Thursday, 31 May 2012

ALONG THE COUNTRY ROAD


An old man and his dog were walking along a country road, enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to the man that he had died. He remembered dying, and realized, too, that the dog had been dead for many years. He wondered where the road would lead them, and continued onward.

After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall, white arch that gleamed in the sunlight. When he was standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother of pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He was pleased that he had finally arrived at heaven, and the man and his dog walked toward the gate. As he got closer, he saw someone sitting at a beautifully carved desk off to one side.

When he was close enough, he called out, "Excuse me, but is this heaven?"

"Yes, it is, sir," the man answered.

"Wow! Would you happen to have some water?" the man asked.

"Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up." The gatekeeper gestured to his rear, and the huge gate began to open.

"I assume my friend can come in..." the man said, gesturing toward his dog.

But the reply was, "I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets."

The man thought about it, then thanked the gatekeeper, turned back toward the road, and continued in the direction he had been going. After another long walk, he reached the top of another long hill, and he came to a dirt road which led through a farm gate. There was no fence, and it looked as if the gate had never been closed, as grass had grown up around it. As he approached the gate, he saw a man just inside, sitting in the shade of a tree in a rickety old chair, reading a book. "Excuse me!" he called to the reader. "Do you have any water?"

"Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there," the man said, pointing to a place that couldn't be seen from outside the gate. "Come on in and make yourself at home."

"How about my friend here?" the traveler gestured to the dog.

"He's welcome too, and there's a bowl by the pump," he said. They walked through the gate and, sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a dipper hanging on it and a bowl next to it on the ground. The man filled the bowl for his dog, and then took a long drink himself.

When both were satisfied, he and the dog walked back toward the man, who was sitting under the tree waiting for them, and asked, "What do you call this place?" the traveler asked.

"This is heaven," was the answer.

"Well, that's confusing," the traveler said. "It certainly doesn't look like heaven, and there's another man down the road who said that place was heaven."

"Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates?"

"Yes, it was beautiful."

"Nope. That's hell."

"Doesn't it offend you for them to use the name of heaven like that?"

"No. I can see how you might think so, but it actually saves us a lot of time. They screen out the people who are willing to leave their best friends behind."

Sunday, 27 May 2012

THE FENCE


There once was a little boy who had a bad temper.

His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.

The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down.

He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper.

The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence.

He said, "You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won't matter how many times you say I'm sorry, the wound is still there. A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one."

As William Arthur Ward once said,
"It is wise to direct your anger towards problems - not people;
to focus your energies on answers - not excuses."

Saturday, 26 May 2012

THE BRICKS OF LIFE


Josh jumped out of the car, grabbed the kid and pushed him up against a parked car. He shouted at the kid, "What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing?!" Building up a head of steam, he went on. "That's my new Jag, that brick you threw is gonna cost you a lot of money. Why did you throw it?"

"Please, mister, please...I'm sorry! I didn't know what else to do!" pleaded the youngster. "I threw the brick because no one else would stop!"

Tears were dripping down the boy's chin as he pointed around the parked car. "It's my brother, Mister," he said. "He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him up." Sobbing, the boy asked the executive, "Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's too heavy for me."

Moved beyond words, the young executive tried desperately to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat.

Straining, he lifted the young man back into the wheelchair and took out his handkerchief and wiped the scrapes and cuts, checking to see that everything was going to be OK. He then watched the younger brother push him down the sidewalk toward their home. It was a long walk back to the sleek, black, shining, 12-cylinder Jaguar XKE - a long and slow walk.

Josh never did fix the side door of his Jaguar. He kept the dent to remind him not to go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at him to get his attention.

What a story!

At times in our lives, we tend to become so wrapped up in other things. We become focused on ourselves or our job we do not realize there are others around us that need our help.

We can react in a negative way to a situation without fully realizing or taking the time to look at the other persons situation. Or to take the time to find out the reason the other person has taken the action that they did.

Don't let the bricks in life hit you,
be sensitive to those around you.

YOUR LIFE, YOUR CHOICE


Not everyone is healthy enough to have a front row seat in our lives. There are some people in your life that need to be loved from a distance.

It's amazing what you can accomplish when you let go of, or at least minimize your time with, draining, negative, incompatible, not-going-anywhere relationships/friendships.

Observe the relationships around you. Pay attention.

Which ones lift and which ones lean? Which ones encourage and which ones discourage? Which ones are on a path of growth uphill and which ones are going downhill? When you leave certain people do you feel better or feel worse?

Which ones always have drama or don't really understand, know or appreciate you?

The more you seek quality, respect, growth, peace of mind, love and truth around you...the easier it will become for you to decide who gets to sit in the front row and who should be moved to the balcony of Your Life.

"If you cannot change the people around you, change the people you are around."

Remember that the people we hang with will have an impact on both our lives and our income. And so we must be careful to choose the people we hang out with, as well as the information with which we feed our minds.

We should not share our dreams with negative people, nor feed our dreams with negative thoughts.

It's your choice and your life.....
It's up to you who and what you let in it......

Friday, 25 May 2012

DON'T WE ALL?


One evening I was parked in front of the mall wiping off my car. I had just come from the car wash and was waiting for my wife to finish work. Coming my way from across the parking lot was what society would consider a bum. From the looks of him he had no car, no home, no clean clothes and no money.

There are times when you feel generous, but there are times that you just don't want to be bothered. This was one of the "Don't want to be bothered" times! "Hope he doesn't ask me for money," I thought. He didn't. He came and sat on the curb in front of the bus stop and he didn't look like he could have enough money to even ride the bus.

After a few minutes he spoke. "That's a very nice car," he said. He was ragged, but had an air of dignity around him. I said "Thanks," and continued wiping off my car. He sat there quietly as I worked. The expected plea for money never came. As the silence between us widened, something inside said, "Ask him if he needs any help." I was sure that he would say yes, but I held true to the inner voice.

"Do you need any help?" I asked. He answered in three simple but profound words that I shall never forget. We often look for wisdom in great accomplishments. I expect it from those of higher learning and accomplishments. I expected nothing but an outstretched grimy hand. He spoke three words that shook me, "Don't we all?" he said. I needed help. Maybe not for bus fare or a place to sleep, but I needed help. I reached in my wallet and gave him not only enough for bus fare but enough to get a warm meal and shelter for the day.

Those three little words still ring true. No matter how much you have, no matter how much you have accomplished, you need help too. No matter how little you have, no matter how loaded you are with problems, even without money or a place to sleep, you can give help. Even if it's just a compliment, you can give that!

You never know when you may see someone that appears to have it all. They are waiting on you to give them what they don't have. A different perspective on life, a glimpse of something beautiful, a respite from daily chaos, that only you, through a torn world can see.

Maybe the man was just a homeless stranger wandering the streets. Maybe he was more than that. Maybe he was sent by a power that is great and wise to minister to a soul too comfortable in himself. Maybe God looked down, called an Angel, dressed him like a bum and then said, "Go minister to that man cleaning the car, that man needs help."

AN INTERVIEW WITH GOD


"Come in..." God said, "...so, you would like to interview Me?"

"If you have the time," I said.

God smiled and said: "My time is eternity, and is enough to do everything. What questions do you have in mind to ask me?"

"What surprises you most about mankind?"

God answered: 
"That they get bored of being children, are in a rush to grow up, and then long to be children again.
That they lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore their health.
That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live neither for the present nor the future.
That they live as if they will never die, and they die as if they had never lived..."

God's hands took mine and we were silent for while, and then I asked..."As a parent, what are some of life's lessons you want your children to learn?"

God replied with a smile:
"To learn that they cannot make anyone love them. What they can do is to let themselves be loved.
To learn that what is most valuable is not what they have in their lives, but who they have in their lives.
To learn that it is not good to compare themselves to others. All will be judged individually on their own merits, not as a group on a comparison basis!
To learn that a rich person is not the one who has the most, but is one who needs the least.
To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in persons we love, and that it takes many years to heal them.
To learn to forgive by practicing forgiveness.
To learn that there are persons that love them dearly, but simply do not know how to express or show their feelings.
To learn that money can buy everything but happiness.
To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see it totally different.
To learn that a true friend is someone who knows everything about them... and likes them anyway.
To learn that it is not always enough that they be forgiven by others, but that they have to forgive themselves."

I sat there for awhile enjoying the moment. I thanked Him for his time and for all that He has done for me and my family, and He replied, "Anytime. I'm here 24 hours a day. All you have to do is ask for me, and I'll answer."

People will forget what you said.
People will forget what you did.
But, people will never forget how you made them feel.

THE TROUBLE TREE


The carpenter I hired to help me restore an old farm house had just finished a rough first day on the job. A flat tire had caused him to miss an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and now his ancient pick-up truck refused to start.

As I drove him home, he sat in stony silence. When we arrived he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked to the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. When opening the door he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles; he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

Afterward he walked me to the car. We passed by the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.

"Oh, that's my trouble tree," he replied. "I know I can't help having troubles on the job, but one thing's for sure, they don't belong in the house with my wife and children. So, I just hang them on the tree when I come home in the evening and then I just pick them up again in the morning."

"Funny thing, though," he smiled, "when I come out in the morning to pick 'em up, there ain't nearly as many as I remembered hanging there the night before."

HOW POOR ARE WE?


One day a father and his rich family took his son to a trip to the country with the firm purpose to show him how poor people can be. They spent a day and a night in the farm of a very poor family. When they got back from their trip the father asked his son, "How was the trip?"

"Very good, dad!" replied his son.

"Did you see how poor people can be?" the father asked.

"Yeah!"

"And what did you learn?"

The son answered, "I saw that we have a dog at home, and they have four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of the garden; they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lamps in the garden; they have the stars. Our patio reaches to the front yard, they have a whole horizon." When the little boy was finishing, his father was speechless.

His son added, "Thanks, dad, for showing me how poor we are!"

Our outlook on life depends on the way you look at things. What others may think as riches, others may want.

The most important things in life are your friends, family, health, good humor and a positive attitude towards life. If you have these then you have everything!

STRUGGLES IN OUR LIVES


A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further. So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon.

The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. If God allowed us to go through our lives without any obstacles, it would cripple us.

We would not be as strong as what we could have been. We could never fly!

I asked for strength.........
And God gave me difficulties to make me strong.

I asked for wisdom.........
And God gave me problems to solve.

I asked for prosperity.........
And God gave me brain and brawn to work.

I asked for courage.........
And God gave me danger to overcome.

I asked for love.........
And God gave me troubled people to help.

I asked for favors.........
And God gave me opportunities.

I received nothing I wanted ........
I received everything I needed!

Trust in God. Always!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

QUEST FOR THE NAIL PRINTS


Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come? || Ecclesiastes 8:7

If you’ve ever dreamt of spending time with Jesus during his earthly journey, this forceful and ultimately gut-wrenching thriller will, perhaps, be the nearest you’ll ever come to.

At first glance I was deeply intrigued, not because it was something which I was looking for, but for the unusual title and the setting of the story. I was led to presume that it would be a boring fare, with undecipherable scenes and jargons employed to finish the product that it is. But in the end, I was left wanting for more…

Quest for the Nail Prints is a truly new concept of story-telling which is both engaging, edifying and enriching. Though I have shied away from reading secular novels with time-traveling as a theme, Don Furr’s unique style and narrative, coupled with the setting of the plot from known historical documents and Bible scriptures we are familiar with makes it an interesting and fascinating read.

The book is set in the final days of the life of Jesus Christ and centers around three twenty-first century travelers who are transported back in time to Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday where they come face to face with the Nazarene Jesus – a young female doctor, a professor of religious studies and a pastor.

Quest for the Nail Prints is the story of how their lives intertwined and how they were changed when they encountered Jesus Christ.

Equally unique, if not more, was the hole shown on the cover. It was punched right through to the back cover. The book and its unique story is mostly likely to fill that gaping hole in your life.

Personally, Quest for the Nail Prints is a life-changing book which has made me to sit up and look at the Master as the bridge between my head and my heart.

ISBN-13: 9781936438020
Publisher: Sheaf House Publishers, LLC
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 566,564
Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)


About Don Furr: Don Furr is a teacher, soloist, author, and CEO of Exhibit-A, Inc., a trade show exhibit company located in Arlington, Tennessee. Married for twenty-five years to his wife, Karen, Don is the proud father of three children and grandfather to three beautiful grandchildren. He is also an avid fixed-wing and helicopter pilot. But by far his true love lies with all facets of movies, play writing, and his novels. Don has written several screenplays and produced countless live productions of Judgment House through his church, First Baptist Church of Lakeland, Tennessee. Don continually searches for new ways to utilize his talents for Christ.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book from the publisher for review purposes and was under no obligation to give a favourable opinion.

LETTER IN THE WALLET

As I walked home one freezing day, I stumbled on a wallet someone had lost in the street. I picked it up and looked inside to find some identification so I could call the owner. But the wallet contained only three dollars and a crumpled letter that looked as if it had been in there for years.
  
The envelope was worn and the only thing that was legible on it was the return address. I started to open the letter, hoping to find some clue. Then I saw the dateline--1924. The letter had been written almost sixty years ago.

It was written in a beautiful feminine handwriting on powder blue stationery with a little flower in the left-hand corner. It was a "Dear John" letter that told the recipient, whose name appeared to be Michael, that the writer could not see him any more because her mother forbade it. Even so, she wrote that she would always love him. It was signed, Hannah.

It was a beautiful letter, but there was no way except for the name Michael, that the owner could be identified. Maybe if I called information, the operator could find a phone listing for the address on the envelope.

"Operator," I began, "this is an unusual request. I'm trying to find the owner of a wallet that I found. Is there anyway you can tell me if there is a phone number for an address that was on an envelope in the wallet?"

She suggested I speak with her supervisor, who hesitated for a moment then said, "Well, there is a phone listing at that address, but I can't give you the number." She said, as a courtesy, she would call that number, explain my story and would ask them if they wanted her to connect me. I waited a few minutes and then she was back on the line. "I have a party who will speak with you."

I asked the woman on the other end of the line if she knew anyone by the name of Hannah. She gasped, "Oh! We bought this house from a family who had a daughter named Hannah. But that was 30 years ago!"

"Would you know where that family could be located now?" I asked.

"I remember that Hannah had to place her mother in a nursing home some years ago," the woman said. "Maybe if you got in touch with them they might be able to track down the daughter."

She gave me the name of the nursing home and I called the number. They told me the old lady had passed away some years ago but they did have a phone number for where they thought the daughter might be living. I thanked them and phoned. The woman who answered explained that Hannah herself was now living in a nursing home.

This whole thing was stupid, I thought to myself. Why was I making such a big deal over finding the owner of a wallet that had only three dollars and a letter that was almost 60 years old?

Nevertheless, I called the nursing home in which Hannah was supposed to be living and the man who answered the phone told me, "Yes, Hannah is staying with us. "

Even though it was already 10 p.m., I asked if I could come by to see her. "Well," he said hesitatingly, "if you want to take a chance, she might be in the day room watching television."

I thanked him and drove over to the nursing home. The night nurse and a guard greeted me at the door. We went up to the third floor of the large building. In the day room, the nurse introduced me to Hannah.

She was a sweet, silver-haired old timer with a warm smile and a twinkle in her eye. I told her about finding the wallet and showed her the letter. The second she saw the powder blue envelope with that little flower on the left, she took a deep breath and said, "Young man, this letter was the last contact I ever had with Michael."

She looked away for a moment deep in thought and then said Softly, "I loved him very much. But I was only 16 at the time and my mother felt I was too young. Oh, he was so handsome. He looked like Sean Connery, the actor."

"Yes," she continued. "Michael Goldstein was a wonderful person. If you should find him, tell him I think of him often. And," she hesitated for a moment, almost biting her lip, "tell him I still love him. You know," she said smiling as tears began to well up in her eyes, "I never did marry. I guess no one ever matched up to Michael..."

I thanked Hannah and said goodbye. I took the elevator to the first floor and as I stood by the door, the guard there asked, "Was the old lady able to help you?"

I told him she had given me a lead. "At least I have a last name. But I think I'll let it go for a while. I spent almost the whole day trying to find the owner of this wallet."

I had taken out the wallet, which was a simple brown leather case with red lacing on the side. When the guard saw it, he said, "Hey, wait a minute! That's Mr. Goldstein's wallet. I'd know it anywhere with that bright red lacing. He's always losing that wallet. I must have found it in the halls at least three times."

"Who's Mr. Goldstein?" I asked as my hand began to shake.

"He's one of the old timers on the 8th floor. That's Mike Goldstein's wallet for sure. He must have lost it on one of his walks." I thanked the guard and quickly ran back to the nurse's office. I told her what the guard had said. We went back to the elevator and got on. I prayed that Mr. Goldstein would be up.

On the eighth floor, the floor nurse said, "I think he's still in the day room. He likes to read at night. He's a darling old man."

We went to the only room that had any lights on and there was a man reading a book. The nurse went over to him and asked if he had lost his wallet. Mr. Goldstein looked up with surprise, put his hand in his back pocket and said, "Oh, it is missing!"

"This kind gentleman found a wallet and we wondered if it could be yours?"

I handed Mr. Goldstein the wallet and the second he saw it, he smiled with relief and said, "Yes, that's it! It must have dropped out of my pocket this afternoon. I want to give you a reward."

"No, thank you," I said. "But I have to tell you something. I read the letter in the hope of finding out who owned the wallet."

The smile on his face suddenly disappeared. "You read that letter?"

"Not only did I read it, I think I know where Hannah is."

He suddenly grew pale. "Hannah? You know where she is? How is she? Is she still as pretty as she was? Please, please tell me," he begged.

"She's fine...just as pretty as when you knew her." I said softly.

The old man smiled with anticipation and asked, "Could you tell me where she is? I want to call her tomorrow." He grabbed my hand and said, "You know something, mister, I was so in love with that girl that when that letter came, my life literally ended. I never married. I guess I've always loved her."

"Mr. Goldstein," I said, "Come with me."

We took the elevator down to the third floor. The hallways were darkened and only one or two little night-lights lit our way to the day room where Hannah was sitting alone watching the television. The nurse walked over to her.

"Hannah," she said softly, pointing to Michael, who was waiting with me in the doorway. "Do you know this man?"

She adjusted her glasses, looked for a moment, but didn't say a word.

Michael said softly, almost in a whisper, "Hannah, it's Michael. Do you remember me?"

She gasped, "Michael! I don't believe it! Michael! It's you! My Michael!" 

He walked slowly towards her and they embraced. The nurse and I left with tears streaming down our faces.

"See," I said. "See how the Good Lord works! If it's meant to be, it will be."

About three weeks later I got a call at my office from the nursing home. "Can you break away on Sunday to attend a wedding? Michael and Hannah are going to tie the knot!"

It was a beautiful wedding with all the people at the nursing home dressed up to join in the celebration. Hannah wore a light beige dress and looked beautiful. Michael wore a dark blue suit and stood tall.

They made me their best man. The hospital gave them their own room and if you ever wanted to see a 76-year-old bride and a 79-year-old groom acting like two teenagers, you had to see this couple.

A perfect ending for a love affair that had lasted nearly 60 years.