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"At a certain moment, a doctor will determine that my brain has ceased to function and that, for all intents and purposes, my life has stopped. When that happens, do not attempt to instill artificial life into my body by the use of a machine. And don’t call this my "deathbed." Call it my "bed of life," and let my body be taken from it to help others lead fuller lives.
"Give my sight to someone who has never seen a sunrise, a baby’s face or love in the eyes of another. Give my heart to a person whose own heart has caused nothing but endless days of pain. Give my blood to the teenager who has been pulled from the wreckage of his car, so that he might live to see his grandchildren play. Give my kidneys to one who depends on a machine to exist from week to week. Take my bones, every muscle, every fiber and nerve so that someday a speechless boy will shout at the crack of a bat and a deaf girl will hear the sound of rain against her windows.
"Burn what is left of me and scatter the ashes to the winds to help the flowers grow. If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weaknesses and all my prejudice against my other humans. Give my sins to the Devil. Give my soul to God. If, by chance, you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you.
A. Todd Coget
[God’s Favor toward Us, Citation: Max Lucado, A Gentle Thunder (Word, 1995)]
There are many reasons God saves you: to bring glory to himself, to appease his justice, to demonstrate his sovereignty.
But one of the sweetest reasons God saved you is because he is fond of you.
He likes having you around.
He thinks you are the best thing to come down the pike in quite a while….
If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.
If he had a wallet, your photo would be in it.
He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning.
Whenever you want to talk, he’ll listen.
He can live anywhere in the universe, and he chose your heart.
And the Christmas gift he sent you in Bethlehem?
Face it, friend. He’s crazy about you!
“He led them up the steep slope out of the river valley and then slightly to the right apparently by the very same route which they had used that afternoon in coming from the hill of the stone table.
On and on he lead them into dark shadows out into pale moonlight. Getting their feet wet with the heavy dew he looked somehow different from the Aslan they knew. His tail and his head hung low and he walked slowly as if he were very, very tired. Then when they were crossing a wide open place where there were no shadows for them to hide in he stopped and looked around. It was no good trying to run away so they came towards him. When they were closer he said,
“Oh children, children why are you following me?” “We couldn’t sleep,” said Lucy. And then felt sure that she say no more and that Aslan knew all they had been thinking.
“Please may we come with you wherever you’re going,” asked Susan. “Well-” said Alsan and seemed to be thinking. Then he said, “I should be glad of company to-night. Yes, you may come, if you will promise to stop when I tell you, and after that leave me to go alone.”
“Oh thank you, thank you” and “We will,” said the two girls.
Forward they went again and one of the girls walked on each side of the Lion. But how slowly he walked! And his great, royal head drooped so that his nose nearly touched the grass. Presently he stumbled and gave a low moan.
“Aslan! Dear Aslan! SaidLucy, “what is wrong? Can’t you tell us?
“Are you ill, dear Aslan?” asked Susan.
“No,” said Aslan. “I am sad and lonely. Lay your hands on my mane so I can feel you are there and let us walk like that.”
And so the girls did what they would never have dared to do without his permission, but hat they had longed to do ever since they first saw him- buried their cold hands in the beautiful sea of fir and stroked it and, in so doing, walked with him. And presently they saw that they were going with him up the slope of the hill on which the stone table stood. They went up at the side where the trees came furthest up, and when they got to the last tree (it was one that had some bushes about it) Alsan stopped and said,
“Oh children, children. Here you must stop. And whatever happens, do not let yourselves be seen. Fairwell.”
A great crowd of people where standing all around the stone table. And though the moon was shining many of them carried torches which burned with evil-looking red flames and black smoke. But such people! Ogres with monsterous teeth, and wolves, and bull-headed men; spirits of evil trees and poisonous plants; and other creatures who I won’t describe because if I did the grown-ups would probably not let your read this book- Cruels and Hags and Incubuses, and Wraiths, Horrors, Efreets, Sprites, Orknies, Wooses and Ettins. In fact here were all those who were on the witches side and whom the Wolf had summoned at her command. And right in the middle, standing by the table, was the Witch herself.
A howl and a gibber of dismay went up from the creatures when they first saw the great Lion pacing towards them, and for a moment even the Witch seemed to be struck with fear. Then she recovered herself and gave a wild fierce laugh.
“The fool, she cried. The fool has come. Bind him fast.”
Lucy and Susan held their breath waiting for Aslan’s roar and his spring upon his enemies. But it never came. Four hags, grinning at leering, yet also (at first) hanging back and half afraid of what they had to do, had approached him. “Bind him, I say!” repeated the White Witch. The hags made a dart at him and shrieked with triumph when they found that he made no resistance at all. Then others- evil dwarfs and apes- rushed in to help them and between them they rolled the huge Lion round on his back and tied all his four paws together. Shouting and cheering as if they had done something brave, though, had the Lion chosen, one of those paws could have been death of them all. But he made no noise, even when the enemies, straining and tugging, pulled the cords so tight that they cut into his flesh. Then they began to drag him towards the Stone Table.
“Stop,” said the witch, “Let him first be shaved.”
Another roar of mean laughter went up from her followers as an ogre with a pair of shears came forward and squatted down by Aslan’s head. Snip-snip-snip went the shears and masses of curling glod began to fall to the ground. Then the ogre stood back and the children watching from their hiding-place, could see the face of Aslan looking all small and different without his mane. The enemies saw the difference.
“Why he is only a great cat after all!” cried one.
Is that what we were afraid of?” said another
And they surged around him jeering at him. Saying things like “Puss Puss! Pour pussy,” and “How many mice have you caught today, Cat? And would you like a saucer of milk Pussums?”
“Oh how can they?” said Lucy, tears streaming down her cheeks. “The brutes, the brutes!” For now that the first shock was over, the shorn face of Aslan looked to her braver, and more beautiful, and more patient than ever.
“Muzzle him!” said the Witch. And even now, as they worked about his face putting on the muzzle, one bite from his jaws would have cost two of three of them their hands. But he never moved. And this seemed to enrage all that rabble. Everyone was at him now. Those who had been afraid to come near him even after he was bound began to find thire courage, and for a few minutes the two girls coud not even see him- so thickly was he surrounded by the whole crowd of creatures kicking him, hitting him, and spitting on him jeering at him.
At last the rabble had had enough of this. They began to drag the bound and muzzled Lion to the Stone Table, some pulling and some pushing. He was so huge that even when they got him there it took all their efforts to hoist him on to the surface of it. Then there was more tying and tightening of cords.
“The cowards! The cowards!” sobbed Susan. Are they still afraid of him even now?”
When once Aslan had been tied (and tied so that he was really a mass of cords) on the flat stone, a hush fell on the crowd. Four hags holding four torches, stood at the corners of Table. The Witch bared her arms as she had bared them the previous night when it had been Edmund instead of Aslan. The she began to whet her knife. It looked to the children, when the gleam of the torchlight fell on it, as if the knife were made of stone not steel and it was of a strange evil shape.
At last she drew near. She stood by Aslan’s head. Her face was working and twitching with passion, but looked up at the sky, still quiet, neither angry nor afraid, but a little sad. Then, just before she gave the blow, she stooped down and said in a quivering voice,
“And now, who has won? Fool, did you think that by all this you would save the human traitor? Now I will kill you and instead of him as our pact was and so the Deep Magic will be appeased. But when you are dead what will prevent me from killing him as well? And who will take him our of my hand then? Understand that you have given me Narnia forever, you have lost your own life and you have not saved his. In that knowledge, despair and die.”
The children did not see the actual moment of the killing. They couldn’t bear to look and had covered their eyes.
The story doesn’t end there just as the Christmas story is only the beginning of the Christ story.
(From chapter 15):
As soon as the wood was silent again Susan crept out into the open hill-top. The moon was getting low and the thin clouds were passing across it, but still they could see the shape of the lion laying dead in his bonds. And down they both knelt and kissed his cold face and stroked his beautiful fir, what was left of it and cried till the could cry no more. And then they looked at each other and held each others hands for lonliness and cried again. And then again were silent. At last Lucy said,
“I can’t bear to look at that horrible muzzle. I wonder if I could take it off?”
So they tried. And after a lot of working at it, (for their fingers were cold and it was now the darkest part of the night) they succeeded. And when they saw his face without it they burst out crying again and kissed it and fondled it and wiped away the blood and foam as well as they could. And it was all the more lonely and hopeless and horrid than I know how to describe.
“I wonder, could we untie him as well? Said Susan presently. But the enemies out pure spitefulness had drawn the cords so tight that the girls could make nothing of the knots.
I hope no one who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan and Lucy were that night; but if you have been- if you’ve been up all night, and cried til you have no more tears left in you- you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing is ever going to happen again. At any rate that was how it felt to these two. Hours and hours seemed to go by in this dead clam, and they hardly noticed that they were getting colder and colder. But at last Lucy noticed two other things. One was that the sky on the East side of the hill was a little less dark than it had been an hour ago. The other was some tiny movement going on in the grass at her feet. At first she took no interest in this. What did it matter? Nothing mattered now! But at last she saw what whatever-it-was that had begun to move up the upright stones of the Stone Table. And now whatever-they-were were moving about on Aslan’s body. She peered closer. They were little grey things.
“Ugh!” said Susan from the other side of the table. “How beastly! They are horrid little mice crawling all over him. Go away you little beasts!” And she raised her hand to frighten them away. “Wait!” said Lucy who had been looking at them more closely still, can you see what they are doing?”
Both girls bent down and stared.
“I do believe!” said Susan. “But how queer! They ’re nibbling away at the cords.”
“That’s what I thought,” said Lucy. “I think they’re friendly mice. Poor little things- they don’t realize he’s dead. They think it’ll do some good untying him.”
It was quite definitely lighter by now. Each of the girls noticed for the first time the white face of the other. They could see the mice nibbling away; dozens and dozens, even hundreds of little field mice. And at last, one by one, the ropes were all gnawed through.
The sky in the East was whitish by now and the stars were getting fainter- all except the very big one low down on the eastern horizon. They felt colder than they had been all night. The mice crept away again.
The girls cleared away the remains of gnawed ropes. Aslan looked more like himself without them. Every moment his dead faced looked nobler, as the light grew and they could see it better.
In the wood behind them a bird gave a chuckling sound. It had been so still for hours and hours that it startled them. Then another bird answered it. Soon there were birds singing all over the place.
It was quite definitely early morning now, not late night.
“I am so cold,” said Lucy.
“So am I said Susan. Let’s walk about a bit.”
“What’s that? Said Lucy clutching Susan’s arm.
“I – I feel afraid to turn around,” said Susan something awful is happening.
“They’re doing something worse to him,” said Lucy. “Come on!” And she turned pulling Susan around with her.
The rising of the sun had made everything looked so different- all the colors and shadows were changed- that for a moment they didn’t see the important thing. Then they did. The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end; and there was no Aslan.
“Oh, oh, oh!” cried the tow girls rushing back to the table.
“Oh, it’s too bad, sobbed Lucy; “they might have left the body alone.”
“Who has done it?” Susan cried. “What does it mean? Is it magic?”
“Yes!” said a great voice behind their backs. “It is more magic.” They looked around. There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.
“Oh Aslan!” cried both the children, staring up at him, almost as much frightened as they were glad.
“Aren’t you dead then,” said Lucy.
“Not now,” said Aslan.
“You not- not a-? asked Susan in a shaky voice. She couldn’t bring herself to say the word ghost.
Aslan stooped his golden head and licked her forhead. The warmth of his breath and a rich sort of smell that seemed to hang about his hair came over her.
“Do I look it?” he said.
“Oh you’re real, you’re real Oh Aslan!” cried Lucy, and both girls flung themselves upon him and covered him with kisses.
“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were something calmer.
“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic there’s magic deeper still that she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back into stillness darkenss before time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who has committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.”
· I’m a pastor, and theologically, I am not paid for the work I do, I am paid so that I may be free to devote myself to the ministry. It makes a difference.
· My church does not pay me to preach the Gospel. I do that freely.
· My church does not pay me to visit someone in the hospital. I do that freely.
· When someone calls me at 3:00 AM and needs to talk to the pastor, I don’t’ punch a time clock or report my time to someone.
· Visiting a parishioner—how can you put a price tag on that?
· Counseling someone in crisis? I wouldn’t know what to charge.
· My salary is given to me so that I can be free to devote myself completely to ministry, and not be distracted by another full time job.
· I’m reminded of a minister who was sitting with his Board of Elders. An elder said, “I do...
Last year, a particularly dark film came out entitled Children of Men. It is about the world in the year 2027 where no children have been born for 18 years. Imagine a world like that. A world with no need for toys. Churches with no children or youth. The doors of Kenyon College closing because no children are growing up to take the place of the current students. No children’s laughter or playgrounds. No hope for the future. But injected into this film, shot with grey and brown as primary colors, is a pregnant girl. Her name is Kee, and she is the key to the future of the world. The plot of the film is to get Kee and her baby out of the present world situation and onto a mysterious, and considered by many to be an purely mystical, ship owned by an organization known as “The Human Project.” The protagonist is interestingly named Theo, the word for “God.” Kee names her baby after Theo’s son, the metaphor being that he is the son of God. In the film, all who see Kee’s swollen belly are shocked and exclaim with surprise: “Jesus Christ!” Profanity turns to prophecy. The film ends with the Human Project’s ship pulling alongside the little rowboat where Kee is sitting holding her baby riding the waves, like Mary riding on a donkey. Theo is also in the boat, but he has been killed in his attempt to bring hope to the world. And we are left with only hope and anticipation of what this baby will mean to a barren and hopeless world and what will happen as a result — a symbol of Advent.
One of the things which makes the film interesting is that the two sides, which are fighting and killing off an already dying race, are each trying to use the baby for their own purposes. They want the baby so they can get the remaining masses to come over to their side. Neither are content to allow the baby to simply be a baby. If we had read just one more verse in our Gospel lesson for today, we would have heard Jesus say, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12). The kingdom of God is often forcibly opposed by violent, hostile people. There are always those who want to use Christ for their own political purposes and ends. But nothing can hinder or hold back the kingdom of God. It would be like trying to stop the sunrise, trying to stifle Spring or hold back the harvest. As Isaiah said, the crocus will suddenly spring out of the icey mud, the desert will blossom, sorrow and sighing will flee away and everlasting joy shall be upon our heads. The Promise of Advent is on his way, and nothing in earth or hell will be able to stop his coming. The light shines in the world’s darkness, and all the world’s darkness cannot overcome it (John 1:5).
He could have turned around
A 20-year-old man was arrested by the Omaha Police on the “suspicion of robbery and giving police false information,” which was one of many wrong turns for this young man. His first wrong turn was the desire to make some quick, easy money for whatever reason. His second wrong turn was to act on this impulse.
According to the newspaper1, the police reported, a 27-year-old Omaha woman stopped for gasoline at a convenience shop, early a week ago Thursday, when the young man walked up, grabbed her and tried to yank her purse away, which was wrapped around her arm. Of course he knocked her down, then took off running, heading northbound on 90th Street.
That was his third wrong turn, for he ran right pass the police precinct at 90th and Grant Streets, where two peace officers happened to be standing outside. The newspaper reported police spokesman Don Savage saying, "It’s nice when the suspects come to us. It makes our job a lot easier."
The two officers jumped into their cruiser and caught the suspect near 90th and Ohio Streets, where they arrested him. Then he made his last wrong turn in this situation when he lied to the police.
Obviously, his wrong turns, or poor decisions, made his situation poorer and his life more complicated.
This young fellow allowed his evil desire to drag him away to commit this misdemeanor, once he committed his crime the evil desire will probably result in jail time. If he doesn’t serve time in the Douglas County Correctional Center, at least many hours of community service and a hefty fine.
It’s unfortunate the young man didn’t follow the sensible advice of Psalm 34:14, which says, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”
He could have saved himself and his community a lot of grief by turning away from this wrong. If he decided to volunteer 1,000 hours of his free time to worthy community organizations and gladly paid taxes from the income of honest work, that would have been better. His community and he would have experienced prosperity and peace, which he originally was seeking deep down.
We can’t lord it over this fellow for who of us have not allowed our sinful desires to lead into wrong, which hurt us more than helped us, made us poorer rather than richer.
Life teaches us and the Bible says, “An evil man is snared by his own sin, but a righteous one can sing and be glad” (Prov. 29:6). I’m sure he isn’t very happy now.
Maybe you’re in tough dilemma as you read this. In order to make your circumstances better, turn from wrong and do something good and right; seek a win-win solution to your problem. I’m confident you’ll be happier and life will be more peaceful.
Suspect Takes Wrong Turn
An Omaha man picked the wrong way to run Thursday after he knocked a woman down and stole her purse.
He ran right past the northwest precinct of the Omaha Police Department.
"It’s nice when the suspects come to us," said Officer Don Savage, a police spokesman. "It makes our job a lot easier."
According to reports, a 27-year-old Omaha woman stopped about 1:20 a.m. Thursday for gas at a convenience store on north 90th Street. The woman told police that she was pumping gas when a man walked up to her, grabbed her and tried to take her purse, which was wrapped around her arm.
The man yanked on the purse, knocking the woman to the ground. He took off on foot, heading northbound on 90th Street.
His escape route, however, took him past the police precinct at 90th and Grant Streets, where two police officers were standing outside. Savage said the officers responded immediately, jumping into their cruiser and chasing the man. He was caught near 90th and Ohio Streets.
A 20-year-old was arrested on suspicion of robbery and giving police false information. (Source: “Suspect Takes Wrong Turn,” Omaha World-Herald Sat., 10.9.99, Sunrise ed., sec. Vol. 135, No. 4, Midlands, Region: pg. 33.)
An old table tells that when Zaccheus grew old he lived in Jericho as a humble and devout believer. Every morning at sunrise, so the story goes, he went for a walk carrying a pitcher of water. Upon his return, he always seemed happy and radiant. His wife, with usual curiosity, followed him one morning. She saw him go to the sycamore tree in which he was seated when he first saw Jesus passing by. He poured the water about the roots of the tree and bowed for a moment of silent prayer. Then, placing his hands fondly upon the tree trunk, he smiled in satisfaction and returned home. He could not forget what Christ had done for him.
WHAT I'LL BE DOING FOR MEMORIAL DAY
Memorial Day is a rough day for me. It’s a day of remembering.
Remembering can be curse when you’ve spent years trying to forget. It’s even worse when you get mad at yourself for not being able to remember. It’s strange that you forget so many things you want to remember and remember so much that you really want to forget.
I spent 11 months, 28 days in sunny Southeast Asia. I came back physically whole. "No members missing" tag on this Marine. By the Grace of God, good training, and just plain pure dumb luck, I suffered no more than a slight hearing loss, a concussion or two, and 25 years of mixed-blessing memories.
Memorial Day is not a day for self-evaluation or selfish thoughts. So I turn my remembrances to other people, places, and things.
I remember heat. Heat that kept you from getting a full breath for weeks. Heat that sapped your strength so that you were beyond exhaustion after a minor exertion. Heat that made you tired and kept you from sleeping. Heat that made you sweat buckets. Heat that made you freezing cold at 70 degrees.
I remember rice paddies. They could get you killed or save your life. Dikes stop bullets but can leave you exposed if you’re dumb enough to walk on them. The water smelled of feces but was better than not drinking at all.
I remember rain. Rain that broke the intolerable heat then never stopped. Rain that was as gentle as silk or as stinging as a nest of bees. Rain that let you get a good clean shower and rotted your feet ’til they bled.
I remember the sun. The sun that created the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets I’ve ever seen in my life. The sun that you couldn’t look at...if you ever wanted to see again. The sun that you could feel without touching it.
But above all this, I remember people. Faces, personalities, and human events still crowd my days and nights with pleasure and pain. I can remember entire conversations and events in explicit detail. I cannot remember the names of more than a few, and I don’t know why. Shouldn’t this be the other way around?
I remember the parting face of the Huey jock, who took an RPG in the nose 100 yards after he lifted off from leaving me in a clearing. I remember every detail of the guy who hung himself 2 weeks before he was going back to the world. I remember the guitar songs taught to me by the kid from Boston, who drove a jeep over a 105 shell buried on a dirt road and tripped the trap. Of the hundreds I knew, I kick myself f...
"They pray at a level Americans would not believe," says Chad Hammond, Busan Franklin Graham Festival director, who witnessed more than 325,000 Koreans fill Busan Asiad Stadium during the 10/07 evangelistic event. Throughout the weeks ahead of the event, more than 1,000 people gathered daily at sunrise, praying that God would bring revival to the people like He did a century ago and even a few decades ago when Billy Graham held his largest crusade ever. (Christian Post 10/2/07)
CAMEL RIDE UP MOUNT SINAI
It is 3:00 in the morning and we are waiting with other pilgrims on the back side of Saint Catherine’s Monastery at the base of mount Sinai. It is a moonless night, pitch black beyond the small light we huddle around. I wonder if I dressed warm enough, I am surprised it can be so cold in the desert, but what can I do--I only packed a light coat?
Then out of the darkness appear a group of men leading the camels we will ride up the mountain. Mount Sinai is about 7500 feet high and the plan is to get to the peak just at sunrise. After some minimal introductions, each of us is lead out on our camel with a Bedouin guide holding the reins and leading the way. As we slip into the darkness, I realize I am heading out into the desert, hundreds of miles from nowhere with an armed man whom I just met who speaks a total of seven English words--it is so dark I can barely see past my camel’s head.
We quietly move up the mountain and gradually a series of fire lit huts come into view far off in the distance. People have been walking up this mountain for thousands of years, traveling to the peak where Moses met with God and was given the ten commandments. Now, no one is sure that this is the exact place where Moses met with God, but it was somewhere in this area in the desert of Egypt.
Slowly we ascend the mountain, winding back and forth past the fire lit huts. I am alone in the dark, riding a one eyed camel hundreds of miles from any sense of civilization and as I pass each hut the occupants cry out, "Kit Kat, Baby Ruth, Coca Cola." In the desert the Hebrews were offered manna and cool water from a rock...we are offered highly processed sugar and caffeine.