Aug 302013
 

I saw in a dream that I was in the Celestial City — though when and how I got there I could not tell. I was one of the multitude which no man could number, from all countries, people, times and ages. Somehow I found that the saint who stood next to me had been in Heaven more than 1,860 years.

“Who are you?” I said to him.

“I was a Roman Christian, I lived in the days of the Apostle Paul. I was one of those who died in Nero’s persecutions. I was covered with pitch and fastened to a stake and set on fire to light up Nero’s gardens.”

“How awful!” I exclaimed.

“Oh,” he said, “I was glad to do something for my Lord, Jesus Christ. He suffered and died on a cross for me.”

The man on the other side then spoke; “I have been in Heaven only a few hundred years. I came from an island in the South Seas, Erromanga. John Williams, a missionary, came and told me about Jesus and I, too, learned to love Him. Sadly, my countrymen were hard-hearted, so with fervent anger they beat me and the missionary. The missionary died, but I revived. The next day they knocked me out, cooked and fed me — to each other.”

“How terrible!” I said.

“No,” he answered, “I was glad, I was a Christian — I had given my life to Him. You see, the missionaries told me that Jesus had his beard plucked; that he was beaten, whipped and crowned with thorns for me.”

Then they both turned to me and said, “How about you…?”

I was speechless. While they both were looking at me, I awoke — it was only a dream! But I lay awake in my soft bed for hours thinking of the time and money I had wasted. I realized then I did not know, nor fathom the depth of the words of Christ:

“If any man will come after me. Let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”Author Unknown

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Aug 302013
 
Written by Phil Ware, April 24, 2000

As a young man, it was the worst night of my life! Worse than being up all night with the stomach virus. Worse than smoking twenty cheap cigars to impress a high school buddy. Worse than freezing and wheezing in sub-teen temperature on a hunting trip. It was the worst night of my life… period.

My grandfather was in his last days dying with cancer. I came to visit him in the hospital. After a three-hour visit, I called home and said I felt like I needed to spend the night with him in the hospital room. He was afraid. He felt lonely. Most of all, my G-daddy asked me to spend the night with him. His eyes told me this would be our last time together.

G-daddy was my dad’s father. He was the little old man in the hat. That’s what he had always been to me. He took me fishing. He kept cinnamon balls in a bag so they’d always be there when I came to see him. He taught me how to Bar-BQ and even told me his secret ingredient. He let me sleep in his den with all his mounted deer heads on the wall. He had the first color TV I had ever seen. He put Dr. Pepper in a coffee cup and let me have it for breakfast and told everyone it was okay because it was coffee. But he was the little old man in the hat to me. I would always love him. I especially loved him that long, horrible night.

The night lasted forever. G-daddy slept fitfully. He moaned with pain. I called for more medication. Then he was angry and combative, almost hostile with the nurses. His language was coarse and ugly. He was a man I had never seen, raging in my grandfather’s body. Finally, the medicine slowly began to take effect.

G-daddy calmed and we talked. We remembered the past. We talked about my dad, his son, who had predeceased him. He gradually slipped away in sleep. But his dreams on the medication were frightening and repeatedly startled him awake. I would comfort him and talk him back asleep. What sleep I got, was stolen while lying on two chairs, trying to sort out what was happening. Then ten or fifteen minutes later, the cycle would begin all over again. It went on all night. My heart ripped apart. I had come for a brief visit and spent the night becoming acquainted with my grandfather’s anguish as cancer stole his life away. The night lasted forever. Finally, the soft glow of morning light softened the darkness behind the curtain. As the sky lit up with the light of a new day, G-daddy calmed and found the sleep that had escaped him earlier. Relief arrived. And I began my two-hour drive home, left to contemplate a night I have not shared with anyone, till now.

I was young, immature, and still in anguish with my own father’s death. I had no emotional context in which to place the horror of the night before. I loved my granddad. I had never seen him like this. I hated it for him. I hated death and its imposing and impending certainty. I hated knowing that I would soon be the oldest of the Ware men, such a short time after we had made a four-generation picture of G-daddy (75), my dad (50), myself (25), and my son (newborn). I hated that night. There is no way to describe how important it was for me to see the first rays of sunlight.

“No matter how long, how deep, and how dark the night, sunrise does eventually come.”

As the years have passed, I have ministered to many families facing impending death. I don’t think you can ever look at it the same after it has visited your own house several times. But one thing from this horrible night has been a source of hope that has strengthened and cheered me through the dark hours of sadness. No matter how long, how deep, and how dark the night, sunrise does eventually come. No, I’m not talking about the temporary sunrise that ends a night of sadness, like I experienced with G-daddy’s night of anguish. I’m talking about a permanent sunrise.

 The darkness of night descended on Jesus’ band of followers as the truth sunk into their broken hearts. Their hero had died, betrayed by one of their own number. Another had repeatedly denied him even cursing in the courtyard where he was ridiculed. And all of them had forsaken him and fled. Their darkness lasted more than one night. It was impenetrably deep. Darkness clearly ruled this night just as surely as it had called to Judas and seduced him into betrayal. The nightmares that stirred them awake and haunted their waking hours was no dream — it was real and horrifying and life shattering. But even with the door tightly shut and fear running rampant in their hearts, the dull rays of sunrise penetrated their darkness. Too wonderful to believe at first, they had to know for themselves. But it was true! Sunrise, or better yet, Son-rise, had dawned. The world was forever changed. And these fearful few became the torch-lights of salvation.

So when G-daddy’s agony ended a few days after my visit, I was able to let the horrors of the night slide into the dark closet of memory. Instead, I chose to remember the soft glow of morning light as it softened the darkness behind the curtain and gave the promise a better day — a day without cancer, a day without pain, a day without darkness, a day without death.

The horrors of Calvary, the betrayal in the garden, the denials in the courtyard, and fearfulness in the disciples hearts remind us that Jesus’ resurrection wasn’t part of a fairy tale world of antiseptic heroes. Jesus’ resurrection was lived out in the world of grit and the stench of death. Jesus’ resurrection was God’s stiletto that ripped open the suffocating veil of sorrow and death and opens a way for all of us to escape the fear that holds us hostage. Jesus’ resurrection is the promise that just as every dark night is followed by sunrise, so also is the disciple’s death followed by the dawn of Jesus’ glory and their own victory over death.Copyright © 1996-2000, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759. May be reprinted and reused for non-commercial purposes only if copyright credits are appropriately displayed. HEARTLIGHT is a registered service mark of Heartlight, Inc.

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Jul 292013
 

“And the Apostles said unto the Lord, increase our faith.” Luke 17:5

Prayer is the expression of need. The earnestness of prayer is evidence of the appreciation of what is asked for. The Apostles are in the presence of the Source of all good from whom many and great things may be received; but that which they felt to be their greatest need was not earthly good of any kind, but an increase of their faith; and for this they prayed. This is a genuine Apostolic prayer, and implies some facts that we desire to notice.

I. It implies that some faith is already possessed.

The petitioners already had some faith in the great fundamental truths of religion; but they desired more. All men have faith to some degree. It is so impossible for the worlds of man’s creation to hold together without faith, as for the worlds of God’s creation to maintain their integrity without gravity. It is the faith that merchant has in merchant that keeps the mercantile world from falling to pieces. It is faith that maintains the social world. What would become of the felicity of the domestic world if faith were eliminated from the families that compose it?

It is through faith that we have the knowledge that we have. Few of us are original thinkers, very few of us are given to original research; hence the knowledge that we have is very largely what we have accepted as true from some one who has given it to us, either in a book, or by direct address. Indeed, it is faith that keeps heaven and earth together. If we had no faith in a future world heaven would disappear from the vision of our souls. More than this, if we had no faith we would be unable to posses ourselves of the blessings that have been made possible to us through the Cross of Jesus Christ. Hence it is apparent that some faith is possessed by all men; that all who subscribe to the Christian creed possess it in some measure.

II. It then implies that there are degrees in faith.

One man may have stronger faith than another, there are some who have stronger eyesight than others. One man may take a tighter grip of an object than another; so may one man’s eye of faith be stronger than another’s; one man may take a stronger hold upon the great spiritual verities of religion than another.

It was their faith that made men in the early times renowned; it is through the exercise of faith that men still gain glory. We read of Abraham, Moses, Daniel, Paul; but their names would never have reached us but for their great faith in God and Christ.

It is by men of strong faith that the way of advance is pioneered along which peoples rise to higher glory.

Some men have greater influence with God than other men; but this is not because of their standing in society, their intellectual attainments; but because of their faith in God.

There are those whose composure of soul amid life’s trying circumstances make most profound impressions on the minds of those who behold them. But this composure is not because of being swayed by any stoical philosophy; it is because of a profound faith in the promises of God. There is no fact more patent than that there are degrees of faith in the great fundamentals of religion, as there are in faith of any object.

III. It implies the desirability of faith’s increase.

The results of this increase show the wisdom of desiring it. Look at some of these results:

1. There follows a deeper conviction of the facts of the existence and imminence of a personal God. This conviction puts far away from the mind all the influences of those reasoners who would argue God out of the universe, or make all things Deity. In proportion as this faith grows, do conceptions of God become more sublime and soul-uplifting. And, too, influenced by increasing faith in the imminence of God, our views of earth change. It ceases to be a mere marketing place, a playground; it becomes more and more a sacred place, because of the increasing conviction that God is everywhere present in it. How comforting is this conviction to the Christian! He knows his God is at hand with all the kindness of a heart of love to help him.

2. Increase of faith will make the promises sources of greater comfort to the soul. What glorious things God has made available to men on the exercise of their faith. What king ever promised such marvelous things to his subjects as God has promised to those who believe in Him. But there are many of the professed followers’ of Christ who take very little good out of those promises·. They read them, and often think that they are too glorious to be realizable. But as filth in God’s Word increases confidence in the availability of all those blessings that the Bible promises to man becomes so strong that those promises are taken in their fullest import and their fulfillment claimed. What comfort and peace of soul he has who has implicit faith in all that the Bible declares may be man’s portion!

3. There follows the increase of faith deeper convictions of the reality of God’s providence over men and nations. The stronger our faith becomes in the fundamentals of our religion the more firmly will we hold to the truth that God rules in the affairs of men and nations. Men of strong faith in God never think of this world as abandoned by its Maker. They never think of any of the children of men as being outside the realm of His loving care. To them it is a truth, as true as .any ever penned by men, that the nations are not left to be controlled by the wisdom of statesmen, nor the will of tyrants; but that God sways His scepter over thrones, and orders the march of the events of the nations.

4. There follows this increase a clearer, truer, knowledge. We do not get true conceptions of many things through our physical vision.We do not see the stars so as to have proper conceptions of their magnitude. The Polar star appears to our eye so small that it might be held in the hand of a man; but to the eye of faith it is a world of marvelous magnitude. We have a better view of ourselves by faith than by sight. This is also true concerning Jesus Christ. As a means of knowledge, faith is more to be relied on than are the senses. How important then that it becomes strong?

5. There follows the increase of faith a greater confidence that the mission of Christ to earth shall be accomplished in all the vastness of its purpose. There seem to be insurmountable difficulties in the way of Christ’s march of conquest; but however great may seem the difficulties, to that faith that is strong in the wisdom and resources of Christ, the final victory is certain.

6. Increase of faith in the religion we profess makes the future real, and its prospects more soul-cheering. As thus it is seen that the increase of our faith -is followed by such delightful and important. results, the great desirability of its increase must be apparent.1909 W. Downey Preacher’s Fingerpost

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Jul 292013
 

Why are Dalmatians associated with Firehouses?

Dalmatians were used as coach dogs. A coach dog was a large breed of dog having a smooth white coat with black or brown spots, having originated in Dalmatia, a region of Croatia on the Adriatic Sea, being very mountainous and having many islands. These dogs were used to accompany horse-drawn carriages to ward off robbers.

When horse-drawn fire carriages were introduced, the carriage dogs were used because they were accustomed to horses and able to run long distances. The dogs’ white coats were highly visible and alerted people to get out of the way of the oncoming carriage.

Since the advancement of technology the dogs were obsolete but have been adopted by the fire department as their mascot and a few firehouses still have dalmatians on the premise.

 Posted by at 07/29/2013  Just for Fun  Comments Off on Did you know?
Jul 252013
 

Since a revival can never lay hold upon the world until it has first laid hold on the church, the need then is for the fountain of sin to be stopped up in the church. Christians who have fallen prey to sin must be brought to repentance. They must have their faith renewed. Before the world can be moved, we must renew the image of Jesus Christ in ourselves. It is vain even to call upon the church to love others when the church has ceased loving Christ first.

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Jun 262013
 
For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” Psalm 48:14

The world passes away. Everything here in this present world is changing.

A rope of sand, a spider’s web, a silken thread, a passing shadow, an ebbing wave, are the most fitting and expressive emblems of all things belonging to this present earthly state. The homes that sheltered us in childhood we leave. The land which gave us birth we leave. The loved ones who encircled our hearths pass away. The friends of early years depart. And the world that was so sunny, and life that was so sweet, is all beclouded and embittered—the whole scenery of existence changed into wintry gloom. Such are the saddening, depressing effects of life’s vicissitudes.

But in the midst of all, “this God is our God for ever and ever!” All beings change but God. All things change but heaven. The evolutions of time revolve, the events of earth go onward, but He upon whom all things hang, and by whom all events are shaped and controlled, moves not. “For I am the Lord, I change not.” Our affairs may alter. Our circumstances may change. Our relations and friends may depart one by one. Our souls in a single day pass through many fluctuations of spiritual feeling. But He who chose us to be His own, and who has kept us to the present moment, is our covenant God and Father forever and ever, and will never throw us off and cast us away. “For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.”

Octavius Winslow (1808-1878)

Jun 262013
 
By Rev. Russell H. Conwell

The highest ambition of every preacher should be to inaugurate at once the greatest revival of the new century. The militant church should sweep into the new century with the shout of victory. There is much in our Zion that ought to be cast overboard before we drop anchor in the twentieth century. Our ideal church, with her gates thrown wide open day and night, and sinners constantly thronging her altars in quest of salvation, is not in sight. The history of the Christian Church is one of alternate lights and shades. She has been swept by great tides of salvation, followed by declension. But for her periodical revivals, the church would not hold her own in the battle against sin. Whether this is God’s order, or the result of chronic habit upon the part of the church, or a necessity of the mental and moral constitution of our humanity, we may not be too certain, but we incline strongly to the notion that the Pentecostal enduement of the whole church would put an end to her sporadic history, and inaugurate a simultaneous forward movement which would hasten the millennium and take the world for Christ.

In the promotion of revivals the preacher and the gospel are indispensable. Nothing can break the spell of sin, quicken the dead soul, and cause it to glow and stir with spiritual life, but the omnipotent Word of God. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe. The preacher is God’s ordained instrument in the conduct of a genuine revival. He is to inspire, instruct, and lead the militant host to victory. His relation to the work is one of great responsibility. He needs heavenly wisdom, undaunted courage, invincible faith, and Christly patience. He can either help or hinder. His first duty is to keep out of the way. He must not be an obstructionist, but a constructionist. We have known many revivals to be thwarted and defeated by a well-meaning preacher unconsciously standing in the way of the Holy Ghost. The liberty of the Spirit must not be infringed in a revival. The preacher is humanly responsible for the conduct of the meeting, but much grace and wisdom are needed lest he should assume unwarranted prerogatives and the Holy Spirit be grieved. He is a fortunate conductor who knows just when and where to put on the brakes. No serious mistake can obtain while the leadership of the Holy Spirit is recognized and followed. Self-conceit and self-opinionation must find no place in the successful leader of the revival. God will not divide the honors with men. The preacher must be clothed with humility and dominated with a passion to save souls and glorify God “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” “He who would be greatest among you, let him be the servant of all.” The preacher must be emptied of self and filled with the Holy Spirit, who would touch the secret springs of power and win souls to Christ.

The preacher in the revival should not talk too much. Many revivals have been talked to death by the preacher. We have known preachers who were constantly warning the members not to talk too long, who themselves seemed never to know when to talk or when to stop. The successful commander is not the one who does all the fighting, nor all the talking, but has acquired the happy art of directing and developing the talents of the church. He is to generate and utilize all the interest possible for the good of every service. It is unfortunate when the preacher becomes a talking-machine and monopolizes the time in long sermons and miscellaneous remarks, as if nothing was complete until he has his say. In this case quality is greatly to be desired above quantity. Words are not to be counted, but weighed. The preacher should never forget that there is no substitute for the Holy Ghost. He may beat the air and bruise his wings, and in his misguided zeal become desperate, but all is as sounding brass or tinkling cymbal without the Holy Ghost. The gift of tongues has its place, but the crowning gift is the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Native ability and refined culture are elements of power when employed under the sway of the Holy Ghost. The art of soul-saving is a divine art, and cannot be learned in the schools, nor can it be imitated. It must be the genuine thing or nothing. No human device nor mechanical regime will avail anything. To your knees, O men of God! Tarry until you are filled with the Holy Ghost, and the revival needed will be on.Temple College, Philadelphia, 1900

Jan 252013
 

Below are a few mental exercises that may challenge your mind as we enter the new year. First a history quiz, and then a word puzzle; it cannot get any more exertive than that! Since it is January, the first quiz is appropriately called:

Firsts

With a new year comes many new “firsts”. Can you answer these questions regarding, “firsts”?

A. When did man first walk on the moon?
  1. July 21, 1969
  2. July 19, 1969
  3. August 1, 1969
  4. September 9, 1968
B. When were the first U.S. coins minted?
  1. 1776
  2. 1777
  3. 1784
  4. 1793
C. When did the boxer known as Cassius Clay win his first heavyweight title?
  1. 1960
  2. 1964
  3. 1965
  4. 1966
D. What was the first year in which a ball was dropped in New York City, celebrating the New Year?
  1. 1899
  2. 1904
  3. 1908
  4. 1920
E. Who won the first Super Bowl?
  1. New York Jets
  2. Miami Dolphins
  3. Green Bay Packers
  4. Oakland Raiders
(Tired of seeing the word ‘first’ yet?)
F. Which was the first colony to become a state?
  1. New York
  2. Delaware
  3. Virginia
  4. Massachusetts
G. What is the first institution of higher learning called in the U.S.?
  1. The College of William and Mary
  2. Yale
  3. King’s College (Columbia University)
  4. Harvard
H. NASA’s first space shuttle was named:
  1. Atlantis
  2. Enterprise
  3. Columbia
  4. Discovery
I. The Wright brothers’ first airplane was called:
  1. Flyer 1
  2. The Kitty Hawk
  3. Zephyr 1
  4. Flying Apparatus model FA-1
J. Where was the first roller coaster in America?
  1. Six Flags in Arlington, Texas
  2. Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York
  3. The Boardwalk, Asbury Park, New Jersey
  4. The World’s Columbia Exhibition (World’s Fair) Chicago, Illinois
K. When was the first ATM available for public use?
  1. 1969
  2. 1971
  3. 1977
  4. 1980
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