Praise be to Jesus now and forever.
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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday 2015

Praise be to our Lord Jesus now and forever :)
This blog is turning 6 years old today, the very first post being about Palm Sunday itself.

Click here to see the post from 2009.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal
Scientific and Spiritual Prodigy

Blaise Pascal, the French genius who in his brief lifetime made numerous world-changing discoveries knew there was much, much more than Science. Blaise Pascal grew up in Paris, schooled at home by his father. He showed early promise: at age eight he wrote his first scientific paper; at 16 he wrote a mathematical essay that broke new ground in the field of geometry. When he was 19, Pascal invented a calculating "machine", a forerunner of modern computers.

 At 23, he made major discoveries in physics and proved the existence of the vacuum. This paved the way for hypodermic syringes, barometers, and hydraulic devices. Pascal also came up with the mathematical theory of probability and helped shape the field of calculus.

Beginning in his teen years, he often suffered great pain in his legs; as an adult he became partially crippled. One night, unable to sleep due to the pain, he arose and wrote down the solution to a problem that advanced a very difficult area of mathematics. Yet, though Pascal knew very well the power of the mind and the potential of human reason, he also knew that people cannot solve the deepest mysteries and needs of life with their minds alone. He understood that mankind is at the same time both very great and also very flawed. Through various personal trials, Pascal became more and more a religious man.

He was much affected when his niece was miraculously healed (by God working through someone) of a tumor or stubborn disease. After he was nearly killed in a carriage accident, he was nearly instantly & deeply converted  in 1654 (age 31) to a deep relationship with Jesus Christ. 

The day on which he found peace with God was so important to him that he wrote a reminder of it on parchment and sewed it into the lining of his coat. He kept this coat for the rest of his life, and the note was found there when he died at age 39. In it he told how (at age 31) at "...about half past ten in the evening until about half past twelve, fire". The God that he had encountered was "the God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob," and "not of the philosophers and scholars." He ended by writing,
"I will not forget thy word."

For the next eight years, he devoted his life to jotting down "thoughts"...his writing, Pensees...his defense of the Christian faith. The book can be found on-line; and Dr. Kenneth Boa has produced a CD commentary that can be separately obtained (The Great Books Audio CD Series). 

In 1662, from the room where he lay painfully dying, Pascal observed the plight of the poor in the streets, having to trudge long distances while the rich comfortably rode.
One of his last great ideas was the bus...public transportation.

Among the many quotable quotes of this greatest of all French thinkers is,

"What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself" (148/428).

He also constructed a wager as to the truth of God; Christianity called Pascal's wager:

Either Christianity is true or it's false.

 If you bet that it's true, and you believe in God and submit to Him, then if it IS true, you've gained God, heaven, and everything else. If it's false, you've lost nothing, but you've had a good life marked by peace and the illusion that ultimately, everything makes sense.

If you bet that Christianity is not true, and it's false, you've lost nothing.
But if you bet that it's false, and it turns out to be true, you've lost everything and you get to spend eternity in hell.

His wager is an attempt to say to doubters that belief in Jesus is a can't-lose situation...if Jesus is a lie (the "bet" for Jesus is lost), yet you live according to His teaching, you can't help but live a "good" present life; and whatever atheists believe will come to pass eternally.

If the bet for Jesus is won (Jesus believers/followers actually do have hold of THE TRUTH), then you get the "good" current life AND eternal dwelling with God when you die. Since you get a good current life by following Jesus (whether the facts of Jesus are true or false), then it only make sense to follow Jesus.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

When trouble comes, remember the cocoon

- Beth Landers
A man found a cocoon of the emperor moth and took it home to watch it emerge.

One day a small opening appeared, and for several hours the moth struggled but couldn't seem to force its body past a certain point.
Deciding something was wrong, the man took scissors and snipped the remaining bit of cocoon.

The moth emerged easily, its body large and swollen, the wings small and shrivelled.
He expected that in a few hours the wings would spread out in their natural beauty, but they did not.

Instead of developing into a creature free to fly, the moth spent its life dragging around a swollen body and shrivelled wings.
The constricting cocoon and the struggle necessary to pass through the tiny opening are God's way of forcing fluid from the body into the wings.

The "merciful" snip was, in reality, cruel.
Sometimes the struggle is exactly what we need.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Silversmith

- Author unknown 

Some time ago, a few ladies met in a certain city to study the scriptures.
While reading the third chapter of Malachi, they came upon a remarkable expression of a "refiner and purifier of silver" in the third verse:

Malachi 3:3-4 New International Version (NIV)

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.

One lady proposed to visit a silversmith, and report to them on what he said about the subject. She went accordingly, and without telling the object of her errand, begged the silversmith to tell her about the process of refining silver.

After he had fully described it to her, she asked, "But Sir, do you sit while the work of refining is going on?"

"Oh, yes madam," replied the silversmith; "I must sit with my eyes steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured."

The lady at once saw the beauty, and comfort too, of the expression. God sees it needful to put His children into a furnace; His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for us. Our trials do not come at random, and He will not let us be tested beyond what we can endure.

Before she left, the lady asked one final question, "When do you know the process is complete?"

"Why, that is quite simple," replied the silversmith. "When I can see my own image in the silver, the refining process is finished."

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Obedience of Sister Chang

When God spoke to Sister Chang, a house church leader from Henan, He told her to do something that made no earthly sense at all. He told her to go and preach the gospel on the steps outside the local police station. Such an action may lead to arrest even in Western nations and in Communist China it is a sure way to invite severe punishment. But the more Sister Chang prayed about it, the more clearly the inner voice of God continued to tell her to do it. Finally, she saw no option but to obey God.

Standing on the top step outside the police station, she boldly preached the Gospel to astonished onlookers. Within a few minutes several officers dragged her inside and placed her under arrest. To the human eye her obedience looked foolish but God can see things that we can’t.

Sister Chang was sentenced without a trial and sent to the local women’s prison, where she was placed alongside thousands of spiritually lost souls. She boldly and lovingly proclaimed the Gospel to her fellow prisoners. The light of the gospel spread like wildfire. Within just three months, 800 women believed in Jesus! The entire atmosphere of the prison changed and new sounds of praise and worship were heard echoing down the prison hallways and in the courtyard.

The prison director was greatly impressed at the change in the atmosphere and was able to trace it to the preaching of Sister Chang. He brought her into his office and said, “You have made my job easy! There is no more fighting between the prisoners and the women have become gentle and obedient. We need more people like you working here. From today, we have decided to let you go free. We want to give you a full-time job here in the prison, and we will pay you 3,000 Yuan per month” (about £200, a fortune in rural Henan). He continued, “We will also give you a car and your own driver, and will find you comfortable housing.”

Sister Chang briefly considered the offer, and then replied, “Twenty years ago I became a disciple of Jesus Christ and He has been wonderful to me. I don’t believe your offer of a car, driver and salary is in line with what Jesus wants to do with my life – and I belong to him. All I want to do is preach the Good News.”

 Despite her rejection of his offer, the director released her from prison that day and she continued her ministry for the Lord.

It always pays to do what the Lord tells us to do. Don’t argue, don’t fight it, and don’t try to work out all the details with your mind. Just do it. That is one mark of a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Learning from a Flock of Geese

-  Geoff Wilson

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.
 If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. 
Romans 12:6-8 (NIV) 

You have probably heard someone call another person who has done something foolish, "A silly goose!" 
Well, I can tell you that geese are not silly. We can learn a lot from the goose.
 For example, I am sure that most of you probably know that when geese fly, they fly in a "V" formation. Have you ever wondered why the geese fly in a "V" formation?

Recent scientific studies have given us the answer. It has been learned that as each goose flaps its wings, it gives a lift to the one immediately following. It has been determined that flying this way gives the geese about 70% more flying range. Of course, that means that the lead goose is working harder.
 When the lead goose gets tired, he falls back into the formation and another takes his place. Now, that's team work!

If you have ever seen a flock of geese flying, you have also noticed that all the time they are flying, the geese are"honking." They do this to encourage one another. It is always easier to do something difficult when you know you aren't flying alone, isn't it?

Sometimes, a goose becomes sick or is injured and falls to the ground. When that happens, two other geese go down and stay with it until it is well. If it dies, they join another formation and continue on their journey.

Do you think the geese are silly? 
It sounds to me like they are pretty smart!
What lessons do you think we could learn from the geese?
We could learn that it is important for all church members to share the responsibility within the church rather than letting the same loyal ones work until they drop! We could learn that it is important to "honk" encouragement to other workers in the church. We could learn that it is important for us to look after those who are sick or in need.

Dear Jesus, help us to use the gifts that you have given us to serve and encourage others. Amen. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

You Reap What You Sow

"Good morning," said a woman as she walked up to the man sitting on the ground. The man slowly looked up. This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat was new. She looked like she had never missed a meal in her life. His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before.

"Leave me alone," he growled. To his amazement, the woman continued standing. She was smiling -- her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows. "Are you hungry?" she asked. "No," he answered sarcastically. "I've just come from dining with the president. Now go away." The woman's smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm. "What are you doing, lady?" the man asked angrily. "I said to leave me alone. Just then a policeman came up. "Is there any problem, ma'am?" he asked.

"No problem here, officer," the woman answered. "I'm just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?" The officer scratched his head. "That's old Jack. He's been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?" "See that cafeteria over there?" she asked. "I'm going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile." "Are you crazy, lady?" the homeless man resisted. "I don't want to go in there!" Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up. "Let me go, officer. I didn't do anything."

"This is a good deal for you, Jack," the officer answered. "Don't blow it." Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived. The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by his table. "What's going on here, officer?" he asked."What is all this, is this man in trouble?" "This lady brought this man in here to be fed," the policeman answered.

"Not in here!" the manager replied angrily. "Having a person like that here is bad for business."
Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. "See, lady. I told you so. Now if you'll let me go. I didn't want to come here in the first place." The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled. "Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?" "Of course I am," the manager answered impatiently.

"They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms." "And do you make a goodly amount of money providing food at these weekly meetings?" "What business is that of yours?" "I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of the company." "Oh."

The woman smiled again. "I thought that might make a difference." She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a laugh. "Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?" "No thanks, ma'am," the officer replied. "I'm on duty." "Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?"
"Yes, ma'am. That would be very nice."

The cafeteria manager turned on his heel. "I'll get your coffee for you right away, officer." The officer watched him walk away. "You certainly put him in his place," he said. "That was not my intent... Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this." She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest. She stared at him intently.

"Jack, do you remember me?" Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes. "I think so -- I mean you do look familiar." "I'm a little older perhaps," she said. "Maybe I've even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry."

"Ma'am?" the officer said questioningly. He couldn't believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry. "I was just out of college," the woman began. "I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn't find anything. Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat."

Jack lit up with a smile. "Now I remember," he said. "I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy." "I know," the woman continued. "Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble. Then, when I looked over and saw you put the price of my food in the cash register, I knew then that everything would be all right."

"So you started your own business?" Old Jack said. "I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business that, with the help of God, prospered." She opened her purse and pulled out a business card. "When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons. He's the personnel director of my company. I'll go talk to him now and I'm certain he'll find something for you to do around the office."

She smiled. "I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet. If you ever need anything, my door is always open to you." There were tears in the old man's eyes. "How can I ever thank you?" he asked. "Don't thank me," the woman answered. "To God goes the glory. Thank Jesus... He led me to you."

Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at the entrance before going their separate ways. "Thank you for all your help, officer," she said. "On the contrary, Ms. Eddy," he answered.  "Thank you. I saw a miracle today, something that I will never forget. And thank you for the coffee."

She frowned. "I forgot to ask you whether you used cream or sugar. That's black." The officer looked at the steaming cup of coffee in his hand. "Yes, I do take cream and sugar — perhaps more sugar than is good for me." He patted his ample stomach. "I'm sorry," she said. "I don't need it now," he replied smiling. "I've got the feeling that this coffee you bought me is going to taste as sweet as sugar."

 - From Reminisces of Happy Times by Robert Wiley