Friday, May 17, 2013

Holy Spirit on Pentecost

Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is one of my favorite subjects and I love discussing about it. I could spend days and weeks just talking about the Holy Spirit (and am still learning). The New Testament is filled with numerous quotes about the Holy Spirit and there is such great emphasis on receiving the Holy Spirit. Just to make it easy, I'll make this posting as brief as possible.

Holy Spirit is something God wants us to receive. All we have to do is - ASK! Wait - just asking won't do. Acts 5:32 says, "God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him." Isn't that true - when we love God, we tend to obey God. When we obey His commandments, we become best friends with Jesus, for Jesus is the one who completely obeyed God. Those with exact same nature and thinking end up being friends for ever.

Jesus explained to his disciples that He will ask God, the Father to send the Holy Spirit.  Pay attention here - Jesus is the one who is requesting the Father to send out the Holy Spirit.

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father - the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father - he will testify about me. (John 15:26)

The same night, when Jesus told his disciples that He had to return, those disciples felt extremely lonely. They did not want someone whom they loved so much (Jesus) to leave. At that time, Jesus tried to comfort them and this is exactly what Jesus told them about the Holy Spirit (John 14: 15 - 31).

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

“You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.

“Come now; let us leave."

Did you notice Jesus addressing the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth (Truth with a capital T). We know how hard it is to stand up for truth, without hurting our friends and without the fear of losing our friends' approval. Here is one of my favorite quotes about Truth. I don't know who said it, but it's been etched in my mind the very first time I heard it - "Everyone wants Truth on their side, but nobody wants to stand on the side of Truth." Let me tell you from my own experience - it's extremely hard to stand by the side of Truth. It's been like this from the very beginning of time. Truth is absolutely indispensable in our relationship with God. Nothing can ever take it's place. Everything that can be done must be done to secure and safeguard the truth.  The one who wants to be God’s servant is admonished to: (1) call upon God in truth; (2) serve God in truth; (3) walk before God in truth;  and (4) worship God in truth. Since truth is that what holds the creator and creation together, satan is continuously trying to come in between and break that bond. King Solomon in his proverbs says, "Buy the truth, and do not sell it, Also wisdom and instruction and understanding."

In order to receive the Holy Spirit, Jesus asked His disciples to stay and pray.

"And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven." - Luke 24:49

The disciples, along with Mary spent 10 days in prayer. Then the most wonderful thing in the history of earth happened - the Holy Spirit descended  upon them and they received spiritual gifts that transformed their lives and gave them the power to touch the lives of other people.

There are 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit:
1. Wisdom
2. Understanding
3. Counsel (right judgment)
4. Fortitude (courage)
5. Knowledge
6. Piety (reverence):
7. Fear of the Lord

Then again, there are 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit:
1. Love,
2. Joy,
3. Peace,
4. Patience,
5. Kindness,
6. Generosity,
7. Faithfulness,
8. Gentleness,
9. Self-control

Earlier, I used to wonder, "What's the difference between 'gifts' and 'fruits' of the Holy Spirit?" Later, I learned that 'gifts' come all at once from an outer source - in this case, from God (just like how we distribute gifts on auspicious occasions to one another) and 'fruits' are something that gradually grows within ourselves (like how a good and healthy tree produces delicious fruits by itself).

Jesus did not limit the availability of Holy Spirit only to His disciples and those gathered there. It was certainly not something reserved for a select few, rather available for everyone who repented and had faith. It says in Acts 2: 38:

Then Peter said unto them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Thousands of people believed Peter and took that path of experiencing the Holy Spirit.

Our church celebrates the feast of Pentecost by symbolically sprinkling water over it's believers. There is lack of coaching and training about the importance of the Holy Spirit in our church - hardly anyone knows the significance. On Sunday, take a look at those standing beside and around you. Make note of  how many (including you and I) are really waiting to experience the presence of Holy Spirit and how many are prepared to accept it. To many (in my observation) it is a fun event when water droplets fall upon them, without realizing what it actually represents. Can we spot anyone in the crowd filled with Holy Spirit who's empowering and emboldening?

Children, here is some food for thought:

Now, what do you think about the Holy Spirit?

Do you think the Holy Spirit would come this Sunday, if you obeyed God?

Do you think the Holy Spirit would bring you 'gifts' and you could produce those 'fruits'?

Do you think you could handle the arrival of Holy Spirit, if it came onto you today?


The Tongue-cut Sparrow

A Japanese folktale:

There was once an old man who had a wife with a very bad temper. She did not have any children, and would not take the trouble to adopt a son. So for a little pet he kept a tiny sparrow, and fed it with great care. The woman, not satisfied with scolding her husband, hated the sparrow. Her temper was especially bad on wash days, when her back and knees were strained over the low tub, which rested on the ground.

One day while the man was gone to his work in the rice-fields, the wife was washing the clothes, and had made some starch, and set it in a red wooden bowl to cool. While her back was turned, the sparrow hopped down on the edge of the howl, and pecked at some of the starch. In a rage the woman seized a pair of scissors and cut off the tip of the sparrow's tongue. Flinging the bird in the air she cried out, "Now be off with you!" So the poor sparrow, all bleeding, flew away.

When the man came back and found the bird gone, he made a great ado. He asked his wife, and she told him what she had done and why. The sorrowful old man grieved sorely for his pet, and after looking in every place and calling it by name, gave it up as lost.

Days and weeks and months sped by, and the man was still older and more wrinkled, when one day while wandering over the mountains he again met his sparrow. "Good-morning!" he cried; and to his surprise and delight the sparrow answered him. The clipped tongue had given the bird power of speech. Then each bowed low and made mutual inquiries as to health. The sparrow begged the man to visit his humble abode, and meet his wife and two daughters.

The man went with him and found a nice little house with a bamboo garden, tiny waterfall, stepping stone and everything complete. Then Mrs. Sparrow brought in slices of sugar-jelly, rock-candy, sweet potato custard, and a bowl of hot starch sprinkled with sugar, and a pair of chopsticks on a tray. Miss Sparrow, the elder daughter, brought the tea-caddy and tea-pot, and in a snap of the fingers had a good cup of tea ready, which she offered on a tray, kneeling.

"Please help yourself, The refreshments are very poor, but I hope you will excuse our plainness," said Mother Sparrow. The delighted old man, wondering in himself at such a polite family of sparrows, ate heartily, and drank several cups of tea. Finally, on being pressed, he remained all night.

For several days he enjoyed the visit at the sparrow's home. He looked at the landscapes and the moonlight, feasted to his heart's content, and played checkers with the little daughter. In the evening Mrs. Sparrow would bring out the refreshments and wine, and seat the guest on a silken cushion, while she played the guitar. Mr. Sparrow and his two daughters danced, sang, and made merry until the man leaning on the velvet arm-rest forgot his cares, his old limbs and his wife's tongue, and felt young again.

But on the fifth day he said he must go home. His host was sorry to hear this, but brought out two baskets made of plaited rattan, such as are used in traveling, carried on men's shoulders. Placing them before his guest, he said, "Please do me the honor to accept a parting gift, Take either one you prefer."

Now one basket was heavy, and the other light. The old man, not being greedy, said he would take the lighter one. So with many thanks and bows and good-byes, he set off homeward.

He reached his hut safely, but instead of a kind welcome his wife began to scold him for being away so long. He begged her to be quiet, and telling of his visit to the sparrows, opened the basket, while the scowling beldame held her tongue, out of sheer curiosity.

Oh, what a splendid sight! There were gold and silver coin, and gems, and coral, and crystal, and amber, and a never-failing bag of money, and an invisible coat and hat, and rolls of books, and all manner of precious things. It seemed that they never would reach the bottom of that magic basket.

At the sight of so much wealth, the woman's scowl changed to a smile of greedy joy. "I'll go right off and get another present from the sparrows," said she.

Her husband plead with her not to go, saying that they already had more than enough to last them the rest of their lives. But she would not listen to him. Binding on her straw scandals, and tucking up her skirts, she seized her staff and set off on the road.

Arriving at the sparrow's house, she began to flatter Mr. Sparrow by soft speeches. Of course the polite bird invited her into his house, but nothing but a cup of tea was offered her, while his wife and daughters kept out of sight. Seeing that she was not going to get any good-bye gift, she made bold to ask for one. The sparrow then brought out and set before her two baskets, one heavy and the other light. She eagerly seized the heavier one, without so much as saying "thank you," and carried it back in triumph with her. When she got home she opened it, expecting all kinds of riches.

But the moment she took off the lid, a horrible cuttle-fish rushed at her, a skeleton poked his bony fingers on her face, and a long, hairy serpent, with a big head and lolling tongue, sprang out and coiled around her, cracking her bones, and squeezing out her breath, till she died.

After the good man had buried his wife, he adopted a son to comfort his old age, and with his treasures lived at ease all his days.

Moral: Greed could ruin us. 


Few proverbs

If you dig a hole for someone else, you'll fall into it.
 ~ Hungarian Proverb

A lie travels round the world while truth is putting her boots on.
~ French Proverb

Man who run behind car get exhausted.
~ Chinese Proverb

Anger can be an expensive luxury.
~ Italian Proverb

If ifs and buts were candy and nuts;
if wishes were horses, beggars might ride;
ifs and ands were pots and pans, then we would need no tinkers;
if wishes were fishes, there'd be no room in the river for water.
~ Russian Proverb

Words have no wings but they can fly a thousand miles.
~ Korean Proverb

Be aware of the idiot, for he is like an old dress. Every time you patch it, the wind will tear it back again.
~ Arabic Proverb

A peacock who sits on his tail is just another turkey.
~ Proverb

You will never plough a field if you only turn it over in your mind.
~ Irish Proverb

If you marry a monkey for his wealth, the money goes and the monkey remains as is.
~ Egyptian Proverb

The Sin of Omission

It isn't the thing you do, dear,
Its the thing you leave undone
That gives you a bit of a heartache
At setting of the sun.
The tender work forgotten,
The letter you did not write,
The flowers you did not send, dear,
Are your haunting ghosts at night.

The stone you might have lifted
Out of a brother's way;
The bit of heartsome counsel
You were hurried too much to say;
The loving touch of the hand, dear,
The gentle, winning tone
Which you had no time nor thought for
With troubles enough of your own.

Those little acts of kindness
So easily out of mind,
Those chances to be angels
Which we poor mortals find
They come in night and silence,
Each sad, reproachful wraith,
When hope is faint and flagging,
And a chill has fallen on faith.

For life is all too short, dear,
And sorrow is all to great,
To suffer our slow compassion
That tarries until too late:
And it isn't the thing you do, dear,
It's the thing you leave undone
Which gives you a bit of heartache
At the setting of the sun.

Credits: Margaret E. Sangster

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Two mice

A country mouse lived on the countryside. He liked to eat fruits. He was happy. One day, his cousin came to visit him from the town.

The country mouse gathered many fruits for the town mouse, but the town mouse did not like those fruits.

“This food is horrible!” he said. “Come to the town with me, life in town is much more fun.”

So, the country mouse followed his cousin to the town. They arrived at a big house. They entered under the back door. The town mouse lead the country mouse to a dinning room. The table was covered with food. They started to eat up the food. The country mouse was surprised to see all the food.

“This food is delicious!” he said.

Suddenly, there was a noise. The mice ran to hide behind the food.

“Keep very still,” said the town mouse. The country mouse was very afraid. A cat came into the room. He looked around the room. Then the cat jumped up on the table.

“Run!” cried the town mouse. The mice ran into a mouse hole.

“Good-bye, cousin” said the country mouse. “I am going back to the country. There, it is quiet and safe and I can enjoy my fruits in peace.”

Moral: It is better to live a simple, quiet life than a rich, dangerous one.    


I wish you enough

A mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport. Staying near the security gate, they hugged, and the mother said, “I love you, and I wish you enough.”

The daughter answered, “Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom.”

They kissed, and the daughter left. The mother walked over to the window where a man was seated. The man could see she wanted and needed to cry. He tried not to intrude on her privacy, but she welcomed him in by asking, “Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?”

Yes, I have,” the man replied. “Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?”

“I am old, and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead, and the reality is – her next trip back will be for my funeral,” she said.

“When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, ‘I wish you enough.’ May I ask what that means?” the man asked.

She began to smile. “That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.” She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and she smiled even more. “When we said, ‘I wish you enough,’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them.”


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Buckle up

For the two weeks around Memorial Day, there’s more reason than normal to buckle up: Police around the country are stepping up enforcement of seat belt laws and plan on giving out double the usual number of tickets.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is promoting the two-week period from May 20 to June 2 as the National Seat Belt Enforcement Mobilization campaign. The annual “Click It or Ticket” event centers on Memorial Day weekend, and police around the country will be “aggressively” dishing out citations to anyone violating seat belt and child restraint laws.

Read more - never mind; just remember to buckle up!


Two intelligent people

There were two intelligent persons living in the same village. Both were very intelligent and clever. But one was a man, another was a woman.

One day, the intelligent woman had to marry a man. In those days, the parent arranged the marriage and their children had no right to refuse. The groom was a man that her parent chose to be her husband. They were engaged since they were very young. The intelligent woman did not agree to marry this man because he was very stupid, not as intelligent as her. 

When the wedding day came, the intelligent woman could not marry the stupid man. So, at night, she went out to commit suicide by jumping into the river. The intelligent woman learned from the text that a beautiful and intelligent woman marrying a stupid man was like a beautiful flower on buffalo dung.

The intelligent man saw that the intelligent woman went out and was very sad. He knew immediately that she was going to commit suicide. So, he ran quickly to stop her.

The intelligent man arrived the river before the intelligent woman did. He disguised himself as the old man bailing the water out of the river. Once the intelligent woman arrived the river, it was already dark, so she could not clearly see the intelligent man. She thought he was an old man. She saw that he was bailing the water out of the river. She was amazed so, she asked “Why are you bailing the water out” 

The intelligent man disguised his voice as that of old man and said “I want to cross to the other side, but I have no boat. I have to bail the water out until gets dry so that I can cross to the other side.” 

When the intelligent woman heard the intelligent man’s words, she thought that even though her groom was stupid but there were a lot people stupider than him. So, she turned back home and did not want to commit suicide anymore. The intelligent woman married the stupid man. Her husband was an honest man. He was a good child of his parents. Although he was not intelligent, she lived with him happily.

The stupid but honest man is always appreciated
The intelligent but crooked man is always hated.


Columbus and the egg

Christopher Columbus discovered America on the 12th of October, 1492. He crossed the ocean and discovered strange lands, inhabited by a people unlike any that had been known before. He believed that these lands were a part of India.

When he returned home with the news of his discovery there was great rejoicing, and he was hailed as the hero who had given a new world to Spain. Crowds of people lined the streets through which he passed, and all were anxious to do him honor. The king and queen welcomed him to their palace and listened with pleasure to the story of his voyage. Never had so great respect been shown to any common man.

But there were some who were jealous of the discoverer, and as ready to find fault as others were to praise. "Who is this Columbus?" they asked, "and what has he done? Is he not a pauper pilot from Italy? And could not any other seaman sail across the ocean just as he has done?"

One day Columbus was at a dinner which a Spanish gentleman had given in his honor, and several of these persons were present. They were proud, conceited fellows, and they very soon began to try to make Columbus uncomfortable.

"You have discovered strange lands beyond the sea," they said. "But what of that? We do not see why there should be so much said about it. Anybody can sail across the ocean; and anybody can coast along the islands on the other side, just as you have done. It is the simplest thing in the world."

Columbus made no answer; but after a while he took an egg from a dish and said to the company, "Who among you, gentlemen, can make this egg stand on end?"

One by one those at the table tried the experiment. When the egg had gone entirely around and none had succeeded, all said that it could not be done.

Then Columbus took the egg and struck its small end gently upon the table so as to break the shell a little. After that there was no trouble in making it stand upright.

"Gentlemen," said he, "what is easier than to do this which you said was impossible? It is the simplest thing in the world. Anybody can do it — after he has been shown how."


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

King Cophetua & the Beggar Maid

There was in Africa a rich and powerful king, and his name was Cophetua. He lived in a fine palace and had gold and silver dishes on his table, and his bedstead was made of ivory, and there were weavers in the palace who were always weaving new and beautiful clothes for this rich and powerful king.

But though Cophetua had all these goods, he lacked one thing. He had no wife, and he was lonely. He was not an old man, -  not at all. He was young and fair to look at; and he was, beside, not spoiled by his riches and his power. He treated every one about him kindly, and he was known throughout his kingdom as a good and generous king.

The people wished him to marry, and his old counsellors wagged their heads together and named over all the young princesses in the neighboring kingdoms. They took journeys to see the different princesses, but could not agree amongst themselves. One princess was ill-tempered; another thought of nothing but her clothes; another was silly; and then, what they disliked most, all the princesses wanted so much to marry King Cophetua that they behaved ridiculously whenever his name was mentioned.

So it was that the king, for all his riches and power, led a lonely life. But he did not sit down and mope. He went cheerfully about his daily duties, and, to tell the truth, he had seen so many foolish princesses that he came to feel a great contempt for women. Mother and sisters had he none, and in his country it was not the way for young kings to see any women but princesses and slaves.

But one day, as King Cophetua was riding out to hunt with his nobles, there stood by the wayside a blind old man, and by his side was his daughter, a young maid, in poor clothing. They were beggars, for even when a king is rich he may have beggars in his kingdom. King Cophetua was about to toss a coin into the out-stretched hand of the old man, when he caught sight of the girl's face. He stopped his horse.

"What is your name?" he asked the girl.

"Penelophon," said she. Now it sounded oddly in the ears of his nobles that she did not say "Penelophon, your Majesty," but in fact the beggar girl did not know this was the king, and so she answered simply, and looked up into his face with her clear, trusting eyes.

King Cophetua had never seen such a face as hers. It was not only beautiful; it showed at once a beautiful soul behind it. The king forgot in a moment his disdain for women. He sprang from his horse to the ground, and took the girl's hand.

"Wilt thou love me and be my wife?" he asked, a little fear in his voice, lest she should say him nay. She looked at him and saw that he was a true man.

No one ever had asked her that question before, and she answered very simply, "Yes."

"Then back to the palace," shouted King Cophetua, joyously. "There shall be no hunt today." Amazed were the nobles, and amazed were the people, when they heard the news, but King Cophetua wedded the beggar maid, and together they reigned over a happy people.

Credits: Horace Scudder

The flying dutchman

Once upon a time, a Dutch ship set sail from the East Indies to return to Holland. The Dutch had rich lands in the East Indies and many a poor lad went out from Holland before the mast and landed at Java, it may be, and there settled himself and grew rich.

Such an one was a certain Diedrich, who had no father or mother living, and was left to shift for himself. And when he came to Java he was bound out to a rich planter; but he worked so hard and was so faithful that it was not long before he was free and his own master. Little by little he saved his money, and as he was very careful it was not many years before he was very rich indeed.

Now all these years Diedrich had never forgotten what a hard time he had had when he was a boy; and at last, when he was a man grown and had his large fortune, he resolved to carry out a plan which he had made. He sold his lands and houses, which he owned in Java, and all his goods, and took the money he received in bags aboard a ship which was to return to Holland.

He was the only passenger on board, but he was a friendly man, and soon he was on good terms with the captain and all the crew. One day, as the ship drew near the Cape of Good Hope, Diedrich was sitting by the captain, and they each fell to talking about their early life.

"And what," said Diedrich to the captain, "do you mean to do when you make a few more voyages, and have saved up money enough not to need to go to sea any more?"

"I know well," said the captain, as he pulled away at his pipe. "There is a little house I know by a canal just outside of Amsterdam. I mean to buy that house; and I will have a summer-house in the garden, and there I will sit all day long smoking my pipe, while my wife sits by my side and knits, and the children play in the garden."

"Then you have children?"

"That I have," said the captain, and he went on to name them, and to tell how old each one was, and how bright they all were. It was good to hear him, for he was a simple man, and cared for nothing so much as his wife and little ones.

"And what," at last the captain said to Diedrich,—"what shall you do?"

"Ah, I have no wife or children, and there is no one in all Holland who will be glad to see me come home." Then he told of what a hard time he had when he was a youngster, and at last, as the darkness grew deeper, and he sat there alone with the captain, he suddenly told him his great plan.

"I have made a great deal of money," said he, "which you know I am carrying home with me. I will tell you what I am going to do with it. There are a great many poor children in Amsterdam who have no home. I am going to build a great house and live in it, and I am going to have the biggest family of any one in Amsterdam. I shall take the poorest and the most miserable children in Amsterdam, and they shall be my sons and daughters."

"And you shall bring them out to my house," said the captain, "and your children and mine shall play together." So they talked and talked, until at last it was very late, and they went to their cabins for the night.

Now, while they were talking, the man at the wheel listened; and, as he heard of the bags of gold that Diedrich was carrying home, his evil heart began to covet the gold. As he steered the ship, and after his turn was over, he thought and thought how he could get that gold. He knew it would be impossible for him alone to seize it, and so he whispered about it to one and another of the sailors.

The crew had been got together hastily. There was not one Dutchman among them, and there was not one of the crew who had not committed some crime. They were wicked men, and, when the sailor told them of the gold that was on board, they were ready for anything.

The ship drew nearer the Cape of Good Hope, and the captain walked the deck with Diedrich, and they both talked of the Holland to which they were going, when suddenly they were seized from behind and tightly bound. At the same instant the officers of the ship, the mate and the second mate, were seized, and now the ship was in the hands of the mutinous crew.

These wicked men made short work. They threw the captain and Diedrich and the two mates, each bound hand and foot, into the sea. "Dead men tell no tales," said the man at the wheel. Then they sailed for the nearest port. But as they sailed a horrible plague broke out on board. It was a plague which made the men crave water for their burning throats, and, as they fought to get at the water-casks, they spilled all the water they had.

There they were, in the midst of the salt sea, which only to look at made them wild with thirst. Though they feared what might befall them if they made for the land, they could not stand the raging thirst, and they steered for the nearest port.

But when they came into the port, the people saw they had the plague, and they refused to let them land.

"We have great store of gold," the crew cried with their parched mouths. "Only give us water!" But the people drove them away. It was the same when they went to the next port, and the next. They turned back, away from their homeward voyage, to the ports of the East.

Then a great storm arose and they were driven far out to sea, and when the gale died down they steered again for the land. And when they drew near once more, another gale sprang up, and they were driven hither and thither. And once more they were swept far away from the shore.

That was years and years ago. But when ships make the Cape of Good Hope, and are rounding it, through the fog and mist and darkness of the night they see a ghostly ship sailing, sailing, never reaching land, always beating up against the wind. Its sails are torn, the masts are bleached, and there are pale figures moving about on deck. Then the sailors whisper to each other:—

"Look! there is the Flying Dutchman!"

Credits: Horace Scudder

The lame man and blind man

A certain king made a great feast, and invited many guests to it. There was to be much eating and drinking, and every one besides was to have a present. The servants of the king gave the bidding to one and another, and in jest bade two men to the feast, one of whom was strong but stone blind, while the other had good sight but was dead lame.

"What a pity it is," said the blind man, "that we cannot go to the feast, for we should have enough to eat and drink, and a present beside. But I am blind and cannot see the way, and you are lame and cannot walk."

"Take my counsel," said the lame man, "and we can both go to the feast."

"Why, how may that be?"

"It is easily done," said the lame man. "You are strong and I can see. Let me mount your back. You can carry me, and I will show you the way."

"Well said," quoth the blind man. So he took the lame man on his back and trudged along, and both sat down at the king's feast.


Count that day lost

If you sit down at set of sun
And count the acts that you have done,
And, counting, find
One self-denying deed, one word
That eased the heart of him who heard, 
One glance most kind
That fell like sunshine where it went 
Then you may count that day well spent.

But if, through all the livelong day,
You've cheered no heart, by yea or nay
If, through it all
You've nothing done that you can trace
That brought the sunshine to one face
No act most small
That helped some soul and nothing cost
Then count that day as worse than lost. 

Credits: George Eliot (1819 - 1880)

Monday, May 13, 2013

As Rich as Croesus

Some thousands of years ago there lived in Asia a king whose name was Croesus. The country over which he ruled was not very large, but its people were prosperous and famed for their wealth. Croesus himself was said to be the richest man in the world; and so well known is his name that, to this day, it is not uncommon to say of a very wealthy person that he is "as rich as Croesus."

King Croesus had everything that could make him happy—lands and houses and slaves, fine clothing to wear, and beautiful things to look at. He could not think of anything that he needed to make him more comfortable or contented. "I am the happiest man in the world," he said.

It happened one summer that a great man from across the sea was traveling in Asia. The name of this man was Solon, and he was the lawmaker of Athens in Greece. He was noted for his wisdom; and, centuries after his death, the highest praise that could be given to a learned man was to say, "He is as wise as Solon."

Solon had heard of Croesus, and so one day he visited him in his beautiful palace. Croesus was now happier and prouder than ever before, for the wisest man in the world was his guest. He led Solon through his palace and showed him the grand rooms, the fine carpets, the soft couches, the rich furniture, the pictures, the books. Then he invited him out to see his gardens and his orchards and his stables; and he showed him thousands of rare and beautiful things that he had collected from all parts of the world.

In the evening as the wisest of men and the richest of men were dining together, the king said to his guest, "Tell me now, O Solon, who do you think is the happiest of all men?" He expected that Solon would say, "Croesus."

The wise man was silent for a minute, and then he said, "I have in mind a poor man who once lived in Athens and whose name was Tellus. He, I doubt not, is the happiest of all men."

This was not the answer that Croesus wanted; but he hid his disappointment and asked, "Why do you think so?"

"Because," answered his guest, "Tellus was an honest man who labored hard for many years to bring up his children and to give them a good education; and when they were grown and able to do for themselves, he joined the Athenian army and gave his life bravely in the defense of his country. Can you think of any one who is more deserving of happiness?"

"Perhaps not," answered Croesus, half choking with disappointment. "But who do you think ranks next to Tellus in happiness?" He was quite sure now that Solon would say "Croesus."

"I have in mind," said Solon, "two young men whom I knew in Greece. Their father died when they were mere children, and they were very poor. But they worked manfully to keep the house together and to support their mother, who was in feeble health. Year after year they toiled, nor thought of anything but their mother's comfort. When at length she died, they gave all their love to Athens, their native city, and nobly served her as long as they lived."

Then Croesus was angry. "Why is it," he asked, "that you make me of no account and think that my wealth and power are nothing? Why is it that you place these poor working people above the richest king in the world?"

"O king," said Solon, "no man can say whether you are happy or not until you die. For no man knows what misfortunes may overtake you, or what misery may be yours in place of all this splendor."

Many years after this there arose in Asia a powerful king whose name was Cyrus. At the head of a great army he marched from one country to another, overthrowing many a kingdom and attaching it to his great empire of Babylon. King Croesus with all his wealth was not able to stand against this mighty warrior. He resisted as long as he could. Then his city was taken, his beautiful palace was burned, his orchards and gardens were destroyed, his treasures were carried away, and he himself was made prisoner.

"The stubbornness of this man Croesus," said King Cyrus, "has caused us much trouble and the loss of many good soldiers. Take him and make an example of him for other petty kings who may dare to stand in our way."

Thereupon the soldiers seized Croesus and dragged him to the market place, handling him pretty roughly all the time. Then they built up a great pile of dry sticks and timber taken from the ruins of his once beautiful palace. When this was finished they tied the unhappy king in the midst of it, and one ran for a torch to set it on fire.

"Now we shall have a merry blaze," said the savage fellows. "What good can all his wealth do him now?"

As poor Croesus, bruised and bleeding, lay upon the pyre without a friend to soothe his misery, he thought of the words which Solon had spoken to him years before: "No man can say whether you are happy or not until you die," and he moaned, "O Solon! O Solon! Solon!"

It so happened that Cyrus was riding by at that very moment and heard his moans. "What does he say?" he asked of the soldiers.

"He says, 'Solon, Solon, Solon!' " answered one.

Then the king rode nearer and asked Croesus, "Why do you call on the name of Solon?"

Croesus was silent at first; but after Cyrus had repeated his question kindly, he told all about Solon's visit at his palace and what he had said.

The story affected Cyrus deeply. He thought of the words, "No man knows what misfortunes may overtake you, or what misery may be yours in place of all this splendor." And he wondered if some time he, too, would lose all his power and be helpless in the hands of his enemies.

"After all," said he, "ought not men to be merciful and kind to those who are in distress? I will do to Croesus as I would have others do to me." And he caused Croesus to be given his freedom; and ever afterwards treated him as one of his most honored friends.

Credits: James Baldwin

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Surprise Visit


Universal Mom Sayings

These familiar saying have been handed down from mother to daughter right through the ages. Wonder how many of these did we grow up with?

Who do you think you are?

Ask your father (closely followed by “Ask your Mother”)

Bored! How can you be bored? I was never bored at your age.

I’ll treat you like an adult when you start acting like an adult!

Look at me when I’m talking to you.

Don’t you roll your eyes at me!

Don’t pick it, it’ll get infected.

I don’t care if “xxxxxxxx's” Mum said yes.

You’ll put your eye out with that thing!

I’m going to give you to the count to three.

Don’t put that thing in your mouth, you don’t know where it’s been.

Wear clean underwear in case you get in an accident and have to go to hospital.

Don’t cross your eyes like that, one day they’ll freeze that way

I don’t care who started it, I’ll finish it!

Don’t EVER let me catch you doing that again!

Why? Because I SAID SO, that’s why!?!

If such and such jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?

If I catch you doing that one more time, I’ll ......

Your father is going to hear about THIS when he gets home!

If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

How many times do I have to tell you, don’t throw things in the house!

Do you think your clothes are going to pick themselves up?

“I don’t know” is NOT an answer!

I know it’s not fair. Life isn't fair.


Happy Mother's Day!