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Last week, I took my children to a restaurant. My six-year-old son asked if he could say grace.

As we
bowed our heads, he said, "God is good. God is great. Thank you for the food, and I would even thank
you more if mom gets us ice cream for dessert. And liberty and justice for all! Amen!"

Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby, I heard a woman remark, "That's what's
wrong with this country. Kids today don't even know how to pray. Asking God for ice cream! Why, I
never!"

Hearing this, my son burst into tears and asked me, "Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?" As I held him
and assured him that he had done a terrific job and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly
gentleman approached the table.

He winked at my son and said, "I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer." "Really?"
my son asked. "Cross my heart." Then, in a theatrical whisper he added (indicating the woman whose
remark had started this whole thing), "Too bad she never asks God for ice cream. A little ice cream is
good for the soul sometimes."

Naturally, I bought my kids ice cream at the end of the meal. My son stared at his for a moment and
then did something I will remember the rest of my life. He picked up his sundae and, without a word,
walked over and placed it in front of the woman.

With a big smile, he told her, "Here, this is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes."

A well-respected scholar and avowed atheist was speaking at a large outdoor picnic. He spoke for two
and a half hours attempting to prove that the resurrection of Jesus was false. He quoted scholar after
scholar and book after book. He concluded that since there was no such thing as the historical
resurrection, the religious tradition of the church was groundless emotional nonsense because it was
based on a relationship with a risen Jesus, who never rose from the dead in any literal sense. He then
asked if there were any questions.

After about 30 seconds, an old preacher stood up. "Sir, I have one question," he said as all eyes turned
toward him. He reached into his sack lunch and pulled out an apple he had been eating. "My question is
a simple question," he said before taking another bite of the apple. He continued, "I haven't read all the
books you have, and I can't recite the Scriptures in the original Greek." He took a couple more bites of
the apple and said, "I don't know a thing about Niebuhr and Heidegger."

He finished the apple and said, "All I wanna know is: this apple I just finished, was it tart or sweet?"
The speaker paused for a moment and answered in exemplary scholarly fashion, "I cannot possibly
answer that question, for I haven't tasted your apple."

The white-haired preacher dropped the core of his apple into his crumpled paper bag and said calmly,
"Neither have you tasted my Jesus."

Have you tasted Jesus?

"Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. If you have, rejoice in
the hope of the resurrection that your faith in Him brings." - Psalm 34:8

A minister passing through his church

In the middle of the day

Decided to pause by the altar

And see who had come to pray.

Just then the back door opened,

A man came down the aisle,

The minister frowned as he saw

The man hadn't shaved in a while.

His shirt was shabby, old,

And his coat was worn and frayed.

The man knelt, he bowed his head

Then rose and walked away.

In the days that followed,

Each noon time came this chap.

Each time he knelt just for a moment,

A lunch pail in his lap.


Well, the minister's suspicions grew,

With robbery a main fear.

He decided to stop the man and ask him,

"What are you doing here?"

The old man said he worked down the road.

Lunch was half an hour.

Lunchtime was his prayer time

For finding strength and power.

"I stay only moments, see,

Because the factory is so far away.

As I kneel here talking to the Lord,

This is what I say:

I JUST CAME AGAIN TO TELL YOU, LORD,

HOW HAPPY I'VE BEEN

SINCE WE FOUND EACH OTHER'S FRIENDSHIP,

AND YOU TOOK AWAY MY SIN.

I DON'T KNOW MUCH OF HOW TO PRAY,

BUT I THINK ABOUT YOU EVERYDAY.

SO, JESUS, THIS IS JIM,

CHECKING IN TODAY."

The minister, feeling foolish,

Told Jim, that was fine.

He told the man he was welcome

To come and pray just anytime.


Time to go, Jim smiled, and said "Thanks."

He sped to the door.

The minister knelt at the altar,

He'd never done it before.

His cold heart melted, warmed with love,

And met with Jesus there.

As the tears flowed, in his heart,

He repeated old Jim's prayer:

HOW HAPPY I'VE BEEN,

SINCE WE FOUND EACH OTHER'S FRIENDSHIP,

AND YOU TOOK AWAY MY SIN.

I DON'T KNOW MUCH OF HOW TO PRAY,

BUT I THINK ABOUT YOU EVERY DAY.

SO, JESUS, THIS IS ME,

CHECKING IN TODAY."

Past noon one day, the minister noticed

That old Jim hadn't come.

As more days passed without Jim,

He began to worry some.

At the factory, he asked about him,

Learning he was ill.

The hospital staff was worried,

But he'd given them a thrill.

The week that Jim was with them,

Brought changes in the ward.


His smiles, a joy contagious.

Changed people, were his reward.

The head nurse couldn't understand

Why Jim was so glad

When no flowers, calls or cards came,

Not a visitor he had.

The minister stayed by his bed,

He voiced the nurse's concern:

No friends came to show they cared.

He had nowhere to turn.

Looking surprised, old Jim spoke up

And with a winsome smile;

"The nurse is wrong, she couldn't know,

That in here all the while.

Everyday at noon, He's here,

A dear friend of mine, you see,

He sits right down, takes my hand,

Leans over and says to me:

'I JUST CAME AGAIN TO TELL YOU, JIM,

HOW HAPPY I HAVE BEEN,

SINCE WE FOUND THIS FRIENDSHIP,

AND I TOOK AWAY YOUR SIN.

I ALWAYS LOVE TO HEAR YOU PRAY,

AND I THINK ABOUT YOU EVERY DAY,


SO JIM, THIS IS JESUS,

CHECKING IN TODAY.'"

The Parable of Donut

There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr. Christianson who taught at a small college in the
Western United States.

Dr. Christianson taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particular institution. Every
student was required to take this course his or her freshman year regardless of his or her major.

Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in his class, he found
that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery. Despite his best
efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.

This year, Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve. Steve was only a freshman but was
studying with the intent of going onto seminary for the ministry. Steve was popular, he was well liked,
and he was an imposing physical specimen. He was now the starting center on the school football team
and was the best student in the professor's class.

One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him. "How many pushups
can you do?"

Steve said, "I do about 200 every night."

"200? That's pretty good, Steve," Dr. Christianson said. "Do you think you could do 300?"

Steve replied, "I don't know...I've never done 300 at a time."

"Do you think you could?" again asked Dr. Christianson.

"Well, I can try," said Steve.

"Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind, and I need you to do about 300 pushups in
sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it," said the professor.
Steve said, "Well...I think I can...yeah, I can do it."

Dr. Christianson said, "Good! I need you to do this on Friday. Let me explain what I have in mind."

Friday came, and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, the
professor pulled out a big box of donuts. These weren't the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra
fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls.

Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early
start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson's class.

Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, "Cynthia, do you want to have one of
these donuts?"

Cynthia said, "Yes."

Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten pushups so that Cynthia can
have a donut?"

"Sure." Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Dr.
Christianson put a donut on Cynthia's desk.

Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, "Joe, do you want a donut?"

Joe said, "Yes."

Dr. Christianson asked, "Steve would you do ten pushups so Joe can have a donut?" Steve did ten
pushups, and Joe got a donut.

And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten pushups for every person before they got their donut,
and down the second aisle, till Dr. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team and in
as good condition as Steve. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship. When the
professor asked, "Scott do you want a donut?"

Scott's reply was, "Well, can I do my own pushups?"

Dr. Christianson said, "No, Steve has to do them."

Then Scott said, "Well, I don't want one then."

Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten pushups so
Scott can have a donut he doesn't want?" With perfect obedience, Steve started to do ten pushups.

Scott said, "HEY! I said I didn't want one!"

Dr. Christianson said, "Look, this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts. Just
leave it on the desk if you don't want it." And he put a donut on Scott's desk.

Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets
because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration
coming out around his brow. Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were
beginning to get a little angry.

Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, "Jenny, do you want a donut?"

Sternly, Jenny said, "No." Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, "Steve, would you do ten more pushups so
Jenny can have a donut that she doesn't want?" Steve did ten, and Jenny got a donut.

By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room. The students were beginning to say "No" and
there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks. Steve also had to really put forth a lot of extra effort
to get these pushups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath
his face. His arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.
Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row. During his class, however, some students from other
classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the
room. When the professor realized this, he did a quick count and saw that now there were 34 students
in the room.

He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.

Dr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve
was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.

A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room and was about to come in
when all the students yelled in one voice, "NO! Don't come in! Stay out!" Jason didn't know what was
going on.

Steve picked up his head and said, "No, let him come."

Professor Christianson said, "You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten pushups for him?"

Steve said, "Yes, let him come in. Give him a donut."

Dr. Christianson said, "Okay, Steve, I'll let you get Jason's out of the way right now.

Jason, do you want a donut?" Jason, new to the room hardly knew what was going on.

"Yes," he said, "give me a donut."

"Steve, will you do ten pushups so that Jason can have a donut?" Steve did ten pushups very slowly and
with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.

Dr. Christianson finished the fourth row then started on those visitors seated by the heaters. Steve's
arms were now shaking with each pushup in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. Sweat
was profusely dropping off of his face and, by this time, there was no sound except his heavy breathing.
There was not a dry eye in the room.

The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheerleaders, and very popular.
Dr. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, "Linda, do you want a doughnut?"

Linda said, very sadly, "No, thank you."

Professor Christianson quietly asked, "Steve, would you do ten pushups so that Linda can have a donut
she doesn't want?" Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow pushups for Linda.

Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan. "Susan, do you want a donut?" Susan, with tears
flowing down her face, began to cry. "Dr. Christianson, why can't I help him?"

Dr. Christianson, with tears of his own, said, "No, Steve has to do it alone. I have given him this task and
he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not.

When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book. Steve is the only student
with a perfect grade. Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior work.

Steve told me that when a player messes up in football practice, he must do pushups. I told Steve that
none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing your pushups. He and I made a
deal for your sakes.

Steve, would you do ten pushups so Susan can have a donut?" As Steve very slowly finished his last
pushup, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350
pushups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.

Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said. "And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross,
pled to the Father, 'into thy hands I commend my spirit.' With the understanding that He had done
everything that was required of Him, he yielded up His life. And like some of those in this room, many of
us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten."
Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile.
"Well done, good and faithful servant," said the professor, adding, "Not all sermons are preached in
words."

Turning to his class the professor said, "My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all
the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ for us all, now and forever.

Whether or not we choose to accept His gift to us, the price has been paid. Wouldn't you be foolish and
ungrateful to leave it laying on the desk?

Cracked Pot

water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole that he carried across his
neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full
portion of water.

At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full
two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his
house.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect for which it was made. But the
poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it was able to accomplish
only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the
stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you. I have been able to deliver only half
my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house. Because
of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers on your side of the path but not on
the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on
your side of the path. Every day while we walk back, you've watered them. For two years, I have been
able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there
would not be this beauty to grace the house."

Chalk

There was a professor of philosophy who was a deeply committed atheist. His primary goal for one
required class was to spend the entire semester proving that God couldn't exist. His students were
always afraid to argue with him because of his impeccable logic. Sure, some had argued in class at times,
but no one had ever really gone against him because of his reputation. At the end of every semester on
the last day, he would say to his class of 300 students, "If there is anyone here who still believes in God,
stand up!"

In twenty years, no one had ever stood up. They knew what he was going to do next. He would say,
"Because anyone who believes in God is a fool. If God existed, he could stop this piece of chalk from
breaking when it hit the ground. Such a simple task to prove that He is God, and yet He can't do it."

And every year, he would drop the chalk onto the tile floor of the classroom, and it would shatter into a
hundred pieces. All of the students would do nothing but stop and stare. Most of the students thought
that God couldn't exist. Certainly, a number of Christians had slipped through, but for 20 years, they had
been too afraid to stand up.

Well, a few years ago there was a freshman who happened to enroll. He was a Christian and had heard
the stories about his professor. He was required to take the class for his major, and he was afraid. But
for three months that semester, he prayed every morning that he would have the courage to stand up
no matter what the professor said or what the class thought. Nothing they said could ever shatter his
faith...he hoped.

Finally, the day came. The professor said, "If there is anyone here who still believes in God, stand up!"
The professor and the class of 300 people looked at him, shocked, as he stood up at the back of the
classroom.

The professor shouted, "You FOOL!!! If God existed, he would keep this piece of chalk from breaking
when it hit the ground!"

He proceeded to drop the chalk, but as he did, it slipped out of his fingers, off his shirt cuff, onto the
pleat of his pants, down his leg, and off his shoe. As it hit the ground, it simply rolled away unbroken.
The professor's jaw dropped as he stared at the chalk. He looked up at the young man and then ran out
of the lecture hall.

The young man who had stood proceeded to walk to the front of the room and shared his faith in Jesus
for the next half hour. 300 students stayed and listened as he told of God's love for them and of His
power through Jesus.

Push

A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light, and God appeared.
The Lord told the man He had work for him to do and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The
Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. So, this the man did, day
after day. For many years, he toiled from sun up to sun down with his shoulders set squarely against the
cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all of his might.

Each night, the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent
in vain. Since the man was showing discouragement, Satan decided to enter the picture by placing
thoughts into the weary mind: "You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn't
moved." giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These
thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man. "Why kill myself over this?" he thought. "I'll just put in
my time, giving just the minimum effort, and that will be good enough."

And that is what he planned to do. However, one day he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take
his troubled thoughts to the Lord. "Lord," he said, "I have labored long and hard in your service, putting
all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, have not even budged that rock
by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?"

The Lord responded compassionately, "My friend, when I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I
told you that your task was to push against the rock with all of your strength, which you have done.
Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now, you
come to Me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at
yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewy and brown, your hands are callused from
constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition, you have grown
much, and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. Yet you haven't moved the rock. But
your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. This you
have done. Now I, My friend, will move the rock."

At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants,
when actually what God wants is just a simple obedience and faith in Him. By all means, exercise the
faith that moves mountains, but know that it is still God who moves mountains.

The Dart Test

A young lady named Sally relates an experience she had in a seminary class given by her teacher, Dr.
Smith. She says that Dr. Smith was known for his elaborate object lessons.

One particular day, Sally walked into the seminary and knew they were in for a fun day.

On the wall was a big target, and on a nearby table were many darts. Dr. Smith told the students to
draw a picture of someone that they disliked or someone who had made them angry, and he would
allow them to throw darts at the person's picture.
Sally's friend drew a picture of a girl who had stolen her boyfriend. Another friend drew a picture of his
little brother. Sally drew a picture of a former friend, putting a great deal of detail into her drawing,
even drawing pimples on the face. Sally was pleased with the overall effect she had achieved.

The class lined up and began throwing darts. Some of the students threw their darts with such force that
their targets were ripping apart. Sally looked forward to her turn, and was filled with disappointment
when Dr. Smith, because of time limits, asked the students to return to their seats. As Sally sat thinking
about how angry she was because she didn't have a chance to throw any darts at her target. Dr. Smith
began removing the target from the wall.

Underneath the target was a picture of Jesus. A hush fell over the room as each student viewed the
mangled picture of Jesus; holes and jagged marks covered His face, and His eyes were pierced.

Dr. Smith said only these words, "In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye
have done it unto Me." Matthew 25:40

No other words were necessary; the tears filled eyes of the students focused only on the picture of
Christ.

Things are always what they seem

Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude
and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion's guest room. Instead, the angels were given a small
space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the
wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, "Things aren't always
what they seem."

The next night, the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his
wife. After sharing what little food they had, the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they
could have a good night's rest. When the sun came up the next morning, the angels found the farmer
and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field. The
younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel, How could you have let this happen? The first
man had everything, yet you helped him," she accused. "The second family had little but was willing to
share everything, and you let the cow die

"Things aren't always what they seem," the older angel replied. "When we stayed in the basement of
the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed
with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn't find it." "Then last
night as we slept in the farmer's bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave him the cow instead.
Things aren't always what they seem." Sometimes, that is exactly what happens when things don't turn
out the way it seems they should.

Troubled tree

She hired a plumber to help her restore an old farmhouse, and he had just finished a rough first day on
the job: a flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric drill quit, and his ancient one ton truck
refused to start. While she drove him home, he sat in stony silence. On arriving, he invited her in to
meet his family. As they walked toward 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, and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

Afterward, he walked back to the car. They passed the tree, and her curiosity got the better of her. She
asked him about what she 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; those troubles don't belong in the house
with my wife and the children. So, I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home and
ask God to take care of them. Then in the morning, I pick them up again. Funny thing is," he smiled,
"when I come out in the morning to pick 'em up, there aren't nearly as many as I remember hanging up
the night before."

Things God wont ask

God won't ask what kind of car you drove; He'll ask how many people you drove who didn't have
transportation.

God won't ask the square footage of your house; He'll ask how many people you welcomed into your
home.

God won't ask about the clothes you had in your closet; He'll ask how many you helped to clothe.

God won't ask what your highest salary was; He'll ask if you compromised your character to obtain it.

God won't ask what your job title was; He'll ask if you performed your job to the best of our ability.

God won't ask how many friends you had; He'll ask how many people to whom you were a friend.

God won't ask in what neighborhood you lived; He'll ask how you treated your neighbors.

God won't ask about the color of your skin; He'll ask about the content of your character.

God won't ask why it took you so long to seek Salvation; He'll lovingly take you to your mansion in
heaven and not to the gates of Hell.

Fence Man

There was a large group of people gathered. On one side of the group stood a man, Jesus. On the other
side stood another, Satan. Seperating them was a fence running through the group. The scene set, both
Jesus and Satan began calling to people in the group. One by one, each having made up his or her own
mind, went to either Jesus or Satan. This kept going for a time. Soon enough, Jesus had gathered around
him a group of people from the larger crowd, as did Satan.

One man joined neither group. He climbed the fence that was there and sat on it. Jesus and his people
left and disappeared, and so too did Satan and his people. The man on the fence sat alone. As this man
sat, Satan came back, looking for something which he appeared to have lost. The man said, "Have you
lost something?" Satan looked straight at him and replied, "No, there you are. Come with me." The man
said, "But I sat on the fence. I chose neither you nor him." Satan said, "That's okay; I own the fence."

"Whoever is not with me is against me." - Jesus in Matthew 12:30

No Time

I knelt to pray but not for long;

I had too much to do.

I had to hurry and get to work

For bills would soon be due.

So I knelt and said a hurried prayer

And jumped up off my knees.

My Christian duty was now done.

My soul could rest at ease.

All day long, I had no time

To spread a word of cheer.

No time to speak of Christ to friends.

They'd laugh at me I'd fear.

No time, no time, too much to do;

That was my constant cry.

No time to give to souls in need,


But at last the time, the time to die.

I went before the Lord.

I came, I stood with downcast eyes.

For in his hands, God held a book;

It was the book of life.

God looked into his book and said,

"Your name I cannot find.

I once was going to write it down

But never found the time."

The Cornfield

There was once a spider who lived in a cornfield. She was a big spider, and she had spun a beautiful web
between the corn stalks. She got fat eating all the bugs that would get caught in her web. She liked this
home and planned to stay there for the rest of her life. One day, the spider caught a little bug in her
web, and just as the spider was about to eat him, the bug said, "If you let me go I will tell you something
important that will save your life." The spider paused for a moment and listened because she was
amused. "You better get out of this cornfield," the little bug said, "The harvest is coming!" The spider
smiled and said, "What is this harvest you are talking about? I think you are just telling me a story." But
the little bug said, "Oh no, it is true. The owner of this field is coming to harvest it soon. All the stalks will
be knocked down, and the corn will be gathered up. You will be killed by the giant machines if you stay
here."

The spider said, "I don't believe in harvests and giant machines that knock down corn stalks. How can
you prove this?" The little bug continued, "Just look at the corn. See how it is planted in rows? It proves
this field was created by an intelligent designer." The spider laughed and mockingly said, "This field has
evolved and has nothing to do with a creator. Corn always grows that way." The bug went on to explain,
"Oh no. This field belongs to the owner who planted it, and the harvest is coming soon." The spider
grinned and said to the little bug, "I don't believe you," and then the spider ate the little bug for lunch.

A few days later, the spider was laughing about the story the little bug had told her. She thought to
herself, "A harvest! What a silly idea. I have lived here all of my life, and nothing has ever disturbed me. I
have been here since these stalks were just a foot off the ground, and I'll be here for the rest of my life,
because nothing is ever going to change in this field. Life is good, and I have it made."
The next day was a beautiful sunny day in the cornfield. The sky above was clear, and there was no wind
at all. That afternoon, as the spider was about to take a nap, she noticed some thick dusty clouds
moving toward her. She could hear the roar of a great engine, and she said to herself, "I wonder what
that could be?"

Discontent but content

I heard a sermon at church about God's promise of strength for daily living. The main verses the
message was based on were Phillipians 4:10-13. Christians have a contentment so long as they hold to
Christ for everything. Knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of God gives us the ability to
not be discontented by our circumstances. I am reminded of Romans 8:38-39.

However, in a way, we should never be content. We sell ourselves short if we become complacent; we
should always be longing to have a closer relationship with God and eager to do more good for others in
the name of Jesus Christ. This opportunity is a privilege. The sort of discontentment that motivates us to
not miss this opportunity is different from discontentment that results from negative circumstances. It is
a source of joy because though we were the lowest of the low, God has chosen us to be His children and
called us to be involved in His holy work (Ephesians 2:10).

The Room

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no
distinguishing features except for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the
ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched
from floor to ceiling and seemingly endless in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew
near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I have liked". I opened it
and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names
written on each one.

And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a
crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a
detail my memory couldn't match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within
me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet
memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if
anyone was watching.

A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I have betrayed." The titles ranged from the
mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I have given," "Jokes I
Have Laughed at." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've yelled at my brothers".
Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger", "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath
at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents.

Often, there were many more cards than I expected, sometimes, fewer than I hoped. I was
overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my
years to fill each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each
was written in my own handwriting, each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked "TV Shows I have watched", I realized the files grew to contain their
contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the
file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of shows but more by the vast time I knew that file
represented.

When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out
only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content.

I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded. An almost animal rage broke on me. One
thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I
have to destroy them!" In insane frenzy, I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty
it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge
a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to
tear it.

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let
out a long self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it... The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With."
The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle, and a small
box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one
hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep: sobs so deep that they hurt. They started in my stomach and
shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it
all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I
must lock it up and hide the key. But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him.

No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files
and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch his response. And in the moments I could bring myself to
look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes.
Why did He have to read every one? Finally, He turned and looked at me from across the room. He
looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered
my face with my hands, and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could
have said so many things, but He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.
Then, He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file
and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. "No!" I shouted, rushing to Him. All I
could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But
there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with
His blood. He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think
I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant, it seemed I heard Him close the last
file and walk back to my side.

He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished." I stood up, and He led me out of the room.
There were still cards to be written.

The visit

Ruth went to her mail box, and there was only one letter. She picked it up and looked at it before
opening it, but then she looked at the letter again.

There was no stamp, no postmark, only her name and address. She read the letter:

Dear Ruth:

I'm going to be in your neighborhood Saturday afternoon, and I'd like to stop by for a visit.

Love Always,

Jesus

Her hands were shaking as she placed the letter on the table. "Why would the Lord want to visit me? I'm
nobody special. I don't have anything to offer."

With that thought, Ruth remembered her empty kitchen cabinets. "Oh my goodness, I really don't have
anything to offer. I'll have to run down to the store and buy something for dinner." She reached for her
purse and counted out its contents. Five dollars and forty cents. "Well! I can get some bread and cold
cuts, at least."

She threw on her coat and hurried out the door.


A loaf of French bread, a half-pound of sliced turkey, and a carton of milk...leaving Ruth with grand total
twelve cents to last her until Monday.

Nonetheless, she felt good as she headed home, her meager offerings tucked under her arm.

"Hey lady, can you help us, lady?"

Ruth had been so absorbed in her dinner plans, she hadn't even noticed two figures huddled in the
alleyway. A man and a woman, both of them dressed in little more than rags.

"Look lady, I ain't got a job, ya know, and my wife and I have been living out here on the street, and,
well, now it's getting cold, and we're getting kinda hungry and, well, if you could help us, lady, we'd
really appreciate it."

Ruth looked at them both.

They were dirty, they smelled bad, and frankly, she was certain that they could get some kind of work if
they really wanted to.

"Sir, I'd like to help you, but I'm a poor woman myself. All I have is a few cold cuts and some bread, and
I'm having an important guest for dinner tonight, and I was planning on serving that to Him."

"Yeah, well, okay lady, I understand. Thanks anyway."

The man put his arm around the woman's shoulders, turned, and headed back into the alley.

As she watched them leave, Ruth felt a familiar twinge in her heart.

"Sir, wait!" The couple stopped and turned as she ran down the alley after them. "Look, why don't you
take this food. I'll figure out something else to serve my guest."
She handed the man her grocery bag.

"Thank you lady. Thank you very much!"

"Yes, thank you!" It was the man's wife, and Ruth could see now that she was shivering. "You know, I've
got another coat at home. Here, why don't you take this one." Ruth unbuttoned her jacket and slipped it
over the woman's shoulders. Then smiling, she turned and walked back to the street...without her coat
and with nothing to serve her guest.

Ruth was chilled by the time she reached her front door and worried too. The Lord was coming to visit,
and she didn't have anything to offer Him.

She fumbled through her purse for the door key. But as she did, she noticed another envelope in her
mailbox.

"That's odd. The mailman doesn't usually come twice in one day." She took the envelope out of the box
and opened it.

Dear Ruth:

It was so good to see you again. Thank you for the lovely meal. And thank you, too, for the beautiful
coat.

Love Always,

Jesus

The air was still cold, but even without her coat, Ruth no longer noticed.