Session I’m about to run for The Retreat Association Conference:
An atheist was walking through the woods, admiring all the accidents that evolution had created. “What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!”, he said to himself. As he was walking alongside the river he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. Turning to look, he saw a 7-foot grizzly bear charge towards him. He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder and saw the grizzly was closing. Somehow, he ran even faster, so scared that tears came to his eyes. He looked again and the bear was even closer. His heart was pounding and he tried to run faster. He tripped and fell to the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but the bear was right over him, reaching for him with its left paw and raising its right paw strike him.
At that instant the atheist cried: “Oh my God!” Time stopped. The bear froze. The forest was silent. Even the river stopped moving. As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky: “You deny my existence for all these years, teach others that I don’t exist and even credit creation to a cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer? “The atheist looked directly into the light: “It would be hypocritical of me to ask to be a Christian after all these years, but perhaps you could make the bear a Christian?” “Very well” said the voice. The light went out. The river ran. The sounds of the forest resumed…..and then the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together and bowed its head and spoke: “Lord, for this food which I am about to receive, I am truly thankful.”
Have you ever been just sitting there and all of a sudden you feel like doing something nice for someone you care for? THAT’S GOD talking to you through the Holy Spirit.
Have you ever been thinking about somebody that you haven’t seen in a long time and then next thing you know you see them or receive a phone call from them? THAT’S GOD. There is no such thing as coincidence.
Have you ever received something wonderful that you didn’t even ask for, like money in the mail, a debt that had mysteriously been cleared, or a coupon to a department store where you had just seen something you needed, but couldn’t afford? THAT’S GOD knowing the desires of your heart.
Have you ever been in a situation and you had no clue how it was going to get better, how the hurting would stop, how the pain would ease, but now you look back on it. . . THAT’S GOD passing us through tribulation to see a brighter day.
Do you think that this e-mail was accidentally sent to you? NO! I was thinking of you!
Please pass this along and share the Power of God.
In all that we do, we should totally give thanks and our blessings will continue to multiply. Keep this going. You have no idea which one of your e-mail buddies could use a little hope today.
In My Sister’s Keeper, Kate Fitzgerald (Sofia Vassilieva) is diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia when she is two years old, and the prognosis is not positive. Her parents, Sara (Cameron Diaz) and Brian (Jason Patric), and her brother Jesse (Evan Ellingson) are not genetic matches. Sara, at least, will do anything to save Kate, and Dr Wayne (Jeffrey Markle) suggests, off the record, that producing another child in a test-tube would provide a perfectly matched donor. Anna (Abigail Breslin) is the result. The initial expectation is that only the blood from the umbilical cord will be used, but by the time Anna is 11, she’s undergone a number of medical procedures, including bone marrow transplants, and the latest call is for a kidney.
The video spun us through the previous 9 weeks, with Week 1 reminding us not to covet “most people want just a bit more than they already have”, and questioning, what’s the Number 1 for you now – food, drink, sport… or God?
- The size of the audience – it was HUGE!
- How to make the message relevant?
- How to get under the skin of this man, Jesus? As an actor one tries to understand the heartbeat of the character you’re playing, as a Christian, God had already been working on Israel’s heartbeat!
- Nowhere near your car?
- In the car, but locked in the boot for Sundays, where you stuff him back in for the rest of the week, in case he upsets your ordinary life?
- In the car, but a back-seat passenger who you don’t pay much attention to?
- In the car, but a front-seat passenger, so he’s a bit more in your vision, but still…
- Or is he the driver in your car….
- As Jesus drives down the “road of forgiveness” are you complaining that you don’t want to go this way?
- As Jesus points the way at a fork in the road, are you complaining “where are you going?”
- Why is a football supporter known as a “fan”?
- Why is a Christian known as a “fanatic”? Take it as a compliment!
- Minor suffering, that’s what you suffer from!
- Major suffering, that’s what I suffer from!
- Would your welcome be sincere?
- Would you hide some of the magazines you’d been reading and put a Bible there?
- Would you bury some things in the deepest darkest cupboard, or is it all there for Him to see?
h excludes all others. By turning away from other gods [in whatever form they come] you can actually HAVE GOD!
I thought I had better write to you about a couple of problems I’m having at school this term. Last week half of the boarding house burned down. But don’t worry too much because I’m now living in a flat in the village. I’m living with Frank the plumber. There’s no need to worry, he’s very nice, in fact I’m three months pregnant with his baby. We’re planning to get married at the end of term.
Next day, another letter from Sarah……
I know you will be worrying about yesterday’s letter so I thought I should write to you again. Mum the boarding house didn’t really burn down last week and I’m not living in a flat in the village. In fact I’m not even pregnant with Frank’s baby and we’re not getting married at the end of term. Mum, the real problem is that I failed my mid year exams really badly and I just wanted you to see this problem in proper prospective, All my Love,
- Child when asked “My name begins with M, I pick things up”: Mother
- The father carries a photo where his money used to be.
- Teenagers: “Stop asking where they came from and refuse to tell you where they’re going.”
- We encourage the kids to show off, then tell them to “Sit down and shut up”.
- Honour my parents by ACCEPTING them.
Don’t tune them out, don’t highlight the negatives.
God is not asking us to pretend that are parents are perfect when they’re not.
- Honour my parents by APPRECIATING them
Appreciate the effort that your parents put in is difficult/costly.
Son presented bill for £1 per job, mother presented bill of £1000s in return, but the final total was “I love you”.
Mothers can direct air traffic control, whereas children are expensive but can operate the DVD!
- Honour my parents by AFFIRMING them
This is the only commandment which doesn’t last a lifetime, a day will come when you can no longer make amends – and no amount of expense at the funeral will be equal to that of a visit whilst their alive.
- Honour my parents by NOT ABANDONING them
As parents age, offer support in practical ways.
- “I hate my parents”: Sometimes we hate you too…
- You may hate it when parents repeat thing,…. if do it first time, we wouldn’t have to. Acknowledge that you’ve heard by saying “I got it”.
- Play your part in the family, Dad is not ‘the old man’
- Teenagers are experts on surveys of one: “Everyone else is doing it”
- Mark Twain quote
- We get parents at so late a stage in their life that it’s impossible to change their habits!
- Think about what example you are setting, more likely to be honoured.
- The perfect model for parenting: God – treat our kids as God treats us.
- God listens to us
Teenagers often complain that they can say what they like at home as no one’s listening anyway!
- God understands us
A carpenter works WITH, not AGAINST the grain.
Give your kids roots and wings…
Are we perfect? NO, but God accepts us through grace, treat our kids the same, not as though our standards are automatically the best.
Teachers can teach kids to count, parents can teach their children WHAT COUNTS.
Demonstrate honesty, admit when you’ve done something wrong.
Do/don’t do as you’ve said, even if it’s difficult.
- God loves us
Offer affection, affirmation and attention (how often do you just sit and let them set the agenda?)
The average time parents spend talking to their children is 15 MINUTES A WEEK!
It’s easier to build children than to mend broken adults.
If you don’t live by priorities, you end up living by pressures.
- God disciplines his children
“I love you, but sometimes I don’t like your beahviour.”
Often people tie up the dog at night, but let their children run free.
Discipline offers a structure of safety until the children has enough structure in character to stand up on their own.
Parents discipline best when they exhibit disciplined behaviour of their own.
Requirement to assume that forgiveness does not mean forgetting, and it’s possible to forgive without dulling the pain (of 51 years of nagging!), but does remove the resentment!
The sixth commandment is simple… murder is a serious crime which once committed cannot be undone, and appears in many different terminologies (e.g. manslaughter, serial killing, etc.) in the newspapers on a daily basis. The term “Road Rage” made it into the Oxford English Dictionary in 1997, and of course there are associated terms such as ‘Air Rage’. 42% of those in the UK workforce noted that they have been yelled at at work, with many reduced to tears.
Violence is pumped into our culture by the megatons… e.g. films such as Die Hard are not constructive models of anger management! We can also break this commandment through passive action – e.g. if we see someone freezing/hungry and do not help them out, we may be letting them freeze/starve to death.
It’s not just about inflicting physical pain, but actions and attitudes can cause harm, e.g. grudges, resentment and prejudice, etc. Our language is full of venom: e.g. “Drop Dead”, and “If looks could kill”. J John argues that there is a thin line between violence of feeling and violence of action, and its often with those that we care most about that we get the most angry with/hurt the most.
- I need to admit my anger (if we don’t talk about it, we’ll take it out on others; there is justifiable anger – the Bible is full of stories of God/Jesus expressing anger, and we need to seek to do the same – express it non-destructively)
- I need to deal with my anger immediately (“You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist” “Those who fight fire with fire end up with the ashes”. Don’t give a piece of your mind (you may not be able to afford to lose it), but seek to be a peacemaker. It takes more inner strength to forgive than retaliate… let God give justice).
- I need to understand anger (Anger usually covers a hurt, which covers an expectation, which covers a need… need to uncover these).
- I need to stop and think before I speak (If you speak when you’re angry, you’ll probably make the best speech you wish you’d never made)
- I need to ask God to fill me with his Holy Spirit (seek self-control, asking God to influence thoughts, words and actions; society tries to reform people, Jesus can transform)