Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Gift Of Love

One of my favorite storytellers, William R. White, told a story that’s origin is found in Jewish oral tradition. After making a few changes, I have told this story in churches and prisons all across this country.

When God had nearly finished the act of creation, an announcement was made that the only thing left was to create a creature that is capable of understanding and marveling in the greatness of God. “They will be called humans,” God said. “They will not only be on earth, but they will be created in my image. They will have reason, intellect and understanding.”

But Truth approached the Almighty God, pleading with Him not to create humans. “Oh God,” Truth said. “I ask you to refrain from calling into being a creature that is capable of lying. The last thing we need is to have a world full of deception and fraud.”

Then Peace came forward to support Truth’s cause. “Oh Lord,” he said. “I beg you not to create creatures that will disturb the harmony of your creation. I fear that these humans will act with revenge and initiate war.”

Justice stepped forward. He said, “Dear Lord, I must agree with Truth and Peace. I think you will be making a huge mistake by creating humans. Before long they will be robbing, stealing and killing each other. Then this beautiful world that you have created will be full of jails and prisons.”

While they were pleading their case against the creation of man, the soft voice of Love asked to be heard. He said, “Dear God, I know that any being that is created in your likeness will have the capacity to perform great deeds. Filled with your Spirit they will comfort the sick, visit the lonely, and provide shelter for the homeless. They will even minister to the prisoners that Justice spoke of. Such a being could not help but bring glory to you, Oh Lord.”

Although the Lord listened to the voices of Truth, Peace and Justice before He made His final decision, it was because of Love that human beings were created.

When God created man, He did not create a perfect being. He did not create people that are incapable of sinning. But because of His love for us, He is willing to forgive us for our sins if we ask Him. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

This Christmas

The story was told of a little child that wandered through the streets of a large city on Christmas Eve. Busy people rushed back and forth with their arms filled with presents. Everyone seemed to have a destination except the little child. As he walked around, the bitter cold nipped at his cheeks and bit at his bare fingers. This was no night to be out alone. He must find a place to stay.

He walked down a street that was filled with large homes and beautiful yards. He walked to the door of a gorgeous house and peeked through the curtains at a huge, well-decorated Christmas tree. Inside the house, children were playing and shaking presents that had their names on them.

The little child stood on tiptoes and rang the doorbell. A boy opened the door and looked down at the youngster. “I am sorry,” he said, “Our parents are not home, and they would not like to have anyone upset our Christmas Eve.” The door closed slowly. The little child soon tried another home. This time a woman shouted at him, “Get off my property, right now!”

The wind seemed as angry as the woman when the young child reached the unsheltered sidewalk. He decided to try a street where the houses were smaller, hoping people that were friendlier. He started ringing bells and knocking on doors. One woman was afraid that he would bring germs into her house. A man said that there wasn't enough for his own children. As he went from house to house, people just looked at him, shook their heads, and closed the door.

“There must be some place in this city for me,” he thought. As he walked through the dark streets, he passed houses that were much smaller in size. At the end of one street, he stopped at a house that had no curtains. It was easy to see inside. In the corner sat a small tree with no lights. Near the fireplace, a mother was reading to her small children. “Mommy,” one of the children called out. “Someone is at the door.” They rushed to the door to see who was there. In the doorway stood the little child, shaking in the cold.

The mother picked him up and pressed him tightly to her breast as she carried him to the living room. “Quick, warm some milk,” she said to her son as she rubbed the child’s numbed fingers between her hands. Pushing his tangled hair back, she tenderly kissed him on the forehead and whispered, “We are delighted that you have come to share this Christmas with us.”

For nearly an hour, they stood around the fire until feeling began to return to the frozen body of the little child. When their guest seemed to be warmed, the little girl said, “Finish the story, Mommy.” The mother placed the little girl on her lap and opened the book.

Suddenly a powerful light began to flood the room. The family turned to see the little child being transformed before their eyes. The light from his face became so bright; they were forced to turn their heads. Then the light left the room. As the family rushed to the door, they watched the light ascend until all that was visible was a star that shone brilliantly over their home.

The boy was the first to break the silence. “Was that the Christ child, Mother?” he asked. “Yes,” she replied.

It is said that each Christmas, Christ returns to earth as a little child, wandering through the streets of a city, seeking a place to be warmed. When He is accepted, God sends a brightly lit star to shine on that house.

This Christmas, bless someone who is in need. Then look up and see God's sign.


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Monday, December 13, 2010

The Christmas Story

On a very cold Christmas Eve, a man sat by his window thinking about the Christmas story. He said, “Why would an all-powerful God choose to come to earth the way the Bible says that He did? Why would He choose to be born in a stable? It makes no sense. I’m sure that if God really wanted to come down to earth, He would have chosen a more exciting way.”

Just then, he heard a strange, loud noise coming from outside. When he looked out, he saw a flock of geese frantically honking and wildly flapping their wings in the deep snow and fringed cold. They appeared to be dazed and confused. Apparently they had dropped out of a larger flock that was migrating to a warmer climate.

Moved with compassion, the man bundled up and went outside in an effort to save them. He opened his barn door and tried to coax the shivering geese inside and out of the freezing cold. But the more he tried, the more the geese panicked and ran away from him. The man became frustrated. He thought to himself, “If they only realized that I am trying to save them. How can I make them understand that I am concerned for their safety and well-being?”

Then a thought came to him. “If I was one of them, they wouldn’t be afraid of me and I could lead them to safety. I wish I could become a goose just long enough to communicate with them so they would realize what I am trying to do.”

Suddenly, he remembered it was Christmas Eve. A smile came across his face and the Christmas story no longer seemed ridiculous to him. He visualized a little baby lying in a manger. He realized that God became one of us so He could tell us how much He loves us and wants to save us.

He finally understood the Christmas story. Do You?

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Count Your Blessings

William R. White told a story about two merchants that were fierce competitors in a large town. Their stores were across the street from each other. The merchants didn’t measure the success of their business by daily or weekly profits. Their only concern was doing more business than the other. If a customer made a purchase at the store of one merchant, he would taunt his competitor when the sale was complete. The rivalry grew more and more every year.

One day God sent an angel to one of the merchants with an offer. “The Lord has chosen to give you a great gift,” said the angel. “He will give you anything you want. You can have riches, long life, healthy children or anything you desire. Just ask and it is yours. But there is one condition,” the angel said. “Whatever you receive, your competitor will get twice as much. If you ask for a million dollars, he will receive two million. If you become famous, he will become twice as famous. If your business grows to ten stores, his will grow to twenty.” The angel smiled and said, “This is God’s way of teaching you a lesson.”

The merchant thought for a few minutes. Then he said, “Let me make sure I understand what you are saying. You will give me anything that I ask for. But whatever I receive, my competitor will get double. Is that right?” The angel said, “That is correct.” The merchant smiled and said, “My request is that you strike me blind in one eye.”

God wants us to be the best that we can be and use the gifts and talents that He gave us to bless others. But sometimes we lose our focus and look at everything and everyone as our competition. We want the biggest house, the fanciest car, or the largest church.

Jesus said, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. God is not concerned with what you have or what you accomplish. He is concerned with how you use what He has given you. Learn to count your blessings instead of comparing them.

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