Saturday, November 28, 2009

The red light



Two men were in a car when they had to stop at a red signal light. The man at the wheel did not say anything.

The other man by his side, fretting and fuming, said, "The time we waste at these red lights - why, a man could write a book!"

The driver still said nothing.

Finally the man beside him said, "Didn't you hear what I said?"

"No."

"How come?"

"I was talking."

"Whom were you talking to?"

"I was talking to God," he said. "I've been making it a practice every time I get to a red light to pray for one of my friends. It is wonderful how many folks I have on my prayer list and how many I have time to pray for in this way."


Credits: Arthur Bietz

Friday, November 27, 2009

How to pray

In our last class, we talked about how to pray.  Here is a poem I came across and wanted to share with you. All of us, we would have had these exact questions at some point in our life.

Don't know about the author, but the poem is quite simple, meaningful and is well written.  Read it more than once.  You'll find it to be beautiful.

Please teach me, Lord ...
I want to know
Exactly how to pray.

I need some words
Which ones are right?
Please tell me what to say.

I've bowed my head
I have knelt down,But ...
should I be upright?

I've closed my eyes,
I've raised my hands,Or ...
should I fold them tight?

Do I stand up?
Should I sit down?
Dear Lord ... what do you like?

Are lights turned on
Or are they off?Maybe ...
candle light?
Wear my glasses?

Take them off?
Be at my desk or table?
Should I whisper?
Speak out loud?

Do I quote the Bible?
What do you think about the time?
Do You prefer the dawn?

Should I pray fast,
Or keep it slow?
Better short ... or long?

I'm new at this
What are the rules?
I want to do it right.

How do I know
You'll even hear
That I am in Your sight?

And while I sat there quietly,
Waiting for some sign,
I heard a gentle voice say,

"Oh, dearest child of mine ...
Do you think I really care
About the time of day,
Or whether you are standing up,
Or kneeling when you pray?"

"I don't care about your posture,
Or about the place you choose;
Just open up your soul to me,
I have no other rules.

Tell me what is in your heart,
And tell me what you seek;
Tell me of your sorrows,
And of those things that made you weak."

"Speak to me in private
About what concerns you most;
I know about your good deeds ...
You have no need to boast.

My child, you don't need lessons,
Just talk to me each day;
Tell me anything you want, dear child,
Anyone can pray."


Author Unknown

Best position to pray




Continuing our discussion on Prayer, here is a related one on the best way to pray.


A priest, a minister and a guru sat discussing the best positions for prayer, while a telephone repairman worked nearby.

"Kneeling is definitely the best way to pray," the priest said.

"No," said the minister. "I get the best results standing with my hands outstretched to Heaven."

"You're both wrong," the guru said. "The most effective prayer position is lying down on the floor."

The repairman could contain himself no longer. "Hey, fellas," he interrupted. "The best prayin' I ever did was when I was hanging upside down while I was working from a telephone pole."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Special thanksgiving bouquet





Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as she pushed against a November gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like spring breeze. Then in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease.

During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren't enough, her husband's company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come. What's worse, Sandra's friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer.

"She has no idea what I'm feeling," thought Sandra with a shudder.

Thanksgiving? Thankful for what? She wondered. For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an air bag that saved her life but took that of her child?

"Good afternoon, may I help you?" The shop clerk's approach startled her.

"I....I need an arrangement," stammered Sandra.

"For Thanksgiving? Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the Thanksgiving "Special?" asked the shop clerk. "I'm convinced that flowers tell stories," she continued. "Are you looking for something that conveys 'gratitude' this Thanksgiving?"

"Not exactly!" Sandra blurted out. "In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong."

Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the shop clerk said, "I have the perfect arrangement for you."

Then the door's small bell rang, and the shop clerk said, "Hi, Barbara...let me get your order."

She politely excused herself and walked toward a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses; Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped: there were no flowers.

"Want this in a box?" asked the clerk.

Sandra watched for the customer's response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed.

"Yes, please," Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. "You'd think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn't be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again," she said as she gently tapped her chest.

"Uh," stammered Sandra, "that lady just left with, uh....she just left with no flowers!"

"Right, said the clerk, "I cut off the flowers. That's the Special. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet."

"Oh, come on, you can't tell me someone is willing to pay for that!" exclaimed Sandra.

"Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling much like you feel today," explained the clerk. "She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she was facing major surgery."

"That same year I had lost my husband," continued the clerk, "and for the first time in my life, had just spent the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel."

"So what did you do?" asked Sandra.

"I learned to be thankful for thorns," answered the clerk quietly. "I've always thanked God for good things in life and never to ask Him why those good things happened to me, but when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask! It took time for me to learn that dark times are important. I have always enjoyed the 'flowers' of life, but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God's comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we're afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others."

Sandra sucked in her breath as she thought about the very thing her friend had tried to tell her. "I guess the truth is I don't want comfort. I've lost a baby and I'm angry with God."

Just then someone else walked in the shop.

"Hey, Phil!" shouted the clerk to the balding, rotund man.

"My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement...twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems," laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue-wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.

"Those are for your wife?" asked Sandra incredulously. "Do you mind me asking why she wants something that looks like that?"

"No...I'm glad you asked," Phil replied. "Four years ago my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord's grace and guidance, we slogged through problem after problem. He rescued our marriage. Jenny here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she learned from "thorny" times, and that was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific "problem" and give thanks for what that problem taught us."

As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, "I highly recommend the Special."

I don't know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life," Sandra said to the clerk. "It's all too...fresh."

"Well," the clerk replied carefully, "my experience has shown me that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God's providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember, it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love. Don't resent the thorns."

Tears rolled down Sandra's cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on resentment.

"I'll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please," she managed to choke out.

"I hoped you would," said the clerk gently. "I'll have them ready in a minute."

"Thank you. What do I owe you?" Sarah asked.

"Nothing; nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart. The first year's arrangement is always on me." The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. "I'll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first."

It read:

"My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the life I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant."

Praise Him for your roses, thank him for your thorns.

Happy Thanksgiving

Author Unknown

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Theme for Christmas skit

Talked to James Joy earlier and Joseph Joy today morning about the class skit.  They asked me for help.  Today evening, I started looking for ideas for our class play, and hopefully have arrived at something.  I am planning on basing our skit on the following parable.
------------
Matthew 18:21-35 (New International Version)

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

21  Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"

22  Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23  "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.

24  As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents* was brought to him.

25  Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26  "The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.'

27  The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28  "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii**. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.

29  "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'

30  "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.

31  When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32  "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.

33  Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?'

34  In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35  "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

*ten thousand talents = About 1 million dollars.
**hundred denarii = About 20 dollars.
------------

This will be the central theme, and we will play it out in a lot different and simpler manner.  We have 10 students in our class and we will assign roles for each and everyone.  I need to check if Ajoey can make it to the play and assign accordingly as well.

If this is acceptable to everyone, shall I go ahead and start drafting the script? Do email me, or post comments.  I have some free time between now and Sunday and can write it up in the meantime.

Statistics -1908

Every November, we get ready for thanksgiving.  This time, let's take a look at how far we, as mankind, have advanced in the past 100 years.  I got hold of some statistics from the year 1908 - which is 101 years ago (but that is pretty accurate).

The average life expectancy was 47 years.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!

Only 14% of the homes had a bathtub. Only 8% of the homes had a telephone.

There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads and the maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

The average wage was 22 cents per hour. The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year; a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95% of all births took place at home.

90% of all doctors had NO college education. Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press AND the government as ’substandard.’

Sugar cost four cents a pound. Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen. Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.

Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.

Five leading causes of death were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars.

The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was only 30

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea hadn’t been invented yet. There was no Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

20% of all adults couldn’t read or write. Only 6% of all Americans had graduated from high school.

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacists said, ‘Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.’

18% of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.

There were about 230 reported murders that year in the ENTIRE U.S.A.

Can you imagine what it may be like, in another 100 years from now?  Let's give thanks to God, for the nice life we are having in this part of the world.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

God will provide

Some people believe that if all they do is just prayer, then God will grant all their wishes.  It is not true.  You need to work hard as well.  If you believe God is there with you, then your part is 50% and God has His 50%.  So, you do the 100% of your designated 50% and certainly God will do the 100% of his 50% share.

------------

A young woman brought her fiance home to meet her parents.After dinner,her mother told her father to find out about the young man.  The father invited the fiance to his study for a talk.

'So what are your plans?' the father asked the young man.

'I am a biblical scholar,' he replied.

'A Biblical scholar.Hmmm,' the father said. 'Admirable,but what will you do to provide a nice house for my daughter to live in?'

'I will study,' the young man replied, 'and God will provide for us.'

'And how will you buy her a beautiful engagement ring,such as she deserves?' asked the father.

'I will concentrate on my studies,' the young man replied,'God will provide for us.'

'And children?' asked the father. 'How will you support children?'

'Don't worry, sir, God will provide,' replied the fiance.

The conversation proceeded like this, and each time the father questioned, the young idealist insisted that God would provide.

Later, the mother asked, 'How did it go, Honey?'

The father answered, 'He has no job and no plans, and he thinks I'm God!'

Monday, November 23, 2009

Carol's prayer

We started our discussion on prayer since yesterday.  Here is a humor about how emotions rule over prayer. Read on...

Little Carol came into the kitchen where her mother was making dinner. Her birthday was coming up and she thought this was a good time to tell her mother what she wanted. ‘Mom, I want a bike for my birthday.’
Now, Little Carol was a bit of a troublemaker. She had gotten into trouble at school and at home. Carol’s mother asked her if she thought she deserved to get a bike for her birthday. Little Carol, of course, thought she did.

Carol’s mother, being a Christian woman, wanted her to reflect on her behavior over the last year, and write a letter to Jesus and tell him why she deserved a bike for her birthday. Little Carol stomped up the steps to her room and sat down to write Jesus a letter.

LETTER 1:

Dear Jesus:

I have been a very good girl this year and I would like a bike for my birthday. I want a red one.

Your friend,
Carol

Carol knew this wasn’t true. She had not been a very good girl this year, so she tore up the letter and started over.

LETTER 2:

Dear Jesus:

This is your friend Carol. I have been a pretty good girl this year, and I would like a red bike for my birthday.

Thank you,
Carol

Carol knew this wasn’t true either. She tore up the letter and started again.

LETTER 3:

Dear Jesus:

I know I haven’t been a good girl this year. I am very sorry. I will be a good girl if you just send me a red bike for my birthday.

Thank you,
Carol

Carol knew, even if it was true, this letter was not going to get her a bike. By now, she was very upset. She went downstairs and told her mother she wanted to go to church. Carol’s mother thought her plan had worked because Carol looked very sad.

‘Just be home in time for dinner,’ her mother said.

Carol walked down the street to the Catholic Church and up to the altar. She looked around to see if anyone was there. She picked up a statue of the Virgin Mary, slipped it under her jacket and ran out of the church, down the street, into her house, and up to her room. She shut the door and sat down and wrote her letter to God.

LETTER 4:

I GOT YOUR MAMA.

IF YOU WANT TO SEE HER AGAIN, SEND THE BIKE.

Signed,
YOU KNOW WHO

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gospel Reading Nov 22



St. Luke 1: 26 - 38.

26  In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,

27  to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary.

28  The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

29  Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

30  But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.

31  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.

32  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,

33  and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

34  "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

35  The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

36  Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.

37  For nothing is impossible with God."

38  "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.

This gospel reading is a familiar one for all of us.  Angel Gabriel visits virgin Mary and announces God's plan to her.  Mary is about to get married to Joseph at that time.  Mary humbles herself to God's plan despite all the consequences she may have to deal with.  She believes in God, and admits to the angel that she is the Lord's servant.

Angels are God's messengers sent to do God's task.  Many times, we encounter situations which we know are right, but when we think about the society, our friends, or the aftermath, we seldom do not go on that path. In such situations, trust in God and do the right thing.

Plan for Nov 22

Plan for today :

Let's start a new chapter on prayer. I need a full class to talk about it.

We will come back to the chapter on wedding.

Let's see how far we are, on the Christmas program.

Discuss about today's Gospel reading and Thanksgiving.