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Steve Malone
 
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Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish theologian & philosopher, told this parable, which he called “The Wild Duck of Denmark;

A wild duck was flying northward with his mates across Europe during the springtime. En route, he happened to land in a barnyard in Denmark, where he quickly made friends with the tame ducks that lived there. The wild duck enjoyed the corn and fresh water. He decided to stay for an hour, then for a day, then for a week , and finally, for a month.
At the end of that time, he contemplated flying to join his friends in the vast North land, but he had begun to enjoy the safety of the barnyard, and the tame ducks had made him feel so welcome. So he stayed for the summer.

One autumn day, when his wild mates were flying south, he heard their quacking. It stirred him with delight, and he enthusiastically flapped his wings and rose into the air to join them. Much to his dismay, he found that he could rise no higher than the eaves of the barn. As he waddled back to the safety of the barnyard, he muttered to himself, “I’m satisfied here, I have plenty of food, and the area is good. Why should I leave.?” So, he spent the winter on the farm.

In the spring, when the wild ducks flew overhead again, he felt a strange stirring within his breast, but he did not even try to fly up to meet them. When they returned in the fall, they again invited him to rejoin them, but this time, the duck did not even notice them. There was no stirring within his breast. He simply kept on eating corn which made him fat.

 
Contributed By:
Isaac Butterworth
 
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THE MARK OF JESUS

When I was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Levelland, there was a man in our church, the owner of a local business and a highly intentional Christian. The apostle Paul once said of himself that he bore "on [his] body the marks of Jesus" (Gal. 6:17). Well, this man bore the marks of Jesus on his life. His wife was the most annoying woman I have ever known. She was chronically ill, and her sickness had embittered her spirit. She demanded almost all of this man's time and energy, and she was never grateful for a single thing he did for her. She complained about life, and she complained about him. For his part -- I don't know how he did it -- but he remained gentle and serene, and he had the utmost patience with this woman. He never spoke ill of her. He never sighed under the burden of her criticism. He was truly a man of God. He had an intimacy with God that was not showy but nevertheless evident. If life had not rewarded him with outward happiness, he was deeply and inwardly joyful. God was his "portion," as the Bible says (e.g., Lam. 3:24; Ps. 16:5; 73:26), and he was satisfied.

How could he do this? How could he be so patient and kind and committed to the welfare of his wife despite her ingratitude? I'll tell you: he was in covenant with his wife, but he was also in covenant with God. And here's what I learned from him. This man partnered with God in his own process of sanctification. Now, let me tell you what I mean. This man's highest interest was not in being happy in some conventional way. No. Instead, the longing of his heart was to be the kind of person God wanted him to be. And God has to work on a person to make them like he wants them to be. And what this man did is: he yielded to God's program of overhaul in his life. God not infrequently uses suffering and adversity. How does the old hymn say it? "When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie, my grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply; the flame shall not hurt thee; I only design thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine."

That's what this man wanted. He wanted his dross consumed; he wanted his unloving tendencies to be burned in the fire of affliction if need be, and his gold refined, his character refashioned to be like that of his Lord, who "loved the church and gave himself up for her."

 
Contributed By:
Richard Francis
 
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Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us . . . And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others

Nelson Mandela

 
Contributed By:
Tim Harrison
 
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THE REFINER'S FIRE

The story is told of a group of women that met for Bible study. While studying in the book of Malachi, chapter three, they came across verse three which says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." This verse puzzled the women and they wondered how this statement applied to the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out more about the process of refining silver, and to get back to the group at their next Bible study.

The following week, the woman called up a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him while at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest, beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.

As she watched the silversmith work, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire, where the flames were the hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot, then she thought again about the verse, that "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver."

She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the entire time the silver was being refined. The man answered yes...

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"The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one anothers desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together."

 
Contributed By:
Ed Vasicek
 
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MUFFET AND THE YOKE

Ron Hutchcraft comments, "Once upon a time, there was a heifer named Muffet. She lived on a little dairy farm in the Ozarks. So did my wife - who wasn't my wife then. She was the farmer's young daughter then, and she tells me that Muffet had a harder life than some of the other heifers, but it was her own fault.

See, Muffet was a stubborn heifer. Would she stay inside the fence that was there for her protection? Oh no! She found ways to crawl through that fence. Which meant Muffet got a yoke attached to her head - a sturdy Y-shaped branch that made it impossible for her to get her head outside that fence. Now, it was a nuisance; a nuisance made necessary by Muffet's stubbornness."

 
Contributed By:
Paul Dietz
 
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Friends

The year: 1994. The date: September 22nd. The debut of a new American sitcom: Friends. The plot: Six twenty-somethings, on their own and struggling to survive in the real world, find companionship, comfort and support they get from one another to be the ideal solution to the pressures of life.

Created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman the show became a staple of the NBC Thursday night line-up. It was a huge success during its ten year run, during which all the members of the cast achieved household celebrity status. Actors Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer let us know exactly what the theme song of the series said was definitely true: "I'll be there for you."

The final episode of the show was watched by an estimated US audience of 51.1 million. It still attracts good ratings for its episodes in syndication and is broadcast in one hundred countries. During its ten year run, the show won 6 Emmys, a Golden Globe, 2 SAG Awards and 56 other various awards with 152 nominations.

Friends has definitely made some notable contributions to various areas of our popular culture, particularly in fashion. The sitcom was noted for its great impact on our everyday fashion and hairstyles, especially that of Aniston's hairstyle nicknamed after her character: "The Rachel."

LeBlanc's character, Joey, coined the all familiar catchphrase "How you doin'?" has become a very popular part of our Western English slang and often is used as a pick-up line or when greeting a close friend.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Why did this sitcom become so popular in its time and now still lights up the screens of millions of television sets even yet today? Why had its DVD set sold millions of copies worldwide? Why did we get to know each character personally to the point of knowing not only their successes but also their hardships and failures as well?

I tend to believe it all stems from our inborn instinct to want to have personal relationships with other people and to be able to know them as close friends. We love spending quality time with our friends. We all truly believe and practice the concept of this popular television series: "You can never have enough friends."

 
Contributed By:
Jim Kane
 
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Someone has written that there are four kinds of bones in the world.
The WISH BONES who spend their time wishing someone else would do the work;
The JAW BONES who do all the talking, but very little else;
The KNUCKLE BONES who knock everything that an...

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Contributed By:
Sermon Central Staff
 
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BECAUSE I'M A GENTLEMAN

A middle-aged business executive once approached the front entrance of the office building in which he worked. A young feminist came up at the same moment, so he stepped back and held the door open for her to pass on through. She looked at him and said with annoyance, "Don't hold the door for me just because I'm a lady."

To her surprise, he looked right back and replied, "I'm not. I'm holding it open because I'm a gentleman."

(Green, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. From a sermon by Matthew Kratz, The parable of the Faithful & Wise Servant, 7/17/2010)

 
Contributed By:
Bishop Lalachan Abraham
 
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WISHING FOR PASCAL'S BRAIN

Biblical Education is the process by which Godly character is formed, strength of clear conscious and sound mind is amplified, and understanding is sharpened, as a result of which one can walk in divine wisdom.

Someone once approached Blaise Pascal, the famous French philosopher and said, "If I had your brains, I would be a better person." Pascal replied, "Be a better person and you will have my brains."

Bible says In Philippians 2:5 "Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:]"(Amplified Bible)

 
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