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Shepherds and Wise Men Both Made it to Bethlehem

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Some people come to Jesus like the shepherds.

Out in the fields, minding their own business -- and kablammo!
Something big happens!

Angels show up!  a huge angel choir!  Glory to God in the highest!

Life change in a moment.

The shepherds drop everything and run to Bethlehem, where they find
teh Christ-child lying in a manger.

They rejoice, celebrate and end up broadcasting the good news
everywhere they go.  Glory!  Glory!  Hallelujah!

Others come to Jesus like the wise men.

They see a distant star in the east and are puzzled by its appearing.
"What does this mean?", they wonder.  After a long pondering, they
begin a long, winding journey of faith.

It takes them quite a while to figure things out -- with plenty of
detours along the way.  But, eventually, they, too, end up in
Bethlehem.

Departing, they did not cause a big scene like the shepherds --but had
the experience of inner transformation as well (though of the "still
waters" variety.)

I like the manger scenes where wise men and …

Great Computer Cookies

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Move That Mountain!

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"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." -- Matthew 17:20
Do you have a mountain looming in front of you, that you can't see your way around?  Call on God!  He's in the earth moving business!  Faith in the Mountain Mover moves the mountain!
Sometimes, He moves the mountain by earthquake -- a sudden event takes it all away.  This can happen when we make a major decision, or by circumstances beyond our control.  These earthquakes can be painful at the moment, but result in long term good.
The great Salvation Army leader, Samuel Brengle, was severely injured when an angry rioter threw a brick, hitting him in the head.  Brengle spent several months in rehabilitation, and during that time he wrote his first book which became bestselling classic.  Years later, he remarked to his wife, "I'm thankful for the brick.  If there…

Election Advice from John Wesley

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From Wesley's journal:  October 3, 1774:
 I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and  advised them:
 1) To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most  worthy.
 2) To speak no evil of the person they voted against.
 3) To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on  the other side.

The Failure of Short Term Optimism

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On September 6, 1965, Admiral James Stockdale’s A-4 Skyhawk was shot down over Viet Nam. The injured Stockdale found himself captured and imprisoned in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton”, where he was a prisoner of war for over seven years. He was the highest ranking naval officer held as a prisoner of war in the Viet Nam war.

 Stockdale was kept in solitary confinement for four years, placed in irons for two years, denied medical care and malnourished. Despite these terrible conditions, he led an “underground resistance movement” which brought hope and a sense of esprit de corps to his fellow POW’s. Still, many prisoners died under these grueling circumstances. Finally, in 1973, the brave admiral was released, and awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor is 1976 by President Ford.

 Several years later, author and researcher, Jim Collins, interviewed Stockdale in the campus of Stanford University, and asked the decorated offer how he coped with the demoralizing effects of his imprisonment.

 Sto…

The Measure of Character

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Character matters -- and the way we treat and speak about others is character's best measurement.  Civility, unfortunately, is becoming an increasingly rare virtue in our society.  The divisive rhetoric in our land is increasing, and does nothing to bring us together.  The bridge of understanding is built through mutual respect.

 A big part of maturity is learning to disagree agreeably, and treating people with kindness, even if they don't share our values.

 Recently, I ran across this piece from an unknown poet which captures this ideas.  Though it was penned over 70 years ago (long before authors knew about inclusive language), the point certainly fits for our day and age:
 The man's no bigger than the way  He treats his fellow man;  This standard has his measure been  Since time, itself, began!
 He's measured not by tithes or creed  High-sounding though they be;  Not by the bold that's put aside;  Not by his sanctity;
 He's measured not by social rank,  Whe…

What Did You Mean By That?

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"Half the harm that is done in the world," said poet, T.S. Eliot,"is done  by people who want to feel important. They do not mean to harm. There  are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."

 I've discovered that most of the time, people mean well. Even when  they speak or behave in troubling ways that makes us wonder -- they  mean well.  It's best to give the benefit of the doubt whenever possible.

 Yet, at the same time, it is also beneficial for us to examine our  motives, and try to understand more deeply how our behavior effects  others.

 Sometimes, winning the argument loses the fight. A marriage counselor once asked a distraught husband,  "Do you want to be happy, or do you want to be right?"

 After a frustrating conversation one day, I thought, "What he said spoke so loud, I couldn't understand a word  he meant!"

 Perhaps, the best path is mapped out by St. Francis of Assisi, who prayed:

 Lord, make me an ins…