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Thread: Stories Of Hope & Inspiration

  1. #91
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    God Created the Dog

    On the first day, God created the dog and said: "Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years."

    The dog said: "That's a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?"

    So God agreed with the dog.

    black laborador dog

    On the second day, God created the monkey and said: "Entertain people, Do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty-year life span."

    The monkey said: "Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the dog did?"

    And God agreed with the monkey.

    On the third day, God created the cow and said: "You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves, and give milk to support the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years."

    The cow said: "That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?"

    And God agreed again.

    On the fourth day, God created man and said: "Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years." But man said: "Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?"

    "Okay," said God, "You asked for it."

    So that is why the first twenty years we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years, we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years, we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.

    And that's how life is explained through God's creation.

  2. #92
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    Birth of a Song

    Back in 1932, I was 32 years old and a fairly new husband. My wife, Nettie and I were living in a little apartment on Chicago's Southside. One hot August afternoon I had to go to St. Louis, where I was to be the featured soloist at a large revival meeting. I didn't want to go. Nettie was in the last month of pregnancy with our first child. But a lot of people were expecting me in St. Louis. I kissed Nettie good-bye, clattered downstairs to our Model A and, in a fresh Lake Michigan breeze, chugged out of Chicago on Route 66.

    However, outside the city, I discovered that in my anxiety at leaving, had forgotten my music case. I wheeled around and headed back. I found Nettie sleeping peacefully. I hesitated by her bed; something was strongly telling me to stay. But eager to get on my way, and not wanting to disturb Nettie, I shrugged off the feeling and quietly slipped out of the room with my music.

    The next night, in the steaming St. Louis heat, the crowd called on me to sing again and again. When I finally sat down, a messenger boy ran up with a Western Union telegram. I ripped open the envelope. Pasted on the yellow sheet were the words: YOUR WIFE JUST DIED. People were happily singing and clapping around me, but I could hardly keep from crying out. I rushed to a phone and called home. All I could hear on the other end was "Nettie is dead. Nettie is dead."

    When I got back, I learned that Nettie had given birth to a boy. I swung between grief and joy. Yet that night, the baby died. I buried Nettie and our little boy together, in the same casket. Then I fell apart. For days I closeted myself. I felt that God had done me an injustice. I didn't want to serve Him any more or write gospel songs. I just wanted to go back to that jazz world I once knew so well.

    But then, as I hunched alone in that dark apartment those first sad days, I thought back to the afternoon I went to St. Louis. Something kept telling me to stay with Nettie. Was that something God? Oh, if I had paid more attention to Him that day, I would have stayed and been with Nettie when she died. From that moment on I vowed to listen more closely to Him.

    But still I was lost in grief. Everyone was kind to me, especially a friend, Professor Frye, who seemed to know what I needed. On the following Saturday evening he took me up to Madam Malone's Poro College, a neighborhood music school. It was quiet; the late evening sun crept through the curtained windows. I sat down at the piano, and my hands began to browse over the keys.

    Something happened to me then I felt at peace. I feel as though I could reach out and touch God. I found myself playing a melody, one I'd never heard or played before, and the words into my head-they just seemed to fall into place:

    "Precious Lord, take my hand,
    lead me on, let me stand!
    I am tired, I am weak,
    I am worn, Through the storm,
    through the night lead me on to the light,
    Take my hand, precious Lord, Lead me home."

    The Lord gave me these words and melody. He also healed my spirit. I learned that when we are in our deepest grief, when we feel farthest from God, this is when He is closest, and when we are most open to His restoring power. And so I go on living for God willingly and joyfully, until that day comes when He will take me and gently lead me home.

    -Thomas A. Dorsey- Gospel Songwriter

  3. #93
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    Prayer Journal Of George Washington -Part 1-

    Our 1 st President age 20

    - Sunday Morning -

    Almighty God, and most merciful father, who didst command the children of Israel to offer a daily sacrifice to thee, that thereby they might glorify and praise thee for thy protection both night and day, receive, O Lord, my morning sacrifice which I now offer up to thee; I yield thee humble and hearty thanks that thou has preserved me from the danger of the night past, and brought me to the light of the day, and the comforts thereof, a day which is consecrated to thine own service and for thine own honor. Let my heart, therefore, Gracious God, be so affected with the glory and majesty of it, that I may not do mine own works, but wait on thee, and discharge those weighty duties thou requirest of me.

    And since thou art a God of pure eyes, and wilt be sanctified in all who draw near unto thee, who doest not regard the sacrifice of fools, nor hear sinners who tread in thy courts, pardon, I beseech thee, my sins, remove them from thy presence, as far as the east is from the west, and accept of me for the merits of thy son Jesus Christ, that when I come into thy temple, and compass thine altar, my prayers may come before thee as incense; and as thou wouldst hear me calling upon thee in my prayers, so give me grace to hear thee calling on me in thy word, that it may be wisdom, righteousness, reconciliation and peace to the saving of the soul in the day of the Lord Jesus. Grant that I may hear it with reverence, receive it with meekness, mingle it with faith, and that it may accomplish in me, Gracious God, the good work for which thou has sent it. Bless my family, kindred, friends and country, be our God & guide this day and for ever for his sake, who lay down in the Grave and arose again for us, Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

    - Sunday Evening -

    O most Glorious God, in Jesus Christ my merciful and loving father, I acknowledge and confess my guilt, in the weak and imperfect performance of the duties of this day. I have called on thee for pardon and forgiveness of sins, but so coldly and carelessly, that my prayers are become my sin and stand in need of pardon. I have heard thy holy word, but with such deadness of spirit that I have been an unprofitable and forgetful hearer, so that, O Lord, though' I have done thy work, yet it hath been so negligently that I may rather expect a curse than a blessing from thee.

    But, O God, who art rich in mercy and plenteous in redemption, mark not, I beseech thee, what I have done amiss; remember that I am but dust, and remit my transgressions, negligences & ignorances, and cover them all with the absolute obedience of thy dear Son, that those sacrifices which I have offered may be accepted by thee, in and for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ offered upon the cross for me; for his sake, ease me of the burden of my sins, and give me grace that by the call of the Gospel I may rise from the slumber of sin into the newness of life.

    Let me live according to those holy rules which thou hast this day prescribed in thy holy word; make me to know what is acceptable in thy holy word; make me to know what is acceptable in thy sight, and therein to delight, open the eyes of my understanding, and help me thoroughly to examine myself concerning my knowledge, faith and repentance, increase my faith, and direct me to the true object Jesus Christ the way, the truth and the life.

    Bless O Lord, all the people of this land, from the highest to the lowest, particularly those whom thou has appointed to rule over us in church & state. Continue thy goodness to me this night. These weak petitions I humbly implore thee to hear accept and answer for the sake of thy Dear Son Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

  4. #94
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    Angels in the alley

    Author Unknown

    Diane, a young Christian University student, was home for the summer. She had gone to visit some friends one evening and time passed quickly as each shared their various experiences of the past year.

    She ended up staying longer than planned, and had to walk home alone. She wasn't afraid, because it was a small town and she lived only a few blocks away.

    As she walked along under the tall elm trees, Diane asked "God" to keep her safe from harm and danger. When she reached the alley, which was a short cut to her house, she decided to take it, however, halfway down the alley she noticed a man standing at the end as though he were waiting for her. She became uneasy and began to pray, asking for "God's" protection. Instantly a comforting feeling of quietness and security wrapped around her, she felt as though someone was walking with her.

    When she reached the end of the alley, she walked right past the man and arrived home safely.

    The following day, she read in the newspaper that a young girl had been raped in the same alley, just twenty minutes after she had been there. Feeling overwhelmed by this tragedy and the fact that it could have been her, she began to weep.

    Thanking the Lord for her safety and to help this young woman, she decided to go to the police station. She felt she could recognize the man, so she told them her story. The police asked her if she would be willing to look at a lineup to see if she could identify him. She agreed and immediately pointed out the man she had seen in the alley the night before. When the man was told he had been identified, he immediately broke down and confessed.

    The officer thanked Diane for her bravery and asked if there was anything they could do for her. She asked if they would ask the man one question. Diane was curious as to why he had not attacked her. When the policeman asked him, he answered, "Because she wasn't alone. She had two tall men walking on either side of her."

    Moral of the story?

    Never underestimate the power of prayer.

  5. #95
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    Treasures To Be Thankful For

    A man was exploring caves by the seashore. In one of the caves he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone had rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake.

    They didn't look like much, but they intrigued the man, so he took the bag out of the cave with him. As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could.

    He thought little about it, until he dropped one of the clay balls and it cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful, precious stone!

    Excited, the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each contained a similar treasure. He found thousands of dollars worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left.

    Then it struck him.

    He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of thousands of dollars in treasure, he could have taken home tens of thousands, but he had just thrown it away!

    It's like that with people. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see the external clay vessel. It doesn't look like much from the outside. It isn't always beautiful or sparkling, so we discount it. We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful or stylish or well known or wealthy. But we have not taken the time to find the treasure hidden inside that person.

    There is a treasure in each and every one of us. If we take the time to get to know that person, and if we ask God to show us that person the way He sees them, then the clay begins to peel away and the brilliant gem begins to shine forth.

    May we not come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown away a fortune in friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of clay. May we see the people in our world as God sees them.

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    Keep Your Fork -From Ann Landers-

    A woman was diagnosed with a terminal illness and given three months to live. She asked her Pastor to come to her home to discuss her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at her funeral, and what scriptures she wanted read, and which outfit she wanted to be buried in.

    Then she said, "One more thing... I want to be buried with a fork in my hand."

    The pastor was surprised.

    The woman explained, "In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably say to everyone, 'Keep your fork.'

    It was my favorite time of the dinner, because I knew something better was coming, like velvety chocolate cake or deep dish apple pie - something wonderful. So, I want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and wonder,

    ' What's with the fork?'

    Then, I want you to tell them, ' Keep your fork, because the best is yet to come.' "

    The pastor's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he bid the woman goodbye. He realized she had a better grasp of heaven than he did, and knew something better was coming.

    At the funeral, when people asked him why she was holding a fork, the pastor told them of the conversation he had with the woman before she died. He said he could not stop thinking about the fork, and knew they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either. He was right.

    "Keep your fork. The best is yet to come."

  7. #97
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    Three Trees

    Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, "Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with Intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty."

    Then the second tree said, "Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull."

    Finally the third tree said, "I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me."

    After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said, "This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter"... and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.

    At the second tree a woodsman said, "This looks like a strong tree, I should be able to sell it to the shipyard." The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.

    When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true.

    One of the Woodsmen said, "I don't need anything special from my tree so I'll
    take this one," and he cut it down.

    When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he had prayed for.

    The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end.

    The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark.

    The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams.

    Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.

    Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn't think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and he stood and said "Peace" and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in its boat.

    Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.

    The moral of this story is that when things don't seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in Him, He will give you great gifts.

    Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined. We don't always know what God's plans are for us. We just know that His ways are not our ways, but His ways are always best.

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    The Whisper Test

    I grew up knowing I was different, and I hated it. I was born with a cleft palate, and when I started school, my classmates made it clear to me how I looked to others: a little girl with a misshapen lip, crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and garbled speech.

    When schoolmates asked, "What happened to your lip?" I'd tell them I'd fallen and cut it on a piece of glass. Somehow it seemed more acceptable to have suffered an accident than to have been born different. I was convinced that no one outside my family could love me.

    There was, however, a teacher in the second grade whom we all adored -- Mrs. Leonard by name. She was short, round, happy --a sparkling lady.

    Annually we had a hearing test.

    Mrs. Leonard gave the test to everyone in the class, and finally it was my turn. I knew from past years that as we stood against the door and covered one ear, the teacher sitting at her desk would whisper something, and we would have to repeat it back -- things like "The sky is blue" or "Do you have new shoes?" I waited there for those words that God must have put into her mouth, those seven words that changed my life. Mrs. Leonard said, in her whisper,

    "I wish you were MY little girl."

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    Five Finger Prayer

    1. Thumb (people who are close to you)

    Your thumb is nearest to you. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember. To pray for our loved ones is, as C.S. Lewis once said, a "sweet duty".



    2. Pointer (people who point the way)

    The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, and ministers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.



    3. Tall Finger (people in authority)

    The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for the president, leaders in business and industry, and administrators. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God's guidance.



    4. Ring Finger (people who are weak)

    The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger; as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain. They need your prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.




    5. Little Finger (your own needs)

    And lastly comes our little finger; the smallest finger of all. Which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. As the Bible says, "the least shall be the greatest among you." Your pinky should remind you to pray for yourself. By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.

  10. #100
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    How You See It

    A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He had a sign which read: "I am blind. Please Help." There were only a few coins in the hat.

    When a man came walking by, he took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. Then he took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words on the back. He put the sign where it was, so that everyone who walked by would see the new words.

    Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy.

    That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were going. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, "Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?"

    The man said, "I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way. I wrote: 'Today is a beautiful day, but I cannot see it.'"

    Both signs told people the same thing... that the boy was blind. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind. The second sign told people they were extremely fortunate that they were not blind. Should we be surprised that the second sign was more effective?

    Moral of the Story:

    Be thankful for what you have.

    Be creative. Be innovative. Think differently and positively.

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    "The Father Who Lost Two Sons"

    by Robert Farrar Capon -Part 1 of 2-


    This is about what’s normally called The Parable of the Prodigal Son. That's only one of the two sons in the parable, the younger boy. The older boy is the one—the other son—who is lost. And the point about changing the name of the parable is that the parables are almost always misnamed.

    The Parable of the Lost Sheep is not about the lost sheep.

    All the sheep ever did was get lost. The parable is about the passion of the shepherd who lost the sheep to find the sheep. His passion to find is what drives the parable; and consequently it isn't the Prodigal's lostness, wasting all his money on wine, women and song in the far country; and it isn't the elder brother's grousing and complaining and score keeping that stands against him. What counts in the parable is the father's unceasing desire to find the sons he lost—both of them—and to raise both of them up from the dead.

    The story, of course, you know. The story begins with the father having two sons and the youngest son comes to the father and says, "Father, divide the inheritance between me and my brother." What he’s in effect saying is, "Dear Dad, drop dead now, legally. Put your will into effect and just retire out of the whole business of being anything to anybody and let us have what is coming to us."

    So the youngest son gets the money and the older brother gets the farm.

    And off the younger brother goes. What he does, of course, is he spends it all—blows it all—on wild living. When he finally is in want and working, slopping hogs for a farmer and wishing that he could eat what he’s feeding the pigs, he can't stand it. When he finally comes to himself he says, "You know, I've got to do something. How many hired servants of my father's are there who have bread enough to spare and I'm perishing here with hunger? I know what I'm going to do."

    Almost every preacher makes this the boy's repentance.

    It's not his repentance. This is just one more dumb plan for his life. He says, "I will go to my father and I will say, ‘Father, I've sinned against heaven and before you.'" That's true. He got that one right. "And I'm no longer worthy to be called your son." Score two. He gets that one right. But the next thing he says is dead wrong. He says, "Make me one of your hired servants." He knows—he thinks he knows—he can't go back as a dead son, and therefore he says, "I will now go back as somebody who can earn my father's favor again. I will be a good worker or whatever." This is not a real repentance, it's just a plan for a life. What it is, is enough to get him started going home, and consequently when he goes home, what happens next is an absolutely fascinating kind of thing.

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    Part 2

    What happens next is that the father (you must remember this) is now sitting on the front porch of the farm house. The farm house doesn't belong to him anymore. The front porch doesn't belong to him. He’s sitting in the rocker that belongs to his oldest son who is now, you know, the owner of the farm. He’s sitting there and he sees the Prodigal, the younger boy, coming down the road from far away. He sees him coming. What does he do? He rushes off the porch, runs a half mile down the road, throws his arms around the boy's neck and kisses him.

    Now, this is all that Jesus does with this scene. The fascinating thing in this parable is that in the whole parable the father never says one single word to the Prodigal Son.

    Jesus makes the embrace, the kiss, do the whole story of saying, "I have found my son." The fascinating thing also is that when the father embraces the boy who has come home from wasting his life, the boy never gets his confession out of his mouth until after the kiss, until after the embrace. What this says to you and me who have to live with the business of trying to confess our sins is that confession is not a pre-condition of forgiveness. It’s something that you do after you know you have been forgiven. Confession is not something you do in order to get forgiveness. It’s something you do in order to celebrate the forgiveness you got for nothing. Nobody can earn forgiveness. The Prodigal knows he's a dead son. He can't come home as a son, and yet in his father's arms he rises from the dead and then he is able to come to his father's side.

    What happens next is that the father, saying not a word to the Prodigal, turns to the servants and says, "Bring the best robe, bring a ring for his finger and shoes for his feet, kill the fatted calf and let us eat and be merry for this, my son, was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found." Now this is the point in the parable at which everything is going well. The dead son, the no-good Prodigal Son, is home. He has been raised from the dead by his father's embrace. He has done nothing to earn it, but now all that matters is that the father has called for the party to celebrate the finding of the lost and the resurrection of the dead.

    It's the party.

    Every one of Jesus' parables of grace—not every one, but most of them—end with a party. When the Shepherd finds the lost sheep, he doesn't go back to the 99, he goes home and has a party with his friends in order to celebrate the finding of the lost. The father's will to have a party is what the parable is all about. That's why you must always do, not the human race characters in the parable like the Prodigal and the elder brother, why you must always do the God character first, because it’s the God character who drives the parable.

    All right, now, what we've got now is everybody dead in the parable.

    The father died at the beginning, the Prodigal died in the far country: he came home dead and the father raises him. Everything is fine. And now what we've got is Jesus' genius as a storyteller. The party is in full swing, so Jesus brings back in the only person in the story left who still has a life of his own: Mr. Responsibility, Mr. Whining, Mr. Elder Brother. He comes up and hears the music and the dancing and he probably sees the waiters scurrying around with roast veal platters and everything else. And he asks one of the servants, "What is this all about? I didn't commission a party." The servant says, "No, no, your brother has come home and your father has killed the fatted calf because he received him safe and sound." And the older brother is angry and he will not go in. He will not go into the house. He is right out there in the midst of the party. He is part of the party but he will not join the party. And the next thing that happens in this: when he comes in with all this bookkeeping he says, "Look," to his father, "all these years I served you and I never broke one of your commandments and you never even gave me a goat that I could make merry with my friends. But when this your son (notice he doesn't say, this my brother) cuts off his relationship, this your son has wasted your substance with riotous living, has wasted your substance with harlots, when this son comes home you kill the fatted calf!"

    I think that one of the things you could do with this is make up a speech for the father.

    The father goes out in the courtyard to plead with the older son. He goes out there in order to find him as he is and to raise him from the dead. He never gives up on any of them. He says to him, "Look, Arthur (let’s call the older brother Arthur), what do you mean I never gave you a goat for a party? If you wanted to have a great veal dinner for all your friends every week in the year, you had the money and the resources. You owned this place, Arthur. You have the money and the resources to have built 52 stalls and kept the oxen fattening as you wanted them to come along, but you didn't. Why didn't you do that, Arthur? Because you're a bean counter, because you're always keeping track of everybody else. That's your problem, Arthur, and I have one recipe for you." (The father is pleading with this fellow to come out of the death of bookkeeping.) He says, "I have one recipe for you, Arthur. That is, go in, kiss your brother, and have a drink. Just shut up about all this stuff because, Arthur, you came in here already in hell, and I came out here in this courtyard to visit you in the hell in which you were."

    This is the wonderful thing about this parable, because it isn't that there was a Prodigal Son who was a bad boy and who, therefore, came home and turned out to be a good boy and had a happy ending. Then the elder brother—you would think Jesus, if he was an ordinary storyteller, would have said, "Let's give the elder brother a rotten ending." He doesn't. He gives the older brother no ending. The parable ends with a freeze frame. It ends like that with just the father, and the sound goes dead—the servants may be moving around with the wine and veal—but the sound goes dead and Jesus shows you only the freeze frame of the father and the elder brother. That's the way the parable has ended for 2,000 years.

    My theory about this parable is that if, for 2,000 years, he has never let it end, then you can extend that indefinitely, that this is a signal, an image of the presence of Christ to the damned. When the father goes out into the courtyard, he is an image of Christ descending into hell; and, therefore, the great message in this is the same as Psalm 139, "If I go down to hell, You are there also." God is there with us. There is no point at which the Shepherd who followed the lost sheep will ever stop following all of the damned. He will always seek the lost. He will always raise the dead. Even if the elder brother refused forever to go in and kiss his other brother, the Father would still be there pleading with him.

    Christ never gives up on anybody. Christ is not the enemy of the damned. He is the finder of the damned. If they don't want to be found, well there is no imagery of hell too strong like fire and brimstone and all that for that kind of stupidity. But nonetheless, the point is that you can never get away from the love that will not let you go and the elder brother standing there in the courtyard in his own hell is never going to get away from the Jesus who seeks him and wills to raise him from the dead.

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    Do you think i'll ever find god?

    This story was written by Father John Powell, a retired professor at Loyola University in Chicago. Father Powell is advanced in years, but the story is still fresh in his mind and he confirmed that it is true, according to TruthOrFiction.com

    Some twelve years ago, I stood watching my university students file into the classroom for our first session in the Theology of Faith. That was the day I first saw Tommy. long blond-haired young man. My eyes and my mind both blinked. He was combing his long flaxen hair, which hung six inches below his shoulders.

    It was the first time I had ever seen a boy with hair that long. I guess it was just coming into fashion then. I know in my mind that it isn’t what’s on your head but what’s in it that counts; but on that day I was unprepared and my emotions flipped.

    I immediately filed Tommy under "S" for strange... very strange. Tommy turned out to be the "atheist in residence" in my Theology of Faith course. He constantly objected to, smirked at, or whined about the possibility of an unconditionally loving Father-God. We lived with each other in relative peace for one semester, although I admit he was for me at times a serious pain in the back pew.

    When he came up at the end of the course to turn in his final exam, he asked in a slightly cynical tone: "Do you think I’ll ever find God?"

    I decided instantly on a little shock therapy. "No!" I said very emphatically.

    "Oh," he responded, "I thought that was the product you were pushing."

    I let him get five steps from the classroom door and then called out: "Tommy! I don’t think you’ll ever find him, but I am absolutely certain that He will find you!" He shrugged a little and left my class and my life.

    I felt slightly disappointed at the thought that he had missed my clever line: "He will find you!" At least I thought it was clever. Later I heard that Tommy had graduated and I was duly grateful.

    Then a sad report, I heard that Tommy had terminal cancer. Before I could search him out, he came to see me. When he walked into my office, his body was very badly wasted, and the long hair had all fallen out as a result of chemotherapy. But his eyes were bright and his voice was firm, for the first time, I believe. "Tommy, I’ve thought about you so often. I hear you are sick!" I blurted out.

    "Oh, yes, very sick. I have cancer in both lungs. It’s a matter of weeks."

    "Can you talk about it, Tom?"

    "Sure, what would you like to know?"

    "What’s it like to be only twenty-four and dying?"

    "Well, it could be worse."

    "Like what?"

    "Well, like being fifty and having no values or ideals, like being fifty and thinking that booze, seducing women, and making money are the real ‘biggies’ in life."

    I began to look through my mental file cabinet under "S" where I had filed Tommy as strange. (It seems as though everybody I try to reject by classification God sends back into my life to educate me.)

    "But what I really came to see you about," Tom said, " is something you said to me on the last day of class." (He remembered!) He continued, "I asked you if you thought I would ever find God and you said, ‘No!’ which surprised me. Then you said, ‘But he will find you.’ I thought about that a lot, even though my search for God was hardly intense at that time." (My "clever" line. He thought about that a lot!) "But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and told me that it was malignant, then I got serious about locating God. And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really began banging bloody fists against the bronze doors of heaven.

    But God did not come out. In fact, nothing happened. Did you ever try anything for a long time with great effort and with no success? You get psychologically glutted, fed up with trying. And then you quit.

    Well, one day I woke up, and instead of throwing a few more futile appeals over that high brick wall to a God who may be or may not be there, I just quit. I decided that I didn’t really care... about God, about an afterlife, or anything like that. I decided to spend what time I had left doing something more profitable. I thought about you and your class and I remembered something else you had said: ‘The essential sadness is to go through life without loving. But it would be almost equally sad to go through life and leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you had loved them.’ So I began with the hardest one: my Dad. He was reading the newspaper when I approached him.

    "Dad"...

    "Yes, what?" he asked without lowering the newspaper.

    "Dad, I would like to talk with you."

    "Well, talk."

    "I mean... it’s really important."

    The newspaper came down three slow inches. "What is it?"

    "Dad, I love you. I just wanted you to know that." Tom smiled at me and said with obvious satisfaction, as though he felt a warm and secret joy flowing inside of him: a hug from dad" The newspaper fluttered to the floor. Then my father did two things I could never remember him ever doing before. He cried and he hugged me.

    And we talked all night, even though he had to go to work the next morning. It felt so good to be close to my father, to see his tears, to feel his hug, to hear him say that he loved me. It was easier with my mother and little brother. They cried with me, too, and we hugged each other, and started saying real nice things to each other. We shared the things we had been keeping secret for so many years. I was only sorry about one thing: that I had waited so long. Here I was just beginning to open up to all the people I had actually been close to.

    Then, one day I turned around and God was there. He didn’t come to me when I pleaded with him. I guess I was like an animal trainer holding out a hoop, ‘C’mon, jump through. C’mon, I’ll give you three days... three weeks.’ Apparently God does things in his own way and at his own hour. But the important thing is that he was there. He found me.

    You were right. He found me even after I stopped looking for him."

    "Tommy," I practically gasped, "I think you are saying something very important and much more universal than you realize. To me, at least, you are saying that the surest way to find God is not to make him a private possession, a problem solver, or an instant consolation in time of need, but rather by opening to love. You know, the Apostle John said that. He said, 'God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him.’ Tom, could I ask you a favor? You know, when I had you in class you were a real pain. But you can make it all up to me now. Would you come into my present Theology of Faith course and tell them what you have just told me? If I told them the same thing, it wouldn’t be half as effective as if you were to tell them."

    "Oooh... I was ready for you, but I don’t know if I’m ready for your class."

    "Tom, think about it. If and when you are ready, give me a call." In a few days Tommy called, said he was ready for the class, that he wanted to do that for God and for me. So we scheduled a date. However, he never made it.

    He had another appointment, far more important than the one with me and my class. Of course, his life was not really ended by his death, only changed.

    He made the great step from faith into vision. He found a life far more beautiful than the eye of man has ever seen or the ear of man has ever heard or the mind of man has ever imagined.

    Before he died, we talked one last time. "I’m not going to make it to your class, " he said.

    a hug in heaven"I know, Tom."

    "Will you tell them for me? Will you... tell the whole world for me?"

    "I will, Tom. I’ll tell them. I’ll do my best."

    So, to all of you who have been kind enough to hear this simple statement about love, thank you for listening. And to you, Tommy, somewhere in the sunlit, verdant hills of heaven: I told them, Tommy... as best I could.

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    Pam's Story

    I read about a woman named Pam, who knows the pain of considering abortion. More than 24 years ago, she and her husband Bob were serving as missionaries to the Philippines and praying for a fifth child. Pam contracted amoebic dysentery, an infection of the intestine caused by a parasite found in contaminated food or drink. She went into a coma and was treated with strong antibiotics before they discovered she was pregnant.

    Doctors urged her to abort the baby for her own safety and told her that the medicines had caused irreversible damage to her baby. She refused the abortion and cited her Christian faith as the reason for her hope that her son would be born without the devastating disabilities physicians predicted. Pam said the doctors didn't think of it as a life, they thought of it as a mass of fetal tissue.

    While pregnant, Pam nearly lost their baby four times but refused to consider abortion. She recalled making a pledge to God with her husband: *If you will give us a son, we'll name him Timothy and we'll make him a preacher.*

    Pam ultimately spent the last two months of her pregnancy in bed and eventually gave birth to a healthy baby boy August 14, 1987. Pam's youngest son is indeed a preacher. He preaches in prisons, makes hospital visits, and serves with his father's ministry in the Philippines. He also plays football. Pam's son is Tim Tebow.

    The University of Florida's star quarterback became the first sophomore in history to win college football's highest award, the Heisman Trophy. His current role as quarterback of the Denver Broncos has provided an incredible platform for Christian witness. As a result, he is being called "The Mile-High Messiah."

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    Two Wolves

    An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

    “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

    The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

    The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

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