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Contributed By:
David Simmons
 
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Why would God go to all the trouble to endure our bad choices and our flagrant sinning in order to have relationship with us? Hear the story of the lost son from the modern setting as told by Philip Yancey in his book What’s so Amazing about Grace.

Yancey tells the story of a prodigal daughter who grows up in Traverse City, Michigan. Disgusted with her old fashioned parents who overreact to her nose ring, the music she listens to, the length of her skirts, she runs away. She ends up in Detroit where she meets a man who drives the biggest car she’s ever seen. The man with the big car – she calls him “Boss” – recognizes that since she’s underage, men would pay premium for her. So she goes to work for him. Things are good for a while. Life is good. But she gets sick for a few days, and it amazes her how quickly the boss turns mean. Before she knows it, she’s out on the street without a penny to her name. She still turns a couple of tricks a night, and all the money goes to support her drug habit.

One night while sleeping on the metal grates of the city, she began to feel less like a woman of the world and more like a little girl. She begins to whimper. “God, why did I leave. My dog back home eats better than I do now.” She knows that more than anything in the world, she wants to go home. Three straight calls home get three straight connections with the answering machine. Finally she leaves a message. “Mom, dad, its me. I was wondering about maybe coming home. I’m catching a bus up your way, and it’ll get there about midnight tomorrow. If you’re not there, I‘ll understand.” During the seven hour bus ride, she’s preparing a speech for her father. And when the bus comes to a stop in the Traverse City station, the driver announces the fifteen-minute stop. Fifteen minutes to decide her life.

She walks into the terminal not knowing what to expect. But not one of the thousand scenes that have played out in her mind prepares her for what she sees. There in the bus terminal in Traverse City, Michigan, stands a group of forty brothers and sisters and great-aunts and uncles and cousins and a grandmother and a great-grandmother to boot. They’re all wearing goofy party hats and blowing noise-makers, and taped across the entire wall of the terminal is a computer-generated banner that reads – Welcome Home!

Out of the crowd of well-wishers breaks her dad. She stares out through the tears quivering in her eyes and begins her memorized speech. He interrupts her. “Hush, child. We’ve got no time for that. No time for apologies. We’ll be late. A big party is waiting for you at home.”

 
Contributed By:
Wade  Hughes, Sr
 
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Flag Folding & The Meaning of Each Fold!
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I guess this settles the "One Nation Under God" debate once and for all.
Do you know that at military funerals, the 21 gun salute stands for the sum of the numbers in the year 1776?
Have you ever noticed the honor guard pays meticulous attention correctly folding the American flag 13 times?
You probably thought it was to symbolize the original 13 colonies, but we learn something new every day!

The 1st fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

The 2nd fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

The 4th fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.

The 5th fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decaur, "Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.

The 6th fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that We pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States Of America, and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

The 7th fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

The 8th fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.

The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, and Mothers. For it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.

The 10th fold is a tribute to the father, for he too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense
of our country since they were first born.

The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews’ eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity
and glorifies, in the Christians’ eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.

The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely
folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of
our nation’s motto, "In God We Trust."
After the flag is completely folded and tucked in,
it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever
reminding us of the soldiers who served under
General George Washington, and the Sailors
and Marines who served under Captain John
Paul Jones, who were followed by their
comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces
of the United States, preserving for us the rights,
privileges and freedoms we enjoy today.
There are some traditions and ways of doing
things that have deep meaning. In the future,
you’ll see flags folded and now you will know why.
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Peggy Noonan, speech writer for Ronald Reagan, relates a story about Frances Green, an eighty-three-year old woman who lived by herself on Social Security in a town just outside of San Francisco, California. Peggy was very poor, but for eight years she had been sending one dollar a year to the Republic National Convention. One day Frances got an RNC fund raising letter inviting the recipient to come to the White house to meet President Ronald Reagan. She never noticed the little RSVP card that suggested a positive reply that needed to be accompanied by a generous donation. She thought she had been invited because they appreciated her dollar-a-year support. Frances scraped up every extra cent she had and took a four day train ride across America. Unable to afford a sleeper, she slept sitting up in the coach. Finally, this little elderly woman with white hair, white stockings, an old hat with white netting and an all white dress arrived at the White House. When she walked up to the entrance of where the grand event was to be held she gave her name to the guard. He informed Frances that her name was not on the list. She could not go in. A Ford Motor company executive who was standing in line behind Frances watched and listened to the little scenario. Realizing something was wrong, he pulled Frances aside and got her story. He asked her to return the next day at 9:00 A.M.. Frances agreed. This executive of Ford Motor Company made contact with Anne Higgins, a presidential aide, and got clearance to give Frances a tour of the White House and if possible introduce her to the president. The next day was anything but calm and easy at the White House. Ed Meese had just resigned and there had been a military uprising abroad. President Reagan was in and out of high-level secret sessions. Never-the-less, Frances Green showed up right on time with full expectation and enthusiasm. An executive met her and gave her a personal tour of the White House, then quietly led her to the Oval Office. Members of the National Security Council came in and out while high-ranking generals were coming and going. President Ronald Reagan glanced out of his office and saw Frances, patiently waiting. With a smile President Ronald Reagan motioned for her to come into the office. As Frances entered, President Reagan rose from his desk, invited her to sit down. They talked about her town and family and California. The president of the United States and the White House staff took time out of a very busy day to properly greet Frances Green.

 
Contributed By:
A. Todd Coget
 
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Corrie Ten Boom and her family secretly housed Jews in their home during WW II. Their "illegal" activity was discovered, and Corrie and her sister Bessie were sent to the German death camp, Ravensbruck. There Corrie would watch many, including her sister, die.
After the war she returned to Germany to declare the grace of Christ.
It was 1947, and I’d come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. It was the truth that they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown.
"When we confess our sins," I said, "God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. And even though I cannot find a Scripture for it, I believe God then places a sign out there that says, ’NO FISHING ALLOWED.’"
The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a cap with skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush—the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were! That place was Ravensbruck, and the man who was making his way forward had been a guard—one of the most cruel guards.
Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: "A fine message, Fraulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!" And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women? But I remembered him. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.
"You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk," he was saying. "I was a guard there." No, he did not remember me. "But since that time," he went on, "I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein,"—again the hand came out—"will you forgive me?"
And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place. Could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking? It could have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.
For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. "If you do not forgive men their trespasses," Jesus says, "neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses." And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart.
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Contributed By:
George Rennau
 
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One winters night in 1935. LaGuardia - - the mayor of New York city showed up at a night court in the poorest ward in the city.
He dismissed the judge and took over the bench.
That night a tattered old women was brought before him for stealing a loaf of bread.
She defended herself by saying “my daughters husband has deserted her, she is sick and the children are starving”.
The shopkeeper refused to drop the charges saying “Its a bad neighborhood. Your honor and she has to be punished to teach other people a lesson
LaGuardia sighed; he turned to the women and said.
“I’ve Got to punish you, the law makes no exceptions.
TEN DOLLARS OR TEN DAYS IN JAIL”

However even while pronouncing the sentence he was reaching into his pocket, He took out a ten-dollar bill, and threw it into his hat with these famous words.
“Here is the ten dollar fine which I now remit, and furthermore I am fining everyone in this courtroom 50 cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread to feed her starving grandchildren. Mr. Bailiff collect the fines and give them to the defendant”
The following day a new York paper reported
“Forty seven dollars and fifty cents was turned over to a bewildered old grandmother who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving grandchildren, making forced donations were a red faced shop keeper, seventy petty criminals, and a few New York policemen.
LaGuardia, paid the price, and set the prisoner free, out of compassion...

 
Contributed By:
Jim Luthy
 
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You turn on the TV set to see a large family sitting at a long dining room table. A man and a woman sit at opposite ends of the table, with three boys on one side and three girls on the other. Then another woman appears from the kitchen wearing a blue blouse and a white apron. She’s also wearing a huge smile and carrying a large casserole dish. Who’s the servant? It’s Alice from The Brady Bunch.

You switch channels and see a family in the living room of their Bel Air mansion. A teenage girl has just brought in the haul from her shopping day at the Beverly Hills boutiques. A younger sister clamors to see what she bought. A large middle-aged man seems to be rebuking a tall, slender, younger man, while a woman stands behind nodding her approval. In walks a short man with a black tuxedo with tails, a white shirt with a black bow tie and white gloves. He makes a smart remark before being sent to another room by the increasingly grousy middle-aged man. Who’s the servant? It’s Jeffrey from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

A few more channels away you see a creepy lot of characters. The living area has the finest antique furniture but is strewn with cobwebs. Candles flicker throughout the room. A hyperactive black-haired man kisses up and down his rather gothic looking wife’s arm on the sofa while the kids play with a tarantula on the floor by the fireplace. Even stranger sights are yet to appear. In comes a bald man so pale he looks almost blue. He’s dressed like a monk and has a light bulb in his mouth. Next in comes a 4 foot ball of hair on legs waving its arms and wearing a hat and glasses, followed by a single hand scurrying across the floor. Then the amorous man takes a break from the arm of his wife long enough to pull a large rope dangling from space and in walks a monstrous living corpse of a man, who bellows in a deep monotone, "You rang?" Who’s the servant? It’s Lurch from the Addams Family.
TV has had its share of servants. Alice, Jeffrey, and Lurch are distinguishable from the families they serve because they are always serving. You might recall, even the occasional glimpses into Alice’s love life were centered around her dutiful runs to the meat market, where she was wooed by Sam the Butcher. You see, a servant is always identified by their activity.

 
Contributed By:
Mark Brunner
 
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“Kick Me!” Matthew 28:1-10 Key verse(s): 6:“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”

Getting pulled into a practical joke is not much fun; especially when you walk in so innocently and depart with egg all over your face. I remember that my two brothers and I always had a pretty good time playing jokes on one another. Some were simply like pinning a “kick me” sign on the back of a jacket. And, then again, some were pretty elaborate. It was the elaborate ones that really stick in my mind even after all of these years.

There is only one sure and good way to pull a well-designed and high impact practical joke on somebody. It can’t be a spur of the moment thing. It takes time and teamwork to execute a “real” practical joke. And, I am convinced, that is why God gives us brothers. Those who have more than one brother as do I, are in real luck. When two can plan, one is always left over to be the convenient prey. That’s what was always so rewarding about growing up in the Brunner house. Three boys sharing one bedroom, none separated by more than a year and a half in age, is just the right formula for generating pranks of all sorts. On some boring day when the sun was not shining and we couldn’t be outside to expend our energy, the urge to plot and plan would suddenly take hold. “Hey! We could trick Glenn!” or “Mark is reading. What if we . . . “ or “Kurt would never see it coming. Let’s . . .” What one didn’t think of, the other did. The unsuspecting brother, despite the fact that he should have been prepared, walked right into and, wham! The prey was trapped, dumped-on or temporarily rendered foolish. That was the name of the game, put out the bait and then sit back and watch.

Of course, the real king of all practical jokes was the one that could be deflected back at the perpetrators. Overhearing the plot and then going along with it just to make it backfire was the epitome of all practical jokes. If you knew that the other two were plotting to put a pail of water over the bedroom door and you knew that they had to come and seek you to draw you into their trap, it was just as easy and even more fun to play the fool and lure them into your trap when they least expected to be fooled on the front-end of their own practical joke. Watching their surprised and stunned expressions was one of the greatest triumphs of boyhood. Just when they think they have you trapped, you spring your own and put the whole plan into a cocked hat.

Sometimes I think that is how Satan must have felt when he plotted and planned for our Savior’s demise. He had planned this for ages, the chance to get his revenge on the One who had thrown him from the heavens, expelled him from paradise. The plan was a good one. Trap the Son of God into being received as the Messiah and then, just when he had been proclaimed the Savior of all Israel, kill him. What fun and delight the devil and his minions must have had as they watched the life of our Savior play right into their hands. Those unsuspecting and easy to dupe band of disciples would not even know what hit them. The women that followed him and had sacrificed all would be left destitute and looking the fools. Why even the Jewish Sanhedrin could be pulled into it. Responsible for the killing of the Son of God? Now what would God have in store for them this time? And sinful man? We would finally have them right where we wanted them all along. Without hope of ever pleasing God and with the blood of his own son dripping from their hands where else could they turn but to the king of this world, Satan himself?

What a plan and Satan nearly pulled it off. He counseled with his peers and laid out the plan. He watched it unfold and even got more than he bargained for. Stoning or being thrown off a cliff would have done just nicely. But, crucifixion! Now that was a real boon. There is no doubt that as Satan prowled Golgotha that dark Friday, he was laughing and yukking it up pretty good. But, in the end, what he had planned so carefully and had taken great pains to pull-off ended up in one big backfire. Just when he was ready to spring the trap and declare the victory, he found himself hoisted on his own petard. Wanting to prove his power over Christ and his mastery over mankind, he ended up walking into his own trap. He had attacked the wrong man. Martin Luther wrote: “But he meets with a higher power which he cannot overcome. And all this has been wrought in order that our Lord Christ might glory because by being cast down He was lifted up on high, and these three mighty foes, sin, the devil, and death, must low lie under His feet . . . Thus sin, like death, attacked the wrong man, and so grew weak and died in His body.” (Sermon for Easter Day, 1544. w.a. 52. 249f) On Easter Sunday the one with egg on his face wasn’t the sinless son of God, the disciples, the women or even us! And it’s still there today.

 
Contributed By:
Mark Brunner
 
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May 31, 2005 “Our Semper Fi Brother!” Matthew 9:18-26 Key verse(s) 22“Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed from that moment.”

Nothing defines endurance better than a Marine. I have known a few Marines in my life; in fact my father-in-law was a Marine and I have several friends who have served in the corps. These are a special breed of people, not that they really look much different in civilian life than you or I. It’s more a matter of heart than it is body that defines a Marine.

One of the most tragic events during the Reagan Presidency was the Sunday morning terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept. Many of us can still recall the terrible scenes as the dazed survivors worked to dig out their trapped brothers from beneath the rubble.

A few days after the tragedy, I recall coming across an extraordinary story. Marine Corps Commandant Paul X Kelly, visited some of the wounded survivors then in a Frankfurt, Germany, hospital. Among them was Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, severely wounded in the incident. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body that a witness said he looked more like a machine than a man; yet he survived.

As Kelly neared him, Nashton, struggling to move and racked with pain, motioned for a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the Commandant. On the slip of paper were but two words -- “Semper Fi” the Latin motto of the Marines meaning “forever faithful.” With those two simple words Nashton spoke for the millions of Americans who have sacrificed body and limb and their lives for their country -- those who have remained faithful. (J. Dobson & Gary Bauer, Children at Risk, Word, 1990, pp. 187-188.)

Never giving up. I guess that’s the import of this story. Even when things are seemingly hopeless and the pain is unbearable, a Marine is forever faithful. I asked a Marine friend of mine recently what “forever faithful” really meant to him. I thought that it would take a while for him to respond in the careful and detailed way so endemic to the Marine psyche. Yet, his eyes simply brightened for a moment as if he was wondering why I had never asked the question before. He took off his baseball cap and with hands at his side he simply said, “It means that no matter how hard it gets or how bad I feel, I know that there is always one thing I can rely on; something that blunts the pain and brightens my ...

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Contributed By:
Jonathan Twitchell
 
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Tags: Mercy (add tag)
 
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Experts can’t agree if the following is a true story or if it should be written down next to the tale of George Washington and the Cherry Tree. While there is no concrete evidence of its truth, there is enough anecdotal evidence that the story has been in existence long enough to quite possibly be true. Regardless, I submit to you the following story about Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia .

In the middle of the Great Depression, New York City mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia , strived to live with the people. It was not unusual for him to ride with the firefighters, raid with the police, or take field trips with orphans. On a bitterly cold night in January of 1935, the mayor turned up at a night court that served the poorest ward of the city. LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself. Within a few minutes, a tattered old woman was brought before him, charged with stealing a loaf of bread. She told the mayor that her daughter’s husband had left, her daughter was sick, and her two grandchildren were starving.

However, the shopkeeper, from whom the bread was stolen, refused to drop the charges. "It’s a real bad neighborhood, your Honor," the man told the mayor. "She’s got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson."

LaGuardia sighed. He turned to the woman and said, "I’ve got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions. Ten dollars or ten days in jail." But even as he pronounced sentence, the mayor was already reaching into his pocket. He extracted a bill and tossed it into his famous hat, saying, "Here is the ten dollar fine which I now remit; and furthermore I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant."

The following day, New York City newspapers reported that $47.50 was turned over to a bewildered woman who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving grandchildren. Fifty cents of that amount was contributed by the grocery store owner himself, while some seventy petty criminals, people with traffic violations, and New York City policemen, each of whom had just paid fifty cents for the privilege of doing so, gave the mayor a standing ovation.

I share this story primarily to illustrate the difference between two key terms: mercy and grace.

It is said that mercy is when we “don’t get what we deserve.” Often, mercy is used to refer to not getting the punishment we deserve. Children play that game called “mercy” when they try to bend each others’ hands over backwards. The game is over when one child begs for “mercy,” asking the other child to stop. Our story illustrates “mercy” in that Mayor LaGuardia paid the fine for the woman. Justice was served, in that the fine was paid…but mercy also reigned—for the woman could not pay her fine herself, so LaGuardia paid it for her. Mercy is when we “don’t get what we deserve.”

Grace , on the other hand, is when we “get what we don’t deserve.” While mercy is “Not getting the bad things that we deserve,” grace is about “getting the good things that we don’t deserve.” The grace evidenced in the story was not the forgiveness of the debt, but the additional assessment of a $.50 cent fine on every member in the courtroom. The grace was the $47.50 that this woman received. $47.50 that she did not deserve.

 
Contributed By:
Andrew Drummond
 
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told by Philip Yancey in his book: What’s so Amazing about Grace.

Yancey tells the story of a prodigal daughter who grows up in Traverse City, Michigan. Disgusted with her old fashioned parents who overreact to her nose ring, the music she listens to, the length of her skirts, she runs away. She ends up in Detroit where she meets a man who drives the biggest car she’s ever seen. The man with the big car – she calls him “Boss” – recognizes that since she’s underage, men would pay premium for her. So she goes to work for him. Things are good for a while. Life is good. But she gets sick for a few days, and it amazes her how quickly the boss turns mean. Before she knows it, she’s out on the street without a penny to her name. She still turns a couple of tricks a night, and all the money goes to support her drug habit.

One night while sleeping on the metal grates of the city, she began to feel less like a woman of the world and more like a little girl. She begins to whimper. “God, why did I leave? My dog back home eats better than I do now.” She knows that more than anything in the world, she wants to go home. Three straight calls home get three straight connections with the answering machine. Finally she leaves a message. “Mom, dad, it’s me. I was wondering about maybe coming home. I’m catching a bus up your way, and it’ll get there about midnight tomorrow. If you’re not there, I‘ll understand.” During the seven hour bus ride, she’s preparing a speech for her father. And when the bus comes to a stop in the Traverse City station, the driver announces the fifteen-minute stop. Fifteen minutes to decide her life.

She walks into the terminal not knowing what to expect. But not one of the thousand scenes that have played out in her mind prepares her for what she sees. There in the bus terminal in Traverse City, Michigan, stands a group of forty brothers and sisters and great-aunts and uncles and cousins and a grandmother and a great-grandmother to boot. They’re all wearing goofy party hats and blowing noise-makers, and taped across the entire wall of the terminal is a computer-generated banner that reads – Welcome Home!

Out of the crowd of well-wishers breaks her dad. She stares out through the tears quivering in her eyes and begins her memorized speech. He interrupts her. “Hush, child. We’ve got no time for that. No time for apologies. We’ll be late. A big party is waiting for you at home.”

 
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