Editor: Richard (Dick) Innes
Published by: ACTS International
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Vol. 17 – No. 2715 July 04, 2015
Thought for the week: "After all is said and done, a lot more is said than done." – From Mickey's Funnies
The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty." – Zig Ziglar
"I don't think of myself as a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good. I think of myself as somebody who from an early age knew I was responsible for myself, and I had to make good." – Oprah Winfrey
"Think you can, think you can't; either way, you'll be right." – Henry Ford, Industrialist
"During my 87 years, I have witnessed a whole succession of technological revolutions. But none of them has done away with the need for character in the individual or the ability to think." – Bernard Baruch - 1870-1965, Financier and Philanthropist
"Every gift which is given, even though it be small, is in reality great if it is given with affection." – Pindar, Greek poet
The language of friendship is not words but meanings." – Henry David Thoreau
A man bought a parrot at an auction after some heavy bidding. "I hope this bird talks," he told the auctioneer.
"Talk?" the auctioneer replied, "Who do you think has been bidding against you for the past ten minutes?"
Sad to say we seem to be living in a day when a person's word has less and less value. Once upon a time a man's word was his bond. Not any more I'm afraid. For far too many their word doesn't mean a thing. We've become pretty adept at parroting what we think people want to hear.
I remember one of my college professors teaching us that a person's character could be measured by what value he or she puts on his/her word. People who don't keep their word have a character issue and cannot be trusted.
Fortunately, however, of one thing we can be certain, God always keeps His Word and always keeps His promises. To be Christ-like we need to do the same! For after all, it's what we do, not what we say, that says the most of all.
During my teaching years I asked many people the question, "How do you receive and feel loved?" Almost always the answer was, "By giving love."
One problem with this belief is that we cannot give what we haven't received. That is, if I didn't receive sufficient love as a child during my developmental years, I will suffer from love deprivation for the rest of my life—unless I become involved in a recovery program.
So how then do we find the love we need? If we love God because He first loved us, it fits that we find and learn to love people because someone first needs to love us.
Furthermore, we can only be loved and accepted to the degree that we are known. An excellent place then to find this needed love is in a high quality, safe support group, where we feel fully safe to expose our real selves—warts and all—and become fully known. And as people know us fully and love and accept us just as we are (without the compulsion to want to fix us), little by little we learn to love and accept ourselves as these supporting people love and accept us. In other words, love is learned. And it has to be learned first before we are able to become loving and give love to others.
Again, we can only ever feel loved and accepted to the degree that we are known by safe and loving people.
A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.
When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.
About a month later there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands.
He said, "Sir, you don't know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art.' The young man held out this package. 'I know this isn't much. I'm not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.'"
The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture. "Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It's a gift."
The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home, he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.
The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.
On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. "We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?"
There was silence...
Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, "We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one."
But the auctioneer persisted: "Will somebody bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?"
Another voice angrily. "We didn't come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Gogh's, the Rembrandts. Get on with the Real bids!"
But still the auctioneer continued. "The son! The son! Who'll take the son?"
Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. "I'll give $10 for the painting." Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.
"We have $10, who will bid $20?"
"Give it to him for $10. Let's see the masters."
The crowd was becoming angry. They didn't want the picture of the son.
They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.
The auctioneer pounded the gavel. "Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!"
A man sitting on the second row shouted, "Now let's get on with the collection!"
The auctioneer laid down his gavel. "I'm sorry, the auction is over."
"What about the paintings?"
"I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!"
God gave His son over 2,000 years ago to die on the Cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is: "The Son, the Son, who'll take the Son?"
Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything!
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16 (NKJV).
There is an ever-growing body of knowledge about the nature and causes of happiness.
For one thing, it's clear that happiness is a feeling, not a circumstance. Happiness is more than just fun or pleasure. It's a more durable sense of wellbeing.
Our happiness depends not on what happens to us, but what happens in us. In other words, it's the way we choose to think about our lives. Abe Lincoln said, "People are generally about as happy as they're willing to be." A Buddhist proverb tells us that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
So, what are the most common attributes of happy people? Well, it's not money, fame, or good looks. It's not even intelligence or talent. No, the two most important factors are gratitude and rewarding personal relationships.
The formula is simple: count your blessings and enjoy your family and friends.
Sadly, simple is not always easy.
People whose natural instincts produce a gloomy outlook and pessimism need to re-train their minds. It's one thing to say happiness is not getting what you want but wanting what you get; it's quite another to really be satisfied with what we have.
For many people, it takes discipline and practice to think positively.
Sometimes it's just a matter of changing one's perspective, choosing to see and appreciate the silver lining, the half full glass. In other cases, what's required is refusing to dwell on pain, disappointment, or envy, and instead force one's mind toward good thoughts, including all the things we should be grateful for.
Interestingly, the ability to maintain a positive attitude is also important in forming and sustaining meaningful relationships—seeing and bringing out the best.
"So if the Son [Jesus, the Son of God] sets you free, you will be free indeed."1
This Saturday in the U.S.A. is Independence Day, the day Americans celebrate the birthday of the United States of America. Founded July 4th, 1776, with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, America is celebrating its 239th birthday this year (2015).
"The American Revolution ended a couple of centuries of British rule over most of the North American colonies and laid the foundation of the present United States of America. After the Revolution, the constitution of the United States of America was drafted and ratified. On the anniversary of that day, the new nation declared its citizens rights to 'Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.'"2
Sad to say, however, so many people worldwide don't enjoy the freedoms that many of us do, not only in the U.S.A., but also in other free lands around the world.
Today, let those of us who live in free lands especially remember our brothers and sisters who live in lands where there is no freedom and great persecution—especially for Christians and those who reject the religion of their state.
I am also reminded today of the words written on the wall of a Nazi prison during the Holocaust.
I believe in the sun
even when it isn't shining.
I believe in love
even when I am alone.
I believe in God
even when he is silent.
And let us thank God that, no matter where we live, while men may be able to control our external reality, they have no power to control our inner reality—our faith, our beliefs, nor the destiny of our soul. That alone is our choice. However, may we who have chosen to trust in God through Jesus Christ our Savior do all in our power to share God's great news of salvation to all people—everywhere. And let us pray that every person in the world will hear or read the gospel that, via the electronic media, can reach into many places where preaching the gospel and message of Jesus Christ is forbidden.
And in hearing the gospel, may God grant that every person in the world will at least have the opportunity to celebrate independence in their heart.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, today I especially pray for my brothers and sisters in lands that are not free, where they are being persecuted for their faith—or their lack of faith in the coerced religion of their land. Grant that they will know independence in their heart and the greatest freedom of all in knowing Jesus as their Lord and Savior. And thank You forever for the fact that somebody shared the gospel with me and that I thus had the opportunity to place my trust in You. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus's name, amen."
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