Providing the Word of God.

Nails and Consequences

hand holding nail and hammering it

One day, a young father wanted his son to understand the true impact of making right choices, of obeying and doing what’s right. His idea was unique: every time his son made a bad choice or a wrong decision, he gave him a hammer and one gray nail to go out to their backyard and pound it into the wooden fence. At first, it seemed like a game for the youngster, as he was excited in a playful way to have to go out and nail these objects into the fence. It was fun, of course, until he had to go out when it was raining or cold or in the darkness of the night. But still, it continued. Every time the little boy got in trouble, talked back to either of his parents, or caused a disappointing note to accompany him from his teachers, there he went out to the back. However, every time he made a solid, great decision, making his parents and himself proud of his accomplishments, he was instructed to go out to the fence and carefully remove any one of those nails.

This family ritual continued until the boy was now a strapping, handsome young man all of 21 ready for the world and a bright future ahead. By this time, it had been months even years since he ever went outside to either pound or extract any more nails in the back fence. The night before he was to leave for a new life in another city far away, his father called him outside late one afternoon as the sun began to set. His young man of a son knew what was coming as he saw a few tears begin to drop from his dad’s face. There were no more nails in the fence. They both idly stared at the fence from left to right with powerful memories flooding both of their souls as the light of the sun began to escape.

“Son,” the father continued, “You’ve done well. I am ready to let you go forward. But just look at all the holes in our fence. It will never be the same. When you choose a wrong path, speak a hateful word, give in to a selfish act that hurts another, or violate trust that has been faithfully placed in you, they leave a scar just like these holes. You will find forgiveness, but please think before you act knowing that there will always be consequences.” “If you can remember this moment and this fence, I can rest assured that I’ve done all I could to raise you as good a man as possible.”  Now the sun had set and only the light of the back porch and a pale soft glow from a full moon gently bathed the two men and an old fence. Time seemed to stand still. No words were needed.

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God Wants Your Attention

man walking with dog into sunset

There was a little boy named Steven, who had serious allergies. At first, he didn’t understand why crazy things were happening to him. Swellings, wild itching or rashes covered his entire body when he ate a particular food or got near a certain fabric, or one year a live Christmas tree.  Later Steven was told to stay away from bees and wasps, which, always seemed to gravitate toward him. He was never afraid of the dark -or spiders -or even snakes, but he did develop a serious respect for those winged fiends. Especially one particular afternoon when one stung Steven close to his neck and they had to pack him in ice. His parents told him that he almost died from that. Among the other allergens they discovered was dog hair, which obviously meant that Steven couldn’t have a canine pet like so many of his friends. Neighborhood dogs followed him around and jumped in his lap, and poor Steven would start sneezing and wheezing all over again.

After high school, Steven went off to college and graduate school. It was then, years later, while studying in a different country, with various kinds of exciting cultural experiences, including foods, he realized something wonderful had happened. No more allergies! He must have outgrown them, or something like that. Well, Steven finally got a dog. It was great, and throughout the years, he had several. But of all the companions that God blessed him with, there were two beautiful, hilarious, mischievous and loving Labradors. To say that they were spoiled would be a feat of remarkable restraint. Steven took them everywhere he could, daily long walks, provided special sleeping blankets, foods, and of course his family and friends loved them, also.

One very hot summer afternoon, it was that time of the year to take them in to the Vet’s. Although they never liked that place, Steven always made it worth their while, knowing full-well that one day, it would be a sad visit. But nevertheless, they made an adventure out of it. On the way back, Steven had to stop for gas and pulled up to a station near his home. This was back in the day when you had to go inside to pay before the attendants would even release the pumps. Right away, he noticed what seemed to be a homeless man with a brown and white, medium-sized spaniel. He stopped, and the man asked him if he could get him some food from inside the little station market. “I’ll be right back,” Steven said. But he sunk his head, looked at his little companion and continued, “Do you think you can get something for my buddy, here? He hasn’t had anything for a couple of days.” Steven’s heart melted. “Sure! Let me see what they’ve got in there,” replied Steven. He bought the man a couple of hot dogs that would at least be some hot food, and some other things that could last a few days. When he went looking for dog food, they were all out. But they did have cat food, which seemed to be at least as nutritious for the dog, so he picked up a few packages and cans of that. After paying for everything and writing down the address of where there was a food kitchen downtown, Steven went outside. That man ate his food so fast that it seemed he might choke on it. His dog practically did the same thing. There was nothing left of the cat food as his little creature cleaned out every atom and particle that was there. The man said thank you, his little buddy extended his paw and they all said their good-byes.

Steven returned to his vehicle with his ‘king and queen,’ and watched the man and his buddy walk off, worrying for the safety of the animal with no leash and fearing the inevitable. Steven waited until he could see them no more. For some reason, he started to tear up, both of his companions became unusually quiet. He called out to God, “Lord, it’s not fair. These two labs have everything including a home, lots of friends and a great life. Who knows what will happen to that man and his dog. It’s just not fair…” And then, something wonderful happened. Steven believed he could hear the Lord speaking to him. It was a calm but strong voice that made perfect sense, “Your dogs are blessed because they have you … just like you are blessed because you have Me.” Steven never forgot the way God used the Labs to bring a remarkable amount of joy to his heart, and how the Lord got his attention to let him know how much, not only he, but we all mean to Him.

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Life in the Sandbox

boy playing in sandbox

A story told during a sermon at church involved a little boy and his father. The scene was the backyard of their home where the young lad had a sandbox that looked like a small beach enclosure with toys and lots and lots of area to play. While his father looked on from the back kitchen window, his son was playing the way most children play, unfettered and very innocently with the imagination and creativity that usually accompanies this age. All seemed to be going very well until the child found a rather large rock in the mix of sand, that may have found its way in when it had been delivered to their backyard. With a small, red plastic shovel that was part of his toy collection, he tried to move the large stone from the sand box, pushing and shoving, huffing and puffing as he did so. Well, as you can imagine, the little shovel was no match for the rock and it snapped in two pieces causing the boy to cry out loud as if perhaps he had done something wrong or maybe out of sheer disappointment in his own attempt to tackle his problem in the sand box. Immediately, his father came out to the yard to tend to his son, picking him up, dusting him off and sitting at the edge of the enclosure with his pride and joy on his lap, he asked, “Son, what happened?” The boy tried to explain through his tears what had happened and how sorry he was. “Why didn’t you use all your strength?,” came the next question. “I did, I did, Daddy, I did use all my strength!” “No you didn’t, Son. You didn’t ask me!” And with that, with one large grab with his own massive hand, he pulled that stone out of the box and hurled it into a nearby pile of other rocks.

Our Heavenly Father is much like the father in that story. Always there, waiting for us to ask for mercy, forgiveness, love, understanding and all the many things that we need to keep moving on our journey back to Him. Our God is also full of compassion, never wishing to punish all for the sins of a few and even wanting and expecting that all sinners be converted and live. “When I called you answered me; you built up strength within me.”  (Psalm 138:3) The Psalmist reminds us that our Lord has always been there for us and never has or will abandon us and even further, has sent us His Son Jesus the Christ to remove the guilt and pain of sin so that we may in fact call out to Him without worry of rejection. We are assured of the new life that has been won through and by His Blood.

The most famous prayer of all time is the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father.” It contains seven different and remarkably beautiful petitions that asks to depend on our Heavenly Father to answer all our needs. Jesus also encourages us to pray with persistence and diligence because of the immense love that our God has for us. When we pray like this, our lives are changed for the better, forever. Is there a big stone in our sand box?

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His Great Decision

There is a true story of a little boy whose sister needed a blood transfusion. The Doctor explained that she had the same disease the boy had recovered from two years earlier. Her only chance of recovery was a transfusion from someone who had previously conquered the disease. Since the two children had the same rare blood type, the boy was ideal donor.

“Would you give your blood to Mary?” the doctor asked.

Johnny hesitated. His lower lip started to tremble. Then he smiled and said, “Sure, for my sister.”

Soon the two children were wheeled into the hospital room. Mary, pale and thin, Johnny, robust and healthy. Neither spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny grinned.

As the nurse inserted the needle into his arm, Johnny’s smile faded. He watched the blood flow through the tube.

With the ordeal almost over, Johnny’s voice, slightly shaky, broke the silence.

“Doctor, when do I die?”

Only then did the doctor realize why Johnny had hesitated, why his lip had trembled when he agreed to donate his blood. He thought that he had to give all his blood to his sister thus giving up his life. But in that very brief moment, he had made the one great decision that would forever change his life.

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