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Contributed By:
Ken Pell
 
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RADICAL FAITH

I want to read to you the opening story from David Platt's book "The Radical Question" (Multnomah Press).

Imagine a scene that took place in Asia not so long ago:

A room in an ordinary house, dimly lit, all the blinds on the windows closed. Twenty leaders from churches in the region sit quietly in a circle on the floor, their Bibles open. They speak in hushed tones or not at all. Some still glisten with sweat; others' clothes and shoes are noticeably dusty. They have been walking or riding bicycles since early morning when they left distant villages to get here.

Whenever a knock is heard or a suspicious sound drifts in, everyone freezes while a burly tough-looking man gets up to check things out.

These men and woman have gathered in secret, arriving intentionally at different times throughout the day so as not to draw attention. In this country it is illegal for Christians to come together like this. If caught, the people here could lose their land, their jobs, their families, even their lives.

I was in that dimly light room that day, a visitor from America. I huddled next to an interpreter, who helped me understand their stories as they began to share.

The tough-looking man--our "head of security"--was first to speak up. But as he spoke, his intimidating appearance quickly gave way to reveal a tender heart.

"Some of the people in my church have been pulled away by a cult," he said. Tears welled up in his eyes. "We are hurting. I need God's grace to lead my church through these attacks."

The cult that had been preying on his church is known for kidnapping Christians, taking them to isolated locations, and torturing them, my interpreter explained. Many brothers and sisters in the area would never tell the good news again. At least not with words. Their tongues had been cut out.

 
Contributed By:
Fred Sigle
 
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A faithful Christian man was DYING. His wife and son and daughter, who were all devout Christians, came to his bedside. He HUGGED them and said, “Good night, I’ll MEET you in a BETTER PLACE.”

He had another son, however, who never OBEYED the GOSPEL. He was a GOOD BOY, but he just never saw the NEED to turn his LIFE over to Christ and be BAPTIZED into Him. While giving him a HUG his father said very SADLY, “GOOD-BYE, MY SON, GOOD-BYE.” Having TOUCHED the young man’s heart he said, “Dad, you said GOOD NIGHT to Mom and my brother and sister, but to me you said ‘GOOD-BYE.’ Why is that?”

The dying man said, “Son, your mother, brother, and sister are Christians, and I know that one day we’re going to be TOGETHER again in HEAVEN. So to them I said, ‘GOOD NIGHT.’ But you know that as much as I’ve PRAYED for you and PLEADED with you to OBEY the Gospel, you never have. I will never SEE you again, and as much as it BREAKS my HEART all I can say is ‘GOOD-BYE.’”

With TEARS welling up in his eyes the young man said, “Dad, don’t say GOOD-BYE, yet. Don’t GO ANYWHERE--don’t DIE. I’ll be back.” He quickly ran out of the ROOM and drove to the CHURCH BUILDING where his PARENTS were MEMBERS—the very same CHURCH he GREW UP in but NOW seldom ATTENDED. He told the PREACHER that he was ready to give his LIFE to Jesus.

The PREACHER took his CONFESSION and BAPTIZED him. Both he and the PREACHER drove back to the HOSPITAL and RUSHED to his father’s ROOM. Shaking his WEAKENED father awake he said, “Dad, dad, I finally did it. I’ve given my life to Jesus and promise I will SERVE Him until the day I DIE.”

The dying man, with his fast DECLINING STRENGTH, put his ARMS around his boy and said, “Good night, son, good night, I’ll MEET you in a BETTER PLACE.”

I KNOW THAT FATHER DIED A HAPPY MAN!

 
Contributed By:
James Wilson
 
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Back in the 1880’s Nietzsche declared that "God is dead," and before the turn of the Twentieth Century, Shaw and Wells chimed in saying the 20th Century would mark the end of the world’s "religious phase."

Yet, today a church now meets in Russia’s Museum of Religion and Atheism-the former center of atheism. Nearly half of the United States’ population attend Worship on a regular basis while revival is sweeping through Latin America and Christianity grows behind China’s iron curtain.

 
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HUGE RESERVES

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.
T...

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THE FASHION OF PLURALISM

While religious pluralism may be a novel experience for us, it is putting us in touch with the world that surrounded the biblical authors.
The pluralism and the paganism of Our Time were the common experience of the prophets and apostles. In Mesopotamia, there were thousands of gods and goddesses, many of which were known to the Israelites--indeed, sometimes known too well...
Nothing, therefore, could be more remarkable than to hear the contention, even from those within the Church, that the existence of religious pluralism today makes belief in the uniqueness of Christianity quite impossible. Had this been the necessary consequence of encountering a multitude of other religions, Moses, Isaiah, Jesus, and Paul would have given up biblical faith long before it became fashionable ... to do so.

SOURCE: Pluralism Is Not New, Citation: David Wells in No Place for Truth, or, Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? Christianity Today, Vol. 38, no. 8. Contributed by A. Todd Coget.

 
Contributed By:
Mark Brunner
 
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“Artesian Forgiveness!” Matthew 5: 43-48 Key verse(s): 46 “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?”

Here at Beech Springs one of the things that sets these few acres apart is the artesian well that highlights our front yard. Beneath the spreading branches of the ever present beech trees which surround it, the spring is free-flowing year-round. When the original owner of the property had the well drilled several decades ago, he had know idea that, when the aquifer was pierced some one hundred or so feet below, he would create a free-flowing artesian spring. But that is precisely what happened. Since the flow could not be capped, a shallow basin was installed to catch the well-head flow with a drain that would take the water underground to Your Creek some fifty or so yards away.

As is so often the case with wells of this type, there is always the ever present danger of a clog in the drain pipe which flows underneath our house. Should that happen, the water has no place to go but overflow the basin and drain into the driveway. Over the years we have become accustomed to these blockages. Whether it is leaves, sand, or the buildup of beech nut husks, something always seems to get into the pipe and dam up the flow. Even though it can be a bother (especially in the winter) to be confronted with water in the driveway, one thing always strikes me when I resort to plunger and hose in an effort to blast through the subterranean clog. The well just keeps chugging away. Despite the fact that the precious water slowly seeps away into the gravel of our driveway, there is always more where that comes from. With a little help from a plunger and hose, the creek inevitably resumes its drink while the driveway awaits for another opportunity. There is always plenty of water for the creek to greedily consume and the spring never seems unwilling to forgive the consumption even when it is worthlessly poured out upon the driveway. It just keeps giving despite the taking.

And so it is with forgiving. I recall the story of Abraham Lincoln when he was running for president of the United States. Lincoln had many enemies but none more virulent than Edwin Stanton. Stanton went around the country calling Lincoln a fool, a buffoon and a , “tall, lanky, ignorant man.” When Lincoln was finally elected president, he did not forget about Mr. Stanton. When the time came for him to choose his cabinet, Lincoln decided that the best man for the job of Secretary of War was Edwin Stanton. With that choice many of Lincoln’s advisors raised a hue and a cry. They told him: “Mr. Lincoln, are you a fool? Do you know what Mr. Stanton has been saying about you? Do you know what he has done, and is trying to do to you? Do you know that he has tried to defeat you on every hand? Do you know that, Mr. Lincoln? Did you read all of those derogatory statements that he made about you?” After listening to their harangue, Lincoln arose and made this rather perfunctory statement: “Oh yeah. I know about it; I read about it; I’ve heard him myself. But after looking over the country, I find that he is the best man for the job.” Stanton accepted the nomination and soon became a very good secretary of war. Although throughout the early years of that service their friendship was never more than cordial, he gradually learned to appreciate, even admire the president. When Lincoln was assassinated in April of 1865, Stanton was deeply grieved. The man who had once hated Lincoln more than any man, had learned, through Lincoln’s grace and kindnesses, what true friendship was all about. At the president’s funeral Stanton delivered a very different kind of oratory than that which he had become so famous for but five years prior. After a moving and salutary address he made this now famous statement: “Now he belongs to the ages.” Because of Lincoln’s free-flowing and never-ending willingness to forgive and forget, he had turned a bitter enemy into a devoted friend.

Lincoln understood the concept of, what might be called, artesian forgiveness. No matter how much you pour out you must never expect it to return to you. You just need to be a free-flowing source of precious life-giving forgiveness. If you stop to examine where that forgiveness is going or find yourself focusing on how often that forgiveness is not returned but is simply soaked away without recompense, you might as well be a mud puddle whose worth is spent when the sun has dried its substance and turned it into a hardened patch of common dirt. Martin Luther wrote, “A Christian should have a well which cannot be dried up or exhausted, even if his charity is poured out like water into sand.” (Sermon on the fourth Sunday after Trinity, 1533. W.A. 37.101.) Christians like you and I must never be compared to mud puddles. That is the worth of the world and the amount of forgiveness an unbeliever might contain. It is never the source of our forgiving balm. We need to love without condition and forgive without the hope that what we give will be given back in full measure. We must never grow weary of doing good for our Savior has never grown weary of us.

 
Contributed By:
Eric Ferguson
 
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A SPECIAL OCCASION

If you are waiting for a special house guest or a special occasion to use something you cherish in your house, consider the following following article by Ann Wells that appeared several years ago in the Los Angeles Times:

My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister's bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package. "This," he said, "is not a slip. This is lingerie."

He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip. It was exquisite; silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached.

"Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least eight or nine years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, guess this is the occasion."

He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician.

His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment, then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me. "Don't ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you're alive is a special occasion."

I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death.

I thought about them on the plane returning to California from the Midwestern town where my sister's family lives. I thought about all the things that she hadn't seen or heard or done. I thought about the things that she had done without realizing that they were special.

I'm still thinking about his words, and they've changed my life. I'm reading more and dusting less. I'm sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I'm spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings.

Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experience to savor, not endure. I'm trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them. I'm not "saving" anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event--such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom. I wear my good blazer to the market if I feel like it. I'm not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my party-going friends.

"Someday" and "one of these days" are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it's worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now. I'm not sure what my sister would have done had she known that she wouldn't be here for the tomorrow we all take for granted. I think she would have called family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food. I'm guessing--I'll never know.

It's those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited, angry because I put off seeing good friends whom I was going to get in touch with--someday. Angry because I hadn't written certain letters that I intended to write--one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn't tell my husband and daughter often enough how much I truly love them.

I'm trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that the day is special. Every day, every minute, every breath truly is ...a gift from God.

Life is a precious gift from God, and he wants us to get the most out of it. Jesus came to give us life "to the full and abundantly" (John 10:10). In other words, he came so that we would live our lives abundantly-full of purpose, meaning, and joy.

What are you waiting for? If it's a special occasion or a "someday,"--- keep in mind that it may never come.




 
Contributed By:
A. Todd Coget
 
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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 pove...

Continue reading with a Free PRO Subscription...

 
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none

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One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbours to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up

As the farmer’s neighbours continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon,
everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

MORAL :
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred - Forgive.

2. Free your mind from worries - Most never happen.

3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less

 
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JOY AND PHYLLIS DILLER

A thirty-eight-year-old scrubwoman (cleaning lady) would go to the movies and sigh, "If only I had her looks." She would listen to a singer and moan, "If only I had her voice." Then one day someone gave her a copy of the book, The Magic of Believing. She stopped comparing herself with actresses and singers. She stopped crying about what she didn’t have and started concentrating on what she did have. She took inventory of herself and remembered that in high school she had a reputation for being the funniest girl around. She began to turn her liabilities into assets. A few years ago Phyllis Diller made over $1 million in one year. She wasn’t good-looking and she had a scratchy voice, but she could make people laugh.

Transition
The great Christian devotionals writer, Oswald Chambers, once wrote, "Laughter and weeping are the two most intense forms of human emotion, and these profound wells of human emotion are to be consecrated to God."

In Psalms 126:2 it says, "Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them." (NIV) The life of the believer is one which is rightly characterized by joy, peace, and yes laughter.

Laughter is a great gift from God. We are not only called into a life of reverent piety, we have been given the great gift and joy of knowing God!

(From a sermon by Chris Surber, Feast of Purim, 10/20/2009)

 
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