Sunday, December 2, 2007

Following the Star

by Max Lucado

Suppose you could give a gift to Christ, what would it be? How could you possibly select a gift for the One who not only has everything, but who made everything?

The Wise Men did. They can be an example to us. In addition to the gold, frankincense, and myrrh, they gave the Savior some gifts we can give him today: their hope, their time, and their worship.

The wandering wise men gave Jesus their hope. When everyone else saw a night sky, this small band of men saw the light. The sight of the star sparked a desire in their hearts that send them packing. They went, seeking Jesus.

When night comes to your world, what do you see? The darkness or the stars? Hopelessness or hopefulness? Sometimes, just as he did so long ago, God uses the darkness to reveal his stars—“The light shines in the darkness” (John 1:5). Give God your hope for Christmas.

While you’re giving, give God your time. The wise men did. Before they gave God their presents, they gave their presence. It’s likely that these men traveled as long as two years before locating the prince of heaven. Before that one incredible moment when they knelt before Jesus, the wise men spent many moments, months, perhaps years searching, in anticipation of that meeting. Just as the wise men devoted themselves to seeking the Savior, so can you: “You will seek him and find him when you seek him with all your heart” (Duet. 4:29).

And when they did find him, the wise men gave Jesus another gift: their worship. Men of wealth, influence, and intellect: what did they do when they saw Jesus? “…they fell down and worshiped him” (Matt. 2:11)

Worship. It’s a gift that extends to the giver as well. Through worship, we come to see God more clearly. God invites us, through worship, to see his face so he can change ours. In worship, we simply stand before God with a prepared and willing heart and let God do his work. And he does. He wipes away the tears. He mops away the perspiration. He softens our furrowed brows. He touches our cheeks. He changes our faces as we worship. The wise men sought the child of God, just as God seeks his children. “The Father is actively seeking such people to worship him” (John 4:23).

The gifts of hope, time, and worship. Three gifts the wise still give.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Parable of The Twin Boys

Once upon a time, twin boys were conceived in the same womb. Weeks passed and the twins developed. As their awareness grew, they laughed for joy and said, Isn't it great that we were conceived! Isn't it great that we are alive!â

Together the twins explored their world. They found their mother's cord that gave them life, they sang for joy, "How great is our mother's love that she shares her own life with us".

Weeks stretched into months, and the twins noticed how much each was changing. "What does it mean?" asked one. "It means that our stay in this world is drawing to an end," said the other. "But I don't want to go," said one. "I want to stay here always." "We don't have a choice," said the other.

"But maybe thereâs life after birth," said the one. "No, we will shed our life cord. How is it possible to live without it??" replied the other. "Besides, we've seen evidence of others who've come before us and gone on. Yet none of them have come back to show that there is life beyond. No, this IS the end."

And so, the one fell into deep despair saying, "If conception ends in birth, what's the purpose of the womb? It's meaningless! Maybe there's NO mother at all. "But there has to be," protested the other, "how else did we get here? And, how do we remain alive?" "Maybe she lives only in our minds."

"Maybe we made her up, because the idea made us feel good," replied the discouraged twin. And so the last days in the womb were filled with deep questioning and fear.

Finally the moment of birth arrived! And when the twins had passed on from their world, they opened their eyes and cried. For what they saw - exceeded their fondest dreams!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Carrot, Eggs And Coffee

A certain daughter complained to her father about her life and how things have been so hard for her. She did not how she was going to make it and she wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that just as one problem was solved another arose.

Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen, filled three pots with water and placed the fire on high. Soon the three pots came to a boil. In one he placed carrots, in the other he placed eggs, and the last he placed ground coffee beans. He let them sit and boil, without saying a word. The daughter sucked her teeth and impatiently wondered what he was trying to do. She had problems, and he was making this strange concoction.

A half hour later he walked over to the oven and turned down the fire. He pulled the carrots out and placed them in the bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in the bowl. Then he ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her he asked. "Darling what do you see?"

Smartly, she replied. "Carrots, eggs, and coffee."

He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Her face frowned from the strength of the coffee. Humbly, she asked. "What does it mean Father?"

He explained. Each of them faced the same adversity, 212 degrees of boiling water. However each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. But after going through boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg was fragile. A thin outer shell protected a liquid center. But after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The coffee beans are unique however. After they were in the boiling water, it became stronger and richer.

"Which are you?" he asked his daughter.

When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

Are you the carrot that seems hard, but with the smallest amount of pain, adversity or heat, you wilt and become soft with no strength.

Are you the egg, which starts off with a malleable heart? A fluid spirit.
But after a , a breakup, a divorce, a layoff you became hardened and stiff. Your shell looks the same, but you are so bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and heart, internally.

Or are you like the coffee bean? The bean does not get its peak flavor and robust until it reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit. When the water gets the hottest, it just tastes better.

When things are at their worst, you get better. . . When people talk the most, your praises increase. . . When the hour is the darkest, trials are there greatest, your worship elevates to another level.

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed."

Believe In Yourself

Sometimes people come into your life and you know right away that they were meant to be there. To serve some sort of purpose, teach you a lesson or help figure out who you are or who you want to become.

You never know who these people may be but when you lock eyes with them, you
know that very moment that they will affect your life in some profound way. And sometimes things happen to you at the time that may seem horrible, painful and unfair, but in reflection you realize that without overcoming those obstacles you would have never realized your potential, strength, will power or heart.

Everything happens for a reason. Nothing happens by chance or by means of good luck. Illness, injury, love, lost moments of true greatness and sheer stupidity all occur to test the limits of your soul. Without these small tests, life would be like a smoothly paved, straight, flat road to nowhere. Safe and comfortable but dull and utterly pointless.

The people you meet affect your life. The successes and downfalls that you experience can create who you are, and the bad experiences can be learned from. In fact, they are probably the most poignant and important ones.

If someone hurts you, betrays you or breaks your heart, forgive them because they have helped you learn about trust and the importance of being cautious to whom you open your heart.

If someone loves you, love them back unconditionally, not only because they love you, but because they are teaching you to love and to open your heart and eyes to little things. Make every day count.

Appreciate every moment and take from it everything that you possibly can, for you may never be able to experience it again.

Talk to people you have never talked to before, and actually listen. Let yourself fall in love, break free and set your sights high.

Hold your head up because you have every right to. Tell yourself you are a great individual and believe in yourself, for if you don't believe in yourself, no one else will believe in you. Create your own life and then go out and live it.

"If you take your eyes off your goals, all you see are obstacles."

Beauty Tips For Everyone

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For beautiful eyes, look for the good in other people.

To lose weight, let go of stress, hatred, anger, contentment and the need to control others.

To improve your ears, listen to the word of God. Rather than focus on the thorns of life, smell the roses and count your blessings, giving thanks for each one of them.

For poise, walk with knowledge and self-esteem.To strengthen your arms, hug at least 3 people a day. Touch someone with your love.

To strengthen your heart, forgive yourself and others. Don't worry and hurry so much.

Rather than walk this earth lightly, walk firmly with determination and leave your mark.

For the ultimate in business, casual or evening attire put on the robe of Christ; it fits like a glove but allows room for growth. Best of all, it never goes out of style and is appropriate for any occasion.

Doing these things on a daily basis will certainly make you a more beautiful person.

Peace Is Not The Absence Of Trouble But The Presence of God

Angels In The Alley

Diane, a young Christian university student, was home for the summer. She had gone to visit some friends one evening & the time passed quickly as each shared their various experiences of the past year. She ended up staying longer than she had planned. Evening came & Diane had to walk home alone. But she wasn't afraid because it was a small town and she lived only a few blocks away. As she walked along under the tall elm trees, Diane asked "God" to keep her safe from harm & danger.

When she reached the alley, which was a short cut to her house, she decided to take it. However, halfway down the alley, she noticed a man standing at the end, as though he were waiting for her. She became uneasy & began to pray, asking for "God's" protection. Instantly a comforting
feeling of quietness & security wrapped around her; she felt as though someone was walking with her. When she reached the end of the alley, she walked right past the man & arrived home safely.

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

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

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


A Little Boy Temper

There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the fence.

The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.

The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said "you have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one."

You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won't matter how many times you say I'm sorry, the wound is still there.

A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one. Friends are a very rare jewel, indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share a word of praise, and they always want to open their hearts to us.

Make sure you control your temper the next time you are tempted to say something you will regret later.