LOOKING FOR FATHER
One of the most dramatic stories that I have ever read or shared is one by journalist John Fountain. If you have a lack in your relationship with an earthly father, this story will either bless you or perhaps overpower you. You won’t know until you listen to it. One person told me that the story “stayed” with him for days. He thought about it over and over. Let it speak to you!
The most famous short story in the world is the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. In a few hundred words, our hearts are gripped by a story we can all connect with in one way or another. We all know “prodigal stories”. Dwight L. Moody tells such story about his own brother who was the prodigal in his family. It will move you in a powerful way; you’ll begin to think of that person in your life who needs to “come home to the Father”. You may even pray for that person!
The most prolific Christian writer of our day has to be Max Lucado of Texas. God has gifted him to write like few people I know. His piece written about the second coming of Christ is breathtaking. He paints a picture that you and I can not only understand, but one that takes the return of Christ and makes it immediate and real. See if it doesn’t give you a new way of thinking about the most important event in the future. The Christ who came is the Christ who is coming again!
I’ve never been one for written prayers. I don’t write them or pray them. But there’s one I’ve kept in my Bible for over 30 years! When you hear it, you’ll understand why. It was found on the body of a confederate soldier during the civil war. I’m sure he had no idea that people would be listening to its words 140+ years later. Let the words of this prayer become your prayer. They just may change your life.
One never knows the impact of a story until it’s told. This story produced a response from people that I wasn’t expecting. It produced feedback from people who had never responded before. Maybe it will speak to you about what really is important in your life. You won’t know for sure until you listen to this story, told by a woman by the name of Evelyn Burch of Martinsburg, West Virginia.
Some of you will remember a time in our nation when Christmas was at the very least, accepted. Even those who weren’t followers of Christ were able to embrace the idea at least culturally. Those days are gone! Today, there is even a spirit of antagonism toward Christmas by many in our society. It’s considered politically incorrect to “foist this holiday” on non-believers. We share a quote of Harry Reasoner, former anchor of ABC News how Christmas should be received, even by those who don’t acknowledge Christ. His words powerfully make sense, even in 2016.
…BUT YOU DIDN’T
The phrase, “but you didn’t” figures heavily in this story. One author commenting on this piece says he believed it was the saddest usage of that phrase he had ever heard. Listen to this sad account of love by a young woman in the Vietnam era. After you hear it, the words “but you didn’t” will take on a whole new meaning for you. It really will!
The Bible says that “children are a heritage from the Lord”. That means that they are gifts, not earned possessions. Julie Sellers talks about her adopting a child from Russia, with the handing over of the baby from one woman to her was in a sense a “relay”. The “baton” of life was handed to her in the relay of life. That’s really not a bad analogy. So much of life is really a relay: the job, the house, the tasks, the family itself is like a relay race. One person hands the baton to another. We’re all recipients of a “baton”. What are we doing with the batons that have been handed our way?
SAYING I’M SORRY
It’s one of the hardest things people do, saying they’re sorry. Some husbands stumble over the words to a wife. Wives get strangely tongue-tied apologizing to their husbands. Parents mumble the words perhaps, to a son or daughter. What about you? Have you had difficulty in asking anyone for forgiveness? This story by Ken Sandy, attorney from Idaho addresses this issue in a powerful and moving way. (If you are a dog lover, you have to listen!)
First, be warned this is not a “happy” story. But it is a story that will bless you in perhaps a way that “happy stories” won’t. Susan Kittredge is a minister in the Friends Church. She tells of her grandmother going through the trauma of being assaulted in her apartment in New Jersey. She was a seamstress. After the assault, Susan noticed that her grandmother stopped sewing “new” things; she just mended things that needed repair. Was it a way of saying, “My brokenness needs to be mended?” Most of our lives need mending in ways we don’t even know. Listen to one of the most powerful “Visual Stories” we have ever shared.
Coming to Christ in a very real sense is “coming home to the Father”. We come home to the Father through the Son! Dr. Bruce Larson tells the story of an elderly woman in the congregation he served at the time who shared her experience with her earthly father and her Heavenly Father. Needing to be rescued from her one room school house in North Dakota during a blizzard, she discovered something about both of her fathers!
LIFE OR DEATH
Christianity is not a matter of “comparative difference”; it’s a matter of life and death! What does that mean? Some people think that if someone becomes a Christian, they will be a better man or woman. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus in John 8:24 said this: “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins!” That’s nothing about being “better or worse” as a person; it’s a matter of life and death. Listen to the story of Janet, a prostitute from Boston who discovered that truth.
Some people are put off by what we call “Christian testimonies”. To be honest, I know Christians who have been at best suspicious of other people describing the “changes “in their lives. And yet, a personal testimony can be powerful and life-changing just by hearing them! Listen to Mary Dolfin’s testimony who describes the change in her life this way: “I went from being a hopeless addict to a person living in the full hope of Jesus!” Most of the people I know aren’t addicts; yet hopeless is a word that may describe them. How about you?
Having religion and believing in Christ is the same thing, right? Not at all! Having a relationship with Christ transcends “religious” activity or belief. This piece, written by Josh McDowell says it better than any other person I know. Relationship trumps religion! Jesus said that knowing Him was life itself, not just a belief in a concept or religion. Listen to this “visual story” on CrossHope and you’ll see why!
Have you ever walked with a small child holding your hand or perhaps just even your finger? You’ll never look at that simple experience the same after hearing this story by a minister by the name of Fred Muster. I never hold the hand of one of my grandchildren now, without thinking of this story! It speaks to a great spiritual truth in your life and mine. Listen to “Stumbling” and see if you don’t agree.
What would you identity as the “three great lasting qualities” of your life? Some might answer with personality, charm, talent, or abilities. Did you know that the Apostle Paul in the 13th chapter of First Corinthians does that very thing? It’s the only time I know of in scripture where the Bible says, “Here are the three great lasting qualities of life.” My sister, Cathy Weber of Columbus, Ohio reads it for you. It will bless you to watch and listen to this Visual Story on CrossHope.
A “paradox” is something that is contrary to common sense, but is true. A glider pilot gains altitude by lowering the nose of the glider. Doesn’t’ make sense, but it’s true. This is a paradoxical story told by Dennis Kinlaw. A young woman who had everything discovered she really had nothing without Christ. That just may be the greatest paradox of all, having everything physically and financially, but not having that which truly gives life! Hint: his name is Jesus.
QUENCHING THE SPIRIT?
It’s a word we don’t use much: “quench”. It means to extinguish something, to put out as a fire, or to repress something. The Bible says that it’s possible for us to “quench the Holy Spirit of God” at work in our lives. Have you ever felt prompted to say or do something spiritually? Did you dismiss the thought? Perhaps you were quenching the Spirit in your life, but just didn’t know it. Listen to a real life story of sincere parents who perhaps quenched the Spirit of God working in the life of their son. I’d like to think that they just didn’t realize it, until years later!
Most people have something or someone they would like to forget. What would that be for you? Jim Downey’s story will move you deeply. He would give anything to forget the man who killed his police officer father. He would give anything to forget the day there were flashing lights in his driveway with other officers there to deliver the terrible news. What do we do with the unforgettable in our lives? Listen and perhaps find a possible answer.
Would it make any difference in your life if you truly thought God had a plan for your life? What if you truly thought God actually has a plan for your marriage, your family, even your career? He does! We tell the true story of a woman named Cathy from Cincinnati who struggled with all of those questions. Even in her lack of belief, she still had the desire for a relationship with a God who does have a plan, despite our belief or lack thereof. Listen to her story; maybe it’s your story!
How’s your reputation? Maybe you have a good reputation, maybe you don’t. Author Max Lucado describes a time in his life when he “polished and protected his reputation like a ’65 Mustang”. What mattered most was what people thought of him! Max says we can’t promote two reputations at the same time. We either are promoting our reputation, or we are promoting Christ’s! It’s that simple! Decide today to promote Christ’s reputation; He’ll take care of yours!
“Did you know that you may be the only Jesus that some people encounter?” That was a question that an older believer posed to me years ago. It’s a valid question because it’s true! You represent Christ to others by the way you talk, the choices you make, and the responses you manifest to life itself. Even your countenance reflects what or who is inside you and me. Listen to this thought provoking piece by Max Lucado. We all “color” Jesus with the “crayons” we’ve been given in life.
Have you ever lived in the “shadow” of an older or more successful brother or sister? Have you ever lived in the “shadow” of another athlete, co-worker, or friend? We all can relate to that in one way or another. Corrie Ten Boom of Holland lived under a different shadow in a prison camp during World War II. She lived under the shadow of the “furnace”, and all that the furnace represented in her life. Her story will speak to you, and prompt you to ask yourself, “Do I live under the shadow of the Cross?”
There nothing super spiritual about praying “long” prayers; there’s nothing less spiritual about “short” ones either. A prayer is a human being calling out to the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sustainer of all life. My friend David Ruleman discovered the power of short prayers in his battle with cancer. Maybe you can relate to his recent prayer to the Lord. It just may prompt you to offer a short prayer to the God who loves you more than you love yourself!
All of your life is a series of choices. Just think of all the “small” choices that you made today: getting up, eating, going to work or school, speaking to people (or not), what you read or watched. But there are “big” choices that impact your life and future. The biggest choice of all has to do with the God you believe in and serve. We quote a scripture today that says, “Choose life or choose death”. It’s all connected to the God of creation, the God of redemption, and the God of deliverance!
Having never written out a prayer in my life, I wasn’t necessarily excited about reading another minister’s prayer. But when I found out this minister that I had heard speak in my childhood had written this prayer shortly before his death in an automobile accident, I was at least curious what he wrote. What made it even more intriguing was he was person who had profound hearing loss. His speech was affected by his deafness. Some thought he had a foreign accent. His prayer for his life just may become your prayer for your life!
We’ve all walked out on ice perhaps. Have you ever felt so insecure about the thickness of the ice, that you felt compelled to crawl on it? That’s what the person in this story chose to do. Rather than risk walking on the ice, he chose to sprawl out over it, only to be shocked by a horse drawn wagon full of wood passing his prone body with no difficulty. Could it be a parable for your life and mine? As you watch this Visual Story, could your spiritual journey be described as “creeping on ice” as opposed to “walking in boldness” with the Lord? This is a powerful parable for today!
To be honest, there are a few stories that I tell that get to me, emotionally. This is one of them. Everyone wonders at some time in their life that they wonder, “Does the Lord really and truly forgive me for what I’ve done?” That’s your question. This story answers that question in a powerful way. I wish there was a way I could see you as you watch and listen to this story. If you’re like me, it just may bring a lump to your throat and a tear to your eye!
Letters aren’t what they used to be, but even a text message or email can be a blessing or a curse. You know that from the words you have received; you may know it from what you have sent. This visual story is really a “story about a story”. It will speak to you in a powerful way about how we actually write “letters” every day with every conversation, every verbal exchange with another person. What do your letters say about your heart? The answer may surprise you and me.
One of the most remarkable statements of Jesus is this, “Inasmuch as you have done for the least of these my brothers, you have done it for me.” (Matthew 25:40) If I were to give you a real life example of this truth, it would be this story, told by John Maxwell of the John Maxwell Company. His story of reaching out financially to a complete stranger will speak to you in a powerful way. This story just may prompt you to do something extravagant, not for you, but for someone else!
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus is all about “improving” our lives. He’s not into changing us by degree. He’s not into taking decent people and making them more decent. He’s not into taking moral, upstanding citizens of a community and making them more moral and more upstanding. He’s into making “new creations” out of all of us! Listen to Lettie Kirkpatrick’s story of her journey and you will see exactly what we mean!
Adrian Rodgers was one of my favorite preachers of the gospel. He still is! Listen to this Visual Story called, “Ripples”. It tells about a “chain of witnessing” that happened over decades on two continents. Adrian tells of one person’s story of witnessing and leading a person to Christ; then those people who were won to Christ leading others to Christ. What “ripples” have you and I started for the Kingdom of God? We all start ripples that have no impact on eternality, these do! Before you leave this earth, start a ripple for the Lord!