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December 2013 Archives

Printable Issue 2706  Today is Monday, December 2nd, 2013; Karen's Korner #2706
A couple of weeks ago my church friend Joy and I attended our church's "International Conference on Missions" in Kansas City. While the conference was held from Thursday through Sunday, we participated in parts of three days.
 
Like most conferences, there were trade show booths, worship times, break-out workshops among other things. About 10,000 people attended.
 
Here are a couple of comments, highlights:
 
* This year's president was from Mexico. One of his comments, "In the past four years, the drug cartel has killed more than 100,000 people'" in his country.
 
* In one of the workshops, I learned that more people of the Muslim faith have been converted to Christianity in the past 40 years, than in the prior 400 years. The leader cited five reasons why; I can recall three:  technology and the lack of 'borders'  because of computers and advanced communication; Muslim students studying in colleges located in Christian countries, coming in direct contact with authentic Christians; and the thirdly answers to people praying for Muslims - some people are being contacting directly by God 'through dreams and visions'. The speaker said, "We need to praise God that the 'doors to the Muslim faith are wide open!".
 
* While there were more than 300 trade show type booths, recruiting youth to Christian colleges/educations; attempting to interest participants in supporting a mission/missionary with time, talents, or dollars, maybe ten or less were selling wares made by some third world countries, attempting to help some of its citizenry to support themselves. One in particular was Rapha House from India and several other countries, teaching young girls a trade. These girls are now out of the sex trafficking industry. These new skills and a market for their products, allowed them to move from one lifestyle to another one, more of her choosing. Both Joy and I purchased an item or two!
 
* In another workshop, I learned that 75% of our churches in America have either plateaued, are in decline, or near death. A couple of signs of decline:  40% of the people doing 90% of the work is a sign of beginning the decline; as a church comes closer to death:  10% of the people doing 90% of the work. We need to ask God, where is our church? What kind of plans does He have for our church futures?
 
* Two days were deemed as "Youth Days". Some of the programming paralleled what the adults were doing; others were special events and activities were just for them. IDES (International Disaster Emergency Services) had two special opportunities for youth who chose to participate:  they built walls, ends, roofs for 42 storage units which will be readied to 'buckle together', when the next U.S. disaster happens, also 70,000 emergency meals were put together for those in need.
 
* One amazing session was a one hour "world prayer time" on Saturday morning. The 'pray-ers' were organized in advance:  one-by-one they came to the microphone and prayed. Some were from the United States; some were not. Some prayed in English; some in their native language. All were broadcast on a couple of jumbo screens. At times, the screen would move to people in other parts of the world who live, outside of the conference center, where several thousand people were participating. Some might be located in India; another might be in a ghetto area on New York City. Each praying for things globally, collectively, or specifically for needs of their country; maybe a particular of their mission work.
 
What an opportunity to be reminded, once again, that 'God is alive and well on planet earth! And to think that each of us gets to be a part of it!
Printable Issue 2707  Today is Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013; Karen's Korner #2707
When searching television channels this morning, I happened on a question and answer program, obviously religious/Christian in nature. The speaker said, "God loves you. He loves you as much as He loves His Own Son! Try wrapping your mind around that one!"
 
I did. It's enough to keep me going for the whole day!
 
 
Here is a 'Max Lucado' for the today, and for the season:
 
 
He Called His Name Jesus

Scripture says,  “And Joseph took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son.  And he called His name Jesus! Matthew 1:24”

Joseph was literally willing to tank his reputation.  And he did. He traded it in for a pregnant fiancée and an illegitimate son and made the big decision of discipleship. He placed God’s plan ahead of his own. Rather than make a name for himself, he made a home for Christ.  And because he did, a great reward came his way. “And he called His name Jesus!”

Of all the saints, sinners, prodigals, and preachers who’ve spoken the name, Joseph—a blue-collar, small-town construction worker said it first. Joseph cradled the wrinkle-faced prince of heaven, and with an audience of angels and pigs, whispered, “Jesus—You’ll be called Jesus!”

**

Printable Issue 2708  Today is Wednesday, December 4th, 2013; Karen's Korner #2708
If you wait for perfect conditions,
you will never get anything done."
~ Ecclesiastes 11:4 LB
 
Bible Commentary:
 
Waiting for perfect conditions will mean inactivity.
This practical insight is especially applicable to spiritual life.
If we wait for the perfect time and place for Bible reading,
we will never begin.
If we wait for a perfect church,
we will never join.
If we wait for the perfect ministry,
we will never serve.
Take steps to grow spiritually.
Don't wait for conditions that will never exist.
 
***
Printable Issue 2709  Today is Thursday, December 5th, 2013; Karen's Korner #2709
My sister Amy loaned me the book "Be The Miracle:  50 Lessons for Making the Impossible Possible" by Regina Brett, a newspaper reporter, who learned some life lessons after a bout with cancer. Her 'lessons' ooze with inspiration; some are kissed with 'God Thoughts'.
 
Some of the 'lesson' titles (chapters):  "Harness the power of hope"; "Carry as you climb"; "Everyone matters to somebody".
 
An excerpt from the chapter titled "Be a Monk":
 
 
"My friend Father Jim Lewis is fond of offering his advice to everyone he counsels:  God is the answer.  Now what was your question?
 
"I've never forgotten a simple story a man shared with a group of my friends about Catholic school. Michael was having a bad day and spit on a nun. A nun! That's like a felony in Catholic school. She hauled him off to the principal's office. He sat outside the principal's door for what seemed like days. He wondered what hell would be his punishment. Then the nun came by and sat down next to him. He expected her to be harsh. Instead, she said ever so gently, 'Michael, make your life a prayer.' He never forgot it.
 
"Make your life a prayer.  Not a quest for more achievements, awards, popularity, power, praise, money, or fame.
 
"For many, prayer is something you say in a crisis. We all have our favorite 911 calls to God. You can pray in a pinch or you can make your whole life a prayer. For me, cancer came along and did both. It made me say crisis prayers to survive and it led me to see my whole life as a prayer, as a gift for others. Every day I plug into God, into my power source, so I stay Higher Powered all day.
 
"How do you make your life a prayer? Practice."
 
***
Printable Issue 2710  Today is Friday, December 6th, 2013; Karen's Korner #2710
First your '3 question Bible Quiz' for the week, just in time for the Christmas season:
 
1) On Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem, Mary is often pictured in art as riding on what animal?
 
2) To whom did a heavenly host of angels announce the birth of Jesus?
 
3) From what direction did the Wise Men come to see the baby Jesus?
 
*
 
A pass-along email sent to me yesterday by friend Miriam Jensen. "This could be a good one to share with friends," she wrote.
 
It reminds me of what the Bible says 'to always be thankful':
 
 
        "A 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud man, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, with his hair fashionably combed and shaved perfectly, even though he is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today.    
 
        "His wife of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when told his room was ready.    
 
        "As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets  that had been hung on his window.    
 
        "'I love it,' he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.    
 
        "'Mr. Jones, you haven't seen the room; just wait,' I said.
 
        "That doesn't have anything to do with it,' he replied. 'Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged. It's how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It's a decision I make every  morning when I wake up.I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away. Just for this time in my life.'" 
 
*
 
Answers:  1) A donkey; 2) Shepherds; 3) The east
 
***
 
 
Printable Issue 2711  Today is Monday, December 9th, 2013; Karen's Korner #2711
A second excerpt from the book "Be The Mericle:  50 Lessons for Making the Impossible Possible" by Regina Brett. Chapter 40 was titled "Aim Higher":
 
 
"Bonnie St. John lost her right leg at five years old to a bone disorder.
 
"She jokingly refers to herself as a one-legged African American girl from San Diego with no money and no snow who took up skiing.
 
"As a black woman with one leg, she's face more hurdles than most.  She's survived child sexual abuse, family dysfunction, divorce, race and gender discrimination, and navigating the world on an artificial limb. I met Bonnie at a conference in Worcester, Massachusetts. I was the breakfast keynote speaker; she was the lunch keynote speaker.
 
"She wore a skirt and as close to heels as she could get while wearing a titanium leg. I loved that she didn't try to disguise her artificial leg.
 
"'You want to see a miracle?' she asked the crowd.
 
"She walked across the stage.
 
"The audience went wild with applause.
 
"Bonnie often goes to hospitals to visit patients give talks to people who are facing obstacles that seem insurmountable like hers once did. She met one mother whose 13-year-old son had been horribly burned on his face and arms. The mother turned to Bonnie and asked, 'Will my son ever live a normal life?'
 
"I expected Bonnie to promise, 'Of course he will.' She shocked me with her answer.
 
"'No.' Bonnie said. 'He should aim higher.'
 
*****
 
Here is a partial list of what Bonnie did/has done herself, as she 'aimed higher:
 
** She was the first African American to win Olympic medals in ski racing, winning the silver and two bronze medals in downhill skiing at the 1984 Paralympics in Austria.
 
** She graduated with honors from Harvard University, won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, and was appointed to the White House National Economic Council under President Bill Clinton.
 
** Her goal in life is to spread joy, encouraging people to relish the joy they already have!
Printable Issue 2712  Today is Tuesday, December 10th, 2013; Karen's Korner #2712
Among many things our pastor mentioned in  our church sermon on Sunday, he told about the song "Christmas Bells" and how Henry Wadsworth Longfellow happened to write it. The era was during the Civil War. He had recently lost his wife, Frances, in an accidental fire; not long after his oldest son, Charles, joined the Union cause, against his father's wishes. Only a few months later, the older Longfellow learned that his son had been wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church in Virginia during the Mine Run Campaign; his wounds included a lengthy recovery.
 
Thus the poem penned on Christmas Cay in 1863, and first published in February 1865:
 
 
"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
"And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
"Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
"Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
"It was as if an earthquake rest
The hearth-stones of a continent
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
"And in despair I bowed my head,
'There is no peace on earth,' I said,
'For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
 
"Then pealed the bells more loud and deep.
'God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!'"
 
****
Printable Issue 2713  Today is Wednesday, December 11th, 2013; Karen's Korner #2713
First this week's Bible Quiz (next to last one!):
 
1)  What was the first bird to leave the ark?
 
2) What was the name of Joseph's (of multi-colored coat fame!) younger brother?
 
3) What was the name of the mountain where Moses received the 10 Commandments?
 
 
Plus a dose of Max Lucado:
 
More Dinghy Than Cruise Ship?
 

Are you more dinghy. . .than cruise ship? Or in my case, more blue jeans than blue blood? Well congratulations, God changes the world with folks like you!

The next time you say, ¡°I don¡¯t think God could use me!¡±¡ªstop right there!  Satan¡¯s going to try to tell you that God has an IQ requirement.  That he employs only experts and high-powered personalities.  When you hear Satan whispering that lie¡ªhit him with this:  God stampeded the first-century society with swaybacks, not thoroughbreds.  Before Jesus came along, the disciples were loading trucks, coaching soccer, and selling Slurpee drinks at the convenience store!

But what they had going for them was a willingness to take a step when Jesus said, ¡°Follow me.¡±

So what do you think?  More plumber than executive?  More stand-in than movie star? Yeah¡ªcongratulations!  God uses people like you¡­and me.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ¡°Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  Matthew 16:24¡å

***

Answers:
 
1) A raven; 2) Benjamin; 3) Mount Sinai
Printable Issue 2714  Today is Thursday, December 12th, 2013; Karen's Korner #2714
As a Bible reader, I tend to select a book of the Bible and then read a chapter or so every day. Right now, I am reading Exodus. The book tells about Moses leading the people of Israel out of Egypt, as God frees them for their slavery.
 
I'll have to admit some books of the Bible are more interesting to me than others. Exodus is good and holds my attention, but about mid-section, it turns in to be pretty statistical:  instructions on how to build the tabernacle, what about the ark? the table? the lampstand? the tent? the curtains? the altar? I know that is probably pretty interesting to some; not so much to me!
 
But I keep moving. Then there is chapter 30; telling about 'procedures to prepare for worship'. God is instructing - verses 11 - 15:
 
"And Jehovah said to Moses,
'Whenever you take a census of the people of Israel,
each man who is numbered shall give a ransom to the Lord for his soul,
so that there will be no plague among the people when you number them.
His payment shall be half a dollar.
All who have reached their twentieth birthday shall give this offering.
The rich shall not give more
and the poor shall not give less,
for it is an offering to the Lord to make atonement for yourselves.
Use this money for the care of the Tabernacle;
it is to bring you,
the people of Israel,
to the Lord's attention, and to make atonement for you.'"
 
Bible Commentary:  Whenever a census took place, everyone, both rich and poor, was required to pay a ransom. God does not discriminate between people on the basis of race, sex, wealth, or even past performance. All of us need mercy and forgiveness because of the sinful ways in which we act. There is no way the rich person can buy off God and no way the poor can avoid paying. God's demand is that all of us come humbly before Him to be forgiven and restored to His Family.
 
***
 
Refreshing!? We work so hard to try to make people 'equal'. God, how does He see us?? Says to me that He sees all of us exactly alike...........regardless of our race, sex, wealth, good or bad past performance!
 
Same for His Love; what a plan! What an idea!!
Printable Issue 2715  Today is Friday, December 13th, 2013; Karen's Korner #2715
The last couple of Sunday's our Sunday School class has been looking at being 'encouraged' and becoming 'encouragers'. Among other people we looked at was Barnabus and what a large impact he had on encouraging some of the early leaders in the spread of the Christian faith (i.e. Paul).
 
There were several Bible verses which were featured:
 
"For God has not chosen to pour out His anger upon us,
but to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ,
He died for us so that we can live with Him forever,
whether we are dead or alive at the time of His return.
 
"So encourage each other to build each other up,
just as you are already doing."
~ I Thessalonians 5:9 - 11 LB
 
Bible Commentary:   "As you near the end of a foot race, your legs ache, your throat burns, and your whole body cries out for you to stop. This is when supporters are most valuable. Their encouragement helps you push through the pain to the finish. In the same way, Christians are to encourage one another. A word of encouragement offered in the right moment can be the difference between finishing well and collapsing along the way. Look around you. Be sensitive to others need for encouragement and offer supportive words or actions."
***
 
 
Printable Issue 2716  Today is Monday, December 16th, 2013; Karen's Korner #2716
First, our weekly Bible Quiz (the last one, as I am out of cards!):
 
 
1) Complete this Bible verse, from Ecclesiastes, 'A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant.........'.
 
2) How long had Lazarus been dead when Jesus arrived in Bethany?
 
3) Who was the queen that saved her people from death?
 
 
And some words of 'wisdom' from Max Lucado, enjoy:
 
YOUR IDENTITY
 
Your identity isn’t in your possessions, talents, tattoos, kudos, or accomplishments.  Nor are you defined by your divorce, deformity, debt or dumb choices.  You are God’s child.  You get to call him “Papa.”

According to Scripture, Ephesians 3:12 invites you to approach God with freedom and confidence. I John 4:9-11 promises that you will receive the blessings of his special love and provision. Romans 8:17 says you will inherit the riches of Christ and reign with him forever. 

If God loves you, you must be worth loving.  If he wants to have you in his kingdom, then you must be worth having.  God’s grace invites you—no, requires you—to change your attitude about yourself and take sides with God against your feelings of rejection.  Let these words cement in your heart a deep, satisfying, fear-quenching confidence that God will never let you go.

You belong to Him!

****

Answers:
 
1)  ..and a time to harvest; 2) Four days; 3) Esther
Printable Issue 2717  Today is Tuesday, December 17th, 2013; Karen's Korner #2717
At Sunday School on Sunday, our class discussion drifted to "Joy to the World" and how it really isn't a Christmas Carol; about the birth of Jesus and His coming to earth the first time. In fact, it is about His coming back to earth a second time.
 
Here is a little bit more from web research:
 
    "The Bible doesn't talk much about happiness, but it does say a lot about joy. The words happy or happiness are only used 27 times in the NIV Bible. But the words joy and rejoice are used 320 times. Joy has a deeper meaning than happiness. Happiness has to do with what happens to you, and it is going to fluctuate according to circumstances. But joy overrides circumstance. Joy is an inner sense of well being that abides even when circumstances are unfavorable. Philippians 4:4 says, "Rejoice in the Lord always."  You are not always going to be happy, but you can always have joy within.  II Corinthians 7:4 says, "..in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds."

 

    "Almost 300 years ago, Isaac Watts wrote the hymn, "Joy to the World".  It is odd that 'Joy to the World' is considered a Christmas carol because it only has a veiled reference to the birth.......'the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King'. The song was not inspired by the Gospel accounts of the birth of Christ, but by the later parts of Psalm 98'.

 

The words:

 

Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

 
***
Printable Issue 2718  Today is Wednesday, December 18th, 2013; Karen's Korner #2718
A number of quotable quotes for you to ponder today:
 
"An old friend is better than two new ones."
~ Russian Proverb
 
*
 
"Security is our nearness to God;
not on our distance from danger."
~ Kenneth R. Hendren
 
*
 
"There is no thrill quite like doing something
you didn't know you could do."
~ Marjorie Holmes
 
*
 
 "A family was driving home from church.
They were complaining,
'The sermon was dry.'
'The people were unfriendly.'
'The music was bad.'
 
The young boy said,
'I didn't think it was so bad.
After all,
we got in for only one dollar.'"
 
*
 
"The great tragedy of life is not hunger nor disease,
but to feel unwanted."
~ Mother Theresa
 
*
 
"The Lord gives us two ends --
one to sit on
and the other to think on.
Success depends on which one we use the most."
~ Ann Landers
 
*
 
"You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's
initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them
what they should be doing for themselves."
~ Abraham Lincoln
 
*
 
"Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors."
~ African proverb
 
***
Printable Issue 2719  Today is Thursday, December 19th, 2013; Karen's Korner #2719
Yesterday's "Jesus Calling...Enjoying Peace in His Presence" by Sarah Young, was a good one. If you recall Young has written thoughts as if Jesus is speaking to us:
 
"When you are plagued by a persistent problem...
one that goes on and on....
view it as a rich opportunity,
An ongoing problem is like a tutor
who is always on your side.
The learning possibilities are limited only
by your willingness to be teachable.
In faith,
thank Me for your problem.
Ask Me to open your eyes
and your heart to all that I am accomomplishing
through this difficulty.
Once you have become grateful for a problem,
it loses its power to drag you down.
On the contrary,
your thankful attitude will lift you up in to heavenly places with Me.
From this perspective,
your difficulty can be seen as
a slight, temporary distress that is producing
for you a transcendent Glory never to cease!
 
***
Printable Issue 2720  Today is Friday, December 20th, 2013; Karen's Korner #2720
Enjoy something emailed to me a number of months ago by a friend, which she had enjoyed reading. I saved it for the Christmas season:
 
"Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who,
though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death - even death on a cross.
Therefore, God also highly exalted him and gave him
 the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."
~ Philippians 2:5 - 11 (NRSV)
 

"I wish the door to the Oval Office, every political office, every executive of a  company's office, every pastor's office, every principal's office, every headmaster's office, and every boss' office was small, so small that the occupants would have to get on their knees --briefcase and all -- and crawl through the door and into their office. A small door serving as a simple reminder that leadership and authority mean getting low and being a servant. And every morning when arriving at work serving as a reminder again that the attitude of our hearts should be 'there is nothing  too low for me to do today; I am here to serve.
 
"What a good reminder for all of us. This is the example and mindset of King Jesus, the son of God; born in a barn, wrapped up and put in a feeding trough (talk about coming into the job low!). Paul expands poetically in Philippians 2:6 - 7,  'Though [Jesus] was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant" (ESV). What an amazing mystery and example:God becoming human and entering into his kingly office through the small door of  Bethlehem. Not coming to be served but to serve and calling us to do the same.
 
"Today, let's get low together, looking into the eyes of children, helping to clean the mess that is on the floor; washing the feet of our friends, and most of all reminding those around us that we are here to serve -- just like our Savior, Jesus.'
"Dear Jesus, thank you for being a servant to me. Thank you for humbling yourself and becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. By your Holy Spirit, please give me heart like yours to serve those I am with today. Amen."
 
~ Written by Daniel Holladay
 
**

Printable Issue 2721  Today is Monday, December 23rd, 2013; Karen's Korner #2721
A Christmas 'Max Lucado' which was emailed last Friday to subscribers:
 
NO ROOM

Some of the saddest words on earth are “We don’t have room for you.” Jesus knew the sound of those words.  He was still in Mary’s womb when the innkeeper said, “We don’t have room for you” (Luke 2:7).

And when he was hung on the cross, wasn’t the message one of utter rejection?  “We don’t have room for you in our world.”

Even today Jesus is given the same treatment. He goes from heart to heart, asking if he might enter. Every so often, he’s welcomed.  Someone throws open the door of his or her heart and invites him to stay. And to that person Jesus gives this great promise, “In my Father’s house are many rooms” (John 14:2).

What a delightful promise he makes us! We make room for him in our hearts….And he makes room for us in his house!

***

Printable Issue 2722  Today is Tuesday, December 24th, 2013; Karen's Korner #2722
Something emailed to me after Christmas last year. I held on to it until Christmas 2013. It is too long; if you don't have time to read it now, save it for another day! Hope you get the opportunity to read it at your convenience:
 
 
The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas, just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through.

Instead of throwing the man out, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the heater and warm up. "Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude," said the stranger. "I see you're busy, I'll just go."

"Not without something hot in your belly." George said.

He turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. "It ain't much, but it's hot and tasty. Stew ... made it myself. When you're done, there's coffee and it's fresh."

Just at that moment he heard the "ding" of the driveway bell. "Excuse me, be right back," George said. There in the driveway was an old '53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front.. The driver was panicked. "Mister can you help me!" said the driver, with a deep Spanish accent. "My wife is with child and my car is broken." George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold, the car was dead.

"You ain't going in this thing," George said as he turned away.

"But Mister, please help ..." The door of the office closed behind George as he went inside. He went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building, opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting. "Here, take my truck," he said. "She ain't the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good."

George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. He turned and walked back inside the office. "Glad I gave 'em the truck, their tires were shot too. That 'ol truck has brand new ." George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The Thermos was on the desk, empty, with a used coffee cup beside it. "Well, at least he got something in his belly," George thought.

George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the block hadn't cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator. "Well, shoot, I can fix this," he said to himself. So he put a new one on.

"Those tires ain't gonna get 'em through the winter either." He took the snow treads off of his wife's old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn't going to drive the car anyway.

As he was working, he heard shots being fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, "Please help me."

George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention. "Pressure to stop the bleeding," he thought. The uniform company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound. "Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin'," he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease.

"Something for pain," George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. "These ought to work." He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills. "You hang in there, I'm going to get you an ambulance."

The phone was dead. "Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your car." He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio.

He went back in to find the policeman sitting up. "Thanks," said the officer. "You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area."

George sat down beside him, "I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain't gonna leave you." George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. "Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through 'ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time your gonna be right as rain."

George got up and poured a cup of coffee. "How do you take it?" he asked.

"None for me," said the officer..

"Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city. Too bad I ain't got no donuts." The officer laughed and winced at the same time.

The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun. "Give me all your cash! Do it now!" the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.

"That's the guy that shot me!" exclaimed the officer.

"Son, why are you doing this?" asked George, "You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt."

The young man was confused. "Shut up old man, or I'll shoot you, too. Now give me the cash!"

The cop was reaching for his gun. "Put that thing away," George said to the cop, "we got one too many in here now."

He turned his attention to the young man. "Son, it's Christmas Eve. If you need money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pea shooter away."

George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry. "I'm not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son," he went on. "I've lost my job, my rent is due, my car got repossessed last week."

George handed the gun to the cop. "Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can."

He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. "Sometimes we do stupid things." George handed the young man a cup of coffee. "Bein' stupid is one of the things that makes us human. Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out."

The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. "Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm sorry officer."

"Shut up and drink your coffee " the cop said.

George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn. "Chuck! You ok?" one of the cops asked the wounded officer.

"Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?"

"GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?" the other cop asked as he approached the young man.

Chuck answered him, "I don't know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran."

George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other.

"That guy work here?" the wounded cop continued.

"Yep," George said, "just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job."

The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, "Why?"

Chuck just said, "Merry Christmas boy ... and you too, George, and thanks for everything."

"Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems."

George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box. "Here you go, something for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day."

The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. "I can't take this," said the young man. "It means something to you."

"And now it means something to you," replied George. "I got my memories. That's all I need."

George reached into the box again. An airplane, a car and a truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. "Here's something for that little man of yours."

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier.

"And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that too," George said. "Now git home to your family."

The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. "I'll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good."

"Nope. I'm closed Christmas day," George said. "See ya the day after."

George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. "Where'd you come from? I thought you left?"

"I have been here. I have always been here," said the stranger. "You say you don't celebrate Christmas. Why?"

"Well, after my wife passed away, I just couldn't see what all the bother was. Puttin' up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin' cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by myself and besides I was gettin' a little chubby."

The stranger put his hand on George's shoulder. "But you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor.

The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will make you a rich man and not take any for himself. "That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man."

George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. "And how do you know all this?" asked the old man.

"Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again."

The stranger moved toward the door. "If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned."

George watched as the old leather jacket and the torn pants that the stranger was wearing turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.

"You see, George ... it's My birthday. Merry Christmas."

George fell to his knees and replied, "Happy Birthday, Lord Jesus"
Printable Issue 2723  Today is Wednesday, December 25th, 2013; Karen's Korner #2723
MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Christmas Day 1776
(Something emailed to me earlier this week - in part)
 
"On numerous occasions, George Washington openly testified of God's protection over him. He recognized that his life existed only as a result of ' the miraculous care of Providence'. He also understood that the important part he had played in America's formation was by the direction of God, acknowledging 'I have only been an instrument in hand of Providence'.
 
"Washington's bravery in the face of death and his trust that his life was in the hands of God are especially seen on Christmas night 1776. His military campaign of 1776, which began well with the British evacuation of Boston, had turned into a disaster. His untrained, undisciplined army was quickly defeated by the professional British forces and the ruthless Hessian (German) mercenaries on Long Island and Mount Washington. In the retreat from Manhattan and during various skirmishes, he had lost New York, practically all of New Jersey and thousands of troops. By the time Washington's army escaped across the Delaware River into Bucks County, Pennsylvania, his army had declined from 28,000 to 2,400 on Christmas Day and was literally in rags and near starving. American morale was very low, desertion rated had been high with a prevailing sentiment that the cause was already dashed. On New Year's Eve, almost every soldier's term of service would expire and Washington would be left with an army of approximately 1,200.
 
"This was Washington's reality; he had to do something bold. He determined he must attack and defeat the 1,400 Hessian soldiers posted in Trenton on the eastern bank of the Delaware, or he would die. He purposed to cross the quarter mile of the Delaware River about nine miles above Trenton on Christmas Day. 'Victory or Death' was the password for the surprise attack.
 
"It was an increasingly dangerous plan. Transporting eighteen field cannon, 350 tons of ammunition, draft horses, and 2,400 men across the river in the black of night through and unrelenting sleet and snowstorm ended up taking 14 hours. By the time the army was across and ready to march the nine miles to Trenton, it was 4 a.m. -- too late to launch the planned predawn surprise attack. But to retreat would be even more dangerous. If the troops were discovered mid-river, they would be easy targets for British marksmen. There was no turning back.
 
"Many of Washington's bedraggled soldiers did not have boots. Some used burlap bags or rags toweled around their feet. Providentially, the snowstorm was so strong that the German troops believed no one would be out in such horrible conditions on Christmas night, so they didn't send out any night patrols or post a dawn sentry. When Washington's troops arrive at 8 a.m. to storm the town of Trenton, the Germans were caught completely off guard. In the battle that ensued, over 100 Hessians were killed or wounded and 918 captured, with several hundred more who managed to escape.
 
"At the same time, the Americans suffered two fatalities and five wounded. At noon, Washington's victorious army marched out of Trenton through slushy roads to the river crossing with their prisoners, six brass cannon, approximately 1,000 arms, and much-needed ammunition.
 
"It took them 12 hours to recross the Delaware. When the Continental troops finally collapsed into their tents, they had gone 48 hours without food, almost as long without sleep, and had marched 25 miles in frightful weather. They had won an extraordinary critical victory for independence. The effect of the Battle of Trenton was out of all proportion to the numbers involved and the casualties as it galvanized the colonial effort. For the first time, Washington's forces had defeated a regular British army in the field. Within 2 weeks, 15,000 volunteers showed up and Washington began to drive the British across New Jersey. The Revolution had been saved.
 
"Christmas Day 1776 helps us all remember the sacrifices that others gave on our behalf for our freedom. The same picture of 'sacrifice for freedom' is shown through the death of Jesus Christ, the sacrificial Son of God, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. God's heart....His desire is to save us from the tyranny of sin and deliver us into true and complete freedom. This is why we embrace the gift of Christmas where our Father demonstrated His love for us that He would send His one and only Son into a dark world...to save us. God is constant in His heart and in His desire for a world, individually and collectively, to yield our hearts and to turn our focus to Him. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords who stands at the door of our hearts and knocks."
 
*****
 
 
Printable Issue 2724  Today is Thursday, December 26th, 2013; Karen's Korner #2724
If you are like our family, you may still have a Christmas or two ahead, as we come to the weekend.
 
With that in mind, I thought it fitting to not move away from Christmas Day to quickly.
 
Here are the words to a Christmas carol - known, but maybe not as well-known as some:
 
INFANT HOLY, INFANT LOWLY
 
Infant holy, infant lowly,
for his bed a cattle stall;
oxen lowing, little knowing,
Christ the babe is Lord of all.
Swift are winging, angels singing,
noels ringing,
tidings bringing;
Christ the babe is Lord of all.
 
Flocks were sleeping,
shepherds keeping vigil till the morning new
saw the glory,
heard the story,
tidings of a gospel true.
Thus rejoicing,
free from sorrow,
praises voicing,
greet the morrow;
Christ the babe was born for you.
~ Edith M.G. Reed, 1925
 
**
Christmas Prayer
 
Eternal God,
by the birth of Jesus Christ you gave yourself to the world.
Grant that, being born in our hearts,
he may save us from all our sins,
and restore within us the image and likeness of our Creator,
to whom be everlasting praise and glory,
world without end.
Amen.
~ Taken from The United Methodist Hymnal
 
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Printable Issue 2725  Today is Friday, December 27th, 2013; Karen's Korner #2725
"The happiness for which our souls ache
is one undisturbed by success or failure;
one which will root deeply inside us
and give inward relaxation,
peace,
and contentment,
no matter what the surface problems may be.
That kind of happiness stands in need
of no outward stimulus."
~ Billy Graham
 
*
 
"What will you do today
that only a Christian would do?
~ Corrie ten Boom
 
*
 
"Thanksgiving puts power into living,
because it opens the generators of the heart
to respond gratefully,
to receive joyfully,
and to react creatively."
~ C. Neil Strait
 
*
"I know God will not give me anything I can't handle.
I just wish He didn't trust me so much.
~ Mother Teresa
 
(I am sure I have used this one before, but I like it.
Don't you?)
 
*****
Printable Issue 2726  Today is Monday, December 30th, 2013; Karen's Korner #2726
Yesterday at church worship service, we weren't quite ready to let Christmas season go, as we sang a number of Christmas carols. The one that really hooked my attention was "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing". Did you know (if I did I had forgotten), it is written by Charles Wesley, brother of better-known John Wesley) in 1734; and set to music by Felix Mendelssohn in 1840?
 
Long time ago. I wonder what we are doing today that will be remembered a couple hundred years later. It might not be something we write or sing, but we can count on the fact that what we do -- good or bad -- impacts people today and for generations to come:
 
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King;
peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!"
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
with the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem!"
Hark! The herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"


Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord!
late in time behold Him come;
off-spring of a virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the God-head see;
hail the incarnate Deity,
pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Risen with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

***

Printable Issue 2727  Today is Tuesday, December 31st, 2013; Karen's Korner #2727
Something to take us into the New Year by Max Lucado:
 
God Uses People

Sinners, the ungodly, the imperfect, the fearful!  Why does God choose such losers to change the world? I’m thinking it’s because there’s a lot more of us to choose from!

God uses people to change the world. Abraham the liar. David the adulterer and murderer. Are you getting the picture?  What they lacked in perfection, God made up for in love. How can God possibly use you to make a difference?  Look at those He’s already used and take heart!  Because you are imperfect, you can speak of making mistakes. Because you’re a sinner, you can give testimony to forgiveness. God restores the broken and the brittle, then parades them before the world as trophies of His love and strength!  If God chose only righteous people, you could count them all on one finger—Jesus!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

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