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The Old Man and the Sea

After a few of the usual Sunday evening hymns, the church's pastor once again slowly stood up, walked over to the pulpit, and gave a very brief introduction of his childhood friend. With that, an elderly man stepped up to the pulpit to speak, "A father, his son, and a friend of his son were sailing off the Pacific Coast," he began, "when a fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore. The waves were so high, that even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright, and the three were swept into the ocean."

The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two teenagers who were, for the first time since the service began, looking somewhat interested in his story. He continued, "Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life....to which boy he would throw the other end of the line. He only had seconds to make the decision.

The father knew that his son was a Christian, and he also knew that his son's friend was not. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of waves. As the father yelled out, 'I love you, son!' he threw the line to his son's friend. By the time he pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beyond the raging swells into the black of night. His body was never recovered."

By this time, the two teenagers were sitting straighter in the pew, waiting for the next words to come out of the old man's mouth. "The father," he continued, "knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus, and he could not bear the thought of his son's friend stepping into an eternity without Jesus. Therefore, he sacrificed his son. How great is the love of God that He should do the same for us." With that, the old man turned and sat back down in his chair as silence filled the room.

Within minutes after the service ended, the two teenagers were at the old man's side. "That was a nice story," politely started one of the boys, "but I don't think it was very realistic for a father to give up his son's life in hopes that the other boy would become a Christian."

"Well, you've got a point there," the old man replied, glancing down at his worn Bible. A big smile broadened his narrow face, and he once again looked up at the boys and said, "It sure isn't very realistic, is it? But I'm standing here today to tell you that THAT story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up His Son for me."

"You see....I was the son's friend."

This is an Awesome Lesson!

I was holding a notice from my 13-year-old son's school announcing a meeting to preview the new course in sexuality. Parents could examine the curriculum and take part in an actual lesson presented exactly as it would be given to the students.

When I arrived at the school, I was surprised to discover only about a dozen parents there. As we waited for the presentation, I thumbed through page after page of instructions in the prevention of pregnancy or disease.

I found abstinence mentioned only in passing. When the teacher arrived with the school nurse, she asked if there were any questions. I asked why abstinence did not play a noticeable part in the material.

What happened next was shocking. There was a great deal of laughter.  I felt like I should go bury my head in the sand. The teacher and the nurse said nothing as I drowned in a sea of embarrassment. My mind had gone blank, and I could think of nothing to say.

The teacher explained to me that the job of the school was to teach facts, "and the home was responsible for moral training." I sat in silence for the next 20 minutes as the course was explained. The other parents seemed to give their unqualified support to the materials.

"Help yourself to the donuts, at the back," announced the teacher during the break. "I'd like you to put on the name tags we have prepared-they're right by the donuts-and mingle with the other parents. Everyone moved to the back of the room.

As I watched them affixing their name tags and shaking hands, I sat deep in thought. I was ashamed that I had not been able to convince them to include a serious discussion of abstinence in the materials. I uttered a silent prayer for guidance.

My thoughts were interrupted by the teacher's hand on my shoulder. "Won't you join the others, Mr. Layton?" The nurse smiled sweetly at me. "The donuts are good." "Thank you, no," I replied. "Well, then, how about a name tag? I'm sure the others would like to meet you."

"Somehow I doubt that," I replied. "Won't you please join them?" she coaxed. Then I heard a still, small voice whisper, "Don't go." The instruction was unmistakable. "Don't go!"

"I'll just wait here," I said.

When the class was called back to order, the teacher looked around the long table and thanked everyone for putting on name tags. She ignored me. Then she said, "Now we're going to give you the same lesson we'll be giving your children. Everyone please peel off your name tags."

I watched in silence as the tags came off. "Now, then, on the back of one of the tags, I drew a tiny flower. Who has it, please?" The gentleman across from me held it up. "Here it is!"

"All right," she said. "The flower represents disease. Do you recall with whom you shook hands?" He pointed to a couple of people. "Very good," she replied. "The handshake in this case represents intimacy. So the two people you had contact with now have the disease."

There was laughter and joking among the parents. The teacher continued, "And whom did the two of you shake hands with?" The point was well taken, and she explained how this lesson would show students how quickly disease is spread. "Since we all shook hands, we all have the disease."

It was then that I heard the still, small voice again. "Speak now," it said, "but be humble."

I noted wryly the latter admonition, then rose from my chair. I apologized for any upset I might have caused earlier, congratulated the teacher on an excellent lesson that would impress the youth, and concluded by saying I had only one small point I wished to make. "Not all of us were infected," I said. "One of us ... abstained."

Yoke Yourself to the Savior, Daily

"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" Matt 11:29,30. 

A farmer asked, "Do you know why His yoke is light, sir?" 

"Well, because the good Lord helps us to carry it, I suppose." 

"No, sir," said he, shaking his head, "I think I know better than that. You see, when I was a boy at home, I used to drive the oxen, and the yoke was never made to balance. Father's yokes were always made heavier on one side than the other. Then, you see, we would put a weak bullock in alongside a strong bullock; the light end would come on the weak ox, the heavier end on the stronger one. That's why the yoke is easy and the burden is light, because the Lord's yoke is made after the same pattern, and the heavy end is upon His shoulder." Author unknown

Start each day by consciously yoking yourself to the Savior and let Him carry the weight of your burdens. 

God Did Great With You

A little girl was sitting on her grandfather's lap as he read her a bedtime story. From time to time, she would take her eyes off the book and reach up to touch his wrinkled cheek. She was alternately stroking her own cheek, then his again. Finally she spoke up, "Grandpa, did God make you?"

"Yes, sweetheart," he answered, "God made me a long time ago."

"Oh," she paused, "Grandpa, did God make me too?"

"Yes, indeed, honey," he said, "God made you just a little while ago."

Feeling their respective faces again, she observed, "God's getting better at it, isn't he?"

Compared to the lost world, God did a great work on you, didn't He? Then do a great work for Him now.

A. S. A. P.

What a wonderful new meaning for ASAP!

Always Say A Prayer (A.S.A.P.)
There's work to do, deadlines to meet
you've got no time to spare,
but as you hurry and scurry, always say a prayer.
In the midst of family chaos, "quality time" is rare.
Do your best; let God do the rest
Always Say A Prayer.
It may seem like your worries are more than you can bear
Slow down and take a breather
Always Say A Prayer.
God knows how stressful life is,
He wants to ease our cares
and He'll respond A.S.A.P.

"Noah...a preacher of righteousness" 2 Peter 2:5

Noah was one of the most unusual people of all time. He was "moved with fear" Heb 11:7 and built an ark when it had never rained and there was no place to float that monster but he obeyed God. Then he was a preacher, probably for 120 years and did not have one convert! No doubt he was ridiculed but he kept on preaching. He had no converts but he made the "hall of fame" in Heb 11. 

We are told to pray for "all men" 1 Tim 2:1. What are we to pray for them? The context tells us, "who would have all men to be saved" vs. 4. We are to pray that they might be saved. We will not see those 6 billion we pray for but we are obeying God and that will pay off handsomely in eternity. Then, and this may be one of the most important things of all, it pleases God right now when we just do what He says like Noah did. 

Pray for all men daily and when some missionary comes across someone "whose heart God opened," like Lydia in Acts 16:14 and they lead them to Christ so they spend eternity in heaven instead of hell, you will have had a vital part in their salvation and have a ton of gold waiting for you up there. 

Thank you, Lord, for the thorns

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as she pushed against a November gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like a spring breeze. Then in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease. During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren't enough, her husband's company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come. What's worse, Sandra's friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. "Has she lost a child? No, she has no idea what I'm feeling," Sandra shuddered.

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

"Good afternoon, can I help you?" The flower shop clerk's approach startled her. "Sorry," said Jenny, "I just didn't want you to think I was ignoring you."

"I.....I need an arrangement."

"For Thanksgiving?"

Sandra nodded.

"Do you want beautiful, but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the 'Thanksgiving Special'?" Jenny saw Sandra's curiosity and continued, "I'm convinced that flowers tell stories, that each arrangement conveys a particular feeling. Are you looking for something that conveys gratitude this Thanksgiving?"

"Not exactly!" Sandra blurted. "Sorry, but in the last five months everything that could go wrong has."

Sandra regretted her outburst, but was surprised when Jenny said, "I have the perfect arrangement for you."

The door's small bell suddenly rang. "Barbara! Hi!" Jenny said. She politely excused herself from Sandra and walked toward a small workroom. She quickly reappeared carrying a massive arrangement of green bows and long-stemmed thorny roses. Only, the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped--no flowers. "Want this in a box?" Jenny asked.

Sandra watched for Barbara's response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems and no flowers! She waited for laughter, for someone to notice the absence of flowers atop the thorny stems, but neither woman did. "Yes, please. It's exquisite!," said Barbara. "You'd think after three years of getting the Special, I'd not be so moved by its significance, but it's happening again. My family will love this one. Thanks."

Sandra stared. "Why so normal a conversation about so strange an arrangement?" she wondered. "Uh," said Sandra, pointing. "That lady just left with..uh...."


"Well, she had no flowers!"

"Off? Yep. That's the Special. I call it the 'Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet'."

"But, why do people pay for that?" In spite of herself, she chuckled.

"Do you really want to know?"

"I couldn't leave this shop without knowing. I'd think about nothing else!"

"That might be good," said Jenny. "Well," she continued, "Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling very much like you feel today. She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs and she faced major surgery."

"Ouch!" said Sandra.

"That same year I lost my husband. I assumed complete responsibility for the shop and for the first time, spent the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby and too great a debt to allow any travel."

"What did you do?"

"I learned to be thankful for thorns."

Sandra's eyebrows lifted. "Thorns?"

"I'm a Christian, Sandra. I've always thanked God for good things in life and I never thought to ask Him why good things happened to me. But when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask! It took time to learn that dark times are important. I always enjoyed the flowers of life, but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God's comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we're afflicted and from His consolation we learn to comfort others."

Sandra gasped. "A friend read that passage to me and I was furious! I guess the truth is, I don't want comfort. I've lost a baby and I'm angry with God." She started to ask Jenny to "go on" when the door's bell diverted their attention.

"Hey, Phil!" shouted Jenny as a balding, rotund man entered the shop. She softly touched Sandra's arm and moved to welcome him. He tucked her under his side for a warm hug. "I'm here for twelve thorny long-stemmed stems!" Phil laughed heartily.

"I figured as much," said Jenny. "I've got them ready." She lifted a tissue-wrapped arrangement from the refrigerated cabinet.

"Beautiful," said Phil. "My wife will love them."

Sandra could not resist asking, "These are for your wife?"

Phil saw that Sandra's curiosity matched his when he first heard of a Thorn Bouquet. "Do you mind me asking, 'Why thorns'?"

"No, in fact, I"m glad you asked," he said. "Four years ago my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years we were in a real mess, but we slugged through, problem by rotten problem. We rescued our marriage--our love really. Last year at Thanksgiving I stopped in here for flowers. I must have mentioned surviving a tough process because Jenny told me that for a long time she kept a vase of rose stems--STEMS--as a reminder of what she learned from 'thorny' times. That was good enough for me. I took home stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific thorny situation and give thanks for what the problem taught us. I'm pretty sure this stem review is becoming a tradition."

Phil paid Jenny, thanked her again and as he left, said to Sandra, "I highly recommend the Special!"

"I don't know if I can be thankful for thorns in my life," Sandra said to Jenny.

"Well, my experience says that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God's providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember, Sandra, Jesus wore a crown of thorns so that we might know His love. Do not resent thorns."

Tears rolled down Sandra's cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on resentment. "I'll take twelve long-stemmed thorns, please."

"I hoped you would," Jenny said. "I'll have them ready in a minute. Then, every time you see them, remember to appreciate both good and hard times. We grow through both."

"Thank you. What do I owe you?"

"Nothing. Nothing, but a pledge to work toward healing your heart. The first year's arrangement is always on me." Jenny handed a card to Sandra. "I'll attach a card like this to your arrangement, but maybe you'd like to read it first. Go ahead, read it."

The card read: "My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorn! I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorn. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of thorns. Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain. Show me that my tears have made my rainbow."
                 ---George Matheson---

Funny, Isn't It?

Funny how $20 looks so big when we take it to church and so small when we take it to the store.

Funny how big an hour serving GOD looks and how small 60 minutes are when spent playing golf, fishing, or playing bridge.

Funny how laborious it is to read a chapter in the Bible and how easy it is to read 2-3000 pages of a best selling novel.

Funny how we believe what newspapers say but question what the Bible says.

Funny how long it takes to serve God for an hour, but how quickly a team plays 60 minutes of basketball.

Funny how long a couple of hours spent at church are, but how short they are when watching a movie.

Funny how we can't think of anything to say when we pray, but don't have difficulty thinking of things to talk about to a friend.

Funny how we get thrilled when a baseball game goes into extra innings, but we complain when a sermon is longer than the regular time.

Funny how people want to get a front seat at any game or concert, but scramble to get a back seat at church services.

Funny how we need 2 or 3 weeks advance notice to fit church event into our schedule, but can adjust our schedule for other events at the last moment.

Funny how hard it is for people to learn a simple gospel well enough to tell others, but how simple it is for the same people to understand and repeat gossip.

Funny how you can send a thousand 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing.

Funny, isn't it?

I am God

Good Morning:
I am God. Today I will be handling all your problems. Please remember that I do not need your help. If the devil happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, do not attempt to resolve it. Kindly put it in the SFJTD [something for Jesus to do] box. It will be addressed in my time, not yours. Once the matter is placed into the box, do not hold on to it or attempt to remove it. Holding on or removal will delay the resolution of your problem. If it is a situation that you think you are capable of handling, Please consult me in prayer to be sure that it is the proper resolution. Because I do not sleep nor do I slumber, there is no need for you to lose any sleep. Rest my child. If you need to contact me, I am only a prayer away.


And the number one Y2K book is:

"Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth" (B.I.B.L.E.) Y2K, or no Y2K,
it's never alarmist, out of date, or lacking in eternal wisdom. It's always
number one!

Reply to Junk Mail

I get very little junk mail and no sex mail anymore. The reason? I think it is because I am on a list to avoid because of the reply I send. People have asked for my reply and so I am putting it here for you to consider using. I have it in a file and copy it, then paste it to a reply. I have gotten some amazing responses to it.  Here it is:

Do I have some good news for you. God loves you and sent His Son the Lord Jesus Christ to suffer and die for your sins and He rose again. He is alive and you can know Him personally and have peace and purpose in life beyond anything you have ever known.

"The real tragedy of life is what people miss." Don't miss life. You and I are in the same boat, we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God but the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, paid the debt of our sins, in full. We are all going to meet God. Prepare to meet God now. "Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out" so said Jesus.

Why not pray to receive the Lord Jesus as your Savior too, right now. Are you like a man told me, "I think it is time I did"? Just pray, Dear God, I know I have sinned and deserve to be punished. I believe the Lord Jesus died on the cross for my sins too and rose again. Lord Jesus come into my heart, save me and give me a new birth right now. I accept you as my Savior too. In Jesus name. Amen.

"He that believes on the Son, has everlasting life" John 3:36 If you did this I would love to hear form you. Drop me a note on Email. Any Questions? Ask me, I would love to help further. Sumner

Last week I got an email from a lady who read the longer version of this message on my website and prayed to receive the Lord Jesus and was really rejoicing in the Lord. It works! She told a good friend had asked her to look at my website. I pray for this all the time! AMAZING GRACE


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