Encouragement


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Who Listens?

Two psychiatrists met at their 20th college reunion. One is vibrant, while the other looks withered and worried. "So what's your secret?" the older looking psychiatrist asked. "Listening to other people's problems every day, all day long, for years on end, has made an old man of me."

"So," replies the younger-looking one, "who listens?"

Unfortunately, that is too often a problem -- who listens? REALLY listens?

I received a letter from a woman who lives in New York. She explained that her 22-year-old electrician son went to Manhattan a few days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He wanted to volunteer his time, but discovered that his skills were not needed.

Joe may have helped in a way he never anticipated, for on the train home, he sat across from a weary firefighter covered in what appeared to be "ground zero" dirt and debris. Though he could see bits of rock in the man's hair and noticed that his hands were bloody, what shocked the young man most was the look in the firefighter's eyes. They appeared lifeless and dull.

Then the man began to talk and Joe listened. He talked about retrieving a shoe with a foot inside. Joe listened. He talked about cleaning debris from a face, then discovering that this person's body was gone. Joe listened. And as his listened, he did not flinch. He did not react in disgust. He did not judge. He did not interrupt. He just listened.

He listened as the firefighter lamented about the carnage everywhere and about shoes...there were so many shoes, he said. Everywhere...shoes.

Through it all Joe quietly held the man's attention and listened, which is exactly what the rescue worker needed at that moment. And because he listened, the man continued to speak. He talked his pain out, as much as possible. And Joe, for that time at least, helped him carry his unbelievably heavy burden.

That day Joe did not give blood, nor did he use his electrical skills to help with the relief effort. But he did one of the most important things a human can do for another. He gave a stunned and disheartened man his whole attention, and thereby immeasurably assisted in the work of setting the world right.

Mary Lou Casey says, "What people really need is a good listening-to." Now more than ever.

- By Steve Goodier


On the Other Side

A dog sprang into the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness.

Turning to the patient, the doctor said, "Did you notice that dog? He had never been in this room before. He didn't know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear. I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing: I know my Master is there, and that is enough. And when the door opens, I'll pass through with no fear, but gladness."
 


Making Pancakes for God

Six -year-old Brandon decided one Saturday morning to fix his parents pancakes. He found a big bowl and spoon, pulled a chair to the counter, opened the cupboard and pulled out the heavy flour canister, spilling it on the floor.

He scooped some of the flour into the bowl with his hands, mixed in most of a cup of milk and added some sugar, leaving a floury trail on the floor which by now had a few tracks left by his kitten.

Brandon was covered with flour and getting frustrated. He wanted this to be something very good for Mom and Dad, but it was getting very bad.

He didn't know what to do next, whether to put it all into the oven or on the stove and he didn't know how the stove worked! Suddenly he saw his kitten licking from the bowl of mix and reached to push her away, knocking the egg carton to the floor. Frantically he tried to clean up this monumental mess but slipped on the eggs, getting his pajamas white and sticky.

And just then he saw Dad standing at the door. Big crocodile tears welled up in Brandon's eyes. All he'd wanted to do was something good, but he'd made a terrible mess. He was sure a scolding was coming, maybe even a spanking. But his father just watched him.

Then, walking through the mess, he picked up his crying son, hugged him and loved him, getting his own pajamas white and sticky in the process!

Our marriage gets all sticky or we insult a friend, or we can't stand our job, or our health goes sour.

Sometimes we just stand there in tears because we can't think of anything else to do. That's when God picks us up and loves us and forgives us.

But just because we might mess up, we can't stop trying to "make pancakes" for God or for others. Sooner or later we'll get it right, and then they'll be glad we tried.
 


Eight Ways to Encourage Your Pastor
by Victor Parachin

Sometimes pastors are the loneliest people in the church. Often their hours are long, the pay minimal, the criticism considerable and constant. Feelings of disappointment, discouragement, and defeat may begin to plague the best of them.

Paul's admonition to "serve one another in love" (Gal. 5:13 ) should encourage us to remember our shepherds. Here are eight ways to make their Lives better.

1. Cut the criticism

Presbyterian minister Fred Rogers, creator and host of television's "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood," gave an address describing the time he was a student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and attended a different church each Sunday in order to hear a variety of preachers.

One Sunday he was treated to "the most poorly crafted sermon (he) had ever heard." But when he turned to the friend who had accompanied him, he found her in tears.

"It was exactly what I needed to hear," she told Rogers.

"That's when I realized," he told his audience, "that the space between someone doing the best he or she can and someone in need is holy ground. The Holy Spirit had transformed that feeble sermon for her--and as it turned out, for me too."

Unlike most workers who are evaluated once or twice a year, clergy are often critiqued weekly after each worship service. It's not unusual to hear people say "the music was poor," "the hymn selection was awful," or "the sermon was boring." We would do well to remember that most spiritual leaders work hard to make worship a unique celebration each week.

2. Pray regularly

Ask God to shower your pastor with an abundance of love, hope, joy, faith, peace, power, wisdom, and courage. Pray for your spiritual leader's
maturity and growth in the faith. As you pray keep in mind this wisdom from German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: "If you treat a person as he is, he will stay as he is; but if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be, he will become what he ought to be and could be."

3. Express appreciation in writing

A spoken compliment is always welcome, but a written one can be read over and over again for years. So, when you hear or see something you like from your minister, write an appreciative note.

4. Use your skills to bless

Are you proficient with computers? Help your pastor master the church's new computer. Are you a mechanic? Offer to service the car free of charge or at a reduced fee.

One pastor I know recalls: "I was pastoring my first church -- a small congregation with limited resources. While there, I developed a series of dental problems and could not afford treatment. What a joy it was when a dentist in the church offered to treat me for free. Correcting my dental problem involved nearly a dozen visits. He treated me carefully and cheerfully each time. I have thought of that dentist many times since then and the memories of his kindness continue to bless my life."

5. Squelch gossip

If you hear a negative comment, respond with a positive one. If misinformation is being spread, correct it with the accurate information. Or, if people are gossiping, just walk away. Remember the Bible soundly condemns gossip and careless speech. James 1:26 says, "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless." And Psalm 34:13 reads, "Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies."

6. Offer to meet a need

Some people make their spiritual leaders defensive and angry by saying, "You need to _" That approach is seldom welcome and almost always counter- productive. If you see a need, approach your spiritual leader by saying, "I'd like to help by _" If you see an area that can be improved, take responsibility for working on it. Be an active participant in your church. Get involved by teaching a class, leading a workshop, singing in the choir, feeding the hungry. Ask your spiritual leader where and how you can employ your gifts.

7. Be openly responsive

Nothing so animates and excites a spiritual leader as seeing people respond to the preaching and teaching. Imagine the surprise and delight of a pastor in Virginia Beach, Virginia, who, when greeting a visitor to his church, found she came because of the kindness of a church member who was her neighbor.

"I'm recently divorced, a single parent and new to this community," she told the pastor. "To keep up with rent and provide for my three children, I must work two jobs. That leaves me very little time for yard work. I was relieved when the weeds didn't overrun my yard as I had feared they might. However, when I made an unscheduled trip home in the middle of my workday, I discovered the reason why the weeds had not taken over my yard.

"My 86-year-old neighbor -- a member of your church -- was on his hands and knees pulling my weeds. I barely knew this man and he was embarrassed to be caught in this anonymous act of kindness. He explained that he heard you preach a sermon on the importance of living a life of compassion and kindness and decided to put that sermon into practice by weeding my lawn."

One pastor's heart filled with joy when a group of women in Washington, D.C., responded to a sermon preached from the words of Jesus--"Do not judge, or you too will be judged" (Matt. 7:1 NIV). After hearing the sermon, the women decided to give a baby shower for the young woman who provided childcare while they met for Bible study. She was unmarried, close to going on welfare, and without support from her family or the father-to-be. The young woman was moved to tears by the surprise baby shower.

Later, the women explained to the pastor, "Your sermon taught us that it's possible to reach out to someone in need -- in this case, an unwed mother -- without judging or condoning the situation."

8. Throw away the measuring stick

Don't expect that your present spiritual leaders will do things the same way their predecessors did. Lay aside personal agendas and preferences. Instead, focus on how your leader is being used by God to do effective ministry now. By serving your shepherds, you will ensure that they will not only be encouraged but will feel appreciated and continue to minister with enthusiasm.
 


What Matters Most

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end. There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days. All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else. Your wealth, fame and temporal Power will shrivel to irrelevance. It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed. Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear. So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.

The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away. It won't matter where they came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived, at the end. It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant. Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured? What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.

What will matter is not your success, but your significance.

What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence, but your character.

What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.

What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.

What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident. It's not a matter of circumstance but of choice.

Choose to live a life that matters.

Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans

~Thomas La Mance~


The Empty Egg

Jeremy was born with a twisted body and a slow mind. At the age of 12 he was still in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool, and make grunting noises. At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy just irritated his teacher.

One day she called his parents and asked them to come in for a consultation. As the Forresters entered the empty classroom, Doris said to them, "Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It isn't fair to him to be with younger children who don't have learning problems. Why, there is a five year gap between his age and that of the other students."

Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue, while her husband spoke. "Miss Miller," he said, "there is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here." Doris sat for a long time after they had left, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul. She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness. But it wasn't fair to keep him in her class. She had 18 other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write. Why waste any more time trying?

As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. Here I am complaining when my problems are nothing compared to that poor family, she thought. Lord, please help me to be more patient with Jeremy. From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy's noises and his blank stares. Then one day, he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him.

"I love you, Miss Miller," he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered, and Doris' face turned red. She stammered, "Wh-why that's very nice, Jeremy. N-now please take your seat."

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. "Now," she said to them, "I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Miss Miller," the children responded enthusiastically-all except for Jeremy. He listened intently; his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises. Had he understood what she had said about Jesus' death and resurrection? Did he understand the assignment? Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them.

That evening, Doris' kitchen sink stopped up. She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it. After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse, and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy's parents.

The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller's desk. After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. "Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life," she said. "When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is here." A small girl in the first row waved her arm. "That's my egg, Miss Miller," she called out. The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. "We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that's new life, too." Little Judy smiled proudly and said, "Miss Miller, that one is mine." Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss, too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom, "My daddy helped me," he beamed.

Then Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty. Surely it must be Jeremy's she thought, and of course, he did not understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another. Suddenly, Jeremy spoke up. "Miss Miller, aren't you going to talk about my egg?" Flustered, Doris replied, "But Jeremy, your egg is empty." He looked into her eyes and said softly, "Yes, but Jesus' tomb was empty, too."

Time stopped. When she could speak again, Doris asked him, "Do you know why the tomb was empty?" "Oh, yes," Jeremy said, "Jesus was killed and put in there. Then His Father raised Him up."

The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the school yard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away.

Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket, all of them empty.


In Whose Hands Are You?

A basketball in my hands is worth about $19
A basketball in Michael Jordan's hands is worth about $33 million
It depends whose hands it's in

A baseball in my hands is worth about $6
A baseball in Mark Mcquire's hands is worth $19 million
It depends whose hands it's in

A tennis racket is useless in my hands
A tennis racket in Pete Sampras' hands is a Wimbledon Championship
It depends whose hands it's in

A rod in my hands will keep away a wild animal
A rod in Moses' hands will part the mighty sea
It depends whose hands it's in

A sling shot in my hands is a kid's toy
A sling shot in David's hand is a mighty weapon.
It depends whose hands it's in

Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in my hands is a couple of fish sandwiches.
Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in God's hands will feed thousands
It depends whose hands it's in

Nails in my hands might produce a birdhouse
Nails in Jesus Christ's hands will produce salvation for the entire world.
It depends whose hands it's in

As you see now, it depends whose hands it's in.
So put your concerns, your worries, your fears, your hopes, your dreams, your families and your relationships in God's hands because, you see, it depends whose hands it's in.

Author Unknown


Touching Moments

I read that an insurance company survey revealed that spouses who kiss their mates in the morning will probably live five years longer than those who don't. It also showed that the kissing mate will have fewer auto accidents and up to 50% less time lost from work due to illness. I won't begin to interpret what all this means, except that it seems that those people in intimate relationships seem to be happier and healthier.

But what about that "touching moment" -- that kiss? Is touching also important?

I once was asked to give some emotional support to a prisoner who was awaiting trial. We visited for a while in a prison conference room, talking about nothing more important than how long he may be incarcerated and whether or not he was guilty of the crime with which he was charged. He shared nothing of his deepest fears and yearnings. I felt as if we had not "connected" in any meaningful way.

Before I left, I took his hands. He held on tightly and dropped his head. No words were spoken -- we just held onto each other. After a moment, he began to cry. As he sobbed, he held tightly to my hands. Somehow, the touch melted a dam of ice and now all his emotions gushed forth.

When his sobbing subsided, he began to talk once more. Only this time he spoke of his fear and loneliness and he told me of his concern for his family while he was imprisoned. All the while, he never let go of my hands, and I hung onto his. Because of the touch, he felt safe enough to share deeply.

People are crying out to be touched in caring and appropriate ways. (I know a woman who goes to a massage therapist once a week, even when she feels fine, just because she needs that dose of physical contact.)  The lack of touch is one of the greatest impediments to emotional intimacy and happiness.

When film star Marilyn Monroe was asked if she ever felt loved by any of the foster families with whom she lived, she replied, "Once, when I was about seven or eight. The woman I was living with was putting on makeup, and I was watching her. She was in a happy mood, so she reached over and patted my cheeks with her rouge puff... For that moment, I felt loved by her."

Maybe you are in need of more closeness. And perhaps you know of those who are hungry for some assurance that they are indeed loved; they are not alone. Your touch may accomplish what your words cannot -- for those touching moments can change a life.


Faith to Move Mountains

A small congregation in the foothills of the Great Smokies built a new sanctuary on a piece of land willed to them by a church member. Ten days before the new church was to open, the local building inspector informed the pastor that the parking lot was inadequate for the size of the building. Until the church doubled the size of the parking lot, they would not be able to use the new sanctuary. Unfortunately, the church with its undersized lot had used every inch of their land except for the mountain against which it had been built.

In order to build more parking spaces, they would have to move the mountain out of the back yard. Undaunted, the pastor announced the next Sunday morning that he would meet that evening with all members who had "mountain moving faith." They would hold a prayer session asking God to remove the mountain from the back yard and to somehow provide enough money to have it paved and painted before the scheduled opening dedication service the following week.

At the appointed time, 24 of the congregation's 300 members assembled for prayer. They prayed for nearly three hours. At ten o'clock the pastor said the final "Amen." "We'll open next Sunday as scheduled," he assured everyone. "God has never let us down before, and I believe He will be faithful this time too."

The next morning as he was working in his study there came a loud knock at his door. When he called "come in," a rough looking construction foreman appeared, removing his hard hat as he entered. "Excuse me, Reverend. I'm from Acme Construction Company over in the next county. We're building a huge shopping mall. We need some fill dirt. Would you be willing to sell us a chunk of that mountain behind the church? We'll pay you for the dirt we remove and pave all the exposed area free of charge if we can have it right away. We can't do anything else until we get the dirt in and allow it to settle properly."

The little church was dedicated the next Sunday as originally planned and there were far more members with "mountain moving faith" on opening Sunday than there had been the previous week!

"But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son." Gal. 1:4   "Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and he shall strengthen thine heart" Ps. 27:14

Author Unknown


The Tablecloth

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.

They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc. and on Dec 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished. On Dec 19 a terrible tempest - a driving rainstorm - hit the area and lasted for two days.

On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high. The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home.

On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in.

One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.

By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry.

The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area.

Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. "Pastor," she asked, "where did you get that tablecloth" The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria.

The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the Tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. She was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again. The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home, that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn't leaving. The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety, and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between.

The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.

True Story - submitted by Pastor Rob Reid


"Life's Tug Of War"

Life can seem ungrateful ~ and not always kind.
Life can pull at your heartstrings ~ and play with your mind.
Life can be blissful ~ and happy and free.
Life can put beauty ~ in the things that you see.
Life can place challenges ~ right at your feet.
Life can make good ~ of the hardships that we meet.
Life can overwhelm you ~ and make your head spin.
Life can reward those ~ determined to win.
Life can be hurtful ~ and not always fair.
Life can surround you ~ with people who care.
Life clearly does offer ~ its ups and its downs.
Life's days can bring you ~ both smiles and frowns.
Life teaches us to take ~ the good with the bad.
Life is a mixture ~ of happy and sad.

So.....

Take the life that you have ~ and give it your best.
Think positive, be happy ~ let God do the rest.
Take the challenges ~ that life has laid at your feet.
Take pride and be thankful ~ for each one you meet.
To yourself give forgiveness ~ if you stumble and fall.
Take each day that is dealt you ~ and give it your all.
Take the love that you're given ~ and return it with care.
Have faith that when needed ~ it will always be there.
Take time to find the beauty ~ in the things that you see.
Take life's simple pleasures ~ let them set your heart free.
The idea here is simply ~ to even the score.
As you are met and faced with ~ Life's Tug Of War.
--Author Unknown


The Woodpecker Might Have to Go!

Everything I need to know about life, I learned from Noah's Ark... One: Don't miss the boat. Two: Remember that we are all in the same boat. Three: Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark. Four: Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big. Five: Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done. Six: Build your future on high ground. Seven: For safety's sake, travel in pairs. Eight: Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs. Nine: When you're stressed, float a while. Ten: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals. Eleven: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting.


Why is God Letting this Happen?

Sometimes we wonder, "What did I do to deserve this?" or "Why did God have to do this to me?" Here is a wonderful explanation! A daughter is telling her Mother how everything is going wrong, she's failing algebra, her boyfriend broke up with her and her best friend is moving away. Meanwhile, her Mother is baking a cake and asks her daughter if she would like a snack, and the daughter says, "Absolutely Mom, I love your cake." "Here, have some cooking oil," her Mother offers. "Yuck" says her daughter. "How about a couple raw eggs?" "Gross, Mom!" "Would you like some flour then? Or maybe baking soda?" "Mom, those are all yucky!" To which the mother replies: "Yes, all those things seem bad all by themselves. But when they are put together in the right way, they make a wonderfully delicious cake! God works the same way. Many times we wonder why He would let us go through such bad and difficult times. But God knows that when He puts these things all in His order, they always work for good! We just have to trust Him and, eventually, they will all make something wonderful! God is crazy about you. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, He'll listen. He can live anywhere in the universe, and He chose your heart and will live there if you will only ask Jesus into your heart. I hope your day is a "piece of cake!" Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance.


Preach the Bible

I heard about a young preacher just out of seminary who had been called to pastor a church in a college town. Almost all the college professors were members of that church. He was preparing his very first sermon, and he got to thinking about that very cultured congregation, all those Ph.D.s who would be there, and it intimidated him. He called his dad, who was also a very wise and godly pastor and said "Dad, I'm really having a hard time preparing my sermon." "What's the problem?" his dad asked. "Well, if I talked about geology, I'll be looking at a Ph.D. in geology. If I talk about sociology, I'll be staring at a Ph.D. in sociology. If I talk about philosophy, I'll be facing a Ph.D. in philosophy. What do you think I ought to do?" His dad answered, "Son, why don't you just preach the Bible? They probably know very little about that."
 


Take a Flight to "Starting Again"

I had not really planned on taking a trip this time of year, and yet I found myself packing rather hurriedly. This trip was going to be unpleasant, and I knew in advance that no real good would come of it. I'm talking about my annual "Guilt Trip."

I got tickets to fly there on Wish I Had airlines. It was an extremely short flight.

I got my baggage, which I could not check. I chose to carry it myself all the way. It was weighted down with a thousand memories of what might have been. No one greeted me as I entered the terminal to the Regret City International Airport. I say international because people from all over the world come to this dismal town.

As I checked into the Last Resort Hotel, I noticed that they would be hosting the year's most important event, the Annual Pity Party. I wasn't going to miss that great social occasion. Many of the town's leading citizens would be there.

First, there would be the Done family, you know, Should Have, Would Have and Could Have.

Then came the I Had family. You probably know ol' Wish and his clan.

Of course, the Opportunities would be present, Missed and Lost. The biggest family would be the Yesterday's. There are far too many of them to count, but each one would have a very sad story to share.

Then Shattered Dreams would surely make an appearance. And It's Their Fault would regale us with stories (excuses) about how things had failed in his life, and each story would be loudly applauded by Don't Blame Me and I Couldn't Help It.

Well, to make a long story short, I went to this depressing party knowing that there would be no real benefit in doing so. And, as usual, I became very depressed.

But as I thought about all of the stories of failures brought back from the past, it occurred to me that all of this trip and subsequent "pity party" could be canceled by ME!

I started to truly realize that I did not have to be there. I didn't have to be depressed. One thing kept going through my mind, I CAN'T CHANGE YESTERDAY, BUT I DO HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE TODAY A WONDERFUL DAY.

I can be happy, joyous, fulfilled, encouraged, as well as encouraging. Knowing this, I left the City of Regret immediately and left no forwarding address.

Am I sorry for mistakes I've made in the past? YES! But there is no physical way to undo them.

So, if you're planning a trip back to the City of Regret, please cancel all your reservations now.

Instead, take a trip to a place called, Starting Again. I liked it so much that I have now taken up permanent residence there.

My neighbors, the I Forgive Myselfs and the New Starts are so very helpful. By the way, you don't have to carry around heavy baggage because the load is lifted from your shoulders upon arrival.

God bless you in finding this great town. If you can find it, it's in your own heart.

Please look me up. I live on I Can Do It street.      

 

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