Monday, November 30, 2009

more of What I Read Today - Monday November 30, 2009

From:  The New York Times

America vs. The Narrative

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN


What should we make of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who apparently killed 13 innocent people at Fort Hood?

Here’s my take: Major Hasan may have been mentally unbalanced — I assume anyone who shoots up innocent people is. But the more you read about his support for Muslim suicide bombers, about how he showed up at a public-health seminar with a PowerPoint presentation titled “Why the War on Terror Is a War on Islam,” and about his contacts with Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni cleric famous for using the Web to support jihadist violence against America — the more it seems that Major Hasan was just another angry jihadist spurred to action by “The Narrative.”

What is scary is that even though he was born, raised and educated in America, The Narrative still got to him.

The Narrative is the cocktail of half-truths, propaganda and outright lies about America that have taken hold in the Arab-Muslim world since 9/11. Propagated by jihadist Web sites, mosque preachers, Arab intellectuals, satellite news stations and books — and tacitly endorsed by some Arab regimes — this narrative posits that America has declared war on Islam, as part of a grand “American-Crusader-Zionist conspiracy” to keep Muslims down.

Yes, after two decades in which U.S. foreign policy has been largely dedicated to rescuing Muslims or trying to help free them from tyranny — in Bosnia, Darfur, Kuwait, Somalia, Lebanon, Kurdistan, post-earthquake Pakistan, post-tsunami Indonesia, Iraq and Afghanistan — a narrative that says America is dedicated to keeping Muslims down is thriving.

Although most of the Muslims being killed today are being killed by jihadist suicide bombers in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Indonesia, you’d never know it from listening to their world. The dominant narrative there is that 9/11 was a kind of fraud: America’s unprovoked onslaught on Islam is the real story, and the Muslims are the real victims — of U.S. perfidy.

Have no doubt: we punched a fist into the Arab/Muslim world after 9/11, partly to send a message of deterrence, but primarily to destroy two tyrannical regimes — the Taliban and the Baathists — and to work with Afghans and Iraqis to build a different kind of politics. In the process, we did some stupid and bad things. But for every Abu Ghraib, our soldiers and diplomats perpetrated a million acts of kindness aimed at giving Arabs and Muslims a better chance to succeed with modernity and to elect their own leaders.

The Narrative was concocted by jihadists to obscure that.

It’s working. As a Jordanian-born counterterrorism expert, who asked to remain anonymous, said to me: “This narrative is now omnipresent in Arab and Muslim communities in the region and in migrant communities around the world. These communities are bombarded with this narrative in huge doses and on a daily basis. [It says] the West, and right now mostly the U.S. and Israel, is single-handedly and completely responsible for all the grievances of the Arab and the Muslim worlds. Ironically, the vast majority of the media outlets targeting these communities are Arab-government owned — mostly from the Gulf.”

This narrative suits Arab governments. It allows them to deflect onto America all of their people’s grievances over why their countries are falling behind. And it suits Al Qaeda, which doesn’t need much organization anymore — just push out The Narrative over the Web and satellite TV, let it heat up humiliated, frustrated or socially alienated Muslim males, and one or two will open fire on their own. See: Major Hasan.

“Liberal Arabs like me are as angry as a terrorist and as determined to change the status quo,” said my Jordanian friend. The only difference “is that while we choose education, knowledge and success to bring about change, a terrorist, having bought into the narrative, has a sense of powerlessness and helplessness, which are inculcated in us from childhood, that lead him to believe that there is only one way, and that is violence.”

What to do? Many Arab Muslims know that what ails their societies is more than the West, and that The Narrative is just an escape from looking honestly at themselves. But none of their leaders dare or care to open that discussion. In his Cairo speech last June, President Obama effectively built a connection with the Muslim mainstream. Maybe he could spark the debate by asking that same audience this question:

“Whenever something like Fort Hood happens you say, ‘This is not Islam.’ I believe that. But you keep telling us what Islam isn’t. You need to tell us what it is and show us how its positive interpretations are being promoted in your schools and mosques. If this is not Islam, then why is it that a million Muslims will pour into the streets to protest Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, but not one will take to the streets to protest Muslim suicide bombers who blow up other Muslims, real people, created in the image of God? You need to explain that to us — and to yourselves.”

What I Read Today - Monday November 30, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

Nowhere Tickets


READ: John 14:1-6

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. —Acts 4:12We kept getting tickets to nowhere. We had finished a missions trip to Jamaica and were trying to get home. However, our airline was having problems, and no matter what our tickets said, we couldn’t leave Montego Bay. Over and over we heard, “Your flight has been canceled.” Even though we had purchased our tickets in good faith, the airline could not back up its promise to transport us to the US. We had to stay an extra day before boarding a plane that could take us home.

Imagine thinking that you are headed for heaven, but discovering that your ticket is no good. It can happen. If you trust the wrong plan, you will get to the gate of eternity but be denied entrance into heaven to live with God forever.

The apostle Peter said there is salvation in no one else but Jesus (Acts 4:12). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). The only ticket to heaven goes to those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross as payment for their sin.

Some offer other ways. But those tickets are worthless. To make sure you’re going to heaven, trust Jesus. He’s the only way. — Dave Branon

Lord, I know I’m a sinner and cannot save myself. I need You as my Savior. Thank You for dying in my place and rising again. I believe in You. Please forgive my sin. I want to live with You in heaven someday.

Jesus took my place on the cross and gave me a place in heaven.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What I Read Today - Monday November 23, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

Preventing Regret


READ: 2 Samuel 18:31–19:4

The king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. —2 Samuel 18:33In the 1980s, the British band Mike and the Mechanics recorded a powerful song titled, “The Living Years.” The songwriter mourns his father’s death, because their relationship had been strained and marked by silence rather than sharing. The singer remorsefully says, “I didn’t get to tell him all the things I had to say.” Struggling with regret over words unsaid and love unexpressed, he laments, “I just wish I could have told him in the living years.”

King David similarly regretted his broken relationship with his son Absalom. Angered over David’s refusal to punish Amnon for raping his sister Tamar, Absalom killed Amnon and fled (2 Sam. 13:21-34). David’s servant Joab knew that he longed to go to his fugitive son, so he arranged for Absalom to be brought to him. But their relationship was never the same again. Absalom’s bitterness sparked a conflict that ended with his death (18:14). It was a bitter victory for King David, causing him to lament his lost son and their failed relationship (18:33). No amount of grieving, however, could undo David’s heartache.

We can learn from David’s regret when dealing with broken relationships. The pain of trying to make things right can be hard. But it’s much better to do what we can to make things right “in the living years.” — Bill Crowder

For Further Study
Do you have a strained relationship with someone?
For help, read on the Internet What Do You Do With A Broken Relationship? at www.discoveryseries.org/q0703

A broken relationship can be repaired— but only if you’re willing to try.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What I Read Today. Sunday November 22, 2009

From: The New York times

Op-Ed Columnist

Advice From Grandma

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

President Obama’s visit to China this week inevitably invites comparisons between the world’s two leading powers. You know what they say: Britain owned the 19th century, America owned the 20th century, and, it’s all but certain that China will own the 21st century. Maybe, but I’m not ready to cede the 21st century to China just yet.

Why not? It has to do with the fact that we are moving into a hyperintegrated world in which all aspects of production — raw materials, design, manufacturing, distribution, fulfillment, financing and branding — have become commodities that can be accessed from anywhere by anyone. But there are still two really important things that can’t be commoditized. Fortunately, America still has one of them: imagination.

What your citizens imagine now matters more than ever because they can act on their own imaginations farther, faster, deeper and cheaper than ever before — as individuals. In such a world, societies that can nurture people with the ability to imagine and spin off new ideas will thrive. The Apple iPod may be made in China, but it was dreamed up in America, and that’s where most of the profits go. America — with its open, free, no-limits, immigrant-friendly society — is still the world’s greatest dream machine.

Who would cede a century in which imagination will have such a high value to an authoritarian society that controls its Internet and jails political prisoners? Remember what Grandma used to say: Never cede a century to a country that censors Google.

But while our culture of imagination is still vibrant, the other critical factor that still differentiates countries today — and is not a commodity — is good governance, which can harness creativity. And that we may be losing. I am talking about the ability of a society’s leaders to think long term, address their problems with the optimal legislation and attract capable people into government. What I increasingly fear today is that America is only able to produce “suboptimal” responses to its biggest problems — education, debt, financial regulation, health care, energy and environment.

Why? Because at least six things have come together to fracture our public space and paralyze our ability to forge optimal solutions:
1) Money in politics has become so pervasive that lawmakers have to spend most of their time raising it, selling their souls to those who have it or defending themselves from the smallest interest groups with deep pockets that can trump the national interest.

2) The gerrymandering of political districts means politicians of each party can now choose their own voters and never have to appeal to the center.

3) The cable TV culture encourages shouting and segregating people into their own political echo chambers.

4) A permanent presidential campaign leaves little time for governing.

5) The Internet, which, at its best, provides a check on elites and establishments and opens the way for new voices and, which, at its worst provides a home for every extreme view and spawns digital lynch mobs from across the political spectrum that attack anyone who departs from their specific orthodoxy.

6) A U.S. business community that has become so globalized that it only comes to Washington to lobby for its own narrow interests; it rarely speaks out anymore in defense of national issues like health care, education and open markets.

These six factors are pushing our system, which was designed to have divided powers and to force compromises, into the realm of paralysis. To get anything big done now, we have to generate so many compromises — couched in 1,000-plus-page bills — with so many different interest groups that the solutions are totally suboptimal. We just get the sum of all interest groups.

The miniversion of this is California, which, as others have noted, is becoming America’s biggest “failed state.” Californians had hoped they could overcome their dysfunctional system by electing an outsider, a former movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He would slay the system, like the Terminator. But he couldn’t.

Mr. Obama was elected for similar reasons. People had hoped that his unique story, personality and speaking skills could bring the country together, overcome paralysis and deliver nation-building at home. A lot of the disappointment settling in among Obama voters today is prompted by their dawning realization that maybe, like Arnold, he can’t.

China’s leaders, using authoritarian means, still can. They don’t have to always settle for suboptimal. So what do we do?

The standard answer is that we need better leaders. The real answer is that we need better citizens. We need citizens who will convey to their leaders that they are ready to sacrifice, even pay, yes, higher taxes, and will not punish politicians who ask them to do the hard things. Otherwise, folks, we’re in trouble. A great power that can only produce suboptimal responses to its biggest challenges will, in time, fade from being a great power — no matter how much imagination it generates.

Grandma said that, too.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What I Read Today - Thursday November 19, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

Precious Fruit


READ: Galatians 5:22-26

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. —Galatians 5:22-23How much would you be willing to pay for a piece of fruit? In Japan, someone paid more than $6,000 for one Densuke watermelon. Grown only on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, this beautiful dark-green sphere looks like a bowling ball. The nearly 18-pound watermelon was one of only a few thousand available that year. The fruit’s rarity brought an astronomical price on the market.

Christians have fruit that is far more precious than the Densuke watermelon. It’s called the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). Each “fruit” is a different aspect of Christlikeness. In the Gospels, we see how Christ exemplified these virtues. Now He wants to produce them in our hearts—in what we say, how we think, and how we respond to life (John 15:1-4).

A rare and delicious fruit may bring a premium price in the marketplace, but Christlike character is of far greater worth. As we confess all known sin and yield to God’s indwelling Spirit, our lives will be transformed to the likeness of Christ (1 John 1:9; Eph. 5:18). This spiritual fruit will fill our lives with joy, bless those around us, and last into eternity. — Dennis Fisher

Think not alone of outward form;
Its beauty will depart;
But cultivate the Spirit’s fruits
That grow within the heart. —D. De Haan

Fruitfulness for Christ depends on fellowship with Christ.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What I Read Today - Wednesday November 18, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

God Works In Mud


READ: Genesis 2:1-7

The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. —Genesis 2:7In a 1950s novel, there is a scene in which four village men confess their sins to one another. One of the men, Michelis, cries out, “How can God let us live on the earth? Why doesn’t He kill us to purify creation?” “Because, Michelis,” one of the men answered, “God is a potter; He works in mud.”

This is literally what the Lord did in Genesis. The sovereign Creator formed and shaped humanity by unique design. This process involved fashioning a man from the dust of the ground. The word formed in Genesis 2:7 describes the work of an artist. Like a potter, molding and fashioning mud into a pot or some other earthen vessel, so the Lord God formed humanity from clay.

God’s work with dust and mud continued by breathing into man the breath of life, changing his form into a living soul. This made man a spiritual being, with a capacity to serve and fellowship with the Lord.

After Adam and Eve sinned, God continued working in and with mud, sending His Son Jesus to die for humanity and then regenerating those who receive Him so that we can enjoy fellowship with Him. In gratitude, let’s use our hands to do good works for His glory. — Marvin Williams

In His own image God created man,
He formed his body from the dust of earth;
But more than that, to all who are in Christ
He gives eternal life by second birth. —Hess

God is the only One who can make the dirty clean.

Channel 10 Story about tax schedule short comings - Tuesday November 17, 2009

Obama+Administration+Tax+Credit+Could+Cost+You+Come+Tax+Season

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What I Read Today - Tuesday November 17, 2009

From: The Wall Street Journal

What's So Great About Punting?


Belichick's Decision Draws Fire, But Number Crunchers Are in His Corner; the Blackjack Table.ArticleComments (18)more in Sports Main ».

By DARREN EVERSON and REED ALBERGOTTI

In the past 24 hours, Bill Belichick has been ripped and ridiculed, caricatured, called a fool and even accused of falling asleep on the job. "I seriously think he might be losing interest," wrote one fan.
Getty Images New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick moments before deciding not to punt in Sunday night's loss.
But before we run the head coach of the New England Patriots out of town for the tough decision he made in Sunday night's 35-34 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, let's look at the nature of his crime.
Faced with a fourth down in his own territory late in the game with a vulnerable lead, Mr. Belichick decided to let his offense try to win the game with one play. If the Patriots had gained two yards, they would have had a first down and likely been able to run out the clock. The other option, of course, was to punt and, by doing so, leave the outcome of the game in the hands of quarterback Peyton Manning and the Colts.
Put simply, Mr. Belichick is taking flak because he decided, in the middle of a close, hard-fought and emotionally charged game against a major rival, to throw caution to the wind. In other words, he's being pilloried for not being a wimp.
Somehow in American football, the punt—a clear and unambiguous symbol of surrender and retreat—has become the hallmark of sensible coaching.
After the game, many football traditionalists—even some of Mr. Belichick's former players—rushed to denounce the move. Former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi wrote a column about how the decision showed a lack of confidence in the team's defense, and former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison said afterward that it was the worst coaching decision he'd ever seen Mr. Belichick make.
"I thought it was our best chance to win," Mr. Belichick said at a news conference on Monday.
At the same time, however, football statisticians and the coaches who lurk on the game's cerebral fringe thought Mr. Belichick's decision was heroic.
"I would've thought about [going for] it too," says Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, a law-school graduate who is renowned for his counterintuitive approach to football. "Who cares what people think?"
"Of course I thought it was the right decision," says Kevin Kelley, a high-school football coach at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Ark., who has become famous for his strategy of virtually never punting. "If anybody was going to do it, it had to be Belichick. What went through my head was, 'I hope he makes it, because if he doesn't, all the naysayers will say they were right.' But they're still wrong."
The truth depends, of course, on how you slice the numbers. Brian Burke, a statistician who has studied the results of fourth-down situations in the NFL, says a team in the Patriots' situation had a 79% chance of winning by going for it (either by converting the fourth-and-two or stopping the opponent thereafter). That compares favorably to a 70% probability of preventing a foe from driving down the field for a touchdown following a punt.
The human factors can cut both ways. Given that New England's worn-out defense had just allowed a 79-yard touchdown drive to the Colts in under two minutes, Mr. Belichick's gamble made some intuitive sense, too. But at the same time, a punt would have forced Mr. Manning—who'd thrown two interceptions already—to direct his team down the length of the field with two minutes left.
Above all, though, the essence of Mr. Belichick's "crime" may be something simpler than all this: His decision went against the natural instincts of all human beings when they're forced to make high-stakes decisions. In a recent study, researchers from Duke and UCLA found that when faced with a decision involving risk, people have an overwhelming tendency to make the supposedly safe choice—to err on the side of caution—even though doing so may lead to worse results.
By studying thousands of hands of blackjack played by random people, the researchers found that when they strayed from the "book" or the optimal strategy, those players who did something aggressive were more successful than those who did something passive.
In fact, the subjects made four times as many passive mistakes as they did aggressive ones. And these passive mistakes—holding on a 16 when the dealer has a king showing, for example—were more costly: They cost $2 for every $1 won, versus $1.50 for every $1 won on aggressive mistakes.
Why do people embrace caution? "It's because of the regret that people face when they take an action and it doesn't turn out well for them," says Bruce Carlin of UCLA's Anderson School of Management, who worked on the study.
At issue, it seems, is the very idea of what constitutes gambling. If going for it gave the Patriots a statistically better chance of winning—and if aggressive deviations are often better than passive ones—then the gamble would have been to punt, even though that was the seemingly safe play.
"I thought it was nice to see somebody go for it rather than going for it only when it's a no-brainer," says David Romer, a Cal-Berkeley professor of economics who has studied fourth downs in the NFL. "I'm disappointed it didn't work out."
"I'd like to think I would have had the courage to do what Bill did," says NFL Network analyst and former coach Mike Martz.

—Carl Bialik, David Biderman and Phil Izzo contributed to this article

Write to Darren Everson at darren.everson@wsj.com and Reed Albergotti at reed.albergotti@wsj.com

What I Read Today - Tuesday November 17, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

Two Mites


READ: Mark 12:41-44

She out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood. —Mark 12:44Jesus sat in the temple near the treasury and watched as people walked by and deposited their gifts for the temple (Mark 12). Some made a show of it, perhaps so others could see how much they had given. Just then a poor woman came by and threw in two “mites.”

A mite was the least valuable coin in circulation. Thus the widow’s gift was very small, amounting to nothing in most folk’s eyes. But our Lord saw what others did not see. She had given “all that she had” (Mark 12:44). The widow wasn’t trying to draw attention to herself. She was simply doing what she was able to do. And Jesus noticed!

We mustn’t forget that our Lord sees all that we do, though it may seem very small. It may be nothing more than showing a cheerful countenance in difficult times or an unnoticed act of love and kindness to someone who happens to pass by. It may be a brief, silent prayer for a neighbor in need.

Jesus said, “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. . . . But when you do a charitable deed, . . . may [it] be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matt. 6:1-4). — David H. Roper

May our gifts be sacrificial,
From our hearts, and full of love;
Secretive and never showy,
Pleasing our great God above. —Sper

God looks at the heart, not the hand; the giver, not the gift.

Friday, November 13, 2009

What I Read Today - Friday November 13, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

No Deal!


READ: Luke 4:1-13

It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” —Luke 4:4We’ve all seen and heard advertisements that entice us to take shortcuts to happiness. Buy our product and make no payments for one year! Instant gratification!

When the devil tempted Jesus (Luke 4:1-13), he offered a shortcut to “satisfaction.” He tried to tempt Jesus to take matters into His own hands rather than trust His Father.

When Jesus was hungry from 40 days of fasting (v.2), Satan suggested that He use His power to turn stones into bread. Had the Lord done so, He would have been using His powers for His own benefit, but He refused.

Why didn’t Jesus accept the devil’s offer of ruling all the kingdoms of the world right away? (vv.5-7). He could have avoided the cross. But that would have gone against God’s plan for Him—to give His life on the cross, to be resurrected, and to sit at the Father’s right hand in His kingdom. Satan’s offer of a shortcut was no deal at all.

Beware of enticements that seem to cost little for the present. Satan hopes to get you to do things his way. And he doesn’t give up easily. Even after Jesus overcame a third temptation, Satan left only “until an opportune time” (v.13).

Whenever you are offered a shortcut to happiness, watch out to see who’s behind the cashier’s counter! — C. P. Hia

Lord, help me see the devil’s offers for what they are—enticements to sin. Help me to keep my eyes focused on You and Your Word, and my ears attentive to You in prayer. Amen.

The best way to escape temptation is to run to God.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What I Read Today - Thursday November 12, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

Fragile Existence


READ: Job 1:8-22

We should not trust in ourselves but in God. —2 Corinthians 1:9The geological features at Yellowstone National Park fascinate me. But when I walk among the geysers, I’m aware of how close I am to danger. I am walking atop one of the largest, most active volcanoes in the world.

When I read the book of Job, I feel as if I’m walking through Yellowstone on a day when the volcano erupts, exploding the earth’s fragile crust and bringing disaster.

Like tourists at Yellowstone, Job was enjoying life. He was unaware that only a hedge separated him from disaster (Job 1:9-10). When God removed that hedge and allowed Satan to test Job, his life exploded (vv.13-19).

Many believers live in circumstances where it seems as if God, for some reason, has removed His hedge of protection. Others, also for reasons unknown, live in relative calm, seemingly unaware of their fragile existence. Like Job’s friends, they assume that nothing bad will happen unless they do something to deserve it.

As we learn from Job, however, God sometimes allows bad things to happen to good people. Although disaster can strike at any moment, nothing has the power to destroy those who trust Christ (2 Cor. 4:9). No disaster can separate us from God’s love. — Julie Ackerman Link

Though darker, rougher, grows the way
And cares press harder day by day,
With patience in His love I’ll rest,
And whisper that He knoweth best. —Pentecost

God’s love still stands when all else has fallen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What I Read Today - Wednesday November 11, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

Humble Valor


READ: Philippians 2:19-30

Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem. —Philippians 2:29A report by the Chicago Tribune said: “Scores of Americans, from clergymen to lawyers to CEOs, are claiming medals of valor they never earned.” Fabrication of war records and bogus claims of bravery are more widespread than imagined. One man, who falsely claimed a Navy Cross, later felt shame and said that real heroes rarely talk about what they’ve done.

Heroism is marked by an unselfish risking of life for the benefit of another. In Philippians, Paul commends two of his colleagues as true heroes of the faith. Timothy’s unselfishness and proven character gained Paul’s praise as a true son who had served with him in the gospel (2:22). And Paul described Epaphroditus as “my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier” (v.25) who risked his life for the work of Christ (v.30).

Paul told the believers in Philippi to “hold such men in esteem” (v.29). Honoring fellow believers for their unselfish service to God is a biblical mandate. It is not hero worship, but an attitude of respect for a life well lived.

Through a word of encouragement or a tangible expression of appreciation, who can you honor today for their humble valor in serving the Lord and helping others in His name? — David C. McCasland

Heaven’s heroes never carve their name
On marbled columns built for earthly fame;
They build instead a legacy that springs
From faithful service to the King of kings. —Gustafson

Faith in Christ can make extraordinary heroes out of ordinary people.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What I Read Today - Tuesday November 10, 2009

God’s Embrace

READ: Romans 12:3-11

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another. —Romans 12:10Soon after her family left for the evening, Carol started to think that her hospital room must be the loneliest place in the world. Nighttime had fallen, her fears about her illness were back, and she felt overwhelming despair as she lay there alone.

Closing her eyes, she began to talk to God: “O Lord, I know I am not really alone. You are here with me. Please calm my heart and give me peace. Let me feel Your arms around me, holding me.”

As she prayed, Carol felt her fears beginning to subside. And when she opened her eyes, she looked up to see the warm, sparkling eyes of her friend Marge, who reached out to encircle her in a big hug. Carol felt as if God Himself were holding her tightly.

God often uses fellow believers to show us His love. “We, being many, are one body in Christ. . . . Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them” (Rom. 12:5-6). We serve others “with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11).

When we show love and compassion in simple, practical ways, we are a part of God’s ministry to His people. — Cindy Hess Kasper

Teach me to love, this is my prayer—
May the compassion of Thy heart I share;
Ready a cup of water to give,
May I unselfishly for others live. —Peterson

We show our love for God when we love His family.

Friday, November 6, 2009

What I Read Today - Friday November 6, 2009 - From MSNBC

As reported on the NBC Nightly News on Thursday Nite - November 5, 2009. The reporter, Jade Mingus, is from Rogersville, MO. Her dad worked at Smitty's and Sara played ball with and against her in high school.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

What I Read Today - Thursday November 5, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

A Good Grooming


READ: Psalm 139:1-10, 23-24

Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my mind and my heart. For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes. —Psalm 26:2-3Our dog, Dolly, is a 7-year-old West Highland Terrier. She loves to dig in the dirt, which means she gets very dirty. We bathe her every week or so at home, but occasionally she gets so grimy and tangled that we have to take her to a professional groomer.

She used to hate to go to the groomer because the woman was always in a rush and inclined to be bad-tempered and harsh. Getting Dolly through the door was a struggle. Just the sight of the shop made her want to run away.

Last year we decided to try another groomer and discovered that our dog, though not always overjoyed at the prospect, was less reluctant to go. That’s because the groomer is kind to her even though she must wash Dolly thoroughly, causing discomfort.

When sin and defilement accumulate in our hearts, we need to be cleansed. Like the psalmist David, we must ask God to “examine” and “try” our minds and hearts, and to point out our wicked thoughts, attitudes, and ways (Ps. 139:23-24). Our Lord may cause discomfort, for exposure is often difficult, but we can approach Him without fear.

The Lord’s examination of us, though sometimes painful, is gentle and kind. — David H. Roper

Search me, O God, and know my heart today;
Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray.
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin and set me free. —Orr

Repentance is the hurt that leads to healing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What I Read Today - Wednesday November 4, 2009

From: Our Daily Bread

Seeds And Faith

READ: Galatians 6:7-10

Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. —Galatians 6:7I read a fable about a man who was browsing in a store when he made the shocking discovery that God was behind a sales counter. So the man walked over and asked, “What are You selling?” God replied, “What does your heart desire?” The man said, “I want happiness, peace of mind, and freedom from fear . . . for me and the whole world.” God smiled and said, “I don’t sell fruit here. Only seeds.”

In Galatians 6, Paul stressed the importance of sowing seeds of God-honoring behavior, for “whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (v.7). We can’t expect to experience the fruit of God’s blessings if we don’t recognize the importance of doing our part.

It helps to follow the example of others who have sown good seed. Author Samuel Shoemaker said that a good example can either inspire us or cause us to say, “Oh yes, he (or she) is like that. He is not troubled by temper or nerves or impatience or worry as I am; he is just a happier temperament.” Shoemaker continued, “It may not occur to us that perhaps he had to fight for his serenity, and that we might win if we would do the same.”

Are you weary of the way you are? Ask God for His help and begin sowing seeds of new actions and responses today. In due season the Spirit will give the increase. — Joanie Yoder

We’re always sowing seeds in life
By everything we do and say,
So let’s make sure the fruit we reap
Comes from the good we do each day. —Hess

The seeds we sow today determine the kind of fruit we’ll reap tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What I Read Today - Tuesday, November 3, 2009

From: TGIF (Today God Is First) Daily Workplace Inspiration

God Is Not About YOUR Success
By Os Hillman

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (John 12:24-26).

God is all about your death so that HIS success can be realized through you! This is why the Church is having such little impact - there are too many believers who have not yet died to their old nature so that Christ can live fully through them. When believers come to the end of themselves they will lose their lives to Him and live through the power of the Holy Spirit and begin to see the reality of a living gospel that impacts lives, workplaces, cities and nations.

"Much of modern Christian enterprise is 'Ishmael.' Born not of God, but of an inordinate desire to do God's will in our own way - the one thing our Lord never did," said Oswald Chambers. The psalmist describes what it means to live in our own strength:

"Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat - for he grants sleep to those he loves" (Ps 127:1-2).

How does one die so that Christ can be our all and all? It usually takes a crisis of significant proportions for most people to relinquish the control of their lives. It means we come to the end of ourselves and our striving to control the events in our lives and we finally come to the place where we can say, "Lord, I surrender. Please take full control of my life."

Have you come to this place with God in your life? Let go and let God make you a success His way.

Monday, November 2, 2009

More of What I Read Today - Monday November 2, 2009

From a client - John Fickett

Jesus and Satan have an argument as to who is the better computer programmer. This goes on for a few hours until they come to an agreement to hold a contest, with God as the judge.

They set themselves before their computers and begin. They are given the task, and began to type furiously, lines of code streaming up the screen for several hours straight. Seconds before the end of the competition, a bolt of lightning strikes, taking out the electricity. Moments later, the power is restored, and God annouces that the contest is over.

He asks Satan to show what he has come up with. Satan indignatly protests, "I have nothing! I lost it all when the power went out." "Very well, the," says God, "let us see if Jesus fared any better." Jesus enters a command and the screen comes to life with a vivid display, the voices of an angelic choir pour forth from the speakers. Satan is astonished.

He stutters, "B-b-but how? I lost everything, yet Jesus' program is intact! How did He do it?"

God chuckles, "Satan, when are you going to learn.....Jesus saves!"

What I Read Today - Our Daily Bread - Monday - November 2, 2009

Prisoners Of Sin

READ: Galatians 3:19-29

The Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. —Galatians 3:22A 2008 report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said, “At any given time there are more than 10 million people imprisoned worldwide.” Since some prisoners are being released while new ones are being sentenced every day, there are more than 30 million total prisoners worldwide each year. Statistics like these have caused many people to work for prison reform and a reexamination of sentencing laws.

From a spiritual perspective, the Bible offers an even more staggering statistic: “The Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin” (Gal. 3:22 niv). In what is sometimes considered a difficult passage to understand, Paul says that although the Old Testament law could not impart life (v.21), it was an effective teacher in showing us that we need a Savior who can give life (v.24). The bad news is that “the Scripture has confined all under sin,” and the good news is “that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe” (v.22).

When we give our lives to Christ, who has fulfilled the requirements of the law, we are no longer imprisoned by sin. Instead, we enter a fellowship of people from every nationality and social status.

In Christ, we are free indeed! — David C. McCasland

The law reveals the mind of God,
The prophets too made clear His will;
But Christ alone brings life and peace,
His words our deepest needs fulfill. —D. De Haan

Deliverance from sin is the greatest of all freedoms.