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A Great Story

A mentors task to bring out the best in someone and help them accomplish all God wants to do in and through them. This kind of a story does that to each of us:

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, the father of one of the school's students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by those who attended.

After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question.

"Everything God does is done with perfection. Yet, my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as the children do. Where is God's plan reflected in my son?"

The audience was stilled by the query. The father continued. "I believe," the father answered, "that when God brings a child like Shay into the world, an opportunity to realize the Divine Plan presents itself. And it comes in the way people treat that child."

Then, he told the following story: Shay and I walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, "Do you think they will let me play?"

Shay's father knew that most boys would not want him on their team. But the father understood that if his son were allowed to play it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging. Shay's father approached one of the boys on the field and asked if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said, "We are losing by six runs, and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning. "

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. At the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the outfield. Although no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be on the field, grinning from ear to ear as his father waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base. Shay was scheduled to be the next at-bat. Would the team actually let Shay bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least be able to make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly toward Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have ended the game. Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field, far beyond reach of the first baseman. Everyone started yelling, "Shay, Shay, run to first. Run to first." Never in his life had Shay ever made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled. Everyone yelled, "Run to second, run to second! By the time Shay was rounding first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman for a tag. But the right fielder understood what the pitcher's intentions had been, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman's head. Shay ran towards second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases towards home. As Shay reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base, and shouted, "Run to third!" As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams were screaming, "Shay! Run home!"

Shay ran home, stepped on home plate and was cheered as the hero, for hitting a "grand slam" and winning the game for the team.

"That day," said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, "the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of the Divine Plan into this world."

In conclusion: a footnote to the story. We all send thousands of jokes through e-mail without a second thought, but when it comes to sending messages regarding life choices, people think twice about sharing. The crude, vulgar, and sometimes the obscene pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of decency is too often suppressed in school and the workplace. If you are thinking about forwarding this message, you are probably thinking about which people on your address list aren't the "appropriate" ones to receive this type of message. The person who sent this to you believes that we can all make a difference. We all have thousands of opportunities a day to help realize God's plan.

So many seemingly trivial interactions between two people present us with a choice: Do we pass along a spark of the Divine? Or do we pass up that opportunity, and leave the world a bit colder in the process?

A Man Who Has God's Favor

"...Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you." Zechariah 8:23

Few men of God have become extraordinary people of faith without the influence of mentors. A mentor is one who takes responsibility for the spiritual and, sometimes, physical care of another. It requires a commitment from the teacher and the student.

Elijah mentored Elisha. Elisha became one of the greatest prophets in all the Bible. One of the primary reasons for this was Elisha's hunger. Elisha wanted a double portion of Elijah's spirit. It was this hunger that drove Elisha to be sold out to God's purposes for his life.

Many of us have been privileged to have had many mentors throughout our spiritual life. In each stage of maturity, God brings new mentors who have unique gifts that the previous mentor did not have. God gives us the hunger to desire a double portion of those positive attributes of our mentors. This desire is sorely missing among many today. They fail to see the hunger among many who could be used greatly in the Kingdom. Instead, they get distracted by the cares of this world. It is an attitude of a la carte versus an attitude of pressing in to the full measure of what God might have for them.

Who are the people of God He has placed in your life? Are you learning from them? Are you seeking a double portion of their anointing? What prevents you from gaining from their wisdom and experience? God may have brought them into your life to prepare you to be a man or woman of God with great anointing. However, there is a time of training and waiting to prove out your own faith. Ask God today if there is someone He would have you mentor or be mentored by.

    -   O.S. Hilsman

1. Leaders are like a giraffe:

They see further down the road than others.
They reach for higher things than others.
To get what they want they have to stick their necks out.

2. We herd sheep, we drive cattle, we lead men.

"A good leader inspires men to have confidence in him - a great leader inspires them to have confidence in themselves.'

3. Accountability

Are you a successful leader? Do you spend time purely meditating on the Word? Be still, get quiet, get alone and MEDITATE on the Word of God. Do it! Do you obey God completely? Trying to take some short cuts? It's the "little foxes that spoil the vine" and little disobedience that robs you of power and success. Obey God! Books have been written and sermons preached with the theme, "What would Jesus do in such and such a situation." What if your people asked, "What would my pastor do" and they did what they thought you would do? Would it thrill you or scare you? "Be followers of me." "Be an example to the flock" (1 Peter 5:3). Be a successful leader, obey God completely!

4. Outline:  Isaiah 40:28-31, Wait on the Lord

I. Exhausting Experience - youths faint and are weary v. 28
II. Essential Experience - wait on the Lord v. 30
III. Exalted Experience - mount up as eagles v. 30
IV. Emergency Experience - Run - not weary v. 30
V. Everyday Experience - walk and not faint v. 30

5. Principle: 2 Tim. 2:4

"No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life." Don't get sidetracked with mundane things. You have a higher calling.

6. Witnessing Experience

From frequent flyer points I had two coupons to be upgraded to first class. The trip I took was a long one so it took both coupons one way. That meant coming back economy class. I was disappointed. Coming back I was the sixth person to board. My seat was 25D. A sharp business man was already seated in 25F. While others boarded we talked and hit it off. He pointed to the middle seat and said, "I hope it stays empty." The last passenger boarded and every seat was taken except the seat between us. Now I know why I had to fly economy, I knew Jim was going to get saved. God had his heart all prepared and he prayed with me to receive Christ.

7. Verse

"Be ye followers of me even as also I am of Christ". 1 Corinthians 11:1

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---

Don't Quit

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit -
Rest if you must, but just don't quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a person turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give us, though the pace seems slow -
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the struggle has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out -
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit --
It's when things seem the worst that
You must not quit!

 Dedication of Children

"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD; and the fruit of the womb is his reward" (Ps. 127:3). One of the reasons grandparents rave so much about grandchildren is that they are now mature enough to realize how true this verse is. New mothers are radiant and fathers are proud because nothing is as exciting as a new baby in the home. What an obligation a pastor has to etch in the hearts of parents the seriousness of a child given by God.

It only takes a few minutes on a Sunday morning or Sunday night to dedicate babies to the Lord, and the dividends are immeasurable. The ceremony emphasizes the home, magnifies the family, and sanctifies the marriage. The relatives are confronted with the responsibility of being godly examples to the child.

Encourage parents to do everything in. their power to get every relative possible to come to the dedication ceremony. Insist that both sets of grandparents come. Emphasize the importance and sacredness of the ceremony, and establish it as a tradition so that dozens in a family will want to come. Many unsaved relatives who haven't darkened a church door in ages will come and hear the gospel when nothing else will get them to church. Many loved ones have been won to Christ this way.

Have the parents with their baby and all the relatives come to the front of the church. Let the parents introduce their relatives by name and relationship and state how grateful they are the relatives came to this wonderful and meaningful service.

Next month I want to finish this with practical things that will make a powerful service. First though we have seen many people saved and many come to church who otherwise would not be in church. Here is another means of sowing seed and winning people to Christ. We must be sure to present the gospel, the good news, that Christ suffered for our sins, paid the way to heaven in full and rose again. This gospel is the "power of God unto salvation." It really is most important thing we do for people. 

The Man God Uses
Delight Yourself In The Lord, Psalms 37:4

One wonderful thing I learned from my mother is to watch people, observe all you can about people. After being a Christian for over 60 years and in the ministry for over 50 years I have observed some things that characterize those whom God uses. We have written several things which you can look up under this title. Another group whom God uses are those who "delight themselves in the Lord" Ps 37:4

Over and over God talks about being "full of joy." "These things have I written unto you that your joy might be full" 1 Jn 1:4. The Christian life is not a life of drudgery and we must endure life but we are to enjoy life. The world lives much of their life trying to fill it with "fun." It doesn't go very deep and doesn't last very long. "The joy of the Lord is your strength" Nehemiah 8:10. 

There is one step further and that is to "delight yourself" in the Lord. God is saying, have a good time, get your kicks out of life, "in the Lord." It means to get your thrills, get your joy, get your life, in the Lord. Get all excited about sharing the gospel and getting people to heaven instead of hell. Get all excited about exhorting and encouraging others instead of just yourself. "Living for Jesus" is not an addendum of life but life itself. It is amazing how we can get so excited about a touch down or home run and be so nonchalant about someone getting saved. 

The people God uses are those who "set their affections on things above." Col 3:2. "Delight yourself" in reading the thrilling stories in the Bible instead of reading the sports and novels. "Delight yourself" in talking to God instead of just talking to people in idle trivia. "Delight yourself" in encouraging others instead of entertaining yourself with worldly amusements. 

Do you know what? You will see God use you in the most unusual and satisfying ways that it will amaze you. You will then get the very desires of your heart and be more satisfied than all the money in the world could do. God will use you and you will have the most interesting life and find the most fascinating plan for life possible. 

Crucify Yourself

"Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal" John 12:24,25.

People are always trying to "find themselves" when God says "lose yourself" and you will find life. One little kernel of corn wont feed anyone nor amount to much but if it is planted in the ground and dies, it will produce a thousand kernels. So it is with our lives. Your little ole life wont amount to much but if you plant it in the spiritual ground for the Lord, it will produce a hundred fold Mat 13:23. 

Paul said, "I am crucified with Christ" Gal 2:20. No wonder he produced a hundred fold and then some. A preacher's wife wrote to dear Abby one day and complained how demanding were the people in their church and she and her husband did not have any time for themselves. She had not planted her life for the Lord. She was not "crucified", she was very much alive and wanted her "rights"

I have been a pastor and called at 2 in the morning and asked to pray for a child some dear people were rushing to the hospital to the emergency room. I was not bothered. Rather, I felt honored that they wanted and need me and my prayers. It was a privilege. It was also a joy, to beat them to the hospital for I lived closer to the hospital then they did, and meet them as they came in. They hugged me and wept for joy to see me. Now that is living and finding yourself and what life is all about. 

Paul said "I die daily." 1 Corinthians 15:31. An application of that is to die to yourself daily and see God work through you and to use you in someone's life that lasts for eternity. No Christian should ever be "off duty" from serving the Lord and ministering to others. You do not have to look very far nor very hard to find someone who needs you and above all needs the Lord. Oh, what ecstasy to lead them to Christ. 

Oh my, it is summed up in Romans 12. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service." Start living by dying. Those who are dead to self are the ones God uses for He will then get the glory. 


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