Monday, November 25, 2013

That Better Place

    The following fable portrays how we might feel if we could see into heaven for an instant:
A boy had a sister who was dying. He heard that if he could secure a leaf from the tree of life in heaven, she would be healed. So he approached the gate of glory and made his desire known to an angel. The celestial being suggested to the boy that even if his sister would be healed he could not guarantee she would never again be sick, suffer disappointment, or go through trials. Just then the angel deliberately opened the gate a little wider so the youngster could see inside. He could scarcely believe his eyes! Everything was wonderful and beautiful beyond description. After thinking for a moment, eh exclaimed, "Forget the leaf! May I come in with her?"
     I would not have you grieve for me today

Jackson Church of Christ, Jackson, MO, date unknown.

Next Bus

By Royce Clay

    One cold rainy night while I was waiting at a bus stop, an elderly woman got off a bus and walked slowly over to where I stood.
    "Could you tell me when the next bus is due?" she asked. I asked where she was going. Upon hearing her reply I exclaimed, "But you just got off a bus going to your destination."
    "Well," she stammered shyly, "there was a terribly crippled young man on that bus and nobody offered hem a seat. I knew he'd be embarrassed if an old lady like me got up for him, so I pretended it was time for me to get off so he could have my seat. He wasn't embarrassed, and I -- well, there's always another bus.
    We need, as a congregation, to manifest a little more of that little lady's attitude.

Meadowbrook Church of Christ, Anderson, IN, Jan. 15, 1995.

The Last Day of Your Life

By Alan Smith

   The following quotes are reported to come from an actual newspaper contest where entrants ages 4 to 15 were asked to imitate "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey":
      Give me the strength to change the things I can, the grace to accept the things I cannot, and a great big bag of money. --Age 13
      It sure would be nice if we got a day off for the president's birthday, like they do for the queen's. Of course, then we would have a lot of people voting for a candidate born on July 3 or December 26, just for the long weekends. --Age 8
      Democracy is a beautiful thing, except for that part about letting just any old yokel vote. --Age 10
      For centuries, people thought the moon was made of green cheese. Then the astronauts found that the moon is really a big hard rock. That's what happens to cheese when you leave it out. --Age 6
      As you make your way through this hectic world of ours, set aside a few minutes each day. At the end of the year, you'll have a couple of days saved up. --Age 7
      Often, when I am reading a good book, I stop and thank my teacher. That is, I used to, until she got an unlisted number. --Age 15
      The only stupid question is the one that is never asked, except maybe "Don't you think it is about time you audited my return?" or "Isn't it morally wrong to give me a warning when, in fact, I was speeding?" --Age 15
      If we could just get everyone to close their eyes and visualize world peace for an hour, imagine how serene and quiet it would be until the looting started. --Age 15
      I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don't have any clean laundry because, come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life? --Age 15

   Who can argue with that last statement? But it raises an interesting question. If you knew (with full certainty) that this would be your last day on this earth, how would you live it? Would you spend the day in Bible study and prayer? Talking with people about Christ? Relaxing with your family? Or would you spend it washing clothes, cleaning the house, going to work and doing all the "mundane" things that you do every day?
   We are told to "watch" at all times, knowing that the second coming of Christ will be as unexpected as a "thief in the night" (I Thess 5:1-6). It could be within the next few hours! And since none of us are promised a certain number of years, this may well be our last day of life on this earth. So how should that affect the way we live?
   If we really believed that, it would cause us to rearrange our priorities. It would cause us to ask ourselves, "Is what I am doing important from an eternal viewpoint?" Mundane tasks such as washing our clothes remain necessary, but we all find ourselves spending much of our time doing things that seem to be important at the moment (from an earthly perspective), but which have no eternal significance.
   "Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober......For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing." (1 Thess. 5:6,9-11)


The Dog and the Rabbit

By Gary Payne

    Once upon a time there was a family who owned a beautiful German Shepherd. It was a good dog, except for one thing -- it always gave the neighbor's pet rabbit the evil eye.
    Then, one day the inevitable happened. Looking across the fence they say their dog with its teeth clamped around the lifeless body of their bunny, shaking it back and forth for all its' worth.
    It just so happened that the neighbors were gone for vacation. So, the owners of the German Shepherd devised a plan. They took the rabbit and gave it a bath. They washed all the blood and dirt of its white coat. For the finishing touch they blow-dried its fur. Then, they stuck it back in the cage.
    The next day the rabbit's owner and dog's owner  were out in their yards. The rabbit's owner said to the other, "You know, the strangest thing happened to our rabbit." "Oh?" came the reply. "Yeah. Our rabbit died before we left. We buried him. And for the life of us we can't figure out how he got back in his cage."
    We are taught to make every effort to add the grace of virtue. [II Peter 1:5]. Virtue means moral courage. It involves honesty and integrity, especially when it would be easier to tell a white lie or make excuses.
    The Christian life demands such character. God is seeking to build better people out of us. Wouldn't be great if everyone had such character?

Meadowbrook Church of Christ, Anderson, IN, Feb. 24, 1991.

Bird Dog

    An avid duck hunter was in the market for a new bird dog. His search ended when he found a dog that could actually walk on water to retrieve a duck. Shocked by his find, he was sure none of his friends would ever believe him. He decided to try to break the news to a friend of his, the eternal pessimist who refused to be impressed with anything. This, surely, would impress him. He invited him to hunt with him and his new dog.
    As they waited by the shore, a flock of ducks flew by. they fired, and a duck fell. The dog responded and jumped into the water. The dog, however, did not sink but instead walked across the water to retrieve the bird, never getting more than his paws wet. This continued all day long; each time a duck fell, the dog walked across the surface of the water to retrieve it.
    The pessimist watched carefully, saw everything, but did not say a single word.
    On the drive home the hunter asked his friend, "Did you notice anything unusual about my new dog?"
    "I sure did," responded the pessimist. "He can't swim."

Alan Smith, Thought For The Day, date unknown.

Backing Out

    Have you ever walked away form an incredible offer?
    Declaration of Independence signer Richard Stockton was imprisoned shortly after signing the historic document in 1776. If you know by heart all those who signed, you are probably wondering how Stockton was.
    Stockton represented New Jersey in the signing ceremony. But before the ink could dry, he was seized by the British and imprisoned as a common criminal. The intimidation worked. He quickly swore allegiance to King George III; and recanted his signature on America's immortal document.
    In another arena, there are others who renege. Jesus, while visiting our planet, presented a parable to his followers about a sower. The planted seeds of the sower represent the claims of God's Word. Jesus said, "(Seeds that fall) on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while but in time of testing they fall away." (Luke 8:13). Incredibly, even some who witnessed Christ and His miracles "turned back and no longer followed Him" (John 6:66), so take stock of your life to see if you've backed out on your commitment to Jesus.
    Remember: If you are "backing out," you may be "backing into" eternal disaster.

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