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The Tale of the Wooden Bowl

I guarantee you will remember the tale of the Wooden Bowl tomorrow, a week from now, a month from now, a year from now.

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year old grandson. The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered.

The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. "We must do something about Grandfather," said the son. I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.

So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.

When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence. One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, "What are you making?" Just as sweetly, the boy responded, "Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up." The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.

The words so struck the parents so that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.

That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

I've learned, "The Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly" Psalm 84:11

I've learned "Honor thy father and thy mother, as the Lord commanded thee: that thy days may be prolonged and that it may go well with thee" Deuteronomy 5:16.

I've learned: "Thou shalt keep therefore his statues and his commandments which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee and with they children and that thou mayest prolong they days upon the earth which the Lord thy God giveth thee forever" Deuteronomy 4:40.

I've learned, "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap" Galatians 6:7.

I've learned that, regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.

I've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as making a "life."

I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

I've learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone.

People love that human touch -- holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.

I've learned that you should pass this on to everyone you care about.

I just did.
 


The Sin Unto Death

Do you know what the "sin unto death" is? Here is what we are told in 1 John 5:16: "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it."

The context and language is quite clear that this is a Christian committing a certain sin. The death is physical death.

Just what is the sin unto death? The Bible answers for us. Proverbs 15:10 says; "Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way; and he that hateth reproof shall die" Lost people do not go to hell for hating reproof, but for unbelief (John 3:18, Rom. 4:3). The death, then, must be physical and not spiritual. This correction and reproof are God's and not man's. The person described here not only finds correction grievous, but hates the reproof of God, commits the sin unto death and God kills him.

Suppose we examine several New Testament passages which substantiate this view. First, take Hebrews 12:5-7, 9; "And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?...Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?"

God says: "Despise not the chastening of the Lord"; for "we gave our earthly fathers reverence," and shall we not much more give God, our Lord, reverence "and live?" How many times have you read this verse and not noticed the last two words--"and live"? We know this refers to physical life, for those addressed already have spiritual life. Must we not conclude, then, that not to give reverence to God for His correction would bring physical death? How terrible to be more in subjection to our earthly fathers than our heavenly Father!

We can be grieved at the correction until we come to hate the Lord's reproof, and then it is the sin unto death. How helpful it would be to realize that God chastens "for our profit" and not as our earthly fathers, "after their own pleasure" (vs. 10)! God says that chastening "yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby" (vs. 11). Oh, that God's children would only yield to the Lord and His purifying ways!

There is another passage, James 5:19-20, which coincides with this truth: "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one converts him; let him know that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death and shall hide a multitude of sins." Here again we must notice that the "brethren" and the "sinner" are saved people. "Convert" does not essentially mean to get saved; it means to turn about or to change.

Observe that the one converted will be saved from death. It is of vital importance, then, that Christians in deep humility, do all possible to convert the erring brother lest he, being weak, while being chastened should come to hate the correction of the Lord. This is a very serious thing and should be looked into carefully by every Christian. Today we take too lightly our responsibility toward our brethren. Instead of trying to convert them, we often condemn them. Much preaching could be done here, but we will trust the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts about this matter.

Finally, may we look at one more verse, James 1:15? "Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth death." This is true in both the spiritual and physical realm. It is true that the end for the unsaved is death or hell, but it can also be true that the end of the saved person's sin can result in physical death. Are you not glad that today is the day of salvation for the lost? Today can also be the day that any who errs from the truth may be converted from the error of his way.

There is good news, too, that a Christian can have a safeguard against ever getting to the point of hating reproof. I Corinthians 11:31-32 says, "If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." It is important that a Christian should deal with his sins honestly, admitting that they are sin, confessing them to the Lord, turning from them, and having them cleansed by the blood of Christ. The liberty we have in Christ is not a license to sin. "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid" (Rom. 6:1-2). There will be no loss of fellowship and no need for chastening to the Christian who is faithful in this matter. Let it be plainly understood that we are not to "regard lightly" the chastening of the Lord. It can become sin unto death, even to you.
 


Unfailing Love

The story is told of an arranged marriage between "Saravanan" and a young woman named "Savithri". When Saravanan lifted the veil from his bride after the ceremony, he was shocked and disgusted. The woman's face had been scarred by smallpox.

After that, Saravanan had as little to do with his wife as possible. She tried her best to make him happy; she worked hard at home, hoping her husband would eventually accept her. But he remained coldly indifferent to all her expressions of affection. Savithri lived almost like a widow.

After fifteen years of this sham marriage, Saravanan began to lose vision in both eyes. A doctor told him he would go completely blind if he didn't have a cornea transplant. But the operation was expensive and there was a long waiting list.

Savithri began to work long hours in the evening making straw hats for extra money. One day, Saravanan was informed that someone's corneas had been made available for him. He rushed to the hospital to have the operation.

After he had recovered, he grudgingly decided to see his wife Savithri so he could thank her for raising the money. When he turned her bowed head so she could look at him, Saravanan gasped. She stared at him with sightless eyes, the corneas gone.

Overcome with emotion, he sank at her feet and sobbed. And then for the first time in their marriage he whispered her name: Savithri !

Jesus longs for a relationship with those who have been indifferent to Him for so long. He longs for us to finally whisper His name as our Savior. He was willing to sacrifice not only His eyes, but His whole body to suffer and die for our sins, paid our debt in full and rose again to become our Savior. If you are not sure you are going to heaven pray something like this right now. Dear God, I know I too have sinned and ought to pay the debt myself. I believe You that Jesus suffered and died for my sins, paid my debt in full and rose again. Lord Jesus, right now I believe on You and receive You as my personal Savior and trust you to give me a new birth and take me to heaven.

If you have already received Him as Your Savior and know you are going to heaven call Him by name, "Lord Jesus, thank you for saving me and I love you and present myself to You to use me for Your glory. In Jesus name.


What Do You See In Church

Jim Smith went to church on Sunday morning. He heard the organist miss a note during the prelude, and he winced. He saw a teenager talking when everybody was supposed to bow in prayer. He felt like the usher was watching to see what he put in the offering plate and it made him boil.

He caught the preacher making a slip of the tongue five times in the sermon by actual count. As he slipped out through the side door during the closing hymn, he muttered to himself, "Never again! What a bunch of clods and hypocrites!"

Ron Jones went to church on Sunday morning. He heard the organist play an arrangement of "A Mighty Fortress" and he was thrilled to the majesty of it. He heard a young girl take a moment in the service to speak her simple moving message of the difference her faith makes in her life. He was glad to see that his church was sharing in a special offering for the hungry children in Nigeria. He especially appreciated the sermon that Sunday---it answered a question that had bothered him for a long time. He thought as he walked out the doors of the church, "How can a man come here and not feel the presence of God?"

Both men went to the same church on the same Sunday morning. Each found what he was looking for. What will you be looking for this Sunday?

Oh, dear people, let's go to church to meet God. Let's go to church to hear His Word and get our life changed more and more into His image as we behold His glory. Let's go to church and bring lost people to hear the gospel and see them come out of darkness into His marvelous light. Let's go to church just to fall in love with Jesus more every Sunday and leave there praising Him and telling everyone else how wonderful He is. Truly, you will find what you are looking for. 


Love

A family was involved in a serious traffic accident. Mike, the youngest of two brothers involved, was badly injured and needed a blood transfusion. Mike's big brother Danny, who was only eight years old, had the same blood type as his younger brother. The dad sat down with Danny and carefully explained to him why the transfusion was needed and how wonderful it would be for his little brother. After some silence, Danny responded by saying "Yes Daddy, I'll give my blood to Mike so he can get well."

At the hospital, a pint of blood was drawn from Danny's veins. Only after the needle was removed did Danny turn to his father with tears rolling down his face and ask, "Daddy when do I die?"

The father suddenly realized with a shock that Danny had misunderstood his explanation of giving blood. Danny thought he was giving all of his blood to save the life of his brother! He thought that he would die after the transfusion was over. Yet he still had agreed to help his little brother. Danny was willing to die so that his little brother would live. That's what Christ did for each of us. He shed His own blood to give us life

"God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" Romans 5:8


The story of Gracia and Martin Burnham
Captives of the Abu Sayyaf terrorists of the Philippines
He was myrtared

When the Burnhams were first kidnapped and being transported by boat, they sang Christian songs, to the amazement of everyone. 

In captivity, Gracia was initially treated like a dog. Philippine women are not valued by the Abu Sayyaf, so an American woman was of even less value. When it came time to eat, she was the last one to be given any food, if there was any left. She learned to reach out and shove a fist full of bananas into her mouth and eat as fast as she could so as to get "something" when it was available. 

When she had to go to the bathroom, a man always accompanied her. But, thankfully, she was not sexually abused as were some of the women hostages. 

One day, the couple was allowed to have some correspondence that came, and there were photos of their children. The Burnhams showed them to the insurgents who wanted to know what the kids' names were. The insurgents were "taken" with Mindy and different ones asked to marry her when the kidnapping incident was over. [Ugh!] When they heard Zach's name they realized that it stood for Zechariah and they were excited about it because one of their prophets is Zechariah. Because the Burnham's son had such a meaningful name, the insurgents, from that time on, referred to Martin as Abu Zecharias (Father of Zach). And their treatment of Martin and Gracia improved. 

One day, the Abu Sayyaf had to flee the military and it took place in such a rush that they had to leave all of their cooking utensils behind. As a result, they had no way of cooking their rice. Martin remembered that his son Jeff had taken a survival course some time back, and one of the things he learned was how to cook rice in bamboo. He had showed his father how to do it. Martin told the insurgents about it and asked them if they would like for him to do it? They gave permission and a guard went with Martin while he cut bamboo and then cooked rice for everyone. Martin later chronicled to Jeff about how he had inadvertently helped his dad in captivity. 

During those last days, Martin knew that he was not going to live, so he began writing specifically to his children. He told them stories about his life, shared his dreams, shared his dreams for them. He told Jeff that when he was gone, Jeff would have to be the man in the family. He told him that it would be good for him to get a van for the family and shared with him what to look for in purchasing one. (By the way, Jeff did exactly that and bought an almost new van for $1. I don't know the story on how God provided it but it's quite touching.) 

The last nine days, neither the insurgents nor the Burnhams had any food. The military had been tracking the Abu Sayyaf for those nine days. The insurgents stopped and set up camp. They were at the base of a ridge and Martin pulled Gracia up on a little plateau just above the ridge where they set up a blue tent. Idiborah was close to them. 

The Philippine military stumbled upon the insurgents and began to shoot indiscriminately. Gracia was shot first and she rolled down the ridge and grabbed onto a root and hung on. Martin was shot second and he rolled down and landed on top of her. Neither of them moved. Gracia could hear Martin breathing and then his breathing slowed and stopped. She continued to stay still. Before long she heard Tagalog being spoken and she knew that the insurgents didn't speak it. She slowly moved her hand back and forth to indicate that she was alive, and to avoid being shot. That is when the Philippine military recognized it was her. 

They carried her up the hill and put her in her hammock. It was riddled with bullet holes which made her more fully realize the miracle of being alive. When they went to put her in the helicopter, she suddenly realized that Martin's duffel bag was left behind and she insisted that they get it for her. It had all Martin's notes and correspondence to her children in it. No one was listening to her and she literally gabbed a lieutenant and looked him square in the face and said, "I need that bag!" Later, when she was in the presence of the President of the Philippines, she made it quite clear again that she wanted that bag. Someone was sent to retrieve it! 

When Gracia was taken to the American embassy, her hair was long and her nails dirty, etc. She looked in wonder at herself in a mirror because it had been 379 days since she had been able to do that. People were called in to cut her hair and fix her up. So she looked quite nice when she was presented to the public. Folks expected to see a woman haggard due to her ordeal. Instead, they found an attractive lady, in control of herself, pleasant and smiling. 

No one could get over her emotional stability (no signs of the Stockholm Syndrome or anything). She had the embassy people puzzled. They thought they were in charge and here was Gracia calling the shots. She sweetly smiled and told them that she had invited a friend to come and have pizza. Then she told them that she wanted all her NTM "family" in the Philippines to come the next day so she could say good-bye to them. That wasn't on their agenda but how could they refuse that smile and resilient spirit? She had her good-bye party. 

People are still rather amazed at how upbeat Gracia is but she told Macon that it's because, while others are grieving Martin's death, she and Martin had already gone through their good-byes, a number of times. They estimate that approximately 3,000 people were at the funeral. NTM's lawyer Scott Ross said that he and his wife, Debbie, were quietly chatting when, suddenly, they heard this loud rushing sound. They realized that Gracia had entered the auditorium and that people were standing to their feet and applauding her. It was a very touching moment. 

At this writing, Gracia's wound is not healing well. The doctor wants her to stay down for at least three hours a day, a difficult thing for her to do. The kids have been sleeping in her room and there has been non-stop sharing. She is having to postpone meeting with President Bush because of doctor's orders. She was supposed to meet with him this week. 

The town of Rose Hill is going to build and pay for a home for Gracia. They just met with her to find out what her specifications would be. She will soon be at an undisclosed location in Arkansas for a rest and family reunion with her people. Then she will be coming to Florida for a special time with other relatives; part of that time will involve business. 

Gracia has asked specific prayer for wisdom in who to share her story with. She feels that it's Martin's story and she wants God in it! 

 

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