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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.
1 John 2:15-2:17
1 Kings 3:16-3:28
2 Corinthians 9:12-10:1
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ILLUSTRATION… Discipleship Journal, 11-12/92
A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:
5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness
5. (Tie) Sexual lust
Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when…
they had neglected their time with God (81 percent)
and when they were physically tired (57 percent).
Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising
situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).
For thousands of years the Israelites had been looking for the coming of the Messiah. There in Bethlehem by the miraculous power of God, Mary, a young virgin, gave birth to the Savior of the world. Most people missed that glorious event, but a few did not.
Who are the Biblical examples for us to follow in showing adoration to the Lord Jesus Christ?
1.) Mary... having a heart that is completely surrendered to the will of God. Mary, the chosen mother-to-be of Jesus, responded to the angel Gabriel's startling announcement with, "I am the Lord's servant... may it be to me as you have said."
We do not know all Mary went through after she conceived the Christ Child by the Holy Spirit. We do know that Joseph, not understanding at first how his beloved Mary had become pregnant, had it in his mind to quietly divorce her. But God intervened for His faithful servant, Mary. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, and told him not to be afraid to take Mary home to be his wife, that the Child in her was of the Holy Spirit. Joseph and Mary obeyed God even at personal expense (Matt. 1: 18 - 24).
2.) The shepherds... believing, responding and witnessing. Believing the announcement of the angel of the Lord, the shepherds hurried to find the Baby Jesus lying in the manger. Then they spread the word concerning what had happened and what was told them about the Child (Luke 2: 16, 17).
3.) Simeon... living a Holy Spirit-led life full of praise to God. The Holy Spirit had led Simeon, a righteous and devout man, to go into the temple courts just as Joseph and Mary came to consecrate Jesus to God when He was eight days old. Recognizing that Salvation had surely come to both the Jews and the Gentiles, Simeon took Jesus into his arms and praised God (Luke 2: 21 - 28).
4.) Anna... being thankful and always about the Lord's work. The elderly prophetess, Anna, never stopped worshiping the Lord in the temple. She often fasted and prayed. When she saw the Baby Jesus she gave thanks to God (Luke 2: 37, 38).
5.) The Magi... physically giving of themselves, their hearts, and their gifts to the Lord. The Magi from the East had come on a long and dangerous journey with one purpose in mind, to worship a newly-born King. Having thus presented themselves in worship, they then gave their gifts: gold, a tribute worthy of a King; frankincense, a fragrance often used to honor God with the smoke of incense; and myrrh, a spice used to embalm the dead, foretelling Jesus' sacrificial death to come (Matt. 2: 11).
Like these before us, if we are sincere in the surrender of ourselves to Him, we, too, should not be unwilling to part with all that is dear to us for His glory and worship--our reputations, our finances, our time, our plans.
How will you show your adoration of the Lord Jesus Christ this Christmas season? Start with inviting Christ into your heart to be both Savior and Lord!
Oh come, let us adore Him... Christ, the Lord!
The church is called the body of Christ. Have you ever thought about what it would be like if the members of our physical bodies behaved like the members of the spiritual body sometimes do?
HEART - "You know, Iím just stuck in a rut. For the last 45 years all I do is beat and beat. Lub, dub... lub, dub... lub, dub... Iím tired of it. Itís time for someone else to step up and do this job. Okay, feet, itís up to you. You pump the blood.
LUNGS: We are so under-appreciated around here. I donít think the other organs realize that they couldnít do their jobs without us. If we quit doing our job for a few minutes, everyone will finally see how valuable we are to this place. The brain thinks heís big stuff. Humph! Let him do without some oxygen for a while and weíll see how important he is!
LIVER: "Why do I get all the dirty work? You think itís fun making bile? Iíve been in this body for 45 years now and do you think anyone has ever asked me to make any decisions, pump any blood, or perform any functions that are noticeable outside the body? Sometimes I wonder why I bother."
APPENDIX - "Ha! Just watch the rest of those organs work. Day after day, hour after hour, they work themselves do death. Iím just along for the ride. Why contribute when I can just sit...
A GUIDE TO KNOWING YOU ARE MIDDLE AGED:
By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, heís too old to go anywhere.
Middle age is when you have stopped growing at both ends and have begun to grow in the middle.
A man has reached middle age when he is cautioned to slow down by his doctor instead of by the police.
Middle age is having a choice of two temptations and choosing the one that will get you home earlier.
You know youíre into middle age when you realize that caution is the only thing you care to exercise.
Donít worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it will avoid you.
Growing old cannot be avoided Ė God has our life numbered, physical disciplines are good when they are done in moderation, but they will not force God into extending our life span. The gift of life is a gift from God to be used to for his purposes, for spiritual and heavenly reasons. Our concern should be to obey honor and praise and give glory to him, and let him care for us. Ps 90:12, Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
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OUR NEED FOR PAIN
There is no tougher dilemma in the Christian life than the problem of pain. It could be the pain of broken relationship, the pain of rejection, or the pain of insults. Or it could just be plain old physical pain. Nothing tests the faith like pain.
It was physical pain that became a life's work for a man named Dr. Paul Brand. Perhaps nobody studied pain like Dr. Brand.
I became acquainted with his work through the writing of one of my favorite authors, Phil Yancey. He and Dr. Brand wrote several books together including, In His Image, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, and The Gift of Pain.
Dr. Brand died in 2003 at the age of 89. I want to read a little bit from an article in Christianity Today about him:
"Born to missionary parents in the mountains of southwestern India in 1914, Brand attended London University, where he met his wife, Margaret Berry. The two surgeons returned to Vellore, India, to teach at the Christian Medical College and Hospital. While working as the school's first Professor of orthopaedics and hand research, Brand pioneered surgical work with those suffering from Hansen's disease, a bacterial infection more commonly known as leprosy. He was the first surgeon to use reconstructive surgery to correct deformities caused by the disease in the hands and feet, and developed many other forms of prevention and healing from the disease.
"Before Brand, it was widely believed that those suffering from Hansen's disease lost their fingers and feet because of rotting flesh. Instead, Brand discovered, such deformities were due to the loss of ability to feel pain. With treatment and care, he showed, victims of the disease could go indefinitely without such deformities.
It was on this issue that Brand's work with Hansen's disease met with his theological reflections on what he viewed as 'the most problematic aspect of creation: the existence of pain.' Pain, Brand believed, was not antithetical to life, but a requisite for it. God designed the human body so that it is able to survive because of pain,' he later wrote."
Dr. Brand's research helped him form a theology of pain. He compared the body's need for pain, to alert it to danger, to the soul and the spirit's need for pain to alert it to danger and help it to survive.
You see, as Christians, we believe, that our trials, our pain, our deepest hurts, have a purpose beyond our comprehension. This dovetails nicely with what we find in the opening pages of the book of James.
(From a sermon by Daniel Darling, The Purpose of Your Pain, 2/2/2011)
But one time about six years ago I was complaining to someone about the Christian church, when suddenly an image flashed in my mind of a bride and a groom on their wedding day. In that mental image I walked up to the groom and said to him, "Your bride sure is ugly." Now no one would ever do that because no matter how unattractive I may personally find a bride, to the groom that bride is wonderful, sheís radiant and beautiful. Then then Lord spoke to my heart and said, "Tim, every time you criticize my church youíre telling me, that my bride is ugly."
In spite of the fun and laughter, 13 yr. old Frank Wilson was not happy. It was true, he had received all the presents he wanted, and he enjoyed the traditional Christmas Eve reunions with relatives for the purpose of exchanging gifts and good wishes..........but Frank was not happy because this was his first Christmas without his brother, Steve, who during the year, had been killed by a reckless driver. Frank missed his brother and the close companionship they had together. He said good-bye to his relatives, and explained to his parents that he was leaving a little early to see a friend, and from there he could walk home. Since it was cold outside, Frank put on his new plaid jacket. It was his FAVORITE gift. He placed the other presents on his new sled, then headed out, hoping to find the patrol leader of his Boy Scout troop. Frank always felt understood by him. Thoí rich in wisdom, his leader lived in the Flats, the section of town where most of the poor lived. His patrol leader did odd jobs to help support his family. To Frankís disappointment, his friend was not home. As Frank hiked down the street toward home, he caught glimpses of trees and decorations in many of the small houses. Then, thru one front window, he glimpsed a shabby room with limp stockings hanging over an empty fireplace. A woman was seated nearby....weeping. The stockings reminded him of the way he and his brother had always hung theirs side by side. The next morning, they would be bursting with presents. A sudden thought struck Frank--he had not done his "good deed" for the day. Before the impulse passed, he knocked on the door. "Yes?" the sad voice of a woman asked. Seeing his sled full of gifts, and assuming he was making a collection, she said, "I have no food or gifts for you. I have nothing for my own children." "Thatís not why I am here," Frank replied. "Please choose whatever presents you would like for your children from the sled." "Why, God bless you!" the amazed woman answered gratefully. She selected some candies, a game, a toy airplane and a puzzle. When she took the Scout flashlight, Frank almost protested. Finally, the stockings were full. "Wonít you tell me your name?" she asked, as Frank was leaving. "Just call me the Christmas Scout," he replied. The visit left Frank touched, and with an unexpected flicker of joy in his heart. He understood that his sorrow wasnít the only sorrow in the world. Before he left the Flats, he had given away the rest of his gifts. His plaid jacket had gone to a shivering boy. Now, Frank trudged toward home, cold and uneasy. How could he explain to his parents that he had given his presents away? "Where are your presents, son? asked his father as Frank entered the house. "I gave them away," he answered in a small voice. "The airplane from Aunt Susan? Your new coat from Grandma? Your flashlight?? We thoít you were happy with your gifts." "I was......very happy," Frank said quietly. "But, Frank, how could you be so impulsive?" his mother asked. "How will we explain to the relatives who spent so much time and gave so much love shopping for you?" His father was firm. "You made your choice, Frank. We cannot afford any more presents." With his brother gone, and his family disappointed in him, Frank suddenly felt dreadfully alone. He had not expected a reward for his generosity, for he knew that a good deed always should be its own reward. It would be tarnished otherwise. So he did not want his gifts back. However, he wondered if he would ever again recapture joy in his life. He thought he had this evening....but it had been fleeting. He thought of his brother.....and sobbed himself to s...
Christmas is an exciting time and little Sammy was excited. He was 15 years old and Christmas was still to him a time of wonder. He was a happy child despite his handicap. You see, Sammy was slightly retarded. He still went to school, though he was 2 years behind. And he did the things that most boys do; he played ball, road his bike, fished, climbed trees and other fun stuff.
And for the most part the kids were not too mean -- sometimes they laughed and called him "stupid Sammy" -- but Sammy just didnít seem to hear them -- he just enjoyed life every part of it; to him life was full of wonder and amazement.
And Christmas was the most wonderful time of all.
It was Christmas Eve, and both the sky and the ground were white with snow. And it was 8 OíClock, time to go to church for the annual Christmas Eve Celebration. Sammy could hardly wait. He was so excited wondering what present would be under the tree for him this year. Last year he got a telescope.
Every year on Christmas Eve after the service all the children would gather around the huge Christmas tree and each one was handed a present, with their name on it. And even though Sammy was a little old for this they still let him take part.
Sammyís parents left early that night, because his mother was singing a solo, "Silent Night" and she wanted to practice.
They were the first to arrive at church. And when his dad opened the door; well you can guess where Sammy went; thatís right.. at the speed of light he went right to the Christmas tree and started to look for the present with his name of it.
After a few minutes, he began to worry because he couldnít find it. Then his eyes caught hold of a big box -- the biggest present that was there. He slowly walked over to it -- lifted the card and there in great big letters was his name "Sammy." He couldnít believe it, the biggest present was his, and his mind began thinking at the sped of light of all the many possibilities of what was inside; maybe it was a bike; a TV a horse, a tent; ... What was in it -- Sammy could barely stand it -- but he knew he had to wait.
Sammy really did enjoy the service, really, but he kind of thought that 3 days was just a little too long -- well, at least that is how long it seemed to him.
Finally it was over and all the children rushed to the huge tree.
Preacher Joe stared picking up presents and calling out names; Sarah, Bobby, Susan, Sammy was on the edge of his seat -- he was about to burst with anticipation.
The Preacher Joe walked over to the big box and said, "Well, letís see whose name is on this one," but before he could read the name Sammy bolted beside him and said "Itís mine Preach Joe" "so it is," Joe replied.
Sammy took the box and gently took off the bow, His heart was racing like a jack hammer. His mom and dad stood beside him smiling -- enjoying their sons excitement.
Sammy removed all the paper and laid it beside the box -- And then he began to remove the lid -- In his mind all of the things he hoped to see flashed before his eyes in a second. Finally Sammy got the box open and he looked inside and he saw........
Nothing ---- He saw nothing -- someone had played a trick on stupid Sammy. When Sammy lifted his head, huge tears were streaming down his face.
Who would do something so cruel -- who would play such a mean trick on Sammy... The box was empty.
Everyday, all around the world, this same trick is being played. Though the names and exact situation are a little different -- the results are still the same.
Our world promises people great things; happiness, wealth, pleasure, relationships, fame, success, power. And it wraps them up in a great big box, with pretty paper and a beautiful bow.
And it hands us this box -- as a gift, we get excited; and we take off the bow -- we unwrap the box and we open it with great expectations.... And when we look inside, just like Sammy all we find is an empty box. No hope, no life, no joy, no happiness -- just huge tears of heart break streaming down our face. THATíS THE KIND OF GIFTS THIS WORLD GIVES US... HAVE YOU EVER OPENED ONE OF HER BOXES? I THINK YOU HAVE AND ITíS NOT FUN IS IT?
A professor one day demonstrated to his class the power of an electro-magnet. He placed 2 lbs. of nails on a table with the wires of an electo-magnet under the table. When he flipped the switch, the nails came togehter and he was able to form the nails into various shapes as long as the current was on. When the current was cut, the nails fell back into a pile. This reminds us that as long as the current of God, the Holy Spirit, runs through us, we have unity and God can form us into any shape He choses for His purposes.