest.

We’re after souls. We’re after people who need to get saved, and after seeing the service and how it turned out last year, I believe God can really use that type of service again to do the same thing. So I’m going to endeavor to get the mind of the Lord on how to promote it so we can be a blessing to people, and so we can reach people who need to get saved.

This past Memorial Day, I had an idea that what we were doing would work, but I really didn’t know the impact until I got in the service and ministered. I was touched too. I had to stop speaking in order to gather my composure.

There have been times when we’ve received Communion and some very real things have happened in my life. There have been times that I have been so thankful that I was moved to tears, and so forth. But I was moved to tears this time in a different way because it became so much more real to me. It helped things become more real to me by starting at the level of sacrifice in natural wars, and then “graduating” to the spiritual realm. Jesus, when He was here, was in the form of man. He suffered and died for us. He made the ultimate sacrifice for us.

And the way He died… I just can’t fathom how He did that. And so how can you not be moved by that? I think that on your web site (www.tonycooke.org) is a medical description of the crucifixion of Jesus and I may use that, too.

The families that sent their sons to war, those whose sons died for our nation, need to know that we’re thankful. After the Vietnam War was over and the soldiers came back, we experienced something we’ve never experienced in this country before. Those people were mocked, were spit on, and they were treated as second class citizens. That just cannot be the way things are left.

People who give one of their family members so we can be free…we think they are worthy of our respect and our honor, our recognition. And they need to know that we don’t just take what was done for granted… that we are thankful, that there are people in this country that are very thankful for what their sons and daughters did… that it means something to us. This is something the church should not be oblivious to, and we must not miss the opportunity that days like Memorial Day provide.

Helpful Links:

Medal Of Honor Winners

World Magazine

Thoughts for Mother’s Day

Thoughts for Mother’s Day

The following is a collection of quotes, sayings, stories, illustrations, and scriptures about mothers. It is my desire that any person wanting to remember his or her own mother or to reflect on the value of motherhood will find great inspiration here. I also trust this will be a helpful resource as pastors endeavor to fittingly honor those special ladies on Mother’s Day. Read Tony’s tribute to his mother.

The Origin of Mother’s Day

In the United States, Mother’s Day was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe (who wrote the words to the Battle hymn of the Republic) as a day dedicated to peace. Ms. Howe would hold organized Mother’s Day meetings in Boston, Mass every year.

In 1907 Anna Jarvis, from Philadelphia, began a campaign to establish a national Mother’s Day. Ms. Jarvis persuaded her mother’s church in Grafton, West Virginia to celebrate Mother’s Day on the second anniversary of her mother’s death, the 2nd Sunday of May. By the next year Mother’s Day was also celebrated in Philadelphia.

Ms. Jarvis and her supporters began to write to ministers, businessman, and politicians in their quest to establish a national Mother’s Day. It was successful as by 1911 Mother’s Day was celebrated in almost every state. President Woodrow Wilson, in 1914, made the official announcement proclaiming Mother’s Day as a national holiday that was to be held each year on the 2nd Sunday of May. He established the day as a time for “public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.” By then it had become customary to wear white carnations to honor departed mothers and red to honor the living, a custom that continues to this day.

While many countries of the world celebrate their own Mother’s Day at different times throughout the year, there are some countries such as Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Belgium which also celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May.

The Influence of a Mother

“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.”
– Abraham Lincoln

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”
– Abraham Lincoln

“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”
– George Washington

“Mothers have as powerful an influence over the welfare of future generations as all other earthly causes combined.”
– John S.C. Abbott

“There never was a woman like her. She was gentle as a dove and brave as a lioness… The memory of my mother and her teachings were, after all, the only capital I had to start life with, and on that capital I have made my way.”
– Andrew Jackson

“An ounce of mother is worth a ton of priest.”
– Spanish proverb

“The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.”
– W. R. Wallace

“The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.”
– Henry Ward Beecher

“In all my efforts to learn to read, my mother shared fully my ambition and sympathized with me and aided me in every way she could. If I have done anything in life worth attention, I feel sure that I inherited the disposition from my mother.”
– Booker T. Washington

“I cannot tell you how much I owe to the solemn word of my good mother.”
– Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Education commences at the mother’s knee, and every word spoken within the hearing of little children tends towards the formation of character.”
– Hosea Ballou

“Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.”
– Barbara Kingsolver

“The future destiny of a child is always the work of the mother.”
– Napoleon Bonaparte

“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.”
– Maya Angelou

“It seems to me that my mother was the most splendid woman I ever knew… I have met a lot of people knocking around the world since, but I have never met a more thoroughly refined woman than my mother. If I have amounted to anything, it will be due to her.”
– Charles Chaplin

“The mother, more than any other, affects the moral and spiritual part of the children’s character. She is their constant companion and teacher in formative years. The child is ever imitating and assimilating the mother’s nature. It is only in after life that men gaze backward and behold how a mother’s hand and heart of love molded their young lives and shaped their destiny.”
– E.W. Caswell

“The noblest calling in the world is that of mother. True motherhood is the most beautiful of all arts, the greatest of all professions. She who can paint a masterpiece or who can write a book that will influence millions deserves the plaudits and admiration of mankind; but she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters whose immortal souls will be exerting an influence throughout the ages long after painting shall have faded, and books and statues shall have been destroyed, deserves the highest honor that man can give.”
– David O. McKay

When Robert Ingersoll, the notorious skeptic, was in his heyday, two college students went to hear him lecture. As they walked down the street after the lecture, one said to the other, “Well, I guess he knocked the props out from under Christianity, didn’t he?” The other said, “No, I don’t think he did. Ingersoll did not explain my mother’s life, and until he can explain my mother’s life I will stand by my mother’s God.”
– James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited, Tyndale.

Many scholars have concluded that you cannot really understand John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, unless you understand his mother Susanna Wesley. She was so instrumental in his life that she inevitably affected the movement and its direction. Americans know that Abraham Lincoln led this nation through perhaps its time of greatest crisis; but who was it that made Abraham Lincoln the man that he was? I know what Lincoln thought. He said it was his mother. I would submit to you this morning that there is not a person sitting here that in one, five, ten, a thousand different ways has not been forever influenced by their mother. I firmly believe that you cannot understand who a person is and what motivates them until you understand their past. And you cannot understand a person’s past without understanding the source that co-created that person along with God—their parents.
– Unknown

“Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love.”
– Stevie Wonder

“My mother never gave up on me. I messed up in school so much they were sending me home, but my mother sent me right back.”
– Denzel Washington

“My mother said to me, “If you become a soldier you’ll be a general; if you become a monk you’ll end up as the pope.” Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.”
– Pablo Picasso

Humor

No one deserves a special day all to herself more than today’s Mom. A cartoon showed a psychologist talking to his patient: “Let’s see,” he said, “You spend 50 percent of your energy on your job, 50 percent on your husband and 50 percent on your children. I think I see your problem.”
– Unknown

“The hand that rocks the cradle usually is attached to someone who isn’t getting enough sleep.”
– John Fiebig

“I’d like to be the ideal mother, but I’m too busy raising my kids.”
– Unknown

“Motherhood is full of frustrations and challenges… but eventually they move out.”
– Unknown

The mother of three notoriously unruly youngsters was asked whether or not she’d have children if she had it to do over again. “Yes,” she replied. “But not the same ones.”
– David Finkelstein

A little boy forgot his lines in a Sunday school presentation. His mother was in the front row to prompt him. She gestured and formed the words silently with her lips, but it did not help. Her son’s memory was blank. Finally, she leaned forward and whispered the cue, “I am the light of the world.” The child beamed and with great feeling and a loud clear voice said, “My mother is the light of the world.”
– Bits and Pieces, August, 1989

A teacher gave her class of second graders a lesson on the magnet and what it does. The next day in a written test, she included this question: ” My full name has six letters. The first one is M. I pick up things. What am I?” When the test papers were turned in, the teacher was astonished to find that almost 50 percent of the students answered the question with the word Mother.
– Unknown

The Evolution of Mothers

Being a parent changes everything. But being a parent also changes with each
baby. Here are some of the ways having a second and third child is different
from having the first.

Your Clothes
1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your doctor confirms your pregnancy.
2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.
3rd baby: Your maternity clothes ARE your regular clothes.

Preparing for the Birth
1st baby: You practice your breathing religiously.
2nd baby: You don’t bother practicing because you remember that last time, breathing didn’t do a thing.
3rd baby: You ask for an epidural in your 8th month.

The Layette
1st baby: You pre-wash your newborn’s clothes, color-coordinate them, and fold them neatly in the baby’s little bureau.
2nd baby: You check to make sure that the clothes are clean and discard only the ones with the darkest stains.
3rd baby: Boys can wear pink, can’t they?

Worries
1st baby: At the first sign of distress–a whimper, a frown–you pick up the baby.
2nd baby: You pick the baby up when her wails threaten to wake your firstborn.
3rd baby: You teach your 3-year-old how to rewind the mechanical swing.

Pacifier
1st baby: If the pacifier falls on the floor, you put it away until you can go home and wash and boil it.
2nd baby: When the pacifier falls on the floor, you squirt it off with some juice from the baby’s bottle.
3rd baby: You wipe it off on your shirt and pop it back in.

Diapering
1st baby: You change your baby’s diapers every hour, whether they need it or not.
2nd baby: You change their diaper every 2 to 3 hours, if needed.
3rd baby: You try to change their diaper before others start to complain about the smell or you see it sagging to their knees.

Activities
1st baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics, Baby Swing, and Baby Story Hour.
2nd baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics.
3rd baby: You take your infant to the supermarket and the dry cleaner.

Going Out
1st baby: The first time you leave your baby with a sitter, you call home 5 times.
2nd baby: Just before you walk out the door, you remember to leave a number where you can be reached.
3rd baby: You leave instructions for the sitter to call only if she sees blood.

At Home
1st baby: You spend a good bit of every day just gazing at the baby.
2nd baby: You spend a bit of every day watching to be sure your older child isn’t squeezing, poking, or hitting the baby.
3rd baby: You spend a little bit of every day hiding from the children.

The Meanest Mother in the World

We had the meanest mother in the whole world! While other kids ate candy for breakfast, we had to have cereal, eggs, and toast. When others had a Pepsi and a Twinkie for lunch, we had to eat sandwiches. And you can guess our mother fixed us a dinner that was different than other kids had too. Mother insisted on knowing where we were at all times. You would think we were convicts in a prison. She had to know who our friends were, and what we were doing with them. She insisted that if we said we would be gone for an hour, we would be gone for an hour or less. We were ashamed to admit it, but she had the nerve to break the child Labor Laws but making us work. We had to wash the dishes, make the beds, learn to cook, vacuum the floor, do laundry, and all sorts of cruel jobs. I think she would lay awake at night thinking of more things for us to do. She always insisted on us telling the truth the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. By the time we were teenagers, she could read our minds, and life was really tough. She wouldn’t let our friends just honk the horn when they drove up. They had to come up to the door so she could meet them. While everyone else could date when they were 12 or 13, we had to wait until we were 16. Because of our mother we missed out on lots of things other kids experienced. None of us have ever been caught shoplifting, vandalizing others property, or ever arrested for any crime. It was all her fault. We never got drunk, took up smoking, stayed out all night, or a million other things other kids did. Sundays were reserved for church, and we never missed once. We knew better than to ask to spend the night with a friend on Saturdays. Now that we have left home, we are all God-fearing, educated, honest adults. We are doing our best to be mean parents just like our mom was. The world just doesn’t have enough mean moms anymore.
– Steve Heese

You Know You’re Really a Mom When…

  • You count the number of sprinkles on each kid’s cupcake to make sure they are equal.
  • You want to take out a contract on the kid who broke your child’s favorite toy and made him/her cry.
  • You have time to shave only one leg at a time.
  • You hide in the bathroom to be alone.
  • Your child throws up and you catch it.
  • Someone else’s kid throws up at a party and you keep eating.
  • You consider finger paint to be a controlled substance.
  • You mastered the art of placing food on a plate without anything touching.
  • Your child insists that you read “Once Upon a Potty” out loud in the lobby of the doctor’s office and you do it.
  • You hire a baby sitter because you haven’t been out with your husband in ages, then you spend half the night talking about and checking on the kids.
  • You hope ketchup is a vegetable because it’s the only one your child eats.
  • You find yourself cutting your husband’s sandwiches into unusual shapes.
  • You fast-forward through the scene when the hunter shoots Bambi’s mother.
  • You obsess when your child clings to you upon parting during his first month at school, then you obsess when he skips in without looking back.
  • You can’t bear to give away baby clothes–it’s so final.
  • You hear your mother’s voice coming out of your mouth when you say, “Not in your good clothes.”
  • You stop criticizing the way your mother raised you.
  • You read that the average-five-year old asks 437 questions a day and feel proud that your kid is “above average.”
  • You say at least once a day “I’m not cut out for this job,” but you know you wouldn’t trade it for anything.
    – Unknown

“My mother had to send me to the movies with my birth certificate, so that I wouldn’t have to pay the extra fifty cents [the adults had to pay].”
– Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

“There never was a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him asleep.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“No matter how old a mother is she watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement.”
– Florida Scott-Maxwell

My Mother Taught Me…

1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.
“If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.”

2. My mother taught me RELIGION.
“You’d better pray that will come out of the carpet.”

3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL .
“If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of next week!”

4. My mother taught me LOGIC.
“Because I said so, that’s why.”

5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC.
“If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you’re not going to the store with me.”

6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT.
“Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident.”

7. My mother taught me IRONY.
“Keep crying, and I’ll give you something to cry about.”

8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.
“Shut your mouth and eat your supper.”

9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM .
“Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!”

10. My mother taught me about STAMINA.
“You’ll sit there until all that spinach is gone.”

11. My mother taught me about WEATHER.
“This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.”

12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.
“If I told you once, I’ve told you a million times. Don’t exaggerate!”

13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.
“I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.”

14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.
“Stop acting like your father!”

15. My mother taught me about ENVY.
“There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don’t have wonderful parents like you do.”

16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
“Just wait until we get home.”

17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING.
“You are going to get it when you get home!”

18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.
“If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way.”

19. My mother taught me ESP.
“Put your sweater on; don’t you think I know when you are cold?”

20. My mother taught me HUMOR.
“When that lawnmower cuts off your toes, don’t come running to me.”

21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.
“If you don’t eat your vegetables, you’ll never grow up.”

22. My mother taught me GENETICS.
“You’re just like your father.”

23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.
“Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?”

24. My mother taught me WISDOM.
“When you get to be my age, you’ll understand.”

25. And my favorite: my mother taught me about JUSTICE.
“One day you’ll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you!”

Reflections Concerning Mothers and Motherhood

“No man is poor who has had a godly mother.”
– Abraham Lincoln

“The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.”
– Honore’ de Balzac

“Youth fades; love droops, the leaves of friendship fall; A mother’s secret hope outlives them all.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes

“Before becoming a mother I had a hundred theories on how to bring up children. Now I have seven children and only one theory: love them, especially when they least deserve to be loved.”
– Kate Samperi

Peter Pan and Captain Hook

In the Steven Spielberg movie, Hook, Robin Williams plays the role of Peter Banning, a middle-age attorney who has totally forgotten that as a boy, he was the legendary Peter Pan. He returns to Neverland to rescue his two children who have been kidnapped by the evil Captain Hook, played by Dustin Hoffman. Having seen Captain Hook’s sinister nature, Banning’s young daughter, Maggie, says to Captain Hook, “You need a mother very, very badly.” Later, she says, “Daddy, let’s go home. He’s just a mean old man without a mommy.” The power of motherly love is conveyed by Banning in a speech he gives at the dedication of an orphan’s hospital. In the audience are dozens of adults who, as orphaned children, had been taken in and cared for by Granny Wendy. “We don’t know each other, and I doubt that we have very much in common except this wonderful woman, Wendy Angela Darling. Granny Wendy brought me in from the cold. She taught me to read and write. She even found people to be my parents and adopt me. She’s loved so many children… just so effortlessly. That’s her achievement. Many of you here tonight were once lost children, but Granny Wendy found parents and homes for each of you, and saved you. That’s her miracle. And I know that if you could stand now you would express much better than I your feelings of gratitude, appreciation, and warm feelings for this wonderful woman.” Perhaps the difference between the lovable Peter Pan and the diabolical Captain Hook was the impact of motherly love.
– Tony Cooke

Years ago, a young mother was making her way across the hills of South Wales, carrying her tiny baby in her arms, when she was overtaken by a blinding blizzard. She never reached her destination and when the blizzard had subsided her body was found by searchers beneath a mound of snow. But they discovered that before her death, she had taken off all her outer clothing and wrapped it about her baby. When they unwrapped the child, to their great surprise and joy, they found he was alive and well. She had mounded her body over his and given her life for her child, proving the depths of her mother love. Years later that child, David Lloyd George, grown to manhood, became prime minister of Great Britain, and, without doubt, one of England’s greatest statesman.
– James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited, Tyndale, 1972

“Making a decision to have a child—it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
– Elizabeth Stone

“If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much.”
– Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Adorable children are considered to be the general property of the human race. Rude children belong to their mothers.
– Judith Martin

Children have more need of models than of critics.
– Joseph Joubert

It takes courage to let our children go, but we are trustees and stewards and have to hand them back to life—to God. We have to love them and lose them.
– Alfred Torrie

Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.
– Tagore

When General Ulysses Grant’s mother died at Jersey City in 1883, he said to the minister who was to officiate at the funeral: “Make no reference to me. She owed nothing to me, to any post I have occupied or any honors that have been paid me. Speak of her just as she was, a pure-minded, simple-hearted, earnest Methodist Christian.”

A teacher asked a boy this question: “Suppose your mother baked a pie and there were seven of you–your parents and five children. What part of the pie would you get?” “A sixth,” replied the boy. “I’m afraid you don’t know your fractions,” said the teacher. “Remember, there are seven of you.” “Yes, teacher,” said the boy, “but you don’t know my mother. Mother would say she didn’t want any pie.”
– Bits and Pieces, June, 1990

“The mother loves her child most divinely, not when she surrounds him with comfort and anticipates his wants, but when she resolutely holds him to the highest standards and is content with nothing less than his best.”
– Hamilton Wright Mabie

“Motherhood brings as much joy as ever, but it still brings boredom, exhaustion, and sorrow too. Nothing else ever will make you as happy or as sad, as proud or as tired, for nothing is quite as hard as helping a person develop his own individuality especially while you struggle to keep your own.”
– Marguerite Kelly and Elia Parsons

“Any mother could perform the jobs of several air-traffic controllers with ease.”
– Lisa Alther

“A mother understands what a child does not say.”
– Jewish Proverb

“The mother-child relationship is paradoxical and, in a sense, tragic. It requires the most intense love on the mother’s side, yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother, and to become fully independent.”
– Erich Fromm

My mother was all mother.
– Ella Fitzgerald

If you always do what interests you, at least one person will be pleased.
– Mother’s Advice to Katharine Hepburn

“What the world needs is not romantic lovers who are sufficient unto themselves, but husbands and wives who live in communities, relate to other people, carry on useful work and willingly give time and attention to their children.”
– Margaret Mead

“A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.”
– Cardinal Mermillod

“Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother.”
– Lin Yü-tang

“Every mother is like Moses. She does not enter the promised land. She prepares a world she will not see.”
– Pope Paul VI

“Government, obviously, cannot fill a child’s emotional needs. Nor can it fill his spiritual and moral needs. Government is not a father or mother. Government has never raised a child, and it never will.”
– William J. Bennett

“The mother is the most precious possessions of the nation, so precious that society advances its highest well-being when it protects the functions of the mother.”
– Ellen Key

“Most of all the other beautiful things in life come by twos and threes by dozens and hundreds. Plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers, and sisters, aunts and cousins, but only one mother in the whole world.”
– Kate Douglas Wiggin

“Children Learn What They Live”
by Dorothy Law Nolte

If a child lives with criticism,
He learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility,
He learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule,
He learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame,
He learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance,
He learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement,
He learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise,
He learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness,
He learns justice.
If a child lives with security,
He learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval,
He learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,
He learns to find love in the world.

The 23rd Psalm Mom

My mom is my shepherd; I shall not want. She makes me lie down under cool, downy comforts. She watches me play beside still waters. She restores my soul.

She leads me in paths of respect, responsibility, and goodness, for I am her namesake!

Yea, even though I walk past monsters in the dark, I will not be scared, because my mom is always near me. Her hands and her voice, they comfort me.

Mama sets the table and cheerfully calls me to dinner even in front of big, mean bullies.

She anoints my skinned knees and broken heart with kisses. She smiles and throws me a towel when my cup runneth over.

Surely God’s peace, power, and mercy shall uphold me all the days of my life, for my Mother taught me to dwell in the house of God forever.
– Unknown

More Quotes

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
– David O. McKay

“A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.”
– Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Creating a warm, caring, supportive, encouraging environment is probably the most important thing you can do for your family.
– Stephen Covey

Before I got married, I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories.
– Lord Rochester

“Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to ‘jump at de sun.’ We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.”
– Zora Neale Hurston

“God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers.”
– Jewish Proverb

“The commonest fallacy among women is that simply having children makes one a mother – which is as absurd as believing that having a piano makes one a musician.”
– Sydney Harris

On Mother’s Day a minister gave this perfect tribute: “My mother practices what I preach.”
– Capper’s Weekly

Make a list of 31 things your wife does for you and the family that you seldom thank her for. Make a point of thanking her specifically for one on each day of the coming month. On each day of the following month pay her a new compliment on one of her good attitudes, character qualities, habits or talents. And be prepared for a better relationship than you’ve enjoyed in quite a while.
– Unknown

Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.
– Jane Howard

Healthy families are our greatest national resource.
– Dolores Curran

Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall. A mother’s secret love outlives them all.
– Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

When the evening of this life comes, we shall be judged on love.
– St. John of the Cross

The noted jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once observed, “Anywhere we love is home.” All who have experienced the warmth of a love-filled household can second that emotion.

Our only chance for survival lies in creating our own little islands of sanity and order, in making little havens of our homes. – Sue Kaufman

Whatever the times, one thing will never change: Fathers and mothers, if you have children, they must come first. Your success as a family, our success as a society, depends not on what happens in the White House, but what happens inside your house.
– Barbara Bush

The Stages of Motherhood

* 4 Years Of Age – My Mommy can do anything;
* 8 Years Of Age – My Mom knows a lot! A whole lot
* 12 Years Of Age – My Mother doesn’t really know quite everything.
* 14 Years Of Age – Naturally, Mother doesn’t know that, either
* 16 Years Of Age – Mother? She’s hopelessly old-fashioned
* 18 Years Of Age – That old woman? She’s way out of date
* 25 Years Of Age – Well, she might know a little bit about it
* 35 Years Of Age – Before we decide, let’s get Mom’s opinion
* 45 Years Of Age – Wonder what Mom would have thought about it
* 65 Years Of Age – Wish I could talk it over with Mom
– Author Unknown

The Best Translation

There were four clergymen who were discussing the merits of the various translations of the Bible. One liked the King James Version best because of its simple beautiful English. Another liked the American Revised Version best because it is more literal and comes nearer the original Hebrew and Greek. Still another liked Moffatt’s translation best because of its up to date vocabulary. The fourth minister was silent. When asked to express his opinion, he replied, “I like my mother’s translation best.” The other three expressed surprise. They did no know that his mother had translated the Bible. “Yes, she did,” he replied. She translated it into life, and it was the most convincing translation I ever saw.”
– Douglas L. Murray Sr.

Sign for the Bathroom Door

Attention Everyone: The Bathroom Door is Closed!
Please do not stand there and talk, whine or ask questions.
Wait until I get out.
Yes, it is locked. I want it that way.
No, it is not broken; I am not trapped.
I know I have left it unlocked, and even open at times, since you were born, because I was afraid some horrible tragedy might occur while I was in there.
But it’s been ten years, and I want some privacy.
Do not ask me how long I will be.
I will come out when I am done.
Do not bring the phone to the bathroom door.
Do not go running back to the phone yelling, “She’s in the bathroom!”
Do not begin to fight as soon as I go in.
Do not stick your little fingers under the door and wiggle them.
This was funny only when you were two.
Do not slide pennies, Legos, or notes under the door,
Even when you were two, this got a little tiresome.
If you have followed me down the hall, talking,
And are still talking as you face this closed door,
Please turn around, walk away and wait for me in another room.
I will be glad to listen to you when I am done.
Oh.and yes, I still love you.

Mom
From “Espresso for a Woman’s Spirit,” by Pam Vredevelt.

Real Mothers

* Real Mothers don’t eat quiche; they don’t have time to make it.
* Real Mothers know that their kitchen utensils are probably in the sandbox.
* Real Mothers often have sticky floors, filthy ovens and happy kids.
* Real Mothers know that dried play dough doesn’t come out of carpet.
* Real Mothers don’t want to know what the vacuum just sucked up.
* Real Mothers sometimes ask “why me?” and get their answer when little voices say, “because I love you best.”
* Real Mothers know that a child’s growth is not measured by height or years or grade. It is marked by the progression of Mama to Mommy to Mom.
– Unknown

Mothers come in all sizes, shapes and colors and are found everywhere: at kitchen sinks; hunting lost school books; kissing hurt places to make them well; patching seams and dreams; settling disputes; getting meals; supervising baths and morals. Mothers are the child’s first and most important teacher. Eighty percent of what a child learns, he learns by the time he is five years old. A mother asked a psychiatrist, “When should I start training my child?” “How old is he?” he asked. The mother replied, “Five years old.” Flashed the psychiatrist, “Woman, hurry home! You have already lost five years.” A mother seems to have eyes in the back of her head, ears that can hear the cookie jar lid being stealthily lifted two rooms away. Her smiles are contagiously cheerful and light up a home, imparting hope and courage. Theodore Roosevelt said, “America’s greatest asset is home-building, God-fearing mothers.” The Bible gives these words of praise, “In her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household… Her children arise up, and call her blessed.” (Proverbs 31:26-28).
– Walter B. Knight

Campbell Morgan stated that his sermons were Bible stories heard from his mother. Dr. Morgan’s four sons became preachers, their dedication no doubt stemmed from their godly heritage. Someone once asked the youngest son who was the greatest preacher in the Morgan family, and the son answered without hesitation, “My mother.”
– Ruth Starnes

Behind the greatness of Samuel stood a devout mother named Hannah. She had long prayed for a child as a gift from the Lord and had promised even before his birth to give him back into God’s service. While Samuel was still a young child, she brought him to the Temple where he then lived in full-time training for God’s service. Thus it has always been. Mother is the first teacher and greatest influence on children. She deserves her day. A London editor sought an interview with Winston Churchill concerning the many teachers who had influenced the great statesman. Unable to secure a personal appointment with Churchill, he did preliminary research on his own. Then he mailed this list of names asking Churchill to write some brief comments about any of these teachers he remembered. Later he received the list back from Churchill blank. The only comment was: “You have omitted to mention the greatest of my teachers – my mother!”
– C.W. Bess

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.”
-Washington Irving

“Even He that died for us upon the cross, in the last hour, in the unutterable agony of death, was mindful of His mother, as if to teach us that this holy love should be our last worldly thought – the last point of earth from which the soul should take its flight for heaven.”
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, who was born of the promise to a virgin named Mary. I believe in the love Mary gave her Son, that caused her to follow Him in His ministry and stand by His cross when He died. I believe in the love of all mothers, and its importance in the lives of the children they bear. It is stronger than steel, softer than down, and more resilient than a green sapling on the hillside. It closes wounds, melts disappointments, and enables the weakest child to stand tall and straight in the fields of adversity. I believe that this love, even at its best, is only a shadow of the love of God, a dark reflection of all that we can expect of him, both in this life and the next. And I believe that one of the most beautiful sights in the world is a mother who lets this greater love flow through her to her child, blessing the world with the tenderness of her touch and the tears of her joy.”
– John Killinger, Lost in Wonder, Love, and Praise.

Scriptures About Motherhood

Genesis 3:20
And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

Exodus 20:12
” Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

1 Samuel 2:18-19
But Samuel ministered before the LORD, [even as] a child, wearing a linen ephod. Moreover his mother used to make him a little robe, and bring [it] to him year by year when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.

Proverbs 1:8
My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother.

Proverbs 15:20
A wise son makes a father glad, But a foolish man despises his mother.

Proverbs 23:24-25
The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who begets a wise [child] will delight in him. Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her who bore you rejoice.

Proverbs 31:28
Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband [also,] and he praises her.

Isaiah 66:12-13
For thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, And the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream. Then you shall feed; On [her] sides shall you be carried, And be dandled on [her] knees. As one whom his mother comforts, So I will comfort you; And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”

Luke 2:42-52
And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know [it;] but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among [their] relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Now so it was [that] after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Luke 7:15
So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.

Romans 16:13
Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.

Ephesians 6:1-3
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

2 Timothy 1:5
when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.

* All Scriptures are from the New King James Version of the Bible.

Why Did God Make Mothers?

The following are different answers given by school-age children to the given questions:

Why did God make mothers?
1. She’s the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2. Think about it, it was the best way to get more people.
3. Mostly to clean the house.
4. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?

1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3. He made my mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?
1. We’re related.
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people’s moms like me.

What ingredients are mothers made of?
1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world,
and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men’s bones. Then they mostly use string. I think.

What kind of little girl was your mom?
1. My mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
2. I don’t know because I wasn’t there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3. They say she used to be nice.

How did your mom meet your dad?
1. Mom was working in a store and dad was shoplifting.

What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?
1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your mom marry your dad?
1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my mom eats a lot.
2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
3. My grandma says that mom didn’t have her thinking cap on.

What makes a real woman?
1. It means you have to be really bossy without looking bossy.

Who’s the boss at your house?

1. Mom doesn’t want to be boss, but she has to because dad’s such a goofball.
2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What’s the difference between moms and dads?
1. Moms work at work and work at home, and dads just got to work at work.
2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3. Dads are taller and stronger, but moms have all the real power cause that’s who you gotta ask if you want to sleep over at your friend’s.

What does your mom do in her spare time?
1. Mothers don’t do spare time.
2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What’s the difference between moms and grandmas?
1. About 30 years.
2. You can always count on grandmothers for candy. Sometimes moms don’t even
have bread on them!

Describe the world’s greatest mom?
1. She would make broccoli taste like ice cream!
2. The greatest mom in the world wouldn’t make me kiss my fat aunts!
3. She’d always be smiling and keep her opinions to herself.

Is anything about your mom perfect?
1. Her teeth are perfect, but she bought them from the dentist.
2. Her casserole recipes. But we hate them.
3. Just her children

What would it take to make your mom perfect?
1. On the inside she’s already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2. Diet. You know, her hair. I’d dye-it, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?
1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I’d get rid of that.
2. I’d make my mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me.

Joseph – Father’s Day Message

Joseph – Father’s Day Message

Note from Tony – The main outline for this message is not original with me. I came across it years ago, but don’t recall the source. If you happen to know the source, please let me know so we can give proper credit.

One evening a little girl and her parents were sitting around the table eating supper. The little girl said, “Daddy, you’re the boss, aren’t you?” Her Daddy smiled, pleased, and said yes. The little girl continued “That’s because Mommy put you in charge, right?”

One Pastor said:

“Usually the pattern in most of our churches, is to exalt (or praise) motherhood on Mother’s Day and beat up (or criticize) Fathers on Father’s Day. It never ceases to amaze me how whenever there is a male function of some sorts in the church, people look for ways to remind men of all of their shortcomings.
You see — we preachers are no exception; we usually join the fray by chewing the dads out for not spending enough time with the family, or for being spiritual deadbeats. And when we do so, I find it amazing as to how we have the audacity to come to Church the following Sunday and complain about the lack of male presence.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to do things just a little bit different this morning. I’d like to preach one of those uplifting “Mother’s Day” sermon for our Fathers.

Why? Because I believe that being a Christian Father is one of the highest callings any man can ever achieve in his life.”

Once on a plane, I sat next to two ministers – both friends of mine. It was one of those divinely orchestrated coincidences…

We got to discussing Father’s Day messages, and the topic quickly turned to our own fathers.

1. The first pastor had been abandoned by his father as a child. Grew up with enormous challenges – and a major part of his perspective on life was centered on making sure that he did not turn out like his own dad.

Psalms 27:10

10 When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the LORD will take care of me.

Psalms 68:5-6

5 A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation. 6 God sets the solitary in families…

2. The second pastor’s father had been heavily involved in his upbringing – a very connected family…

Timothy

As my friend spoke of the absence of his father, I thought of Timothy… though his father and grandfather are not mentioned, Paul refers to him as his spiritual son in the faith. Timothy kept his eyes open for a man who could be a godly influence and example for him to follow.

In Search of Paco
There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.
– Bits & Pieces, October 15, 1992, p. 13.

Whether or not we had an earthly father that was seeking us, and seeking our spiritual well-being, we have a Heavenly Father who has loved us…

I want to speak to you about a man – a FATHER who is very often overlooked.

He is often overshadowed by the prominence given to his wife. I’m talking about JOSEPH, the husband of Mary and the adopted father of Jesus.

Even as God chose Mary to be the one who would give birth to the Son of God, so in His mighty providence He chose Joseph to be a FATHER to Jesus and to raise Him into manhood. Mary and Joseph were chosen together to be parents.

God searched the earth, and He found a young girl – a teenager engaged to be married – of whom the Bible says: she “found favour with God”. She was a choice young lady – God-fearing young lady.

But NOTE: God also went looking for a father. He called Mary AND JOSEPH as a couple. And here is the point of it – GOD WAS DEMONSTRATING FOR US THAT THE ROLE OF THE FATHER IS A VERY IMPORTANT ONE.

Fathers are not only needed for the physical act of CONCEIVING a child; they are also needed for the spiritual act of RAISING a child. This child, Jesus, was conceived in the womb of Mary “by the Holy Ghost” – a miracle took place so technically, there was no need for a man to be involved in the conception. But a man WAS still needed to fill the role of father in Jesus’ childhood.

HAVING SAID THAT – let me say a word to single parents here today. Please don’t despair that your children are beyond hope because their father is gone, or their mother is gone – that is NOT the case. God is SO gracious. “Though my father and mother forsake me, yet the Lord will take me up.”
Single parents, today, we salute you. We honor you. God bless you for your diligence with your children!

So, Joseph was chosen. And just as God had looked for a godly young woman to bring forth the child, so He looked for a godly man to be the father. And what an inspiring model of fatherhood Joseph was. God made a good choice! (He is a WISE God.) Let’s look together, for a few minutes, at some things the Bible tells us about this man Joseph.

Matthew 1:18-25

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” 

22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.

Matthew 2:13-14

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”

14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt…

Matthew 2:19-21

19 Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,20 saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.”21 Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.

What do we know about Joseph from the Bible?

1. JOSEPH WAS A LOVING MAN.

The Scriptures draw the picture for us of a wonderfully caring and affectionate man. And we can see this, firstly, in his relationship toward Mary.

TOWARD MARY

Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant. How does it make him feel? Angry? Betrayed?

The penalty for adultery in the Old Testament was death by stoning. And this penalty applied to infidelity during betrothal as well as marriage. Now by New Testament times things had changed somewhat, but the matter was still treated as a grave offence. Upon discovery that Mary was pregnant, Joseph would have been obliged to divorce her (DIVORCE WAS REQUIRED TO BREAK OFF A BETROTHAL ENGAGEMENT), and this would expose Mary to public shame and humiliation.

BUT, even before God spoke to Joseph – Joseph wasn’t operating from vengeance or bitterness of heart. The Bible says: he “was minded to put her away secretly”. (There were ways in which a divorce could be enacted very quietly, without the involvement of a judge, and Joseph was already considering the best way to do this.

Joseph was kind. He LOVED Mary. It’s based on a real commitment. And husbands, the Bible says to US today that WE must love our wives with all that we have.

Joseph was a loving man toward Mary.

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” – David O. McKay

“Creating a warm, caring, supportive, encouraging environment is probably the most important thing you can do for your family.”
– Stephen Covey

When Mary was about to give birth to Jesus, there was no room for them in the Inn, but Joseph did the very best he could to see that Mary was taken care of.

But we also see that Joseph was a loving man in his relationship…

TOWARD JESUS

When the child came along – the child he had not conceived – there was no attitude in Joseph that “THIS BOY ISN’T MY FLESH AND BLOOD”.

There was no resentment or indifference toward Him; no lack of love at all. JOSEPH ADOPTED JESUS AS HIS OWN.

  • He protected Him from the hatred of Herod.
  • He nurtured Him and cared for Him.
  • He taught Jesus his own trade of carpentry.
  • HE ADOPTED THE ONE THAT THE REST OF THE WORLD WOULD REJECT.

Joseph paid a price to be a father to Jesus.

2. JOSEPH WAS A DEVOUT MAN.

He was a man who OBEYED God.

He explicitly followed the Lord’s leading and direction. He didn’t follow his own marked-out plan for life – he wanted God’s plan for his life. So when God spoke to him in a dream and told him to marry Mary (even though she was pregnant) HE OBEYED.

Then when God spoke and said: “Take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt for safety” – he immediately obeyed. He closed up his business and left.

Then when God said: “It’s O.K. now, head back to Israel”. Again he did as he was directed. He was a man of obedience.

Another thing:

He was a man of FAITH.
It takes FAITH to pack your bags and head off to a foreign country with no prospects and no planning; simply on the basis that God said so. He had faith and obeyed the dream. He could have made excuses to stay where the prospects looked good, but NO – he was a man of faith.

FATHERS here this morning, your faith will speak to your children! Raise them in an environment of faith toward God.

[ILLUSTRATION]: There was a farmer who had toiled over a bumper crop of grain – a badly needed crop of grain – a badly needed crop that was going to pay off many creditors and secure the family for another year. But just a few days before it was due to be harvested a freak wind and hail storm ravaged the property, and the harvest was lost. The man stood with his little boy looking over the fields of destroyed grain. The boy expected to hear his father cursing in despair. But instead his Dad began to softly sing: “Rock of Ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.” Years later that boy, grown into manhood, said: “That was the greatest sermon I ever heard!” His father had shown him FAITH where the rubber meets the road!

Joseph was leaning on God. He was a man of FAITH. And one more thing:

He was a man who was FAITHFUL IN SPIRITUAL DUTY.
He set an example for his family – going to the Temple; attending the feasts. (We read about it in LUKE 2:41) He was regular in going to God’s house.

Luke 4:16

16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.

So, let’s just re-cap for a moment.

  • Joseph was a LOVING man. (Toward his wife. Toward his son. Toward his whole family.)
  • Secondly, he was a DEVOUT man. (A man of obedience and faith, and being faithful in spiritual duty.)

Finally…

3. JOSEPH WAS A WISE MAN.

Joseph was wise because he lived as one who REDEEMED THE TIME.

By all accounts it seems that Joseph had a SHORTENED LIFE.

  • We don’t read of him after Jesus’ childhood.
  • At the Cross Jesus charged John with the care of His mother – so it seems that Joseph was taken from them prematurely.

But JOSEPH HAD USED WHAT TIME HE HAD BEEN GIVEN HONOURABLY – WISELY!

  • He had provided for his family.
  • He had set an example for them that they would remember.
  • He had raised them in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord.

Jesus was not the only child he had; he raised other boys for the Lord also, and possibly daughters as well. He had other sons – TWO OF THEM (at least) WERE GREATLY USED BY GOD. They wrote books of the Bible (James and Jude). James was leader of the church in Jerusalem.

Joseph raised his children in the ways of the Lord, and He left behind him a legacy after his lifetime.

CONCLUSION:

Are we really walking in the love of God as Joseph did?

  • Walking in kindness
  • Walking in graciousness
  • Walking in mercy

Are we living devout, honorable, and godly lives did?

  • Obedience
  • Faith
  • Faithful in spiritual duties

Are we redeeming the time as Jesus did?

  • Encouraging our families at every opportunity?
  • Setting an example?
  • Providing for their needs?

In talking with fathers, the verse is often used…

1 Timothy 5:8

8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Some say, “Oh YES. I provide for my family” – when what they mean is that they put a pay cheque on the table every week. But what about the OTHER provisions they need from you?

Affection?
Example?
Godly counsel?
Laughter and warmth?
Loving concern?

We must provide for our own, men. Let’s be challenged together.

This man, Joseph, inspires me. I’m sure that he wasn’t perfect – BUT HE WAS DEVOTED, and he was doing his very best – redeeming the time.

“What Would My Child Say to Me?”

In our local newspaper, I saw this Ann Landers column on Sept. 29, 1999. It was titled “Parents’ Behavior Can Help Children.” I think it’s well worth passing on to you.

“A youth minister who was assigned to a youth correction prison for his summer work asked the boys for clues as to why they had ended up in that institution. He then asked them to draw up a code for parents to follow, zeroing in on specific areas where their own parents had failed. Here’s what emerged:

  1. Keep cool. Don’t fly off the handle. Keep the lid on when things go wrong. Kids need to see how much better things turn out when people keep their tempers under control.
  2. Don’t get strung out from booze or too many pills. When we see our parents reaching for those crutches, we get the idea that it is perfectly okay to reach for a bottle or a pill when things get heavy. Children are careful observers and great imitators.
  3. Bug us a little. Be strict. Show us who is boss. We need to know we have got some strong supports under us. When you cave in, we get scared.
  4. Don’t blow your class. Stay on that pedestal. Don’t try to dress, dance or talk like your kids. You embarrass us, and you look ridiculous.
  5. Light a candle. Show us the way. Tell us God is not dead or sleeping or on vacation. We need to believe in something bigger and stronger than ourselves.
  6. Scare the hell out of us. If you catch us lying, stealing or being cruel get tough. Let us know WHY what we did was wrong. Impress on us the importance of not repeating such behavior.
  7. When we need punishment, dish it out. But let us know you still love us, even though we have let you down. It will make us think twice before we make that same move again.
  8. Call our bluff. Make it clear you mean what you say. Don’t cave in. And don’t be intimidated by our threats to drop out of school or leave home. Stand up to us, and we’ll respect you. Kids don’t want everything they ask for.
  9. Be honest. Tell us the truth no matter what. And be straight arrow about everything. We can take it. Lukewarm answers make us uneasy. We can smell uncertainty a mile away. The bottom line is that we want you to tell it like it is.
  10. Praise us when we deserve it. If you give us a few compliments once in awhile, we will be able to accept criticism a lot easier.”

    That’s what our kids are saying to us. Are we listening?

    Don Schmierer, What’s a Father to Do?, Promise Publishing Company, Santa Ana, CA, 2000, pgs. 34-37

Jesus and the Bird Cage by Paul Harvey

Boston preacher Dr. S.D. Gordon, placed a beat up, bent, rusted old bird cage beside his pulpit when he told this story. An unkempt, unwashed, little lad about 10 years old was coming up the alley swinging this old caved in bird cage with several tiny birds shivering on the floor of it. The compassionate Dr. Gordon asked the boy where he got the birds. He said he trapped them. Dr. Gordon asked what he was going to do with them. … read more

Honoring Our Greatest Generation By Pastor Larry and Pam Millis

Honoring Our Greatest Generation
By Pastor Larry and Pam Millis

Honoring Our Greatest GenerationLarry and Pam Millis founded Living Word Fellowship Church in St. Joseph, Illinois in January of 1981. They graduated from Rhema Bible Training Center in 1980, are the parents of four children, and continue to pastor and lead their vibrant church in central Illinois.

honor great generationWhat They Did: On Saturday, November 14, 2009 a celebration and tribute was held to honor veterans from WW-II and the Korean War, as well as people who grew up during the Great Depression.

Members of Living Word Fellowship in St. Joseph worked and planned for months to make the event truly memorable. There were lots of flags and red, white & blue banners, in addition to several tables of collected memorabilia on display. A special luncheon was served, followed by a “USO”-type entertainment presentation. Songs from the era were performed by a chorus of church members with the songs ranging from sentimental and nostalgic to fun and patriotic. There was even a little comedy (ala “Abbott & Costello”).

Following the “show,” Living Word’s Senior Pastor, Larry Millis, delivered a special message entitled “Everybody Needs a Hero”, reminding everyone of the spirit of loyalty, teamwork and country that seemed to bond that generation together with a common goal and cause.

Each honored guest was then individually recognized and presented with a small gift and much thanks for their service and sacrifice to protect and preserve our nation and freedom itself.

The afternoon ended with an emotional singing of “God Bless America” by everyone
present.

How They Did It: We started our "guest list" with members of our congregation. We of course focused on those who were a part of the "target group". We also asked everyone to let us know if they had a close friend or relative that was a part of that group. (WW-2 vets, Korean vets&/or those who grew up during the Great Depression). We sent invitations to all the names we were given, inviting them to come as our guests for the luncheon and very special Tribute we were planning for them. We also asked them if they would share a "memory or two" from that era. We told each of our invited guests they could bring someone with them (a family member or friend)…we figured quite a few of our invited guests might need transportation &/or assistance. We also told our church members that if they had submitted a name to follow up on the invites, so their family members would not be "put off" by an invitation from people they didn’t know.
 
Our guest list didn’t seem quite large enough just working through our congregation, so we extended the invitations through the other local churches (asking them to do what we had done, but to send us all the names, so WE could send out the "official" invitations.) Along with our requests for personal memories to be shared, we asked if folks had any memorabilia they would be willing to loan us to put on display. The response was great!!
 
After getting names from the other local churches, we also contacted the American Legion and Senior Citizens group in St. Joe for a few more names.
 
The local pastors & their wives as well as the local mayor were also invited. (I think two of the four pastors came and the mayor was there. He talked to us about it for weeks afterwards!! Every time he’d see Larry in town he’d comment about how people were still "buzzin" about our celebration!!) [He’s a local hairdresser/barber and has lots of local contact with people.]
 
I can’t remember exactly how many "official" guests we had attend, but EVERYONE who came was exceedingly blessed!! The comments and feedback were tremendous. We received several Thank-You notes/letters and even a few monetary gifts of appreciation.
 
Our congregation worked VERY HARD to bring everything together. Decorations – food – entertainment, etc. … it took lots of planning & help!!! The people were troopers! And when it all came together – WHEW!  —  We were soooooo blessed!!!.
 
There were SEVERAL tables set up in the lobby and they were all COVERED with various memorabilia and keepsakes. A man in our congregation made 4 "mannequins" and each one was outfitted with an actual service uniform and they "stood at attention" at the entry to our sanctuary (which was transformed into our "banquet hall").
 
The Youth Group made up the "bulk" of our "wait staff"serving the meals & drinks. Our kitchen crew cooked Chicken & Noodles-Mashed potatoes-green beans-fruit salad-and homemade pies!!! (Real comfort food). The SuperChurch kids were part of our "Yankee Doodle Dandy" song. The "chorus" sang songs like: "Remember Pearl Harbor" – "This is The Army, Mr. Jones" – "Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree w/Anyone Else but Me" (Ala the "Andrews Sisters" – our three daughters…Lori came from Ind.) – "They’re Either Too Young or Too Old" (a "Rosie the Riveter" routine) – "It’s Been a Long,Long Time" – "Comin’ In on a Wing & a Prayer"….we also had a couple guys who did an Abbott & Costello routine.
 
After the "Entertainment", Larry gave a brief message entitled: "Everybody Needs a Hero". Then we did "Roll Call"…Larry read each guest’s name (& told which branch of the service they were a part of ) (Those who weren’t veterans were simply introduced). Each guest was presented with a small gift from Living Word. Next we sang the theme song from each branch of the Service [Army-Navy-Marines-Air Force] and asked those who served in each to stand during "their" song. Then we showed a video of Red Skelton…explaining the "Pledge of Allegiance" and we ended with the pledge followed by everyone singing "God Bless America" (lots of tears)!!!
 
Those who attended were so thankful and many asked us if we were going to make this a regular event. I’m not sure we’ll do it again for veteran’s day, but we might do something for Memorial Day (or July 4th) in the future (not 2010 though).

 

 

 

MANAGING STRESS, THE BLUES, AND GRIEF DURING THE HOLIDAYS


Tips for Managing Stress, the Blues, and Grief During the Holidays

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1. Plan ahead – this involves not only time, but also money (a budget)

2. Prioritize and decide how much you can actually do, how much you can (and should) actually spend, etc. You don’t want to start the new year with bills that you can’t pay. Do your best to create an atmosphere that focuses on "doing" rather than "having."

3. Don’t be afraid to say, "no." There may be some things you can do to reduce some of the demands on your life and time.

4. Pace yourself. People tend to overextend themselves and to commit to doing more than they possibly can in the limited time they have. Be careful during holidays not to over-commit. Don’t take on more than you can comfortably handle, and stop trying to be Superman or Superwoman by doing it all yourself.

5. Be realistic! Unrealistic and hyper-idealistic expectations set you up for disappointment.

6. Examine traditions – which ones do you want to keep? Is it time to establish some new ones?

7. Realize that people are unique. What is enjoyable and fulfilling for one person is stressful and unpleasant for another.

8. Some solitude is OK, but avoid excessive isolation. Reach out to people and make it a point to be with others. Especially seek out people who are supportive and care about you.

9. Reach out to an old friend you’ve lost contact with.

10. If you have some specific needs during the holidays, tell others. Don’t expect others to be mind-readers. Realize that others may not respond to or meet all of your needs.

11. Find a way to serve and help others. "I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found a way to serve." – Albert Schweitzer

12. Take care of yourself. If your tendency is to take care of everyone else and neglect yourself, do some special things just for you, and don’t let yourself feel guilty about it.

13. Be proactive. Don’t wait for something to happen. Make something happen. Ask yourself about the kind of holiday experience you’d like to have, then ask, "What can I do to make that happen?" Don’t accept a victim’s mentality – you may be experiencing some circumstances you wouldn’t have chosen, but there are things you can do to make the holidays better for yourself and others.

14. Give yourself permission to grieve if necessary. Give yourself permission to enjoy the holidays as well. Journaling can be a healthy and helpful way of identifying and expressing feelings.

15. Remember the wisdom of the Serenity Prayer – "Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

16. Don’t focus on the past.

17. Don’t dwell on what you don’t have.

18. Moderation! Avoid the temptation to dive into extremes.

19. Take care of your health – Eat right, get plenty of rest, and exercise regularly. Common stress reactions during the holidays include headaches, over-eating, and difficulty sleeping.

20. Put some humor in your holidays. Laugh a lot! Rent a funny movie! A merry heart does good like a medicine (Proverbs 17:22).

21. Make a list of all the FREE things that can be enjoyed at Christmas… light displays, church services, community plays, etc. Partake of some of these.

22. Be honest about your own emotional health and your own personality tendencies. Do you need to address anger? Perfectionism? A tendency to blame others?

23. Focus on the spiritual aspects of the holidays.

24. Maintain or even increase your spiritual disciplines.

Philippians 4:6-7 (The Living Bible) 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. 7 If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.

25. Live a "Christmas life," not just Christmas day.

Is it possible that part of our problems around the holidays is that we are trying to cram a year’s worth of love, celebrating, remembering, etc., into a mere month?

Great Thoughts Regarding the Cross, and the Suffering, and Death of the Lord Jesus Christ

GREAT THOUGHTS REGARDING THE CROSS, AND THE SUFFERING AND DEATH OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

John Maclaurin, a Scottish minister in the 1700’s contrasted the physical and spiritual sufferings with the following words:
We may paint the outward appearance of his sufferings, but not the inward bitterness or invisible causes of them. Men can paint the cursed tree, but not the curse of the law that made it so. Men can paint Christ bearing the cross to Calvary, but not Christ bearing the sins of many. We may describe the nails piercing his sacred flesh, but who can describe eternal justice piercing both flesh and spirit? We may describe the soldier’s spear, but not the arrows of the Almighty; the cup of vinegar which he but tasted, but not the cup of wrath, which he drank out to the lowest dregs; the derision of the Jews, but not the desertion of the Almighty forsaking his Son, that he might never forsake us who were his enemies.

Billy Graham said this in his book, Peace with God:
Sometimes people have asked me why Christ died so quickly, in six hours, on the cross, while other victims have agonized on the cross for two and three days-and longer. He was weak and exhausted when He came there. He had been scourged, He was physically depleted. But when Christ died, He died voluntarily. He chose the exact moment when He expired.

There he hung between heaven and earth. Having suffered unspeakably,

The spikes never held Him-it was the cords of love that bound tighter than any nails that men could mold. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

But the physical suffering of Jesus Christ was not the real suffering. Many men before Him had died. Others had hung on a cross, longer than He did. Many men had become martyrs. The awful suffering of Jesus Christ was His spiritual death. He reached the final issue or sin, fathomed the deepest sorrow, when He cried, "My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" This cry was proof that Christ, becoming sin for us, had died physically, and with it He lost all sense of the Father’s presence at that moment in time.

He who knew no sin was made to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (Galatians 3:13; Mark 15:34; 2 Corinthians 5:21). On the cross He was made sin. He was God-forsaken. Because He knew no sin there is a value beyond comprehension in the penalty He bore, a penalty that He did not need for Himself.

How it was accomplished in the depth of the darkness man will never know. I know only one thing-He bore my sins in His body upon the tree. He hung where I should have hung. The pains or hell that were my portion were heaped on Him, and I am able to go to heaven and merit that which is not my own, but is His by every right.

John Calvin, one of the leading theologians of the Protestant Reformation, had this to say:
…that invisible and incomprehensible judgment which he underwent in the sight of God in order that we might know not only that Christ’s body was given as the price of our redemption, but that he paid a greater and more excellent price in suffering in his soul the terrible torments of a condemned and forsaken man.

We see that Christ was so cast down as to be compelled to cry out in deep anguish: "My God my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (PS. 22:1; Matt. 27:46). Now some would have it that he was expressing the opinion of others rather than his own feeling. This is not at all probable, for his words clearly were drawn forth from anguish deep within his heart.

Here certain untutored wretches impelled more by malice than by ignorance, cry out that I am doing a frightful injustice to Christ. For they hold it incongruous for him to fear for the salvation of his soul. Then they stir up a harsher slander: that I attribute to the Son of God a despair contrary to faith. First, these men wickedly raise a controversy over Christ’s fear and dread, which the Evangelists so openly relate. For before the hour of death approached, "he was troubled in spirit" (John 13: 21) and stricken with grief, and when it came upon him, he began to tremble more intensely with fear (cf. Matt. 26:37). To say that he was pretending-as they do-is a foul evasion. We "must with assurance, therefore, confess Christ’s Sorrow, as Ambrose rightly teaches, unless we are ashamed of the cross. And surely, unless his soul shared in the punishment, he would have been the Redeemer of bodies alone.

There is no reason why Christ’s weakness should alarm us. For he was not compelled by violence or necessity, but was induced purely by his love for us and by his mercy to submit to it. But all that he voluntarily suffered for us does not in the least detract from his power.

What shameful softness would it have been (as I have said) for Christ to be so tortured by the dread of common death as to sweat blood, and to be able to be revived only at the appearance of angels? What? Does not that prayer, coming from unbelievable bitterness of heart and repeated three times-"Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me" (Matt.16:59)-show that Christ had a harsher and more difficult struggle than with common death?

For feeling himself, as it were, forsaken by God, he did not waver in the least from trust in his goodness. This is proved by that remarkable prayer to God in which he cried out in acute agony: "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46). For even though he suffered beyond measure, he did not cease to call him his God, by whom he cried out that he had been forsaken.

Jonathan Edwards, the great American philosopher and theologian, whose name is inseparably linked with the Great Awakening which occurred in the 1700’s in this nation, said:

Besides what our Lord endured in this excruciating corporeal death, he endured vastly him, and to put him to grief; now he poured out his soul unto death, as in Isaiah 53. And if the mere forethought of this cup made him sweat blood, how much more dreadful and excruciating must the drinking have been! Many martyrs have endured much in their bodies, while their souls have been joyful, and have sung for joy, whereby they have been supported under the sufferings of their outward man, and have triumphed over them. But this was not the case with Christ; he had no such support.

Ralph Earle, Professor of New Testament at the Nazarene Theological Seminary, said:
The death of Jesus differed from that of every other man. He "dismissed his spirit."2 His was a completely voluntary decease-"No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself."3 Death was not forced upon Him. He accepted it as the will of God for the salvation of man.

What did Jesus’ death mean for Him? The answer is best suggested by His prayer in Gethsemane. There He cried out in agony of soul, "0 my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." Then, He bowed his head in humble submission and said: "Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."

What was this cup from which He prayed to be delivered? Carping critics have said that Jesus cringed cowardly fear at the thought of death. But such cavilers are utterly ignorant of the true significance of that hour. Jesus was not afraid to die!

What was it, then, from which He shrank, in anguish of spirit? It was His Father’s face turned away from Him in the awful hour when "Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him."5 Our Substitute took the tortuous trail of a lost soul, walking out into the labyrinthine depths of outer darkness. He tasted death for every man. That means more than physical death. When Christ cried out on the cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? He was experiencing something far deeper. He was paying the penalty for sin-not His, but ours. The penalty for sin is separation from God. This was the price that Jesus had to pay for our salvation. There was no alternative. The final words of Christ in the Garden were these: "The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" To secure man’s salvation, the Son of God let the blow of divine justice fall on Himself. He who could say, "I do always those things that please him" had to endure the displeasure of the one He delighted to serve.

In those few but fateful hours on the cross Jesus tasted the unspeakable horror of eternal death. Spiritual darkness shrouded His soul. His cry of dereliction is the measure of His sacrifice. Olin A. Curtis has well expressed it thus: " And so, there alone, our Lord opens his mind, his heart, his personal consciousness, to the whole inflow of the horror of sin-the endless history of it, from the first choice of selfishness on, on to the eternity of hell; the boundless ocean and deso1ation he allows; wave upon wave, to overwhelm his soul.

B.H. Carroll, former President of the Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas, said the following:
About the ninth hour, which would be three o’clock, the silence was broken, and we have the fourth voice of Jesus: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Physical death is the separation of the soul from the body, and spiritual death is the separation of the soul from God. So just before that darkness passed away losing that ninth hour, Christ died the spiritual death. Right on the very verge of that deeper darkness came another voice. His words were, "I thirst." This shows that his soul was undergoing the pangs of hell, just as the rich man lifted up his eyes in hell, being in torment, and said, "I pray thee, Father Abraham, send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue for I am tormented in this flame." This anguish was not from loss of blood, as in the case of a bleeding soldier. Any old soldier-and I am one-can testify that the fiercest pang which comes to the wounded is thirst. The flow of the blood from the open wound causes extreme anguish of thirst in a most harrowing sense. On battlefields, where the wounded fall in the range fire of both armies, a wounded man cannot get away, and nobody can go to him, and all through the night the wounded cry out, "Water, water, water!" After I myself was shot down on the battlefield-it was two miles to where any water could be obtained-I had to be carried that distance, and the thirst was unspeakable. How much more the anguish of Christ enduring the torment of hell for a lost world!

H.A. Ironside, the noted commentator said:
"No finite mind can fathom the depths of woe and anguish into which the soul of Jesus sank when that dread darkness spread o’er all the scene."

It was a symbol of the spiritual darkness into which He went as the Man Christ Jesus made sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

It was then that God laid on Him the iniquity of us all that His soul was made an offering for sin. We get some faint understanding of what this meant for Him when, just as the darkness was passing, we hear Him cry, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Each believer can reply, "It was that I might never be forsaken." He took our place and endured the wrath of God our sins deserved. This was the cup from which he shrank in Gethsamane; now, pressed to His lips, He drained it to the dregs."

Ironside further expressed his belief concerning the significance of the spiritual sufferings of Christ in a sermon entitled "The Sinless One Made Sin":

It was not simply the physical sufferings, which our Lord endured upon the cross hat made the expiation for our iniquity. It was what He suffered in His Holy, spotless soul, in His sinless being, when the judgement that your sins deserved fell on Him…..

Then it was that He made to be sin for us. In some way our finite minds can not now understand, the pent-up wrath of the centuries fell upon Him, and He sank in deep mire where there was no standing, as He endured in His inmost being what you and I would have had to endure through all eternity, had it not been for His mighty sacrifice.

Lutheran scholar Paul Althaus, in his The Theology of Martin Luther, pointed out that Luther believed:
Christ really was forsaken by God; He was removed from the experience of his fatherly closeness, and in its stead he was surrendered to the experience of hell.

According to Isaiah 53, God strikes him because of our sins and punishes him with our punishment. This, however, does not consist only in physical death but "also in the anxiety and terror of a terrified conscience, which feels God’s eternal wrath as though it would be forsaken and rejected by God for all eternity."

…Whoever does not take this completely seriously – because he finds it unbearable to say that Christ has borne our punishment and our curse-robs us of the sweetest comfort.

Christ has thus fully endured the horror of the anxiety of death, of being forsaken by God, and of being under God’s wrath. Thus he is forsaken by God and suffers God’s wrath in our place. He takes our sins upon himself as though they were his own. In his own way, he stands before God as a sinner among sinners and God treats him as such. Our salvation depends on Christ’s thus taking our sins upon himself.

R. W. Dale, a respected British theologian and Congregationalist, pastor and preacher said:
I cannot believe that His terror was caused by His anticipation of the physical tortures of crucifixion…There came another and still more appalling sorrow. His fellowship with the Father had been intimate and unbroken….The light of God’s presence is lost, He is left in awful isolation, and He cries, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" In the "hour of great darkness" which had fallen upon Him, He still clings to the Father with an invincible trust and an immeasurable love, and the agony of being deserted of God is more than He can bear.

He knew that He was to die the awful death; that He was to be forsaken by God in His last hours… Surely this supreme anguish must have a unique relation to the redemption of mankind.

When I try to discover the meaning of the sorrow of Christ on the cross, I cannot escape the conclusion that He is somehow involved in this deep and dreadful darkness by the sins of the race whose nature He had assumed.

Charles Spurgeon, called the prince of preachers, pastored a Baptist church of 6,000 in London during the 1800’s.
In teaching on Christ "being made sin" and "being made a curse" said the following:

We would be very clear here, because very strong expressions have been used by those who hold the great truth which I am endeavoring to preach, which strong expressions have conveyed the truth they meant to convey, but also a great deal more. In Martin Luther’s wonderful book on the Galatians; he says plainly, but be assured did not mean what he said to be literally understood, that Jesus Christ was the greatest sinner that ever lived; that all the sins of men were so laid upon Christ that he became all the thieves, and murderers and adulterers that ever were in one. Now, he meant this, that God treated Christ as if he had been a great sinner as if he had been all the sinners in the world in one; and such language teaches that truth very plainly: but, Luther-like in his boisterousness, he overshoots his mark, and leaves room for the censure that he has almost spoken blasphemy against the blessed person of our Lord.

Now, Christ never was and never could be a sinner; and in his person and in his character, in himself considered, he never could be anything but well-beloved of God, and blessed for ever and well-pleasing in Jehovah’s sight; so that when we say today that he was a curse, we must lay stress on those words, "He was made a curse"-constituted a curse, set as a curse; and then again we must emphasize those other words, "for us"-not on his own account at all; but entirely out of love to us, that we might be redeemed, he stood in the sinner’s place and was reckoned to be a sinner, and treated as a sinner , and made a curse for us.

Let us go farther into this truth. How was Christ made a curse? In the first place, he was made a curse because all the sins of his people were actually laid on him. Remember the words of the Apostle-it is no doctrine of mine, mark you; it is an inspired sentence, it is God’s doctrine-"He made him to be sin for us"; and let me quote another passage from the prophet Isaiah, "The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all"; and yet another from the same prophet, "He shall bear their iniquities." The sins of God’s people were lifted from off them and imputed to Christ, and their sins were looked upon as if Christ had committed them. He was regarded as if he had been the sinner; he actually and in very deed stood in the sinner’s place.

So Christ was made a curse. Wonderful and awful words, but as they are scriptural words, we must receive them. Sin being on Christ, the curse came on Christ, and in consequence, our Lord felt an unutterable horror of soul. Surely it was that horror which made him sweat great drops of blood when he saw and felt that God was beginning to treat him as if he had been a sinner.

It was an anguish never to be measured, and agony never to be comprehended. It is to God, and God alone that his grief’s were fully known.

See, beloved, here is Christ bearing the curse instead of his people. Here he is coming under the load of their sin, and God does not spare him but smites him, as he must have smitten us, lays his full vengeance on him, launches all his thunderbolts against him, bids the curse wreak itself upon him, and Christ suffers all.

MISCELLANEOUS QUOTES

The cross is an insult to those who are perishing, Paul says, but to us who are being saved, we understand the plan and power of God. It is a thing of beauty. The little girl wore a shiny cross around her neck. One day some sanctimonious Christian came up to her to straighten her out: "Little girl, don’t you know that the cross Jesus died on wasn’t beautiful like the one you’re wearing? It was an ugly, wooden thing." To which the girl replied, "Yes, I know. But they told me in Sunday School that whatever Jesus touches, He changes."

"Either sin is with you, lying on your shoulders, or it is lying on Christ, the Lamb of God. Now if it is lying on your back, you are lost; but if it is resting on Christ, you are free, and you will be saved. Now choose what you want."
– Martin Luther

"Today I argue that one of the chief problems with the American church is that we have attempted to tame the Lion of Judah. We have sanitized, sugar-coated, and psychologized our faith to the point that it is bland, and unthreatening, and mediocre to a fault. Our problem is that we have ceased to be radicals, as was the early church, because we have forgotten that the cross is a radical thing!"
– Byron Harvey

"We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed."
– C.S. Lewis

"He came to pay a debt he did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay."
– Unknown

"By the cross we know the gravity of sin and the greatness of God’s love towards us."
– John Chrysostom

"In the cross of Christ I see three things: First, a description of the depth of man’s sin. Second, the overwhelming love of God. Third, the only way of salvation."
– Billy Graham

"We never move on from the cross of Christ, only into a more profound understanding of the cross."
– Daniel Prior

"Christ’s cross is the sweetest burden that ever I bore: is such a burden as wings are to a bird, or sails are to a ship."
– Samuel Rutherford

Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress.
Helpless, look to thee for grace:
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me Savior, or I die.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me.
Let me hide myself in thee.

Could my tears forever flow
Could my zeal no languor know
These for sin could not atone
Thou must save, and Thou alone
In my hand no price I bring
Simply to the cross I cling.
– Augustus Toplady

"Christ took your cup of grief, your cup of the curse, pressed it to his lips, drank it to its dregs, then filled it with his sweet, pardoning, sympathizing love, and gave it back for you to drink, and to drink forever!"
– Octavius Winslow

George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation


George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.

Great Thoughts for the New Year

Great Thoughts for the New Year

Getting a Fresh S.T.A.R.T. in the New Year

Stop Making Excuses – Proverbs 28:13 – A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance. (The Living Bible)

Take an Inventory of Your Life – 2 Corinthians 13:5 – Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith.

Act in Faith – Matthew 9:29 – “According to your faith let it be to you.”

Refocus – Philippians 3:13 – …but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead…

Trust – Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
(This acrostic was developed by Rev. Jim Mooney)

Great Quotes for the New Year

“I am amazed by how many individuals mess up every new day with yesterday. They insist on bringing into today the failures of yesterday and in doing so pollute a potentially wonderful day.”
– Gary Chapman

An interesting map is on display in the British Museum in London. It’s an old mariner’s chart, drawn in 1525, outlining the North American coastline and adjacent waters. The cartographer made some intriguing notations on areas of the map that represented regions not yet explored. He wrote: “Here be giants,” “Here be fiery scorpions,” and “Here be dragons.” Eventually, the map came into the possession of Sir John Franklin, a British explorer in the early 1800s. Scratching out the fearful inscriptions, he wrote these words across the map: “Here is God.”
– Unknown

“Achievers are resolute in their goals and driven by determination. Discouragement is temporary, obstacles are overcome, and doubt is defeated, yielding to personal victory. You need to overcome the tug of people against you as you reach for high goals. Accept the challenges, so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory.”
– General George S. Patton

“Nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must first be overcome.”
– Samuel Johnson

“Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future run over him.”
– Dwight D. Eisenhower

“The Bible says, ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish.’ Have you a vision? And are you undeviatingly pressing and pushing toward its accomplishment? Dreaming alone will not get you there. Mix your dreams with determination and action.”
– B.C. Forbes

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do…Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain

“The sea is dangerous and its storms terrible, but these obstacles have never been sufficient reason to remain ashore…unlike the mediocre, intrepid spirits seek victory over those things that seem impossible…it is with an iron will that they embark on the most daring of all endeavors…to meet the shadowy future without fear and conquer the unknown.”
– Ferdinand Magellan, Explorer

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
– George Bernard Shaw

“The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.”
– Abraham Lincoln

“The world of achievement has always belonged to the optimist.”
– J. Harold Wilkins

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
– Helen Keller

“Outlook determines outcome.”
– Warren Wiersbe

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
– William Morrow

“Great minds have purposes, others have wishes. Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them.”
– Washington Irving

There are two great days in a person’s life — the day we are born and the day we discover why.”
– William Barclay

“The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.”
– Albert Schweitzer

“One hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in my bank account, or what my clothes looked like. But one hundred years from now the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child.”
– Anonymous

“In primitive societies, no one has a watch, but everyone has time. In advanced societies, everyone has a watch, but no one has any time.”
– Gerhard Geschwandtner

“You do not move ahead by constantly looking in a rear view mirror. The past is a rudder to guide you, not an anchor to drag you. We must learn from the past but not live in the past.”
– Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe

“Live out of your imagination, not your history.”
– Stephen R. Covey

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
– Unknown

Why We Can’t Embrace Every Negative Prediction

“The telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.” (A corporate memo from telegraph operator Western Union, 1876)

“Everything that can be invented, has been invented.” (U.S. Patent Office Commissioner Charles Duell, 1899)

“The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty – a fad.” (The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer Horace Rackham not to invest in the Ford Motor Company. 1903)

“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” (Response from associates of RCA founder David Sarnoff, circa 1920’s, when he proposed investing in the young radio industry)

“[Television] won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” (Twentieth Century-Fox studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck, 1946)

“There will never be a bigger plane built.” (A Boeing engineer after the first flight of the 247, a twin-engine plane that carried ten people)

“With over 50 foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn’t likely to carve out a big slice of the U.S. market.” (Business Week, August 2, 1968)

“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C’ the idea must be feasible.” (Yale University management professor’s comment on a paper written by Fred Smith proposing an overnight delivery service, circa early 1970’s. Smith went on to start Federal Express)

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” (Ken Olsen, President of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977)

“That kid can’t play baseball.” (Milwaukee Braves minor league manager Tommy Holmes, 1952, appraising Henry Aaron, who went on to break Babe Ruth’s all-time record for home runs)

“He’ll never be any good.” (Baltimore Colts owner Robert Irsay, 1983, evaluating future Pro Bowl and Super Bowl champion quarterback John Elway)

“You will never amount to very much.” (A Munich teacher to a ten-year-old Albert Einstein, 1889)

“Can’t act. Can sing. Balding. Can dance a little.” (MGM executive, 1929, about Fred Astaire’s screen test)

“You ain’t going nowhere, son. You ought to go back to driving a truck.” (Grand Ole Opry manager Jim Denny, 1954, firing Elvis Presley after one performance)

“We don’t like” their sound. Groups of guitars are on their way out.” (Decca Recording Company, 1962, upon turning down the Beatles)

“Get rid of the pointed ears guy.” (NBC television executive to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, 1966, recommending the new show eliminate the Vulcan character Mr. Spock)

More Great Stories

At the beginning of a new year, a high school principal decided to post his teachers’ new year’s resolutions on the bulletin board. As the teachers gathered around the bulletin board, a great commotion started. One of the teachers was complaining. “Why weren’t my resolutions posted?” She was throwing such a temper tantrum that the principal hurried to his office to see if he had overlooked her resolutions. Sure enough, he had mislaid them on his desk. As he read her resolutions he was astounded. This teacher’s first resolution was not to let little things upset her in the New Year.

Last year when I called my parents to wish them a happy New Year, my dad answered the phone. “Well, Dad, what’s your New Year’s resolution?” I asked him. “To make your mother as happy as I can all year,” he answered proudly. Then mom got on, and I said, “What’s your resolution, Mom?” “To see that your dad keeps his New Year’s resolution.”

Charles Schultz, in a peanuts comic strip showed a conversation between Lucy and Charlie Brown. Lucy said that life is like a deck chair. Some place it so they can see where they are going; some place it so they can see where they have been; and some place it so they can see where they are at present. Charlie Brown’s reply: “I can’t even get mine unfolded.”

A boy told his father, “Dad, if three frogs were sitting on a limb that hung over a pool, and one frog decided to jump off into the pool, how many frogs would be left on the limb?”

The dad replied, “Two.”

“No,” the son replied. “There’s three frogs and one decides to jump, how many are left?”
The dad said, “Oh, I get it, if one decides to jump, the others would too. So there are none left.”

The boy said, “No dad, the answer is three. The frog only DECIDED to jump.”

Does that sound like last year’s resolution? Great inspiration and great resolutions, but often times we only decide, and months later we are still on the same limb of do-nothing.

And Finally… Scriptures to Live By

Joshua 1:2-9
2 Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them — the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Philippians 3:12-14
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Father’s Day Quotes, Humor, and Stories

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Father’s Day Quotes, Humor, and Stories

Other articles about Father’s Day:

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]The story is told of a father of five children who came home with a toy. He summoned his children and asked which of them should be given the present. “Who is the most obedient one here? Who never talks back to Mom and does everything that Mom says to do?” He inquired. There were a few seconds of silence, and then all of the children said in one accord: “You play with it Daddy!”

“A godly father is the unseen spiritual submarine who lurks below the surface of every activity of his child’s life. A man who has put on the full armor of God and with that armor, goes to warfare on his knees for his children, is a force to be reckoned with we cannot be with our children 24 hours a day through our prayers we have the ability to affect situations even when we are not physically present. You may be undetected but that does not mean you are ineffective.”
– Steve Farrar, Standing Tall, Page 199

A man came home from work late again, tired and irritated. He found his 5-year-old son waiting for him at the door. “Daddy, may I ask you a question?”
The dad replied: “Yeah, sure, what is it?”
“Daddy, how much money do you make an hour?”
The dad got mad and said, “That’s none of your business! Why do you want to know?”
The little boy said, “I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?”
The dad, wanting to sit down and relax, said, “If you must know, I make $20 an hour.”
The little boy sighed and bowed his head. Looking up, he asked, “Daddy, may I borrow $10 please?”
The father flew off the handle, “If the only reason you wanted to know how much money I make is so that you can hit me up for some cash to buy some stupid toy, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. You’re so selfish. I work long, hard hours every day and don’t have time for this.”

The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door.
The dad sat down and started to get even madder about the nerve of his little boy. How dare he ask questions only to get some money. After an hour or so, the man had calmed down, and started to think that maybe he was a bit hard on his boy. Maybe his son really needed the money for something important. And so, the father went up to his boy’s room and opened it, “Are you asleep, son?”
“No daddy. I’m awake,” replied the boy.
“I’ve been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier. It’s been a long day, and I took it out on you. Here’s that 10 bucks you asked for.”
The little boy sat straight up, beaming. “Oh, thank you, daddy!” he exclaimed. Then, reaching under his pillow, he pulled out a wad of crumpled up bills.
The dad, seeing that the boy already had some money, started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, and then looked up at his dad.
The dad, now ticked off, demanded to know what was going on, “Why did you want more money if you already had some?”
The little boy replied, “Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do. Daddy, I have $20 now…and I’d like to buy an hour of your time.”

The Top 10 Things You’ll Never Hear a Dad Say:
10. “Well, how ‘bout that? I’m lost! Looks like we’ll have to stop and ask for directions.”
9. “You know Pumpkin, now that you’re thirteen, you’ll be ready for un-chaperoned car dates. Won’t that be fun?”
8. “I noticed that all your friends have a certain hostile attitude. I like that.”
7. “Here’s a credit card and the keys to my new car. Go crazy!!!”
6. “What do you mean you wanna play football? Figure skating is not good enough for you, son?”
5. “Your Mother and I are going away for the weekend. You might want to consider throwing a party.”
4. “Well, I don’t know what’s wrong with your car. Probably one of those doo-hickey thingies—ya know—that makes it run or something. Just have it towed to a mechanic and pay whatever he asks.”
3. “No son of mine is going to live under this roof without an earring. Now quit your belly-aching and let’s go to the mall.”
2. “Whaddya wanna go and get a job for? I make plenty of money for you to spend.”
And the number one thing you’ll never hear a dad say:
1. “What do I want for Father’s Day? Aahh—don’t worry about that. It’s no big deal.” (actually they might say this, but they don’t mean it).

Lucille Ball, shortly before her death, did a remarkable TV interview with Merv Griffin. He asked her a very serious and pointed question: “Lucille, you’ve lived a long time on this earth and you are a wise person. What’s happened to our country? What’s wrong with our children? Why are our families falling apart? What’s missing?” Lucille Ball answered without hesitation: “Papa’s missing. Things are falling apart because Papa’s gone. If Papa were here he would fix it.”

“One morning my father didn’t get up and go to work. He went to the hospital and died the next day. I hadn’t thought that much about him before. He was just someone who left and came home and seemed glad to see everyone at night. He opened the jar of pickles when no one else could. He was the only one in the house who wasn’t afraid to go into the basement by himself. He cut himself shaving, but no one kissed it or got excited about it. It was understood that when it rained, he got the car and brought it around to the door. When anyone was sick, he went out to get the prescription filled. He took lots of pictures … but he was never in them. Whenever I played house, the mother doll had a lot to do. I never knew what to do with the daddy doll, so I had him say, “I’m going off to work now” and threw him under the bed. The funeral was in our living room and a lot of people came and brought all kinds of good food and cakes. We had never had so much company before. I went to my room and felt under the bed for the daddy doll. When I found him I dusted him off and put him on my bed. He never did anything. I didn’t know his leaving would hurt so much.” (Erma Bombeck, The Ties that Bind … And Gag! [NY: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1987], p. 2.)

“Fathers are the great gift-givers of the world!”
– Mrs. John Bruce Dodd, founder of Father’s Day

“One father is worth more than a hundred schoolmasters.”
– George Herbert

The father of a couple of teenagers called the telephone company and announced, “I want to report an obscene phone bill.”
– Vern McLellan

Father to teenage son: “No, you can’t use the car—but please feel free to use the lawnmower.”
– Vern McLellan

In The Effective Father, Gordon MacDonald writes:
It is said of Boswell, the famous biographer of Samuel Johnson, that he often referred to a special day in his childhood when his father took him fishing. The day was fixed in his mind, and he often reflected upon many things his father had taught him in the course of their fishing experience together. After having heard of that particular excursion so often, it occurred to someone much later to check the journal that Boswell’s father kept and determine what had been said about the fishing trip from the parental perspective. Turning to that date, the reader found only one sentence entered: “Gone fishing today with my son; a day wasted.”

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
– Theodore Hesburgh

“My father didn’t tell me how to life; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”
– Clarence Budington Kelland

“You don’t raise heroes; you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they’ll turn out to be heroes, even if it’s just in your own eyes.”
– Walter Schirra Sr.

My father always told me, “Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
– Jim Fox

“It is a wise father that knows his own child.”
– Shakespeare

“God is the Father who is always home.”
– Unknown

“Of all nature’s gifts to the human race, what is sweeter to a man than his children?”
– Cicero

“The words that a father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world, but, as in whispering-galleries, they are clearly heard at the end and by posterity.”
– Jean Paul Richter

“It has been said that paternity is a career imposed on you without any inquiry into your fitness for it. That is why there are so many fathers who have children, but so few children who have fathers.”
– Adlai Stevenson

“A father is a man who expects his son to be as good a man as he meant to be.”
– Frank A. Clark

Small boy’s definition of Father’s Day: It’s just like Mother’s Day only you don’t spend so much.
– Unknown

Jim Bishop describes the feeling a father had when his daughter became engaged: “This is the third of four daughters. Every time it happens, I’m obsessed with the feeling I’m giving a million-dollar Stradivarius to a gorilla.”

“A father is a thing that is forced to endure childbirth without an anesthetic…A father never feels worthy of the worship in a child’s eyes. He’s never quite the hero his daughter thinks, never quite the man his son believes him to be, and this worries him, sometimes. So he works too hard to try and smooth the rough places in the road for those of his own who will follow him…Fathers are what give daughters away to other men who aren’t nearly good enough, so they can have grandchildren who are smarter than anybody’s. Fathers make bets with insurance companies about who’ll live the longest. One day they lose and the bet’s paid off to the part of them they leave behind.”
– Paul Harvey

After the assassination of President Kennedy, his young son, John Jr., asked William Haddad, an associate of JFK’s, “Are you a daddy?” Haddad told him that he was. In response, little John Jr. said, “Then will you throw me up in the air?”

An Old Soldier’s Prayer
“Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

“Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know Thee…and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

“Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high, a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

“And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom and the meekness of true strength.

“Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, “I have not lived in vain’.”
– Gen. Douglas A. MacArthur

Son Gets an Hour A Day
A young successful attorney said: “The greatest gift I ever received was a gift I got one Christmas when my dad gave me a small box. Inside was a note saying, ‘Son, this year I will give you 365 hours, an hour every day after dinner. It’s yours. We’ll talk about what you want to talk about, we’ll go where you want to go, play what you want to play. It will be your hour!’”

“My dad not only kept his promise,” he said, “but every year he renewed it—and it’s the greatest gift I ever had in my life. I am the result of his time.”
– Moody Monthly

In Search of Paco
There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.
– Bits & Pieces, October 15, 1992, p. 13.

What Does a Father Do?
I received a letter from a single mother who had raised a son who was about to become a dad. Since he had no recollection of his own father, her question to me was “What do I tell him a father does?”

When my dad died in my ninth year, I, too, was raised by my mother, giving rise to the same question, “What do fathers do?” As far as I could observe, they brought around the car when it rained so everyone else could stay dry.

They always took the family pictures, which is why they were never in them. They carved turkeys on Thanksgiving, kept the car gassed up, weren’t afraid to go into the basement, mowed the lawn, and tightened the clothesline to keep it from sagging.

It wasn’t until my husband and I had children that I was able to observe firsthand what a father contributed to a child’s life. What did he do to deserve his children’s respect? He rarely fed them, did anything about their sagging diapers, wiped their noses or fannies, played ball, or bonded with them under the hoods of their cars.

What did he do?

He threw them higher than his head until they were weak from laughter. He cast the deciding vote on the puppy debate. He listened more than he talked. He let them make mistakes. He allowed them to fall from their first two-wheeler without having a heart attack. He read a newspaper while they were trying to parallel park a car for the first time in preparation for
their driving test.

If I had to tell someone’s son what a father really does that is important, it would be that he shows up for the job in good times and bad times. He’s a man who is constantly being observed by his children. They learn from him how to handle adversity, anger, disappointment and success.

He won’t laugh at their dreams no matter how impossible they might seem. He will dig out at 1 a.m. when one of his children runs out of gas. He will make unpopular decisions and stand by them. When he is wrong and makes a mistake, he will admit it. He sets the tone for how family members treat one another, members of the opposite sex and people who are different than they
are. By example, he can instill a desire to give something back to the community when its needs are greater than theirs.

But mostly, a good father involves himself in his kids’ lives. The more responsibility he has for a child, the harder it is to walk out of his life. A father has the potential to be a powerful force in the life of a child. Grab it! Maybe you’ll get a greeting card for your efforts. Maybe not. But it’s steady work.
– Erma Bombeck, Field Enterprises

God Creating the Father
When the good Lord was creating fathers he started with a tall frame. And a female angel nearby said, “What kind of father is that? If you’re going to make children so close to the ground, why have you put fathers up so high? He won’t be able to shoot marbles without kneeling, tuck a child in bed without bending, or even kiss a child without a lot of stooping.” And God smiled and said, “Yes, but if I make him child-size, who would children have to look up to?”

And when God made a father’s hands, they were large and sinewy. And the angel shook her head sadly and said, “Do you know what you’re doing? Large hands are clumsy. They can’t manage diaper pins, small buttons, rubber bands on pony tails or even remove splinters caused by baseball bats.” And God smiled and said, “I know, but they’re large enough to hold everything a small boy empties from his pockets at the end of a day…yet small enough to cup a child’s face in his hands.”

And then God molded long, slim legs and broad shoulders. And the angel nearly had a heart attack. “Boy, this is the end of the week, all right,” she clucked. “Do you realize you just made a father without a lap? How is he going to pull a child close to him without the kid falling between his legs?” And God smiled and said, “A mother needs a lap. A father needs strong shoulders to pull a sled, balance a boy on a bicycle, and hold a sleepy head on the way home from the circus.”

God was in the middle of creating two of the largest feet anyone had every seen when the angel could contain herself no longer. “That’s not fair. Do you honestly think those large boats are going to dig out of bed early in the morning when the baby cries? Or walk through a small birthday party without crushing at least three of the guests?” And God smiled and said, “They’ll work. You’ll see. They’ll support a small child who wants to ride a horse to Banbury Cross, or scare off mice at the summer cabin, or display shoes that will be a challenge to fill.”

God worked throughout the night, giving the Father few words, but a firm authoritative voice; eyes that saw everything, but remained calm and tolerant. Finally, almost as an afterthought, he added tears. Then he turned to the angel and said, “Now, are you satisfied that he can love as much as a Mother?” The angel shuteth up.
– Erma Bombeck

The Father’s Blessing
Gary Smalley, popular author and psychologist, asked 100 people, “What is one specific way you knew that you had received your parents’ blessing?” Here some of those answers:

1. “My father would put his arm around me at church and let me lay my head on his shoulder.”
2. “When my father was facing being transferred at work, he purposely took another job so that I could finish my senior year in high school at the same school.”
3. “When I wrecked my parent’s car, my father’s first reaction was to hug me and let me cry instead of yelling at me.”
4. “When I was thirteen, my dad trusted me to use his favorite hunting rifle when I was invited to go hunting with a friend and his father.”
5. “My father went with me when I had to take back an ugly dress a saleswoman had talked me into buying.”
6. “My father would let me practice pitching to him for a long time when he got home from work.”
7. “Even though I had never seen him cry before, my father cried during my wedding because he was going to miss me no longer being at home.”

Twelve Practical Ways for Men to Impact Fatherless Kids

1. Be a mentor to a boy without a father through Big Brother or some other agency.
2. Contact your local junior or senior high school to tutor a needy kid.
3. Teach Sunday School.
4. Adopt a child or be a foster parent.
5. Meet one-on-one weekly, with a boy in your church or neighborhood who doesn’t have a father in the home.
6. Become a leader in Boy Scouts or Cub Scouts.
7. Coach Little League or some other sport.
8. Volunteer to work with needy kids in an inner city ministry.
9. Hire a potentially “at risk” kid for yard work or in your business.
10. Become active youth leaders in your local church or a parachurch organization.
11. Start a church-based sports league that reaches out to needy kids in the community.
12. Lead a Bible study in a juvenile detention center or group home.
– June 1996 issue of The Standard (pp 20-23), published by the Baptist General Conference, 2002 S. Arlington Heights Rd., Arlington Heights, IL. Adapted

Get Rid of Dad?
The children begged for a hamster, and after the usual fervent vows that they alone would care for it, they got one. They named it Danny. Two months later, when Mom found herself responsible for cleaning and feeding the creature, she located a prospective new home for it. The children took the news of Danny’s imminent departure quite well, though one of them remarked, “He’s been around here a long time–we’ll miss him.”

“Yes,” Mom replied, “But he’s too much work for one person, and since I’m that one person, I say he goes.”

Another child offered, “Well, maybe if he wouldn’t eat so much and wouldn’t be so messy, we could keep him.”

But Mom was firm. “It’s time to take Danny to his new home now,” she insisted. “Go and get his cage.”

With one voice and in tearful outrage the children shouted, “Danny? We thought you said Daddy!”
– Ken Board

Dusty Like Dad
“At the first church that I pastored, I had the job of mixing feed to supplement my income. For a period of about two weeks, each day that I came home from work, my two boys, ages 2 and 3 would look at me, smile, and would say, “Boy, dad, you sure are dusty!” I would reply, “Yes, I sure am dusty.” Then I would get cleaned up.

I didn’t think too much of this until I was washing my car and saw my oldest son doing something very strange. He was picking up the gravel and stones that were in our drive and rubbing them into his pants. I asked him, “Want are you doing?” He replied, “I want to be dusty like you dad!”

I realized that if a child would look up to his father for being dusty and want to copy his father, a child could look up to his father and follow him for anything. What are you passing on to your son?”
– Jerry L. Steen

“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”
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The Geese and the Snowstorm Author Unknown

The Geese and the Snowstorm
Author Unknown

There was once a man who did not believe in either the virgin birth of Christ or the spiritual meaning behind it, and was skeptical even about God. He and his family lived in a farm community. His wife was a devout believer and diligently raised her children in the faith. He sometimes gave her a hard time about her belief and mocked her religious observances.

“It’s all nonsense — why would God lower himself and become a human like us? It’s such a ridiculous story,” he said.

One snowy day, she and the children left for church while he stayed home. After they had departed, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening.

Then he heard a loud thump, something hitting against the window… And, still another thump. He looked outside but could not see anything. So he ventured outside for a better view. In the field near his house he saw, of all the strangest things, a flock of geese. They were apparently flying to look for a warmer area down south, but they had been caught in the snowstorm. The storm had become too blinding and violent for the geese to fly or see their way. They were stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter, unable to do more than flutter their wings and fly in aimless circles. He had compassion for them and wanted to help them. He thought to himself, the barn would be a great place for them to stay. It is warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he opened the barn doors for them.

He waited, watching them, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside. Nevertheless, they did not notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. He moved closer toward them to get their attention, but they just moved away from him out of fear.

He went into the house and came back with some bread, broke it up, and made a bread trail to the barn. They still did not catch on.

Starting to get frustrated, he went over and tried to shoo them toward the barn. They panicked and scattered into every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where there was warmth, safety, and shelter. Feeling totally frustrated, he exclaimed, “Why don’t they follow me? Can’t they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm? How can I possibly get them into the one place to save them?”

He thought for a moment and realized that they just would not follow a human. He said to himself, “How can I possibly save them? The only way would be for me to become like those geese. If only I could become like one of them. Then I could save them. They would follow me and I would lead them to safety.”

At that moment, he stopped and considered what he had said. The words reverberated in his mind: If only I could become like one of them, then I could save them. Then, at last, he understood God’s heart towards mankind… and he fell on his knees in the snow.

Christmas in July By Maria Foslien

Christmas in July
By Maria Foslien

Lisa Cooke writes: Now is the time to begin thinking and planning for your Christmas musical or drama, according to Maria Foslien, worship leader and Pastor’s wife for Living Word Family Church in Naples Florida.

For the past five Christmas seasons, Maria and her music team have put together a high-quality, high-energy holiday program that they not only use for their own church services, but also for community events, fund raising dinners for local groups, and even Disney World! Their excellence in preparation and performance has opened many doors of outreach, and I asked Maria to put together an outline of her strategy as they plan for each Christmas season.

I encourage you to check out their web-site at www.napleschurch.com, and I trust that Maria’s insights will inspire and encourage you as you begin the early stages of preparation for your musical outreach for Christmas 2006.

Also, please take time to see their Christmas concert at http://www.napleschurch.com/Music/Concerts.asx

PUTTING ON A CHRISTMAS CONCERT
By Maria Foslien

There are many aspects to putting on a great performance. Doing the “extras” can take even the simplest concert to a professional level. No matter what your church size or budget, your concert can be a hit!

The following categories are available for you to look at:

1. Song Selection
2. Stage Presentation
3. Behind the scenes preparation (How early should we start working on it?)
4. Budget
5. Lighting Effects – Audio/Visual
6. View our Christmas Concert

SONG SELECTION

1. Make it fun
1. Don’t be afraid to put variety in your concert.
1. Some fun, festive and lively songs
2. Some Christmas classics
3. Some drama
4. Some Worshipful songs

2. Utilize the resources available.
We have signed up with Brentwood-Benson and Integrity Music companies to receive their quarterly music samples for our review. Christmas samples usually arrive at the beginning of summer. They have sound tracks, chord sheets, music scores, etc… available to buy. It is very helpful!

You may find just a few songs to add to your concert or be able to use an entire Christmas Concert layout from the samples sent. It will depend on your personal music taste. If we can’t find a sound track to a song we really want to use, we have them made by a guy who has his own recording studio. If you know someone like that, this is a great option.

Cost for having a sound track made –
We usually pay $500 per track. (Keep in mind, these are professional tracks made with professional equipment.) If it is a very complex sound track, the price has gone up to $750-1,000 per track. You can have lesser quality tracks made for less money, of course.

Church Band – We don’t use our church band for our Christmas Concert. We have found it easier to use professional sound tracks. (This may not be the case for you – you may want to use your band.)

Stage Presentation

Coordinate your outfits for the performance.

We always have the women wear long, floor-length black skirts with black, long-sleeved sparkle tops. Simple, yet very elegant. (Once you own them, you can reuse them time and time again.). The men wear black suits or tuxes with white shirts. We buy matching ties so they all look the same.

We keep away from the “Santa” or themed Christmas ties. It seems to be a more polished look to have them a solid color instead of a busy print.

A change of outfit for the second half of your show is always a nice touch. Try having the ladies come out on stage with red sparkle jackets for the second half.

If you view our Christmas Concert you’ll see we add little things to our basic costumes for different songs to enhance the theme of each song.

Do something different/special with your stage for the concert.

We like to paint the wall behind the stage a different color for the concert. It is something that has to be repainted of course after the holidays. We like to keep it that way until the New Year.

Different years we’ve done colors such as a deep evergreen, a rich gold or a cranberry red. All were beautiful. To go the extra mile, you could also put a saying such as “Glory to God” or “A Child Is Born” over the painted wall. This can be done by using a transparency and projector and tracing the letters on the wall or having letters cut out of Styrofoam and mounted to the wall. We suggest a using a fancy font for the lettering, but not so decorative that it is difficult to read or overly distracting. Gold lettering on a green or red background is good. If your wall color is gold, black is really nice for the lettering color.

If stage space allows, putting up a few fake Christmas trees with all white lights is a classy look. Remember the saying, “Less is more.” We leave the trees up on stage for the entire month of December.

A word of advice – be committed to changing your Christmas backdrop immediately after the first of the year. You don’t want to be like the neighbors who still have their Christmas lights up when it’s Valentine’s Day. Keep the standard of excellence.

BEHIND THE SCENES PREPARATION

No last minute, throw-together efforts. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well!

I will pass along some of the best advice I was ever given. START WORKING ON ANY MAJOR EVENT SIX MONTHS IN ADVANCE. With all the details and work that go into a successful big event, you’ll find even six months is sometimes not enough. If you need to rent equipment – chairs, tables, lights etc.. – be sure to secure them in advance. Get a team of reliable people to help you. No need carrying the whole load yourself. Do everything now that can be done now. There will be plenty of things left to do that can’t be done until later. Make good use of the months before your event. Plan, plan, plan.

Music Practice

Our music team practices for regular church services on Thursday evenings from 7pm-9:30pm. When we start working on Christmas (usually just after Easter) we spend the last half of practice on Christmas music. Working on it over the months allows us to pace ourselves and be totally ready when the Christmas season arrives. It gives us time to perfect our vocals and focus on some “extras” like choreographed movements in the songs.

Lighting

See Lighting Affects – Audio/Visual section

BUDGET

This is where working on your concert many months in advance can really help. You can buy things each month for your concert rather than needing a lump sum all at once. (If your church has a “Christmas Concert Budget” already, praise God!! If not, start small and work your way up year-by-year – that’s what we did.)

Cost

We put the singers expense for their outfits on them. Any time I take a new singer on the team, I let them know they will need to get a Christmas concert outfit.

Sound equipment

If your church has a sound system, you may not need to rent any sound equipment, however, before we had really good speakers we would rent them for our concert. It made a HUGE difference in the performance! If you don’t have a good system and have it in the budget to do it, I highly recommend renting equipment. Sound rental places usually have sound techs for hire to help if you don’t have someone to run it. A word to the wise, get the equipment early enough to work out the sound “kinks” before the night of your performance.

Stage Props

We keep them to a minimum, but it adds a warm feeling to the concert. Buy things you can use year after year. It will save you money if you think long term.

One really neat idea is a fiber-optic backdrop screen. They are expensive to rent, but incredible for that “starry/dreamy” effect.

Concert Tickets

You may want to sell tickets to the concert to help offset the costs. We never look at it as a “money maker”. Actually, ticket sales don’t even begin to cover the cost we incur for our concert, but it does help. We want our concert to be affordable for everyone. Because of the caliber of our concerts, we have never had a problem with ticket sales. We charge $15 per ticket. In earlier years, when we didn’t have all the lighting effects and other extras, our costs were lower. We started at $5 per ticket.

LIGHTING EFFECTS – AUDIO/VISUAL

Resources

Check out www.churchproductions.com

What we used

We use several can lights as well as intelligent lighting. It took an average of one hour per song to program the lighting, so you need to have your lights up and ready to go at least a week in advance when you have programming to do for intelligent lighting.

You’ll see we started our second half of the set with a clip from an old concert and then transitioned it into the live performance. It was very effective and brought tears to almost everyone’s eyes.

Trial and Error

Unless you have professional lighting techs at your disposal you’ll just have to start somewhere and begin learning. We use more and more lights and effects each year as our A/V team gets more familiar with the lighting equipment. Talk with the techs from the company you rent lights from, they know the equipment and it’s abilities.

You may want to hire their techs to do your concert to start and work with them so you are learning, too.

I hope this gives you some valuable information for your Christmas concerts/productions. We are by no means “professionals”. However, we want to make the things we have learned over the years (sometimes the hard way) available to others.

Christmas Stories & Illustrations

Christmas Stories & Illustrations

Birds Set Free

A.J. Gordon was the great Baptist pastor of the Clarendon Church in Boston, Massachusetts. One day he met a young boy in front of the sanctuary carrying a rusty cage in which several birds fluttered nervously. Gordon inquired, “Son, where did you get those birds?” The boy replied, “I trapped them out in the field.” “What are you going to do with them?” “I’m going to play with them, and then I guess I’ll just feed them to an old cat we have at home.” When Gordon offered to buy them, the lad exclaimed, “Mister, you don’t want them, they’re just little old wild birds and can’t sing very well.” Gordon replied, “I’ll give you $2 for the cage and the birds.” “Okay, it’s a deal, but you’re making a bad bargain.” The exchange was made and the boy went away whistling, happy with his shiny coins. Gordon walked around to the back of the church property, opened the door of the small wire coop, and let the struggling creatures soar into the blue. The next Sunday he took the empty cage into the pulpit and used it to illustrate his sermon about Christ’s coming to seek and to save the lost—paying for them with His own precious blood. “That boy told me the birds were not songsters,” said Gordon, “but when I released them and they winged their way heavenward, it seemed to me they were singing, ‘Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!'”

This is Advent. And the message of these times is the song of those wild birds.

It’s the song sung in every carol this season: Redeemed!

It’s the meaning behind every gift given under the tree: Redeemed!

It’s the Word the shepherds heard: Redeemed!

It’s the assurance Mary received: Redeemed!

It’s the star the Wisemen followed: Redeemed!

You and I have been trapped by sin, but Christ has purchased our pardon. We have been redeemed!

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Missing the Big News

It was in December of 1903, that after many attempts, the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were successful in getting their “flying machine” off the ground and into the air at Kitty Hawk. Thrilled over the accomplishment, they telegraphed this message to their sister Katherine: “We have actually flown 120 feet. Will be home for Christmas.” Katherine hurried to the editor of the local newspaper and showed him the message. He glanced at it and said, “How nice. The boys will be home for Christmas.” He totally missed the big news-for the first time in human history, man had flown! (SOURCE: Daily Bread, December 23, 1991.)

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Which Virgin?

A ten-year old, who was becoming quite knowledgeable about the Bible because of her grandmother’s teaching, asked her grandmother: “Which Virgin was the mother of Jesus? The Virgin Mary or the King James Virgin?”

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Recognizing Jesus

One of my favorite Christmas stories is about the old shoe cobbler who dreamed one Christmas Eve that Jesus would come to visit him the next day. The dream was so real that he was convinced it would come true.

So the next morning he got up and went out and cut green boughs and decorated his little cobbler shop and got all ready for Jesus to come and visit. He was so sure that Jesus was going to come that he just sat down and waited for Him.

The hours passed and Jesus didn’t come. But an old man came. He came inside for a moment to get warm out of the winter cold. As the cobbler talked with him he noticed the holes in the old man’s shoes, so he reached up on the shelf and got him a new pair of shoes. He made sure they fit and that his socks were dry and sent him on his way.

Still he waited. But Jesus didn’t come. An old woman came. A woman who hadn’t had a decent meal in two days. They sat and visited for a while, and then he prepared some food for her to eat. He gave her a nourishing meal and sent her on her way.

Then he sat down again to wait for Jesus. But Jesus still didn’t come.

Then he heard a little boy crying out in front of his shop. He went out and talked with the boy, and discovered that the boy had been separated from his parents and didn’t know how to get home. So he put on his coat, took the boy by the hand and led him home.

When he came back to his little shoe shop it was almost dark and the streets were emptied of people. And then in a moment of despair he lifted his voice to heaven and said, “Oh Lord Jesus, why didn’t you come?”

And then in a moment of silence he seemed to hear a voice saying, “Oh shoe cobbler, lift up your heart. I kept my word. Three times I knocked at your friendly door. Three times my shadow fell across your floor. I was the man with the bruised feet. I was the woman you gave to eat. I was the boy on the homeless street.”

Jesus had come. The cobbler just didn’t realize it.

– by Melvin Newland

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If You Ever Want to See Your Mother Again

A small boy was writing a letter to God about the Christmas presents he badly wanted. “I’ve been good for six months now.” he wrote. But after a moment’s reflection he crossed out “six months” and wrote “three months.” After a pause that was crossed out and he put “two weeks.” There was another pause and that was crossed out too. He got up from the table and went over to the nativity scene that had the figures of Mary and Joseph. He picked up the figure of Mary, wrapped it gently in a cloth, and put it in a drawer in his room. He then went back to his writing and started again: “Dear God, if ever you want to see your mother again!”

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The Three Wise Firemen

There was a art contest held in a local school one Christmas season a few years ago in East Texas. One of the prize winners was a picture drawn by a nine year old boy showing three men, offering gifts to the baby Jesus in his manger. What made the picture unique is how the three gift presenters arrived—there was fire truck on the side of the picture.

The principal asked the boy about his decision to draw the truck and the boy, in his heavy East-Texas accent, was quick to reply: “Well, the Bible says the wise men came from a-far.”

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If I Could Only Become a Bird

Paul Harvey tells the story about a family on Christmas Eve. This family had a tradition where the Mother and children would go to the Christmas Eve service, and the Father would stay home and read the paper. When the family returns home from church, they would all gather to open up their presents.

The Father was not an evil man, but he just couldn’t believe in the childhood stories anymore of God coming as a baby in a manger. As the family left for church, he opened up the evening paper and began to read by the fireplace.

Suddenly, he heard tapping on the window. It was a bird flying against the glass of his window trying to get out of the snow into the warmth of his home. The man had compassion on the bird, and he went outside, hoping to bring it in.

As he approached the bird, the bird just flew against the window even harder. Pretty soon, the bird flew into the bushes below the window, half frozen, yet too afraid to be caught by this huge man. The more the man tried to reach for the bird, the more the bird flew frantically into the snow and thorns of the bushes.

After a few minutes in the cold and seeing the bird continue to injure itself, the man yelled out in frustration, “Stupid bird, can’t you understand that I’m trying to help?” The man paused and thought, “If only you understood you wouldn’t fly away … if only … if only I could become a bird, and get you to understand.”

Just then, the church bells rang, as they always have on the hour. But when the man heard the bells this time, he fell to his knees and began to cry, saying, “Oh, God, I didn’t understand. Oh, God, I didn’t understand.”

God’s Son came in human form that we might understand from where we have come, for what reason we were separated and how we could be restored to God.

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Our Greatest Need

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator; If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist; If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist; If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer; but our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.

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Next Time It Will Be Different

The First Time Jesus Came
He came veiled in the form of a child.
A star marked His arrival.
Wise men brought Him gifts.
There was no room for Him.
Only a few attended His arrival.
The Next Time Jesus Comes
He will be recognized by all.
Heaven will be lit by His glory.
He will bring rewards for His own.
The world won’t be able to contain His glory.
Every eye shall see Him.
He will come as Sovereign King and Lord of all.
– John F. MacArthur Jr.

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The Best Christmas Ever

A store owner was doing some last minute Christmas shopping with his young son when he saw another store owner with whom he had been friends for some time. The two of them exchanged greetings and spoke with each other about what a financially profitable season it had been for their respective stores. The small boy overheard his father say, “This has been the best Christmas ever.”

As the store owners parted company, the father and son continued their shopping, but the father noticed his son had become very quiet. He inquired as to his son’s silence, and his son replied, “Dad, you just told Mr. Johnson that this was the best Christmas ever.”

His dad replied, “I did, son. The economy is great, and people are really spending.”

“O.K.” the son replied, “It’s just that I always thought the first Christmas was the best one.”

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Look What Has Come

In his 1942 devotional Abundant Living, E. Stanley Jones, Methodist doctor and missionary to India, writes:

The early Christians did not say in dismay: “Look what the world has come to,” but in delight, “Look what has come to the world.” They saw not merely the ruin, but the Resource for the reconstruction of that ruin. They saw not merely that sin did abound, but that grace did much more abound. On that assurance the pivot of history swung from blank despair, loss of moral nerve, and fatalism, to faith and confidence that at last sin had met its match.

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A Politically Correct Christmas

“To avoid offending anybody, the school dropped religion altogether and started singing about the weather. At my son’s school, they now hold the winter program in February and sing increasingly non-memorable songs such as ‘Winter Wonderland,’ ‘Frosty the Snowman,’ and—this is a real song—‘Suzy Snowflake,’ all of which is pretty funny because we live in Miami. A visitor from another planet would assume that the children belonged to the Church of Meteorology.”

– Dave Barry in his “Notes on Western Civilization” (Chicago Tribune Magazine, July 28, 1991)

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Augustine’s Reflections

In this poem written some fifteen centuries ago, Augustine tried to capture the mystery of the Incarnation:

Maker of the sun,
He is made under the sun.
In the Father he remains,
From his mother he goes forth.
Creator of heaven and earth,
He was born on earth under heaven.
Unspeakably wise,
He is wisely speechless.
Filling the world,
He lies in a manger.
Ruler of the stars,
He nurses at his mother’s bosom.
He is both great in the nature of God,
And small in the form of a servant.

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Remembering Atheists at Christmas

From a few years ago…

Complaints about a nativity scene in the Capitol are not bothering South Dakota Governor Bill Janklow. He’s prepared to let every religion put something on display in the Capitol, and even has an “empty corner” set aside for atheists.

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‘Twas the Fight Before Christmas

by Tony Cooke and David Beebe

‘Twas the fight before Christmas,
And all through the house,
Not a creature was peaceful,
Not even my spouse.
The bills were strung out on our table with dread,
In hopes that our checkbook would not be in the red.
The children were fussing and throwing a fit,
When Billy came screaming and cried, “I’ve been bit.”
And Momma with her skillet, and I with the remote,
She said, “You change one more channel and I’ll grab your throat.”
When on the TV there arose such a clatter,
I sat up on the couch to see what was the matter.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
The cable was out, it was my worst fear.
“The Cowboys, the Celtics, the Raiders, the Knicks,
Without the sports channel I’d soon need a fix!”
And then in the midst of my grievous sorrow,
I remembered the times I had promised, “tomorrow…”
“Not now, my children, but at some soon time,
Dad will play with you, and things will be fine.”
Now under conviction, I looked at my wife,
Where was my kindness? Why all the strife?
My heart quickly softened; I now saw my task,
Some love and attention was all they had asked.
I gathered my family and called them by name,
And told them with God’s help I’d not be the same.
We’ll keep Christ in Christmas and honor His plan.
No more fights before Christmas—on that we will stand.
My children’s eyes twinkled; they squealed with delight.
My wife gladly nodded; she knew I was right.
It was the fight before Christmas, but God’s love had come through,
And just like He does, He made all things new.

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Praise God for Christmas

Praise Him for the Incarnation,
For the word made flesh.
I will not sing of shepherds
Watching flocks on frosty nights,
Or angel choristers.
I will not sing of a stable bare in Bethlehem,
Or lowing oxen,
Wise men trailing star with gold,
Frankincense, and myrrh.
Tonight I will sing praise to the Father
Who stood on heaven’s threshold
And said farewell to His Son
As he stepped across the stars
To Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
And I will sing praise to the infinite, eternal Son,
Who became most finite, a baby
Who would one day be executed for my crime.
Praise Him in the heavens,
Praise Him in the stable,
Praise Him in my heart.
– Joseph Bayly

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Some Christmas Reminders

* May the Christmas GIFTS remind us of God’s greatest gift, His only Son.
* May the Christmas CANDLES remind us of Him who is the “Light of the world.”
* May the Christmas TREES remind us of another tree upon which he died.
* May the Christmas CHEER remind us of Him who said, “Be of good cheer.”
* May the Christmas FEAST remind us of Him who is “the Bread of Life.”
* May the Christmas BELLS remind us of the glorious proclamation of His birth.
* May the Christmas CAROLS remind us of the son the angels sang, “Glory to God in the Highest!”
* May the Christmas SEASON remind us in every way of Jesus Christ our King!

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Keeping Christmas

In a world that seems not only to be changing, but even to be dissolving, there are some tens of millions of us who want Christmas to be the same… with the same old greeting, “Merry Christmas,” and no other.

We long for the abiding love among men of good will which the season brings… believing in this ancient miracle of Christmas with its softening, sweetening influence to tug at our heart strings once again.

We want to hold on to the old customs and traditions because they strengthen our family ties, bind us to our friends, make us one with all mankind for whom the Child was born, and bring us back again to the God Who gave His only begotten Son, that “whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have “everlasting life.”

So we will not “spend” Christmas… nor “observe” Christmas.

We will “keep” Christmas—keep it as it is… in all the loveliness of its ancient tradition.

May we keep it in our hearts, that we may be kept in its hope.

– Peter Marshall

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The Christmas Problem

Once upon a Christmas Eve, a man sat in reflective silence before the fireplace, pondering the meaning of Christmas. “There is no point to a God who becomes man,” he mused. “Why would an all-powerful God want to share even one of His precious moments with the likes of man? And even if He did, why would He choose to be born in an animal stall? No way! The whole thing is absurd! I’m sure that if God really wanted to come down to earth, He would have chosen some other way.” Suddenly, the man was roused from his reverie by a strange sound outside. He went to the window and saw a small gaggle of blue geese frantically honking and aimlessly flopping about in the snow. They seemed dazed and confused. Apparently they had dropped out in exhaustion from the flight formations of a larger flock on its way from the Arctic Islands to the warmer climes of the Gulf of Mexico. Moved to compassion, the man tried to “shoo” the poor geese into his warm garage, but the more he “shooed” the more they panicked. “If they only realized I’m only trying to do what’s best for them,” he thought to himself. “How can I make them understand my concern for their well-being?” Then, this thought came to him: “If for just a minute, I could become one of them, an ordinary goose, and communicate with them in their own language, they would know what I am trying to do.” And suddenly … suddenly, he remembered Christmas and a smile came over his face. Suddenly, the Christmas story no longer seemed absurd. Suddenly, he pictured that ordinary-looking infant, lying in the manger, in that stable in Bethlehem, and he knew the answer to his Christmas problem: God had become one of us to tell us that He loves us.

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C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis wrote: “The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but a baby, and before that a fetus in a woman’s body.”

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Heavenly Peas

A little boy and girl were singing their favorite Christmas carol in church the Sunday before Christmas. The boy concluded “Silent Night” with the words, “Sleep in heavenly beans.” “No,” his sister corrected, “not beans, peas.”

– Michael P. Green, Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993, p. 57.

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Consider Again Christmas

When Pope Julius I authorized December 25 to be celebrated as the birthday of Jesus in A.D. 353, who would have ever thought that it would become what it is today.

When Professor Charles Follen lit candles on the first Christmas tree in America in 1832, who would have ever thought that the decorations would become as elaborate as they are today.

It is a long time since 1832, longer still from 353, longer still from that dark night brightened by a special star in which Jesus the king was born. Yet, as we approach December 25 again, it gives us yet another opportunity to pause, and in the midst of all the excitement and elaborate decorations and expensive commercialization which surround Christmas today, to consider again the event of Christmas and the person whose birth we celebrate.

– Brian L. Harbour, James W. Cox, The Minister’s Manual: 1994, San Fransico: Harper Collins, 1993, p. 254.

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I’ll Just Take the Skates

There was the little boy who approached Santa in a department store with a long list of requests. He wanted a bicycle and a sled, a chemical set, a cowboy suit, a set of trains, a baseball glove and roller skates. “That’s a pretty long list,” Santa said sternly. “I’ll have to check in my book and see if you were a good boy.” “No, no,” the youngster said quickly. “Never mind checking. I’ll just take the roller skates.”

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Some Gifts to Give

Some gifts you can give this Christmas are beyond monetary value: Mend a quarrel, dismiss suspicion, tell someone, “I love you.” Give something away–anonymously. Forgive someone who has treated you wrong. Turn away wrath with a soft answer. Visit someone in a nursing home. Apologize if you were wrong. Be especially kind to someone with whom you work. Give as God gave to you in Christ, without obligation, or announcement, or reservation, or hypocrisy.

– Charles Swindoll, Growing Strong, pp. 400-1.

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Martin Luther

“The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that He sunk Himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding.”

– Martin Luther, Table Talk.

Ah, dearest Jesus, Holy Child
Ah, dearest Jesus, Holy Child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.
My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep,
I too must sing, with joyful tongue,
That sweetest ancient cradle song,
Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given
While angels sing with pious mirth.
A glad new year to all the earth.

– Martin Luther.

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The Christmas Carol Dilemma

A lady who served on many civic committees, asked to select carols suitable for a community Christmas-tree lighting, sought the help of her pastor. When she scanned the list he had selected, she exclaimed in dismay, “But they’re all so theological.”

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The Ten Commandments for Christmas

The following item appeared in a church newsletter and contains some good advice that will help us keep selfishness in check this Christmas:

I. Thou shalt not leave “Christ” out of Christmas, making it “Xmas.” To some, “X” is unknown.

II. Thou shalt prepare thy soul for Christmas. Spend not so much on gifts that thy soul is forgotten.

III. Thou shalt not let Santa Claus replace Christ, thus robbing the day of its spiritual reality.

IV. Thou shalt not burden the shop girl, the mailman, and the merchant with complaints and demands.

V. Thou shalt give thyself with thy gift. This will increase its value a hundred fold, and he who receiveth it shall treasure it forever.

VI. Thou shalt not value gifts received by their cost. Even the least expensive may signify love, and that is more priceless than silver and gold.

VII. Thou shalt not neglect the needy. Share thy blessings with many who will go hungry and cold unless thou are generous.

VIII. Thou shalt not neglect thy church. Its services highlight the true meaning of the season.

IX. Thou shalt be as a little child. Not until thou has become in spirit as a little one art thou ready to enter into the kingdom of Heaven.

X. Thou shalt give thy heart to Christ. Let Him be at the top of thy Christmas list.

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Materialism & the Meaning of Christmas

A television interviewer was walking streets of Tokyo at Christmas time. Much as in America, Christmas shopping is a big commercial success in Japan. The interviewer stopped one young woman on the sidewalk, and asked, “What is the meaning of Christmas?”

Laughing, she responded, “I don’t know. Is that the day that Jesus died?”

There was some truth in her answer.

– Donald Deffner, Seasonal Illustrations, San Jose: Resource, 1992, p. 16.

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The Real Picture

During the long war years a boy looked frequently at a picture of his daddy on the table. He had left when the boy was a young infant. After several years the boy had forgotten him as a person but he would often look at the picture and say, “If only my father could step out of that picture and be real….”

Christmas means that in a sad day of sin when man had almost forgotten God, He stepped into the world in the form of His Son.
– Pulpit Helps

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Is Jesus Still a Baby?

A girl of ten years went with a group of family and friends to see the Christmas light displays at various locations throughout the city. At one church, they stopped and got out to look more closely at a beautifully done nativity scene. “Isn’t that beautiful?” said the little girl’s grandmother. “Look at all the animals, Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.” “Yes, Grandma,” replied the granddaughter. “It is really nice. But there is only one thing that bothers me. Isn’t baby Jesus ever going to grow up… he’s the same size he was last year.”

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What Children Hear

I was reading the story of Jesus’ birth to my day-care children one morning. As usual, I stopped to see if they understood. “What do we call the three wise men?” I asked. “The three maggots,” replied a bright 5-year-old. “What gift did the Magi bring baby Jesus?” I corrected. “Gold, Frankensteins and smurfs!” the same 5-year-old replied.

– Sent in to Christian Herald by Brenda Roberts, Stone Mountain, GA.

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Purposes of the Incarnation

* To do the Father’s will (Jn 6:38),
* To bear witness to the truth (Jn 18:37),
* To bring light to the darkness (Jn 12:46),
* To bring true judgment (Jn 9:39),
* To bring abundant life (Jn 10:10).

– Source Unknown

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Mary Had the Little Lamb

Mary had the little Lamb, who lived before His birth;
Self-existent Son of God, from Heaven He came to Earth.
Micah 5:2

Mary had the little Lamb; see Him in yonder stall—
Virgin-born Son of God, to save man from the Fall.
Isaiah 7:14

Mary had the little Lamb, obedient Son of God;
Everywhere the Father led, His feet were sure to trod.
John 6:38

Mary had the little Lamb, crucified on the tree
The rejected Son of God, He died to set men free.
1 Peter 1:18

Mary had the little Lamb—men placed Him in the grave,
Thinking they were done with Him; to death He was no slave!
Matthew 28:6

Mary had the little Lamb, ascended now is He;
All work on Earth is ended, our Advocate to be.
Hebrews 4:14-16

Mary had the little Lamb—mystery to behold!
From the Lamb of Calvary, a Lion will unfold.
Revelation 5: 5,6

When the Day Star comes again, of this be very sure:
It won’t be Lamb-like silence, but with the Lion’s roar.
Psalm 2:12
Revelation 19:11-16

– Marv & Marbeth Rosenthal

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“One Solitary Life”

He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in still another village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty. Then for three years he was an itinerant preacher.

He never wrote a book.

He never held an office.

He never had a family or owned a house.

He didn’t go to college.

He never traveled 200 miles from the place where he was born.

He did none of these things one usually associates with greatness.

He had no credentials but himself.

He was only 33 when public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.

When he was dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race, the leader of mankind’s progress.

All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on earth as much as that One Solitary Life.

– Unknown

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St. Nicholas

His name was Nicholas and he was born to a wealthy, elderly couple in what is now Turkey in the 3rd century AD. When his parents died, he was left with a large inheritance and gained a reputation for generously giving to the poor. He entered a monastery and eventually was ordained Bishop of the coastal city of Myra. Nicholas was known for miraculous answers to prayer, confronting pagan “Diana” worship and being cruelly imprisoned during Roman Emperor Diocletian’s persecution of Christians. When Constantine ended the persecution, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea and helped write the Nicene Creed. A true Saint, Nicholas died on December 6, 343AD. Early American writer Washington Irving, creator of Rip Van Winkle and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, was instrumental in transforming Saint Nicholas into jolly ol’ St. Nick!

– From American Minute with Bill Federer
American Minute is a daily e-mail sent out by Amerisearch.
You can receive this newsletter by going to http://www.amerisearch.net/

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The Hindu and the Ant Hill

There was a man from India who was a devout member of a Hindu sect and who had a profound sense of reverence for life. He would not kill an ant, a cow, or even a cobra, because to him, due to his belief in reincarnation, he might be killing some past relative.

During his visit to America, he had been confronted with the claims of Christ, yet he could not grasp the biblical truth that God actually visited this planet in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. He could not comprehend how the Great Creator God of the Universe could become a man, or why.

One day as he was walking in the field meditating upon this new truth about Jesus the Christ being God, he was wondering how this could possibly be. He ran across a large ant hill with thousands of little ants scurrying around in their busy like manner. He was standing there observing with wonder the activity of these ants, and what amazing creatures they are, when suddenly, he heard a tremendous and threatening noise. It was the noise of a large tractor plowing the fields.

As he looked up he discovered that the tractor would soon be plowing through that ant hill and thousands of ants would probably be killed and their home destroyed. Gripped with the same concern you and I would feel for hundreds of people trapped in a burning building, he became frantic. He wanted to warn them of their impending destruction.

He thought to himself, “How can I warn them? If I could write in the sand, they wouldn’t be able to read it. If I shouted to them, they wouldn’t understand me. The only possible way I could communicate with them would be by becoming an ant, if I had that ability.”

Then suddenly he had a revelation from the Spirit of God. He saw why God, the Creator of the universe, chose to become one of us by becoming a man, in the Person of the God-man, Jesus of Nazareth.

Through his experience with the ant hill, the light suddenly came on in the heart of that Hindu man, and now he understood the words of Paul: “Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form” (Philippians 2:6- 7, NLT).

– From Bill Bright, Daily Insights, a service of Global Pastors Network

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Christmas Quotes

“On the first Christmas, God didn’t merely send humanity a principle or a doctrine or an ethical system. He sent His only Son. It’s personal.”
– Richard Blackaby

“Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life.”
– Corrie Ten Boom

“The spirit of Christmas needs to be superseded by the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of Christmas is annual; the Spirit of Christ is eternal. The spirit of Christmas is sentimental; the Spirit of Christ is supernatural. The spirit of Christmas is a human product; the Spirit of Christ is a divine person. That makes all the difference in the world.”
– Stuart Briscoe

“You can never truly enjoy Christmas until you can look up into the Father’s face and tell him you have received his Christmas gift.”
– John R. Rice

What is Jesus’ birth all about? “The Son of God became fully human to identify with sinful humans, to live a sinless life, to sacrifice Himself in our place to atone for our sin, and to rise again to conquer death and give believing sinners the gift of eternal life. Jesus volunteered for this mission and willingly endured the suffering to bring glory to His Father, to receive a name above every name, and to transform sinners into saints who glorify God.”
– David and Warren Wiersbe

“A virgin birth seems a most appropriate and creative way for God to enter His world.”
– Paul Smith

“Jesus Christ, the condescension of divinity, and the exaltation of humanity.”
– Phillips Brooks

“Let not thy peace depend on the tongues of men, for whether they judge well or ill, thou art not on that account other than thyself.”
– Thomas à Kempis

“Christ was born in the first century, yet He belongs to all centuries. He was born a Jew, yet He belongs to all races. He was born in Bethlehem, yet He belongs to all countries.”
– George Washington Truett

“It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you… yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand.”
– Mother Teresa

How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, his precepts! O! ’tis easier to keep holidays than commandments.
– Benjamin Franklin

“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”
– Calvin Coolidge

“Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born, If he’s not born in thee thy soul is still forlorn.”
– Angelus Silesius

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”
– Roy L. Smith

“Christmas is based on an exchange of gifts: the gift of God to man—his son; and the gift of God to man – when we first give ourselves to God.”
– Vance Havner

“Christmas is not just a day, an event to be observed and speedily forgotten. It is a spirit which should permeate every part of our lives.”
– William Parks

“Christmas is a day that holds time together.”
– Alexander Smith

“The simple shepherds heard the voice of an angel and found their Lamb; the wise men saw the light of a star and found their Wisdom.”
– Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

“God grant you the light in Christmas, which is faith; the warmth of Christmas, which is love; the radiance of Christmas, which is purity; the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice; the belief in Christmas, which is truth; the all of Christmas which is Christ.”
– Wilda English

“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become the sons of God.”
– C.S. Lewis

“The coming of Christ by way of a Bethlehem manger seems strange and stunning. But when we take him out of the manger and invite Him into our hearts, then the meaning unfolds and the strangeness vanishes.”
– C. Neil Strait

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Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Clause

Editorial Page, New York Sun, 1897

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor,
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

– Virginia O’Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!

Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation


Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State