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The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. -- Joe Stalin

"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

"Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

"Atlas Shrugged," by Ayn Rand

Socialism is great until you run out of someone elses money. -- -- Margaret Thatcher

In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, struggle together with resilience to meet the inevitable obstacles and inequities of life. -- Albert Bandura, Canadian psychologist

I marvel at the resilience of the Jewish people. Their basic characteristic is their desire to remember. No other people has such an obsession with memory. -- Elie Wiesel, Nobel Prize for Peace in 1986

He's a million rubber banks in his resilience. -- Alan K. Simpson

I don't want to read about what is going to slide down easily; there has to be some crunch, a certain amount of resilience. -- John Ashbery

The strongest oak in the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It's the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun. -- Napoleon Hill (1883-1970)

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun it out, but when the darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within. -- Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

All the wonders you seek are within yourself. -- Sir Thomas Brown

Fall seven times, stand up eight. -- Japanese proverb

I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot -- and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that's precisely why I succeed. -- Michael Jordan

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.
Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost legendary.
Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination along are omnipotent.
-- President Calvin Coolidge

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. -- Reinhold Niebuhr

The first step to becoming a more peaceful person is to have the humility to admit that, in most cases, you're creating your own emergencies. Life will usually go on if things don't go according to plan. It's helpful to keep reminding yourself and repeating the sentence, "Life isn't an emergency." -- Richard Carlson, PhD, from the book "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff"

What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, "Certainly I can!" and get busy and find out how to do it. -- Theodore Roosevelt

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. -- Derek Bok

My policy is to learn from the past, focus on the present, and dream about the future. I'm a firm believer in learning from adversity. Often the worst of times can turn to your advantage -- my life is a study of that. -- Donald Trump

Humor is a great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops us, all our irritation and resentments slip away, and a sunny spirit takes their place. -- Mark Twain

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. -- Helen Keller

A man can be destroyed but not defeated. -- Ernest Hemingway

My dear friend, Joyce, shares this quote of Leo Buscaglia: Every moment spent in unhappiness is a moment of happiness lost.

From George Burns:  I look to the future because that's where I'm going to spend the rest of my life.

From H. L. Mencken:

A national political campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in.

A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground.

All government, of course, is against liberty.

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.

Archbishop -- a Christian ecclesiastic of a rank superior to that attained by Christ.

Conscience is a mother-in-law whose visit never ends.

Conscience is the inner voice that warns us that someone might be looking.

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.

Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses.

I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.

I never lecture, not because I am shy or a bad speaker, but simply because I detest the sort of people who go to lectures and don't want to meet them.

I write in order to attain that feeling of tension relieved and function achieved which a cow enjoys on giving milk.

It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.

Temptation is a woman's weapon and a man's excuse.

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out...without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the governmen he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable.

 

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/857545/posts (making Lent meaningful for children -- really excellent posts)
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/854294/posts (lots of information about Lent)
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1081754/posts (Stations of the Cross)
http://www.goaway-letmepaint.com/cwwj_frame.htm (beautiful artwork for "A Child Walks With Jesus: A Lenten Pilgrimage)


                   "Anyway" ~~ Mother Theresa

People are often unreasonable, illogical or self-centered.
          Forgive them anyway.
If you are successful, you will be sure to make some false friends and some true enemies.
          Be successful anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you.
          Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight.
          Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, others may be jealous.
          Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow.
          Be good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be good enough.
          Give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis it is between you and God.
          It was never between you and them .. anyway.


Johann Wolfgang Goethe, German poet -- quotations
http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Johann_Wolfgang_von_Goethe

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life. -- Albert Camus

Ronald Reagan: "If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals–if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is. Now, I can’t say that I will agree with all the things that the present group who call themselves Libertarians in the sense of a party say, because I think that like in any political movement there are shades, and there are libertarians who are almost over at the point of wanting no government at all or anarchy. I believe there are legitimate government functions. There is a legitimate need in an orderly society for some government to maintain freedom or we will have tyranny by individuals. The strongest man on the block will run the neighborhood. We have government to insure that we don’t each one of us have to carry a club to defend ourselves. But again, I stand on my statement that I think that libertarianism and conservatism are travelling the same path". -- http://www.reason.com/news/show/29318.html

FOREVER FRIEND -- author unknown
Sometimes in life,
you find a special friend;

Someone who changes your life
just by being part of it.

Someone who makes you laugh
until you can't stop;

Someone who makes you believe
that there really is good in the world.

Someone who convinces you
that there really is an unlocked door
just waiting for you to open it.

This is Forever Friendship.

And I got this from Annabelle D.  It tells you what Jeff Foxworthy has to say about Chicago:

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from September through May, you live in Chicago.

If someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don't work there, you live in Chicago.

If you've worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you live in Chicago.

If you've had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number, you live in Chicago.

If "Vacation" means going somewhere south of I-80 for the weekend, you live in Chicago.

If you measure distance in hours, you live in Chicago.

If you have switched from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day and back again, you live in Chicago.

If you can drive 75 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching, you live in Chicago.

If you carry jumper cables in your car and your wife knows how to use them, you live in Chicago.

If you design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit, you live in Chicago.

If the speed limit on the interstate is 55 mph -- you're going 80 and everybody is passing you, you live in Chicago.

If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow, you live in Chicago.

If you know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction, you live in Chicago.

If you have more miles on your snow blower than your car, you live in Chicago.

If you find 10 degrees "a little chilly," you live in Chicago.

##

DON'T MESS WITH THE CHILDREN -- from Rickey Roux

A kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they were drawing.

She would occasionally walk around to see each child's work.

As she got to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was.

The girl replied, "I'm drawing God."

The teacher paused and said, "But no one knows what God looks like."

Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, "They will in a minute."

--

A Sunday School teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds.

After explaining the commandment to "honor" thy Father and thy Mother, she asked, "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?"

Without hesitating, one little boy -- the oldest in a family -- answered, "Thou shalt not kill."

--

A teacher was giving a lesson on the circulation of the blood. Trying to make the matter clearer, she said, "Now, class, if I stood on my head, the blood, as you know, would run into it, and I would turn red in the face."

"Yes," the class said.

"Then why is it that while I am standing upright in the ordinary position, the blood doesn't run into my feet?"

A little fellow shouted, "'Cause your feet ain't empty."

--

The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a parochial elementary school for lunch. At the head of the table ws a large pile of juicy apples. The teacher made a note, and posted on the apple tray:

"Take only ONE. God is watching."

Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies.

A child had written a note, "Take all you want. God is watching the apples."

--

A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales.

The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human being because even though it is a very large mammal, its throat is very small.

The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale.

Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible.

The little girl said, "When I get to heaven, I will ask Jonah."

The teacher asked, "What if Jonah went to hell?"

The little girl replied, "Then you ask him."

--

The children had all been photographed, and the teacher was trying to persuade them each to buy a copy of the group picture.

"Just think how nice it will be to look at it when you are all grown up and say, 'There's Jennifer, she's a lawyer,' or 'That's Michael, he's a doctor.'"

A small voice at the back of the room rang out, "And there's the teacher, she's dead."


##

Favorite Ronald Reagan quotes:

Here's my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose.

The most terrifying words in the English language: I'm for the government and I'm here to help you.

The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant, it's just that they know so much that isn't so.

Of the four wars in my lifetime, none of them came about because the U.S. was too strong.

I have wondered at times what the Ten Commandments would look like if Moses had run them through Congress.

The taxpayer: That's someone who works for the U.S. government but doesn't have to take the Civil Service Examination.

Government is like a baby: An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other end.

The nearest thing to eternal life we will see on this earth is a government program.

I've laid down the law, though, to everyone from now on about anything that happens: no matter what times it is, wake me, even it's the middle of a Cabinet meeting.

It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.

Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. If it stops moving, subsidize it.

Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed, there are many rewards. If you are disgraced, you can write a book.

No arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is as formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.

If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we'll be a nation gone under.

##

Update: October 27, 2007

Actual statements from claim forms about how accidents happened:

A pedestrian hit me and went under my car.

The other car collided with mine without giving warning of its intention.

I had been learned to drive with power steering. I turned the wheel to what I thought was enough and found myself in a different direction going the opposite way.

Coming home, I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don't have.

I thought my window was down, but found it was up when I put my hand through it.

No one was to blame for the accident, but it never would have happened if the other driver had been alert.

The pedestrian had no idea which direction to go, so I ran over him.

I saw the slow-moving, sad-faced old gentleman as he bounced off the hood of my car.

I was taking my canary to the hospital. It got loose in the car and flew out the window. The next thing I saw was his rear end, and there was a crash.

The indirect cause of this accident was a little guy in a small car with a big mouth.

I was thrown from my car as it left the road. I was later found in a ditch by some stray cows.

I was sure the old fellow would never make it to the other side of the road when I struck him.

To avoid hitting the bumper of the car in front, I struck the pedestrian.

The accident occurred when I was attempting to bring my car out of a skid by steering it into the other vehicle.

I collided with a stationary truck coming the other way.

In my attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.

My car was legally parked as it backed into the other vehicle.

The telephone pole was approaching fast. I was attempting to swerve out of its path when it struck my front end.

A truck backed through my windshield and into my wife's face.

I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over the embankment.

The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.

An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my vehicle, and vanished.

Update: October 9, 2007

Imagination is more important than knowledge. -- Albert Einstein

If music be the food of love, play on. -- Shakespeare

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. -- Walt Disney

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal. -- Henry Ford

I skate where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. -- Wayne Gretzky

When you come to a fork in the road, take it. -- Yogi Berra

Life as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. -- M. K. Gandhi

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. -- Zig Ziglar

Many marriages would be better if the husband and the wife clearly understood that they are on the same side. -- Zig Ziglar

Let the wife make the husband glad to come home and let him make her sorry to see him leave. -- Martin Luther

Husbands are like fires. They go out if unattended. -- Zsa Zsa Gabor

The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret. -- Henry Youngman

I know you've been married to the same woman for 69 years. That is marvelous. It must be very inexpensive. -- Johnny Carson

Update: October 4, 2007

My favorite Yogi Berra quotes:

This is like deja vu all over again.

You can observe a lot by just watching.

I'd find the fellow who lost it, and, if he was poor, I'd return it. -- when asked what he would do if he found a million dollars.

You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there.

I knew I was going to take the wrong train, so I left early.

If you don't know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else.

If you can't imitate him, don't copy him.

You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six pieces.

Baseball is 90% mental -- the other half is physical.

Nobody goes there anymore -- it's too crowded.

If you come to a fork in the road, take it.

90% of the putts that are short don't go in.

It aint' the heat -- it's the humility.

The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase.

Update: October 2, 2007

Temptation almost always assails us at the point where we thought no defense necessary. -- Elizabeth Elton Smith (Three Eras of Woman's Life)

The trouble with people who have broken a habit is that they usually have the pieces mounted and framed. -- Ivern Boyett

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or teh mirror that reflects it. -- Edith Wharton, novelist (1862-1937)

In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interesting in big things, and happy in small ways. -- Edith Wharton

The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world's job. -- Henry Ward Beecher

Breathes there the man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself has said
This is my own, my native land.
         -- Walter Scott

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separae them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? -- Alexander Solzhenitsyn, novelist, Nobel laureate (1918-       )

A schedule defnds from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order -- willed, fakes, and so brought into being. -- Anne Dillard (The Writing Life)

Patriotism is easy to understand in America; it means looking out for yourself while looking out for your country. -- Calvin Coolidge



Update: October 1, 2007

Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.

We become successful by helping others become successful.

Integrity is when what you say, what you think and what you do -- are the same. When all 3 mirror each other.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. --
1 Cor. 2:9

The game of life is the game fo boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later, with outstanding accuracy.

The best bridge between hope and despair is often a good night's sleep. "It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows, for he giveth his beloved sleep." --
Psalm 127:2

A child's life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark. -- Chinese proverb

It is better to fail with honor than to win by deceit.

Success happens when opportunity meets preparation.

Personality can open doors, but only character can keep them open.

Part of preparation is learning how to accept defeat and rejection and move on.

It is nice to be important but it more important to be nice.

You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who who will never be able to repay you.

If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will esape a hundred days of sorrow.

Although the tongue weighs very little, few people are able to hold it.

UPDATE: September 28, 2007

The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are. -- Marcus Aurelius

In order to live free and happily you must sacrifice boredom. It is not always an easy sacrifice. -- Richard Bach

It isn't for the moment you are struck that you need courage, but for the long uphill climb back to sanity and faith and security. -- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The future will belong not only to the educated man, but to the man who is educated to use his leisure wisely. -- C. K. Brightbill

Don't worry that your children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you. -- Robert Fulghum

Work like you don't need money. Love like you've never been hurt. And dance like no one's watching. -- Leroy Satchel Paige (1906 - 1982)

I don't need time. What I need is a deadline. -- Duke Ellington, jazz pianist, composer and conductor (1899 - 1974)

When Momofuku Ando passed away recently, he left behind one of the great modern inventions: ramen noodles. According to The New York Times, he also left us a great motto to live by: "Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Give him ramen noodles, and you don't have to teach him anything."

Two eskimo newlyweds spent the night together. The next morning, the bride found out she was six months pregnant.

During a revival meeting, the evangelist invited people in need to the stage.
"Brother," he said to the first respondent, "what is your need?"
"My hearing," the man answered.
The evangelist stuck his finger in the man's ear and prayed.
"How's your hearing now?" he asked.
"I don't know," the man replied. "It's not till next Tuesday."
                                      -- Dalton Roberts in the Joyful Noiseletter

Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive because your words become your actions.
Keep your actions positive because your actions become your habits.
Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.
                             -- unknown

When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail. -- unknown

When we hate our enemies, we are giving them power over us: power over our sleep, our appetites, our blood pressure, our health and our happiness. Our enemies would dance with joy if only they knew how they were worrying us, lacerating us, and getting even with us! Our hate is not hurting them at all, but our hate is turning our days and nights into a hellish turmoil. -- Dale Carnegie

Spiritual progress is like detoxification. Things have to come up in order to be released. Once we have asked to be healed, then our unhealed places are forced to the surface. -- Marianne Williamson

If you aren't good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone, since you'll resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren't even giving to yourself. -- Barbara deAngelis

We gain the strength of the temptation we resist. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

You can't wake a person who is pretending to be asleep. -- Navajo Proverb


Update: September 26, 2007

To a disciple who was forever complaining about others, the Master said, "If it is peace you want, seek to change yourself, not other people. It is easier to protect your feet with slippers than to carpet the whole of the earth." -- Anthony de Mello

Beware the fury of the patient man. -- John Dryden, poet and dramatist (1631-1700)

No one is useless who has a friend, and if we are loved we are indispensable. -- Robert Louis Stevenson

Chance is always powerful. Let your hook be always cast. In the pool where you least expect it, will be a fish. -- Ovid

We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders. -- Maya Angeou, poet (1928 -   )

Don't be dismayed at goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes is certain for those who are friends. -- Richard Bach, Illusions

He who waits to do a great deal of good at once will never do anything. --
Samuel Johnson

You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger. Let a person overcome anger by love. -- Buddha

Update: September 25, 2007 -- thank you, Jill, for sharing these from the Readers Digest

Have your seen the deer heads on the walls of bars, the ones wearing party hats, sunglasses and streamers? I feel sorry for them because obviously they were at a party having a good time. -- Ellen DeGeneres

Do you know that babies are nauseated by the smell of a clean shirt? -- Jeff Foxworthy

I tried to walk into Target, but I missed. -- Mitch Hedberg

You know, marriage is making a big comeback. I know personally that in Hollywood people are marrying people they never married before. -- Bob Hope

When I was a little kid, we had a quicksand box. I was an only child -- eventually. -- Steven Wright

In high school, my sister went out with the captain of the chess team. My parents loved him. They figured that any guy who took hours to make a move was okay with them. -- Brian Kiley

Women don't want to hear what you think. Women want to hear what they think -- in a deeper voice. -- Bill Cosby

Batman never fights crime in neighborhoods that need it. I'd like to see Batman fight crime in my neighborhood. "Robin?" -- "Yes, Batman?" -- "Didn't we park the car right here, man? -- Dave Chappelle

So they're showing me, on television, the detergents getting out bloodstains. I mean, come on, you got a t-shirt with a bloodstain all over it. Maybe laundry isn't your biggest problem right now. -- Jerry Seinfeld

Your marriage is in trouble if your wife says, "You're only interested in one thing," and you can't remember what it is. -- Milton Berle

You know you're getting old when work is a lot less fun and fun is a lot more work. -- Joan Rivers

I asked my brother-in-law why he was wearing my raincoat. He answered, "You wouldn't want me to get your suit wet, would you?" -- Henry Youngman

Men can read maps better than women. 'Cause only the male mind could conceive of one inch equalling a hundred miles. -- Roseanne

##

Update: September 24, 2007

Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste they hurry past it. -- Soren Kierkegaard, philosopher (1813-1855)

Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned. -- Buddha (c. 566-480 BCE)

The man who insists upon seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides. Accept life and you must accept regret. -- Henri Frederic Amiel

On the whole, age comes more gently to those who have some doorway into an abstract world -- art or philosophy or learning -- regions where the years are scarcely noticed and the young and old can meet in a pale truthful light. -- Freya Stark

It's a shallow life that doesn't give a person a few scars. -- Garrison Keillor, radio hose and author (1942-   )

Be willing to be a beginner every single morning. -- Meister Eckhart

Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young. -- Sir Arthur Wing Pinero

Ordering a man to write a poem is like commanding a pregnant woman to give birth to a red-headed child. -- Carl Sandburg, poet and biographer (1878 - 1967)

A poem begins with a lump in the throat. (Robert Forst, poet (1874-1963)

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. -- Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction writer (1917 -    )

Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some hire PR officers. -- Daniel J. Boorstin, Librarian of Congress from 1975-1987, historian, attorney, writer (1914-2004)

A simple way to take the measure of a country is to look at how many want in -- and how many want out. -- Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of United Kingdom (1953 -   )

FROM KIDS:

Q: How do you decide who to marry:
A: No one really decides before they grow up. God decides it all the way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with. -- Kristen, age 10

Q: What do you think your mom and dad have in common?
A: Both don't want any more kids. -- Gracie, age 8

Q: What do most people do on a date?
A: On the first date, they just tell each other lies, and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date. -- Jim, age 10

Update: September 22, 2007

Bless a thing and it will bless you. Curse it and it will curse you. If you bless a situation, it has no power to hurt you; even if it is troublesome for a time, it will gradually fade out, if you sincerely bless it. -- Emmet Fox

Nick, it is what it is, it's not what it should have been, not what it could have been, it is what it is. -- Nicole Kidman's dad

Never fear shadows. They simply mean that there's a light somewhere nearby. -- Ruth E. Renkei

I just think the best way to stay clear of something until you're totally delivered from it is to stay away from it. I'm just staying away from everything that I'm trying to be delivered form. -- Mary J. Blige

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. -- Cyril Connolly, critic and editor (1903-1974)

God Himself, sir, does not propose to judge a man until his life is over. Why should you and I? -- Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784)

There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything or to doubt everything; both ways save us from thinking. -- Theodore Rubin

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being. -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosohy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children. --
Kahlil Gibran, mystic, poet and artist (1883-1931)

Never confuse motion with action. -- Benjamin Franklin (statesman, author and inventor -- 1706-1790)

People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering. -- Saint Augustine

Out of suffering comes creativity. You cannot spell painting without pain. -- John Lithgow

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet. -- Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948)

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. -- Carl Jung, psychiatrist (1875 - 1961)

There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts. -- Richard Bach

Life does not accommodate you. It shatters you ... Every seed destroys its container or else there would be no fruition. -- Florida Scott-Maxwell

We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are. -- Max De Pree

There is a time for departure even when there's no certain place to go. -- Tennessee Williams (Camino Real)

Update: Sept 19, 2007

No matter how far you have gone on the wrong road, turn back. -- Turkish proverb

Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it. -- Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. -- Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)

My mother gave me a bumblebee pin when I started work. She sid: "Aerodynamically, bees shouldn't be able to fly. But they do. Remember that." -- Jill E. Barad

That man is truly good who knows his own dark places. -- Beowulf

The past is a guide post, not a hitching post. -- L. Thomas Holdcroft

The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions. -- Ellen Glasgow

Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is something filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting and doing the things historians usually record, while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry adn even whittle statues. The story of civilization is what happened on the banks. -- Will Durant

Education is what you get when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't. -- Pete Seeger

Don't be misled; no one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. Galatians 6:7

There is no such thing as a "self-made" man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one work of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts. -- George Matthew Adams

Be aware that a halo has to fall only a few inches to be a noose. -- Dan McKinnon

Every man has his secret sorrows, which the world knows not; and oftentimes we call a man cold when he is only sad. -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. --Norman Cousins

Never bear more than one trouble at a time. Some people bear three kinds -- all they have had, all they have now, and all they expect to have. -- Edward Everett Hale, author (1822-1909)

QUOTES:

I have more than a zillion handwritten quotes that I've come across in my readings for more than forty years. I'm going to start collecting them here just so that I have them all in one place, as I find them. They're stuffed in books, desk drawers, and other places. So it will be part of my cleanup campaign.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears. -- Indian proverb

There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in. -- Leonard Cohen, musician

You can safely assume that yo've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do. -- Anne Lamott, writer

But if in your fear you wold seek only love's peace and love's pleasure, then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor, into the seasonless world where yous hall laugh, but not all of your laugher, and weep, but not all of your tears. -- Khalil Gibran: Under the Sun

Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will come again. -- Sarah Ban Breathnach

It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished, unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. -- Voltaire

Happiness is a butterfly which when pursued is just out of grasp...But if you sit down quietly, may alight upon you. -- Nathaniel Hawthorn

How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterwards. -- Spanish proverb

No man is an island, entire of itself. Every many is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of they friends or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind and therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee. -- John Donne

I've built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty
that none may penetrate
I have no need of friendship
Friendship causes pain
It's laughter and loving I disdain.
I am a rock, I am an island.

Don't talk of love
But I've heard the word before
It's sleeping in my memory
I won't disturb the slumber of the feelings that have died
If I never loved, I never would have cried.
I am a rock, I am an island.
--Paul Simon


I believe in miracles. I believe that the same God who had messages for the Israelites back in days of Abraham yore is the same God who witnessed his son's death on the cross. I believe that same God speaks to me when I pray.

A 17-year-old young man experienced a miracle first hand. His name is Daniel Walker. He collapsed while running a final lap around the gym the other day.

In an article offered by Associated Press, was that his heart was at a standstill when he was brought into New York-Presbyterian Hospital Columbia. He was hooked up to a bypass machine.

Then, miraculously, his heart started beating again.

Now he's fine. His father said, "God turned around, put His hand on my son, and recharged him."

Walker was in and out of two emergency rooms before he finally found himself at Columbia. He was waiting for a heart transplant.

His recovery is, well, a miracle.

Do you believe in miracles? I do. I also believe that God is watching us. All day. Every day. This means we ought to be good.

That's exercising free will. Making the choice of being naughty or doing what God wants us to do makes Him smile at us.

"Good job," he probably says. "I hoped you'd choose that way."

###

1 Peter 5:6-8 -- Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around looking for someone to devour.

God answers prayer. He hears me and he listens to me. I must sound like a nagging child to him, begging and pleading for things I pray for.

Things I want to do, but can't without his help and permission.

Places I want to go, but can't without his approval.

So I keep asking, but not moving until I get what I figure is a sign. Then I pray that I haven't misinterpreted what he may have thought was a pretty clear signal to me.

Oh, my Lord, you have the patience of the universe in your heart. Thank you for loving me.

Then there are times in my quiet prayers when other people's thoughts meander through my consciousness. They're the ones who says to me, "God doesn't answer my prayers. You're just lucky."

To which I counter, "No, I'm not. You just need to be more specific -- more visual. Give God a picture of what you're visualizing. Draw God an image of what you're hoping for. He's waiting for a really clear idea from you. That way he can be sure of what it is you're praying for. Give him something he can act on."

And the conversation continues, "But God can read my mind. If he knows what I'm thinking, why doesn't he just figure out what I want?"

Then I counter, again, "So your idea is that God should do all the work and you just have to sit by and wait for something wonderful to happen? And why do you suppose God give you the ability to create beautiful and clear images? And why do you suppose God gave you the amazing ability to solve problems through the gift of intelligence? And why do you suppose God made us all active beings, not passive whispers that move hither and thither in whatever direction the breezes blow?"

Oh Lord, I thank you for the gift of courage that tells me it's okay to bring my wants and needs to you. I pray that you will bless me, just as you did Jabez, thousands of years ago.

I pray that you will give me the power of insight and discernment so that I can help the anguished people you have sent to my door.

I pray that you will protect me from Satan and all that is evil, so that I will not bring pain to anyone.

I pray that you will continue to bless Quint and me with good health. Thank you so much for relatively minor physical ailments that are merely nuisances, not life threatening disease. I pray that you bless all our children with peace and good jobs and prosperity for all the days of their lives. I pray that you will bless all our grandchildren so that they continue to learn and do well in school -- especially if they are having tests today. Getting good grades means so much to them and their fragile little identities that are just starting to bloom.

I thank you for the opportunities you have given Quint and me so that we can do your work for in doing your work, we have enjoyed the prosperities that you have so richly blessed us with.

We thank you for keeping our homes warm and dry and for bringing us the necessary money to pay all our bills.

We pray for each and every person who comes across our threshold in the weeks and days and months that we serve them and you. Keep us all strong in our faith.

For those who are struggling with forgiving others, please send them the gift of your Holy Spirit to counsel them and intercede with the struggles in their hearts that are put there by Satan -- the struggles and pains that they have made idols of. Wash away these painful thoughts from them and make Satan leave them alone so that they can enjoy peace in your embrace.

I especially thank you for the increase in traffic to our web site. I pray that we will be able to reach even more people -- some in far distant places around the world.

You are truly a wonder to me, Oh Lord. I am thankful to be one of your children. I thank you for all the gifts you have given to me. In Jesus' name, I pray.

Amen.





Day #21/22 – The Vigil Ends at Sundown on Christmas Eve

There will be time enough during the rest of the journey through the church year to remember our sins. It begins in Epiphany when we hear about the brotherhood of the Kingdom, and realize our failure to effect it. Then as we move closer toward the Easter story, we realize that the coming of Jesus served, at least in part, to mirror our sins to us. We have failed miserably in keeping our lives from sin. The babe of Bethlehem started out in full innocence, only to go to Calgary in the darkest moment of mankind.

Luke 2:13-20 – 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told about this child,  18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Today, we quiet our hearts and make ready a place for the Christ Child. The angels have hushed. The star in the sky is gone. All the kings and princes have gone home. And the shepherds have gone back to be with their flocks.

Now the real work of Christmas is about to begin anew in you. The cosmic clock has struck the minute hand of destiny in your life. It’s time to renew your life in Christ in these quiet Christmas moments.

The Son of God is born this night. I pray that you will let him take up residence in your heart again this day. And every day of your life.

Make your life a living tabernacle of love, acceptance and forgiveness to everyone who has hurt you, wronged you, brought pain to bear.

If Christ is in your heart, the darkness of pain will find no room. Let Jesse’s root spring to life within the stump of sorrow in you.

There would be no Calvary were it not for Bethlehem.

Let this Christmas season hold you in God’s precious, all-forgiving love. That is the way of the cross, of the hope of his dying and resurrection.

Peace on earth – peace in your hearts – will come from the Bethlehem/Calvary connection in your life.

I pray that your life will be so richly blessed.

Day #20 – The Longest Day of the Year

Psalm 80:17-19 – 17 But let your hand rest on the one at your right hand, the one whom you made strong for yourself. 18 Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name. 19 Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

December 22 is one of my favorite days of the year. After today, the days start getting longer. There won’t be such a long night any other time of the year. The promise of summer days burn bright in my memories of years passed. Long days of summer light are on their way. Light brings joy. Light brings warmth. Light brings hope. God is light.

Wherever he is, there can not be darkness. Light brings life. Absolutely. Darkness brings the cold shadows of death. Death is the hushed silence of God.

The Christmas story brings many studies of contrast. Dark and light. Jesus was born at night. He wants us to be children of the light. His light. He is the light of the world. We are his. Jesus died late in the afternoon, near dusk. Jesus arose from the dead early in the morning, at daybreak. This death to life brought his victory over death. Over the darkness.

Will you let the light of Jesus shine in tour hearts?

Will you let the Holy Spirit work through you and throw off the darkness of all your unhappiness and anxieties?

Day #19 – God Gathers Us Close

Isaiah 40:11 – He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Jesus is likened to a shepherd several times in the New Testament writings.

"My sheep hear my voice," he says.

But tonight, the shepherds comes to Jesus. They wanted so much to see what this new king would look like.

Imagine their surprise to see a tiny little baby laying in a manger. What in the world would they have thought.

Maybe a king with a crown on his head?

Maybe a court surrounding a little king?

Keep in mind that baby kings or boy kings were not all that unusual – especially in Egypt when little pharaohs ran through palaces.

So who knows what may have been running through the shepherds’ minds.

Isaiah shows us a portent of things to come in today’s verse. It’s the message about Jesus Christ as the shepherd in a care taking role.

Jesus knows he is sent here to fix sin. Keep in mind that he was present at the moment his Father created the world. He was able to see what Satan maneuvered in the Garden of Eden.

And he knew he was to be the shepherd of all mankind.

Did he know that when his little eyes opened and he looked into his mother’s eyes? Did he know? Don’t you wonder? I do. I’ve looked into my babies’ eyes and wondered what they were thinking. What did Jesus know?


Day #18 – God Wants You to Know That Jesus Is His Son

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

God sent his son.

He is the light that no darkness can overcome. The light of God’s love. His promise of mercy.

Our heart is filled with the compassion and wonder of how someone – anyone – could love us enough to send his son into the world. You and I know what the history is and you know where this baby is headed.

Yet, at Christmas we try not to think too much about the Bethlehem/Calvary connection.

But we know, in the back of our minds, that there’s a deeper shadow lying over the manger. This baby is born with a job to do.

He has been sent here with a ministry – a mission that will fix the problem of sin once and for all.

This time he takes on the evil one, and fixes him, he does.

Day #17 – The Time Is Drawing Near

Galatians 4:4 – 4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his son into our hearts...

We continue our Advent watch. The time is drawing very near as we inch our way toward the big event of the season. Advent ends at sundown on Christmas Eve.

God gives us the greatest gift of all.

He sent Jesus to earth to show us what love really is.

An undeserved love is the heart of the Christmas message, and it is an experience for everyone who receives a heart full of this baby who was born in Bethlehem. He is the Son of God.

Taking in this glorious thought that God sent his son to earth to fix the problem of sin is a profound experience.

It is a life transforming event. We hunger for more.

We can’t do enough. We can’t learn enough. We can’t hear enough. We can’t share enough.

We are completely inadequate in our ability to be grateful.

Day #16 – The Magi Find the Baby

Matthew 2:1-12 – 1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." 

3
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: 


6 But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judea, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be shepherd of my people Israel." 

7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 

8
He then sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him." 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 

11
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and myrrh. 

12
And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

The magi make up the last group of characters in the Bethlehem story. They didn’t come empty handed – in fact, they had some very expensive gifts packed on their camels.

The Bible says they had gold, frankincense and myrrh to bring for the baby king. So you may ask why the baby Jesus would need money for anything.

And here is where the plot thickens. The magi get a message not to go back to Herod and report anything about the birth of Jesus.

Since the magi didn’t go back to Herod, he worried a lot about this new king they had told him was about to be born. Except they didn’t tell him for sure where the baby was.

So Herod, being the absolutely evil man that he was, decided that the safest thing that he could do to protect his exalted position would be to kill all newborn baby boys up to age two.

It was most fortunate that the magi had brought expensive gifts that Joseph could use for bartering when he had to take his new family down into Egypt for a while, just for safekeeping. And they had to stay in Egypt for a few years until God sent his messenger to let Joseph know it was okay to come back home.

Keep in mind that God, our Heavenly Father, watches over us as much today and he did his own son back then.

As you have read these Advent Devotionals during these past days, I hope you have gotten the idea that God cares deeply about everything that’s going on in our lives.

And he knows everything we’re doing.

And he watches.

And he gives us free will and hopes that we will always choose to walk with him.

Day #14/15 – The Shepherds Came to See

Luke 2:8-12 – 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shown around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

The Christmas story has another group of characters who shared in the celebration of the Babe of Bethlehem. These were the shepherds who kept track of the sheep wandering around on the hillside outside town.

The angel came to them and scared them half to death. They probably had not ever seen an angel before.

Have you noticed that the angel startled everyone he showed himself to? The shepherds were no exception.

So the angel has to explain that he brings good news.

It kind of always made me wonder what it was about this particular night that made people so apprehensive that something was about to happen.

I mean, nowadays, we have all the month of November to think about Christmas coming.

But back then, in Year #Zero, there was no history to lean on. They were just waiting but they didn’t know what was going to happen or when or where.

Then all of a sudden, here’s this big angel who’s going around bringing God’s message that his son was being born that night and they’d better hurry up and go see!

And hurry up they did. They ran down out of the hills and into town. They’d never seen what a baby king looked like and they wanted to be a part of something wonderful.

Day #13 - The Word Became Flesh

John 1:1-5 - 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that had been made. 4 In him was life and that life was the light of men. 5 the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.


We don't always think of Jesus, the son of God, being present at the time of creation. Too often, we really think of Jesus as having his beginning during that first Christmas season.

But we know, from Bible readings, that the son was with the father at the moment of creation - and for that matter, even before time began.

Jesus was co-creator. In this reading for today, we are told that Jesus was with God in the beginning.

When I read this passage, I often think of people who have had what we call near death experiences. There is a similarity in what each person is able to relate if they, in fact, do not die, but rather, come back to their physical body.

That similarity is the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel and at the end of the tunnel is a bright, white light.

People who have come back have said they experienced such an enormous peace when they got into that light and they really didn't want to come back here.

I believe that the light they are referring to is the very essence of Jesus Christ himself. He said that he was light.

Darkness cannot exist in the same place as light. And evil cannot exist in the same place where Jesus Christ is.



Day #12 -- Remember All Those Promises?

Again, we read in the Old Testament prophecy, in Isaiah 7:14 -- Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Quite literally, "Immanuel" is interpreted to mean "God is with us."

Each and every one of us has had moments in our lives when we wondered where God was. Maybe in those moments of anguish, you shook your hands at the heavens like the psalmist did and wondered where the Almighty was when you needed him the most.

Then, after a while, you realized that he was never gone from you at all all, that all you had to do was be quiet and listen. Then youcould hear him.

He was there all along.

No anxieties. Ours is a God who can move mountains.

In more recent times, he moved an island. A whole island.

Remember the tsunami in Indonesia? A rip in the ocean floor caused a 9.1 earthquake like nothing we've seen in a hundred years. It set off a tsunami that washed across low lying islands, killing man, animals and vegetation alike. The account of the dead reached 229,866 people lost or missing.

This earthquake actually moved the entire island of Sumatra a hundred meters. Now, Sumatra is not some tiny little island out there in the south Pacific somewhere. It's about the size of the state of Florida.

The earthquake was large enough to cause the entire planet to vibrate at least half an inch. It also triggered earthquakes in far away locations, such as Alaska.

The absolute power of God moved it!

The same God who worked all those miracles down through the ages of Bible history is the same God who works miracles in this very day and age. He's the same God who wants us to put our faith in him.

He's the same God who walks through our lives every day and whispers to us in quiet, still moments of our prayers and meditations.

If you decide to attend worship services on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, you might be able to sing one of the favorite Christmas hymns, O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

This is an ancient Latin text from the 12th century that was translated into English by John Mason Neale in 1851. The music's origin is not known, but it's thought to be French.

I am including the poetry of the lyrics here, because they speak so clearly to the message of Christmas and offer such a powerful part of our Advent vigil:


O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to Thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall comes to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, thou Lord of Might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai's height,
In ancient times did'st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall comes to thee, O Israel.

Day #11 – Zephaniah 3:17 – 17 The Lord your God is with you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.

and from Psalm 71:1–3 – 1 In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. 2 Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness; turn your ear to me and save me. 3 Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.

Isn’t it just absolutely amazing how the Christmas story weaves its way through our lives.

It reaches back into the Old Testament with the words of the prophet Zephaniah. Imagine this very young couple preparing for the birth of their first child. They were in a barn many miles from home.

They must have been terribly afraid.

There was Joseph – more concerned about Mary’s reputation than with his own needs. I mean, the angel Gabriel had explained things to Joseph and he absolutely believed in his heart of hearts that this baby had divine blood from God Almighty running through his veins.

But his neighbors? How would they believe this story? Or would they make fun of him and say, "Yeah, right!"

Joseph had worries.

And then Mary must have known great fear. If any of you have ever been far from home when your first baby was delivered, you know what Mary must have felt. It would always be nicer to have a doctor and a nurse, than a nervous husband caring for you. But if you didn’t have a doctor to minister to you, then your mom would be okay. At least she could explain what you might expect.

Nope. This was just a young couple all alone, out there on their own.

Except for God. God was most definitely with him. And you know that God’s love filled that little barn all the way to the rafters.

The Lord was getting one of his concerts of heavenly hosts ready. The little manger where Mary laid her newborn son would be center stage against a backdrop of angels, such voices to be raised in song and praise!

Mary and Joseph, like all couples in a really good marriage, learned to lean on each other that first night of Jesus’ birth.

There was no shame on earth, or in heaven, in the birth of this little baby for God had removed any tarnish whatsoever because Joseph and Mary were just betrothed and not yet married.

The Lord Almighty became the rock and fortress for Mary and Joseph on that night.

I invite you to take God as your rock and fortress too. He’s still quite the miracle worker, you know.

Day #10 – The Bethlehem Connection

Luke 2:4-7 – 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem, the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

We’re in the second week of Advent now.

If you were in church this past weekend, you would have noticed that a second candle is lighted during the service.

This second candle is often called the Bethlehem Candle. Some churches may designate this the Peace Candle, depending on which tradition is followed.

The reason that Joseph took Mary to Bethlehem when she was just about full-term in her pregnancy was because the big shot in Rome, Caesar Augustus, decided that it would be a good time for a census to be taken all throughout the Roman world.

So it all depended on what your ancestry line was that decided where you’d go because that’s where the records were kept.

It's kind of like voting in the modern day. Depending on where you live (your precinct) will determine where your voting booth is located. Kind of like that.
Since Joseph was from the house of David – and so was Mary, for that matter – they had to trek on down to Bethlehem all the way from Nazareth.

Nazareth was about 75 miles from Bethlehem -- as the crow flies. This was definitely not the best time for a very pregnant woman to go clippity clopping down the road. It must have been horribly uncomfortable -- if not downright painful -- for her.

They finally made it to Bethlehem. And when they got there, not a room was to be had. they didn't have such things as reservations back then. And it looks like crowds of people, who were also from the line of David, had shown up before Joseph and Mary. All the hotels were full up.

How they ended up in the barn is anybody’s guess.

Joseph probably said to the innkeeper, "We’ll take anything. Look we’re going to have a baby. We just need to get out of the cold, damp air so that Mary can lie down and be comfortable."

Whatever Joseph said must have worked. Because the innkeeper let them use the stable where the animals were kept. At least it was dry. And there was hay stacked about that was a lot softer than the ground.

DAY #9 – Joseph – A Model of Kindness

Matthew 1:20 ... an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."


We don’t learn much about Joseph from the Biblical account except that he was a carpenter. And he had fallen in love with the young Mary. She was absolutely his heart’s desire.

They were engaged to be married.
A betrothal in the ancient Jewish tradition was pretty much the last step toward actually being together as husband and wife.

And it appears that in order to break the betrothal, papers for divorce would need to be filed.

That was just about what Joseph was thinking about doing. I guess he might have figured that if Mary were actually pregnant then she must have had sexual relations with another man.

And then, one night, while Joseph was sleeping, here comes the angel of the Lord again. Matthew doesn’t tell us if it was Gabriel or not, but I’d guess that it was.

Gabriel’s footprint is all over the Biblical story of Christ’s birth, so it’s not likely he’d trek off on vacation somewhere just as things were getting really exciting.

So the angel speaks to Joseph in a dream and confides in Joseph what the real nature of Mary’s pregnancy is.

Then, in Matthew 1:24, 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Day #7/8 -- Mary Goes to Visit Elizabeth

Luke 1:39-45: 39At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42In a loud voice, she exclaimed" "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43But Why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"

The archangel Gabriel has been busy, for sure. He has brought these two powerfully miraculous birth-messages from God above to Elizabeth and Mary.

Can you just imagine?!

Here are two women who, physically, absolutely could not explain how they could get pregnant in the first place.

For Elizabeth, the miracle was plain enough. But at least she was in a conjugal relationship with her husband of many years.


Mary, on the other hand, was a virgin and physically, not a candidate for pregnancy whatsoever.

For Mary, her pregnancy posed quite a predicament.

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months, then she headed for home.

Sure, she was betrothed to Joseph. But great care was taken in those days among the God-fearing to reserve any kind of sexual activity to the time after the wedding.


So how was this couple going to explain a pregnancy to their friends and neighbors?


They didn’t quite know what to do. But God has the answers and a way of transmitting them that is most effective.

Day #6  -- Mary Gets the News

Luke 1:26-38 – 26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,  33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." 

34
"How can this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" 

35
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come unto you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.  37 For nothing is impossible with God." 

38
"I am the Lord's servant, Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.

What a day!


Gabriel not only gave Mary the wonderful news that she is chosen by God to be the mother of the long awaited Messiah.


And not only that, but Gabriel also brings Mary up to speed about what is happening to Elizabeth.

Elizabeth is just now six months pregnant and Mary is about to become pregnant. That would mean that John is just six months older than Jesus.


I would also like to point out that Mary’s response to Gabriel, on hearing the news of her being the mother of the Messiah, has been lyricized, if you will, into the musical masterpiece, The Magnificat.


J.S. Bach also memorialized The Magnificat in a piece of music that approaches the music of the heavens. You can go the this baroque web to hear a brief portion of this music:


http://www.baroquecds.com/721Magnificat.mp3


Another web site that has a variety of baroque music is:

http://www.baroquemusic.org/index.html – there are many samples of the baroque masters to enjoy.


The Magnificat

My soul magnifies the Lord,

And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.

For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,

For behold, henceforth, all generations shall call me blessed.

For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is

His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from

generation to generation.

He has shown strength with His arm:

He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He has put down the mighty from their thrones,

and exalted those of low degree.

He has filled the hungry with good things;

and the rich He has sent empty away.

He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;

As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity

forever.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.




Day #5 -- His Name is John 

Luke 1:57-80 – 57When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.



59
On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, "No! He is to be called John."

61
They said to her, "There is no  one among your relatives who has that name. 

62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone's astonishment he wrote, "his name is John." 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. 

65
The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea, people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, "What then is this child going to be?"  For the Lord's hand was with him.

The story of the birth of John the Baptist is embedded within Luke’s telling of the Christmas story.

John would have a most important ministry as he traveled through the hillsides around the Jordan River. His was to bring a message about the man who would follow him – namely, Jesus Christ.

There he would make things ready for Jesus’ ministry here on earth. His clothes would be made out of camel hair. His diet would mainly be wild honey and locusts.

Before you think, "locusts – yuk" – keep in mind that they are not much different from the shrimp you may enjoy with particular delight. And apparently, the locusts were plentiful in the region and loaded with protein. Enough to sustain a healthy evangelist who was up and about at the crack of dawn.

John’s part in the life of Jesus was written down by the prophet Isaiah, when he said in Isaiah 40:3-5 ...and the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken."

Tomorrow we will change the scene to Mary and the trip she is about to take with her husband-to-be.


Day #4 -- "What do you mean, you don’t believe me?"

Okay, so this news might have been just a bit over the top for Zechariah.

And from the way Gabriel reacted to Zech’s reaction, it appears that Zechariah not only was taken aback, but it didn’t look like he believed Gabriel all that much.

Gabriel had some pretty powerful tricks up those long, angelic sleeves.

In Luke 1:19-25, he explains things to his non-believing target: 19The angel answered, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."

Now, Zechariah was back there in the temple, getting his incense ready – and he was doing other things he needed to do to get ready for worship.

He was back there for such a long time that the people who were waiting for him to come back out front were getting a little worried.

Little did they know that their priest had been struck dumb.

21
Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22When he came out he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, fo rhe kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

23
When his time of service was completed, he returned home.  24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion.  25 The Lord has done this for me, she said. "In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people."

You should know that many Biblical scholars believe that Elizabeth and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were cousins. The Bible most definitely says they were related to each other. Elizabeth could well have been Mary’s aunt, too. Keep in mind, also, that Elizabeth is a little more than mid-term in her pregnancy.

Keep in mind, also, that Elizabeth is a little more than mid-term in her pregnancy.

ADVENT -- DAY 3 -- Gabriel Brings Good News to Zechariah

Luke 1:11-13 –11Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the alter of incense. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.

Zechariah and the missus are incredibly important players in the Christmas story.

But Zechariah was busy at the Temple with his priestly duties. And on this particular night, he was checking on the incense.

Then this huge big angel appeared. It was none other than the archangel Gabriel again. Zechariah was a bit startled. He probably looked like he was going to jump through his skin when he saw the likes of Gabriel.

"What do you mean, ‘Pssst, over here.’ Who are you?" Zechariah might have said.

But Gabriel, being Gabriel, did a good job of explaining himself. This special messenger of the Almighty came equipped with kindness and empathy and some other heavenly mental tools that let Gabriel immediately get his ideas across.

Gabriel knew a secret and he was about to share it with Zechariah. Mainly because pretty soon it would be time for Zech to head for home. Gabriel wanted Zechariah to know that, of all things, his wife was going to get pregnant!

They would, at long last and miracle of miracles, become parents. But not just any baby. Oh, no. God had a special mission for this baby. They were supposed to name him John. He was going to have a very big job to do for Jesus.

Gabriel had other nice things to say about this baby – such joyful news would warm any prospective dad’s heart, continuing in Luke 1: 14He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. 16Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous – to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

There are Biblical references sprinkled all over the place that John the Baptist would run along before Jesus, kind of like an opening act that big stars use today.

Except that John the Baptist would be the first to point out to everyone who’d listen that he was nothing like the one who was following right behind him.

ADVENT -- DAY #2 -- It's About Anticipation

It's also about getting ready for the birth of the baby born in Bethlehem. And knowing, as Christians, that this most joyous season also begins the countdown to Calvary.

Without Bethlehem, there would be no Calvary. This phrase is going to be peppered all through the Advent messages.

For today, though, there's the anticipation. It was running through the hillsides of Judea.

The archangel Gabriel was probably busier than he'd ever been before. Maybe. But then, the Lord had lots of messages to get out to his people all over the place, and since the internet hadn't been invented yet, he had to rely on those special beings that he created for just such a task -- getting his messages out to the people he wanted to say something to.

During that first Christmas season, our Lord was very busy making connections. You see, he had already picked out the people a long time ago. He already knew who the people would be for these watershed moments.

It all began way back in the Garden of Eden when Satan started playing mind games with Eve.

Because of Satan's tampering, paradise got messed up and sin came into the world.

Our Lord knew then that he would have to do something to fix the problem of sin. He thought and he thought and he thought. And then he knew. He'd have to set the stage for the birth of his own son. He'd send his son into the world to fix the problem of sin once and for all.

First, there would be the birth of John the Baptist. This was going to be absolutely astonishing. But then, our Lord had to do something with the fact that Elizabeth -- John's mom -- was too old to be having any babies. The fact that she was post-menopausal didn't slow down the Almighty.

You've heard the saying that God doesn't call the equipped, but rather, equips the called?

Same is true here. Besides, he had already tested out his abilities on Abraham's wife, Sara, many years before, out there in the desert. Her barren womb delivered up one very healthy little boy by the name of Isaac.

Believe me, when our Heavenly Father wants to perform a miracle, there is nothing that can or will stand in his way. Expect miracles in your life. God makes them happen.

So for thousands of years, faithful followers had gone to the synagogue every weekend and heard all the stories about how God was going to send his son, the Messiah. One day, his son would become flesh and would live on earth and would be the King of Kings.

"One day, one day, one day," they must have thought.

They heard about how the Root of Jesse would spring up, someone would rise up to rule over the nations.

Later, the Apostle Paul would quote this Old Testament text from Isaiah 11:1-2 that promised, A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him.

Paul said, in Romans 15:4, 7: 4For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope...7Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 8For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews, on behalf of God's truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs 9so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy...

Worshipful people came together in assembly with one another, just like God had told them to. Every weekend. They heard the promises. They waited. They hoped.

They just didn't know when it would happen. But they knew in their hearts that someday -- someday -- it would happen.

(Just so you know who the players are in this exciting Bible story -- Some of you may not know that Jesse was King David's father. We'll be hearing a lot of references to the fact that the Baby Jesus traces his ancestry back to King David. Isaiah also makes reference to David's father, Jesse. Mary, the mother of Jesus and Joseph, Mary's husband, also trace their lineage back to King David.) 

ADVENT 2006 – Day #1
Introduction to the Season of Advent

The word advent is Latin. It means a coming or arrival.

We are talking about God coming to earth to live in human form.

In the year 2006, this Christmas, if you were to get such news that a woman was pregnant and that the baby would be the Son of God, would you believe it.

Honestly, in your heart, would you believe it?

I guarantee you that such news would be a stop-the-press piece of information all around the world!

Unfortunately, we’ve not received any such message. But we do have the 2000-year-old promise that such a baby was born. It happened a long time ago. It happened in a little village in the Judean countryside. It happened without the benefit of FoxNews or CNN touting his presence. It happened without the internet and blogs and stories headlining the event.

In the next several weeks, we are going to re-read many of the pieces of the Christmas story. I pray that by putting these pieces together again in your heart and memory, you will feel more prepared for the celebration of Christ’s birth.

So how did the birth of one little baby become so well known?

Well, first of all – there were the Announcers. In fact, there was a heavenly host full of Announcers. These are God’s angels – heavenly beings he created just so he would have someone to bring his messages to people all around the world.

Then there were the astronomers. Back in the old days, they were called the magi. One night they were looking up at the sky and saw something that looked really, really bright. "What is that?" they probably asked.

"I don’t know," one of them answered. "But you know someone is going to come around asking us for an answer so we’d better go find out."

So they hurried off and saddled up their camels and headed out. Across the deserts they galloped. Through the mountain canyons they raced. They were guided by this shining light from above. It looked like a star. But it looked like more than a star. A really big star. It was shining super bright.

Advent is a time when we need to get ready. But not to get ready for the Christmas feasts and present wrapping. Nope. Advent is a time of preparing ourselves for the wonder of the baby’s birth. It is a time when we devote ourselves to learning all over again the great story of the birth of the Christ child.

That story fills us anew with great moments in faith that touch the very seeds of our soul – a place where God has planted all the hope of the universe within us – within our hearts.

It is there – at that moment when we feel a warm connectedness with God – when we say "Here I am, Lord."

Then God smiles. He reclaims us. We submit to His will.

The miracle of the Baby is reborn.




October 11, 2006

DEVOTIONAL: Thou Shalt Not Steal
Exodus 20:15 -- Thou shalt not steal.

Remember Enron?

Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were riding a destructive tsunami of wealth. They were called visionaries. Turned out, they were just weasels. In Wall Street jargon, a weasel is anyone who tries to get away with something.

Make no mistake about it -- there are still corporate titans out there who are just nothing but plain old weasels. They steal. They take something they have no right to. They are weaseling, stealing punks in $2,000 silk suits.

They're the same vintage as the person who checks out of a motel and takes the towels.

That's stealing.

Enron is behind us and Ken Lay is now pushing up daisies. His ticker gave out on him while he was at a resort in Colorado, waiting to see if an appeals court would have a different opinion of him than the jury that took only six days to bring back a guilty verdict.

Skilling -- the big accounting hotshot -- will be getting his time in the pokey.

Oh, there's still corporate shenanigans going on. It won't stop just because a couple of high flying corporate weasels got caught with their hands "in the cookie jar."

The American economy -- trillions of dollars strong -- has survived the likes of Lay and Skilling before. Our economy is tougher than they are. I just hope they got a change to think about what they'd done and the perfectly innocent lives they ruined because of their combined weaseling thieves.

The likes of them have subjects thousands and thousands of employees to a life sentence of poverty. Shame. Shame. Shame.

I CAN TALK TO GOD:
Oh Lord, I just have a simple request. If I ever think of doing something stupid like this, will you please scream QUIT IT in my ear?
I thank my mother for Sunday School and church every Sunday for all those years I was growing up.

Oh, those pews were made out of the hardest wood in the world. The sermons were longer than any little kid could endure, but the music was sweet, and reverent -- and the hymns resonated with the poetry in my soul. I liked that part the best.

Apparently some of the messages ground their way into my heart. Osmosis does work, after all.

Thank you, Lord, for all the people who had a part in my spiritual growth and development. Amen.


October 30, 2006

DEVOTIONAL: Jesus Wept

John 11:35 --
Jesus wept.

When you think of Jesus, can you picture him with tears in his eyes? Can you think of him feeling the same deep sorrow that you and I feel?

You know those times -- days when your heart is heavy -- those times when an anguished lump burns in the back of your throat.
Those are the times when deep sorrow overtakes you and you weep.

Jesus wept. You bet he knew sorrow when he walked through the gardens and vineyards and hillsides here on earth -- born of his earthly mother and his heavenly father.

In his humanness, he cried.

Just like we do when despair overloads us and we think we cannot suffer another single blow.

Despair threatens to shipwreck our faith.

Despair makes us want to give up when life isn't going smoothly.

We are tempted to separate ourselves from God when we hit bumps in the road -- to even pull off the road and watch while life passes us by. Somehow we actually have convinced ourselves that we, and we alone, should not have mishaps in life. No one should ever hurt our feelings. No one should ever do us wrong. Woes and sorrow are for other people. I should be exempt.
God promised me a wonderful life, free of hassles. I'm like the sparrow that he dresses in fine feathers. I'm like the lilies of the field. He promised me that my life would be free of all those worries.

Uh, no, he didn't. He never ever said that. What God did say was not to worry because he would walk with us and give us the strength to endure. He tells us not to despair.

Despair does not please God. He's as sorry as you and I could ever be that sin, then sorrow, entered the world. After all, he originally made this place a paradise that was free from sin.

God is filled with sorrow when we suffer. He tastes the salt when tears sting our eyes.

God knows our suffering. He hears the anguish in our hearts before words are ever spoken.

Sorrow came here thousands of years ago. It happened when Satan entered the body of a snake in God's paradise. It happened when Satan promised lies upon lies. Lies he couldn't deliver. Lies to a gullible young woman. Lies through her to a believing husband.

Satan still whispers lies.
You can hear him when he tells you that life is hopeless -- that God doesn't really care -- that God has abandoned you to suffer by yourself. Hopeless and all alone -- that's what you are! He lies when he whispers to us that everything bad that has ever happened to us is someone else's fault. He did it. She did it. They did it. My life would be perfect if other people would quit messing things up for me.
 
Don't believe the lies. Trust and believe that God cares. He walks with you and me through our suffering. His solutions are flawless. Want to see what his solutions look like for your life? Let him work wonders in and through you. Today is a good day to begin.

I CAN TALK TO GOD
Oh, Lord, I still hear the echoes of Satan's lies from paradise whispering across time. He's still doing it. Telling lies. Satan stole paradise from me and the rest of mankind. He's not only a liar but a thief as well.

There are times when he threatens to steal my peace of mind, my hope, my willingness to be comforted.

There are times when he tempts me with the thought that trusting you, Lord, is useless.

I pray that you will help me turn a deaf ear and not listen to that father of lies. I know I need to turn my faith toward you and trust that you will join with me in my sorrow and cry with me when I weep.

And for the times when I can't even put one foot in front of another, I pray that you will paint the words of Isaiah 40:31 in brilliant colors across my soul -- "But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak."

Help me to trust and believe!

Today I am going to memorize this verse until I know it in my heart.

I'm going to keep reminding myself of this: Your word is all the truth I need to sustain me for it is the light that beckons me out of the darkness of my pain and sorrow.

October 6, 2006

DEVOTIONAL: CHALLENGE PRAYERS

There are five challenge prayers that invite the Holy Spirit to fill us with His power. I can't even take full credit for all of these notes -- they were from a sermon I heard some time ago. We were visiting our daughter's church in southern California. (I take notes in church, don't you?)

THE SEARCH ME PRAYER: Imagine the silliness in thinking that an all-knowing God doesn't know every thought we have. There are no dusty little corners where we can tuck away hidden thoughts. When we pray the Search Me Prayer, we are inviting our Heavenly Father to bring in his whisk broom to clean out cobwebs of old, dusty grudges and makes us fresh and squeaky clean again. Just like new. Just like he promised.

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Copyright 2006 by Jane Reinheimer. Permission for use is hereby granted on the condition that you credit the author and this web site when you use any material.

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