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Se cuenta que cierto emperador chino, cuando le avisaron que en una de las provincias de su imperio había una insurrección, dijo a los ministros de su gobierno y a los jefes militares que lo rodeaban: "Vamos. Seguidme. Pronto destruiré a mis enemigos." Cuando el emperador y sus tropas llegaron a donde estaba los rebeldes, él trató afablemente a éstos, quienes, por gratitud, se sometieron a él de nuevo. Todos los que formaban el séquito del emperador pensaron que él ordenaría la inmediata ejecución de todos aquellos que se habían sublevado contra él; pero se sorprendieron en gran manera al ver que el emperador trataba humanitariamente y hasta con cariño a quienes habían sido rebeldes. Entonces el primer ministro preguntó con enojo al emperador:
"¿De esta manera cumple vuestra Excelencia su promesa? Dijisteis que veníamos a destruir a nuestros enemigos, los habéis perdonados a todos y a muchos hasta con cariño los habéis tratado.
Entonces el emperador, con actitud generosa, dijo:
-os prometí destruir a mis enemigos; y todos vosotros veis que ya nadie es enemigo mío: a todos los e hecho mis amigos."
It is said that a Chinese emperor, when told that one of the provinces of his empire had an uprising, told his government ministers and military chiefs about him: "Come on. Follow me. Soon I will destroy my enemies." When the emperor and his troops arrived to where the rebels were, he treated them graciously, who, in gratitude, were subjected to it again. All who were the emperor's entourage thought he would order the immediate execution of all those who had rebelled against him, but was greatly surprised to see that the emperor treated humanely and even loving those who had been rebellious. Then the prime minister angrily asked the emperor:
"This way your Excellency met their promise? You said you were coming to destroy our enemies, you have forgiven everyone."
Then the Emperor, generous attitude, said:
"I promised to destroy my enemies. You see that nobody is my enemy. I've made them all my friends."
Sermon Central Staff
HE'S NO LONGER IN THE GRAVE
In 1887, twenty two years after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, his coffin was dug up and opened because there were constant rumors that his body was not in the grave. So they dug it up and the body was there. The rumors continued so 14 years later they had to dig it up again. Both times witnesses were present who testified that Lincoln was still in the grave.
Three days after the death of Jesus Christ, similar rumors began to spread throughout the land of Israel. Only this time there were no witnesses who could say that they had seen His body. In fact, to the contrary, many witnesses claimed to have seen him out of His grave and even talked with Him after the resurrection.
As great a man as Lincoln was there were witnesses to prove he was still in the grave. If one of our Presidents or another leader in our government were to cry out today to Lincoln for help, there would be no response. If a scientist were to cry out to Einstein for help today there would only be empty silence. If someone were to call out to Mohammed or Buddha or Gandhi today there would be no help. But if you and I call out to Jesus Christ there is instant power available to us... power to change lives ...why? Because He lives!
(From a sermon by David Henderson, "Overcoming Death," 5/25/2011)
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In 1994, two Christian missionaries answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics in a large orphanage. About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government-run program were in the orphanage.
It was nearing Christmas and they decided to tell them the story of Christmas. It would be the first time these children had heard the story of the birth of Christ. They told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger. Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word.
When the story was finished, they gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins that they had brought with them since no coloured paper was available in the city.
Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel, cut from a worn-out nightgown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia, were used for the baby’s blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt which the missionaries had also brought with them.
It was all going smoothly until one of the missionaries sat down at a table to help a 6 year old boy named Misha. He had finished his manger. When the missionary looked at the little boy’s manger, she was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger. Quickly, she called for the translator to ask Misha why there were two babies in the manger.
Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, Misha began to repeat the story very seriously. For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately until he came to the part where Mary put the baby
Jesus in the manger.
Then Misha started to ad-lib. He made up his own ending. He said, "And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don’t have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn’t, because I didn’t have a gift to give him like everybody else did.
"But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift. So I asked Jesus, 'If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift' And Jesus told me, 'If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.'
"So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him--for always."
As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed.
The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him--FOR ALWAYS.
Dr. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ tells this story of a famous oil field called Yates Pool:
During the depression this field was a sheep ranch owned by a man named Yates. Mr. Yates wasn’t able to make enough on his ranching operation to pay the principal and interest on the mortgage, so he was in danger of losing his ranch.
With little money for clothes or food, his family (like many others) had to live on government subsidy.
Day after day, as he grazed his sheep over those rolling West Texas hills, he was no doubt greatly troubled about how he would pay his bills. Then a seismographic crew from an oil company came into the area and told him there might be oil on his land. They asked permission to drill a wildcat well, and he signed a lease contract.
At 1,115 feet they struck a huge oil reserve. The first well came in at 80,000 barrels a day. Many subsequent wells were more than twice as large. In fact, 30 years after the discovery, a government test of one of the wells showed it still had the potential flow of 125,000 barrels of oil a day.
And Mr. Yates owned it all.
The day he purchased the land he had received the oil and mineral rights. Yet, he’d been living on relief.
A multimillionaire living in poverty.
D. Greg Ebie
We can see in our national headlines the power of unity to fulfill a common goal. Each of us will never forget what happened September 11, 2001. Out of that terrible day we saw our nation join together in unity. President George W. Bush had the support of the nation as he led the nation into the war against the terrorist who murdered so many innocent Americans. Let’s go get ’em!
But now nearly 9 month later we’ve started pointing fingers. What did our president know before the attacks? What could the government have done to prevent the terrorist attacks? The unity that was born through terror is unraveling. We have forgotten who our enemy is.
The same happens within the church. We can so easily begin to point fingers at other "sheep;" we become critical of the "shepherd." All the while we forget that we have a common enemy outside the walls of the church. Satan seeks to "steal kill and destroy". Let’s not forget who the enemy is.
Americans are willing to spend billions to lose weight. Marketing products and services to dieters is a cinch, a dream, and a no-brainer big business, and easy money, because more than 120 million or 61% of people in the USA are overweight, obese, or overweight by 30 pounds or more. The common techniques marketers use include testimonials and before/after photos, claims of rapid weight loss, and the promise of no dieting or exercise required. Actors say, ?7 weeks ago I weighed 268 pounds, now I am down to just 148 pounds!?Ads claim: ?You can eat as much as you want and still lose weight.? Another ad claimed: ?You could lose 8 to 10 pounds per week, easily . . . and you won’t gain the weight back afterwards.?
However, the dieter’s dream of being healthy, slim or trim, and attractive was dashed by the Federal Trade Commission in a big way. Newspapers, local and national news all reported the FTC warning that advertisements for weight-loss products and services make ?grossly exaggerated? claims. The agency reviewed 300 weight-loss ads in the previous year and tested 218 dietary supplements, meal replacements, patches, creams, wraps and other weight-loss products and services. The report found that 40% of the ads made at least one representation that was almost certainly false, and 55% made a claim that was very likely false or at least lacked adequate substantiation. The agency had the help of a coalition of representatives of science, academia, health professions, government agencies and public interest groups.
The FTC said that the ads are distracting people from doing things that would help them achieve a healthy body weight. Surgeon General Richard Carmona said, ?There is no miracle pill that will lead to weight loss. Losing weight requires a lifelong commitment to healthful eating and physical activity.? (USA Today 9/18/02 “Weight-loss deception found.?
In England, most radio and television stations are run by the government-operated British Broadcasting Service (the BBC). There are some independent stations today, but 40 years ago, the BBC ruled the airwaves alone in England. In 1965, a free-spirit named Roy Bates, decided to set up his own, independent, illegal, pirate alternative – Radio Essex. Operating a radio transmitter on English soil was clearly against the law, and he was quickly arrested and fined £100.
Not willing to give up his radio voice, Mr. Bates moved his operation offshore. England’s territorial waters at the time extended only 3 miles off the coastline. Roy Bates, once a commercial fisherman, knew of an old abandoned fort six miles off the coast, just far enough to lie within international waters. Rough’s tower, as it was known, was a military platform built during WWII to protect the Thames Estuary – the harbor at the mouth of the Thames river, where large and vulnerable convoys of shipping were assembled. It housed up to 200 men, and had a helipad. These sea forts were equipped with radar and heavy armaments, and housed enough troops to man and maintain artillery designed to shoot down German aircraft and missiles. The fort, built on a barge which was later intentionally sunk, was originally intended to be built within English waters, but was moved to it’s current location at the last minute to take advantage of shallow waters in the area. After the war, the platform had been abandoned and had lain derelict ever since. Roy set up his radio station on Rough’s Tower, safely in international waters, and broadcast his own brand of entertainment over much of England.
Were this all there was to the story, it would still be quite interesting, but what happened next makes it truly epic. In 1967, realizing that his home was in international waters claimed by no country, Roy Bates decided that he could, in fact, claim it as his own sovereign realm. He and his wife Joan declared the tower to be the “Principality of Sealand,” and a independent country. They crafted a constitution, named themselves Prince Roy and Princess Joan of Sealand, and swore loyalty to their new country, using their newly created flag and national anthem. They designed their own passports, postage stamps, and minted coins (about 25 coins of each denomination). The official language is English, and the currency exchange rate is fixed at one Sealand dollar equal to one US dollar. The Sealand national motto is E Mare Libertas, or "From the Sea, Freedom".
Sealand offerred to join the coalition of nations supporting both the first and second Gulf Wars, and issued statements of condolences and offers of assistance to the United States after 9/11. In 2003, Sealand also appointed its first official athlete - Darren Blackburn of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Blackburn has represented the Principality at a number of sporting events, including marathons and off-trail races.
By late 1968, the British navy had become aware of the new situation and dispatched a naval cruiser to quietly resolve the situation. Prince Roy took exception to this invasion of his territorial waters and fired warning shots – basically plinking the side of the naval warship with a shotgun loaded with bird shot. Since Prince Roy was still an English citizen, he was accused of several serious crimes against England and was summoned to a British court. In this widely publicized lawsuit, the court decided that it could not exert any jurisdiction outside of British national territory, which many interpret as the first de facto recognition of the Principality of Sealand. English law had ruled that Sealand was not part of the United Kingdom, nor did any other nation claim it, hence Prince Roy’s declaration of a new Sovereign State was upheld. Prince Roy has been called to British courts several times since to face charges ranging from more incidents between his shotgun and British warships to not paying taxes. In each case the Court ruled that they had no jurisdiction in international waters, strengthening Sealand’s claim to statehood. A well-recognized international precedent known as the Montevideo Convention states that one test of the legitimacy of a nation is when it is recognized by other states. England, by specifically NOT claiming it, was recognizing it.
Prince Roy now claimed Sealand as his own based on de jure (based on law – because the fort was abandoned in international waters) and de facto (based on facts – recognition by other states) precedent.
What would you do with a country of your own. What laws would you pass?
Sealand instituted an international ferry service consisting of a rubber Zodiac. In order to board the Sealand vessel at the dock in England, you had to present your Sealand passport and submit to customs inspection. Smoking and swearing were both subject to banishment, as was taking more than three five-minute showers per week. Sealand printed international postage stamps and used them to post letters in England, which the British postal service subsequently delivered, again recognizing Sealand’s existence and rights.
But dark days soon fell on the brave new country…
SEALAND GOES TO WAR (AND WINS)
In August of 1978, a number of Dutch men invited Roy to continental Europe. It was later found that the men represented organized crime families interested in the possibilities of owning a country beyond the reach of other nations. They stated their purpose was to discuss the possibilities of paying Prince Roy a large amount of money to relinquish Sealand to their control. Roy left Sealand under the control of his Prime Minister (the German night shift disc jockey, who was later discovered to be in league with the Dutch criminals. While Roy was away in Britain, armed men boarded Sealand and staged a coupe, imprisoning Prince Roy’s son the His Royal Highness Prince Michael in the toilet. Prince Roy became suspicious of the delaying tactics employed by the “business men” and returned to his country. Discovering what had happened, Prince Roy declared war on both Germany and the Netherlands, went back to Europe and hired a mercenary unit, and led the helicopter assault to retake his country. They were quite successful. No lives were lost, and the traiters were declared prisoners of war and imprisoned.
During the time that he held the prisoners, the Governments of the Netherlands and Germany petitioned for their release. First they asked England to intervene in the matter, but the British government cited their earlier court decision as evidence that they made no claim to the territory of Sealand. Then, in the most definitive recognition of Sealand’s sovereignty, Germany sent a diplomat directly to Sealand to negotiate for the release of their citizen.
Roy first released the Dutch citizens, as the war was over, and the Geneva Convention requires the release of all prisoners. The German disc jockey was held longer, as he had accepted a Sealand Passport, and therefore was guilty of treason, but was later released as well. He claims to this day that his government was entirely legal, and now claims to be the ruler in exile of Sealand, living in Spain.
On 1 October, 1987, Britain extended its territorial waters from 3 to 12 nautical miles. The previous day, Prince Roy declared the extension of Sealand’s territorial waters to be a like 12 nautical miles, so that right of way from the open sea to Sealand would not be blocked by British claimed waters. No treaty has been signed between Britain and Sealand to divide up the overlapping areas, but a general policy of dividing the area between the two countries down the middle can be assumed. International law does not allow the claim of new land during the extension of sea rights, so Sealand’s sovereignty was safely "grandfathered" in. Britain has no more right to Sealand’s territory than Sealand has to the territory of the British coastline that falls within its claimed 12 nautical mile arc.
In 1997, forged Sealand passports started tuning up around the world. Some of these were used to open bank accounts under false names in various countries. Since few people have ever seen a legitimate Sealand passport (less than 300 exist today) it was difficult for these to be easily detected as forgeries. The source of these forgeries was traced back to the same German disc jockey who was involved in the earlier attempt to take Sealand by force. His Minister of Finance had created a fake Sealand Business Foundation and boasts that he has sold over 150 000 fake Sealand Passports to all comers. Thus there are now unfortunately 500 times more forged Sealand Passports in circulation than real ones. Many of the forged passports were apparently sold to people leaving Hong Kong at the time of Chinese reoccupation for USD 1 000 each. These passports, which were not authorized by the Bates family, were involved in several high-profile crimes, including the murder of Gianni Versace.
Whilst Sealand has been the pride and joy of Prince Roy and his family for well over 30 years, his recent poor health has caused him fundamentally to review the arrangements which have been in place for decades and to look to the future of his Principality. Consequently, his son Prince Michael was appointed Prince Regent as Sovereign pro tempore by Royal Decree in 1999. Since that time, the Royal Family has struck a deal with HavenCo Limited, and that company now leases exclusively its offices in Sealand, where it offers, and is able to offer, unparalleled security and independence to users who wish to take advantage of its Internet services. The presence of an active and rapidly growing high-tech internet industry in Sealand has changed the character of the Principality; once more, Sealand rings with the sound of voices, boasts regular support ferry services, and is host to a growing and dynamic population.
The point of all this? Roy Bates is an extreme example of a man who set up a kingdom for himself here on earth. As cool as that sounds, the Bible tells us that we have a kingdom in Heaven. We are citizens of that country, not this. We are just strangers here.
I am Thankful for.........
....the taxes I pay
....because it means I’m employed.
....the clothes that fit a little too snug
....because it means I have enough to eat.
....my shadow who watches me work
....because it means I am out in the sunshine.
....a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and
....gutters that need fixing
....because it means I have a home.
....the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot
....because it means I am capable of walking.
....my huge heating bill
....because it means I am warm.
....all the complaining I hear about our government
....because it means we have freedom of speech.
....the lady behind me in church who sings off key.
....because it means that I can hear.
....the piles of laundry and ironing
....because it means my loved ones are nearby.
....the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours
....because it means that I’m alive.
....weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day
....because it means I have been productive.
The art of thanksliving. It is gratitude in action.
It is thanking God for the gift of life by living it triumphantly.
It is thanking God for your t...
Across Nicaragua, graffiti plastered houses, walls, and public buildings. The most prevalent campaign slogan everywhere was: “Daniel 5:25.” Intended to be a simple instruction on how to vote, it literally meant, “Vote for Daniel Ortega, the 5th position on the ballot, on the 25th day of September.”
But Christians in Nicaragua saw a hidden meaning that only God, the author of humor, could orchestrate. For Daniel 5:25 in the Bible reads, “God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.: Christians wondered if Daniel Ortega had unwittingly proclaimed the prophecy against his own rule. The church waited, hoping the prophecy would bring an end, not only to the economic and social destruction of Mr. Ortega’s communist reign, but also an end to the oppression of the church.
That was 1989. Under the communist Sandanistas, Nicaragua, once the bread basket of Central America and a net exporter of food, had become a food importer and had dropped to an economic level second only to that of Haiti in this hemisphere. It was a nation where communist spies were sent into churches to seek out anti-Sandinistas, a nation nearly devoid of foreign missionaries, and a country where the celebration of Christmas and Easter was outlawed by the communist government. Yet, for the first time in two generations there was guarded hope in the humid tropical air because Nicaragua had scheduled its first free election.
Nicaraguans faced their second free national elections Oct. 20. International observers were there again to see that the elections went forward as planned, but in the run-up to the elections, an air of uncertainty—with incumbent President Violeta Chamorro stepping down and Mr. Ortega’s entry into the race—remained.
Even the most pessimistic political soothsayer did not predict the extent of Mr. Ortega’s 1989 loss. He received less than 20 percent of the popular vote, a thunderous victory for Mrs. Chamorro and the 14-party UNO coalition.
Greg Dabel in Managua, World, October 27, 1996, Vol. 11, No. 23, pp. 20-21
Sermon Central Staff
CAN'T WIN FOR LOSING
A man named Fred inherited a huge land grant, but the will provided that he could choose land in either Chile or Brazil. He chose Brazil. Unhappily, if he had chosen Chile, he would have received his inheritance in land on which they had recently discovered uranium, gold and silver. But he chose Brazil.
When he arrived in Brazil he had to choose between receiving his inheritance in a coffee plantation or land with Brazil nut trees. He chose the nut trees, and immediately the bottom fell out of the nut market, but coffee futures went up two dollars a pound. The government took control of the nut farm for back taxes, and Fred was left destitute.
Fred pawned his Rolex watch for the money he needed to fly either to New York or Boston. He chose Boston. When the plane for New York taxied up, he noticed it was a brand new super Concorde with red carpets. After several hours delay, the plane for Boston arrived. It was a 1928 twin engine plane held together with bailing wire, and it was filled with cigar smokers and unattended crying babies.
Over the mountains one of the engines fell off, and Fred, frightened by his earlier bad choices and fearing for his life, asked for two parachutes. He jumped. As he fell through the air, he tried to make up his mind which ripcord to pull. He pulled the cord on the left, but nothing happened. He pulled the cord on his right, but it broke.
In desperation the poor fellow cried out, "St. Francis, save me!" A great hand from heaven reached down, seized him by the wrist, and left him dangling in mid-air. Then a gentle but inquisitive voice asked, "St. Francis, Xavier or St. Francis of Assisi?"
(Source: Dick Meyer, An Anchor in a Sea of Change, Faith@Work, Spring 2000, p.23; www.PreachingToday.com)
The poor guy couldn’t win for losing, but that’s life sometimes. Life is risky, because it’s full of choices where we don’t always know the outcome.
It’s the same with choosing to follow Christ. There is great risk involved, because we don’t always know how people are going to respond to that choice. Some may appreciate the choice because of the changes it brings into our lives. But others may very well reject us for choosing to follow Jesus, because they resent those very changes.
(From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Take A Risk, 11/5/2009)