Monthly Archives: February 2012

Thought For The Day 02/29/12

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And Yet Again…..It Happens!

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http://www.writeawriting.com/how-to-write/hate-letter/

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If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself.  What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.  Hermann Hesse

http://www.quotegarden.com/hate.html

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I can not for the life of me understand the motivation. But perhaps that is because I can not comprehend the absolute feeling of despondency that plagues those children who are victimized at the hands of some of their peers. And what, then, becomes the trigger that lights the fuse of violence? How is it possible that we have missed the signs? How is it possible that we have allowed such aggressive behavior to become so pervasive within the lives of our young people? How is it that we have failed to see the suffering that seems to have become the daily existence for so many teens? What can we do to help? How can we stop it from ever again becoming the waking nightmare of children?

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I lack the capacity to even begin to solve these questions. If it were within my capacity to answer these questions, I would no doubt be in demand as a consultant for places of learning worldwide! My only answer is to say that we must pray first for guidance! And then we must, Must, MUST, be vigilant! We must start within our own homes. We must ask questions of our young people! We must not apologize for stepping on toes and invading the personal space of our teens! We must then go to our educators and ask questions of our children’s teachers! We must ask questions of their counselors! We must ask questions of the school administration. We must talk! And then after we’ve spoken our questions, we must be quiet and listen! We may not be thrilled at what we hear but that is the price we pay. It is, somehow, the tariff we must pay as a part of being a parent! AND, if we hear answers that disturb us, make us uncomfortable or make us fearful, and we do not know what the next step needs to be, we must make it our mission to find out! We are not friends to our children. We are there to set their feet on a path that will not just guarantee their arrival at the doorstep of adulthood alive, but make sure we equip them with the tools they will need to take that next step through that door to a life of independence.

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Yesterday I shared some thoughts I wrote which will be sent to the students at Chardon High School, Chardon, Ohio, who, I am certain, are now grappling with that million dollar question that all who find themselves in a shocking and tragic situation and who feel a sense of profound helplessness, often find themselves compelled to ask. I want to share what I wrote, with you!

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The sadness I am feeling at the news of the tragedy that has been brought upon you all touches my very soul. You did not ask for this horror and yet, it was thrust upon you all in such a profound way by one young person so angry at the world that he felt compelled to draw you all into his fear and anger! I also suspect that right about now you are thinking and wondering how it is that God can allow something like this to happen to wonderful people like yourselves.

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My friends, there is no easy answer to give except to say that He is the giver to us all, of the free will which allows us to choose the path of our destiny and which serves to guide our journey through life. He but provides us with the road map for our journey but does not compel our following His course. What He does is give us the ability to appreciate all the good and wonderful things in our lives by nudging us and reminding us that with the good must come the bad. And then he gives us the strength of love of our families and friends, to help us get through the painful and tragic things we experience.

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I am keeping each and every single one of you in my heart and I will be praying that you emerge from this time in your lives as stronger young men and women who will, at last, realize the amount of strength and fortitude you each have been gifted with. Be kind to each other. Let go of the feelings of anger and despair that I know you must be feeling for tomorrow brings a day, fresh and new to each of us! 

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 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me.

Psalm 138:7

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http://mandyspathministry-ulc.webs.com

Copyright © 2012 “MandysPath” Ministry-ULC

Thought For The Day 02/28/12

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The Promise of the Season

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originally posted by Rev Michael Weissman

http://www.circleofunifiedlife.org

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The naked earth is warm with Spring,
And with green grass and bursting trees
Leans to the sun’s kiss glorying,
And quivers in the sunny breeze.

Julian Grenfell

http://quotegarden.com/spring.html

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Spring is peeking around Winter’s corner. The signs are to be found everywhere I look. The vibrant green hues of some of the weed grasses have burst forth, in sharp contrast to the browns of the dormant centipede grass that is a staple in most yards nearby. Daffodils are dressed in their yellow frocks in many yards and my hyacinth has sprung forth with green leaves which herald like trumpets that the buds of purple flowers can not be far behind. The other day I spied the first Cardinal I’d seen for several months, crimson feathers a stark contrast nestled among the branches of trees still bare of leaves. But even there, the potential is to be found, if you but look closely enough at branches where tiny budding is just becoming visible to the naked eye. The world is becoming reborn in the promise that the warmth of the sun shares with each rise.

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The itch is upon me to lighten my life once again. Yes, my friends, it feels like its time to clean house, both my physical one as well as my spiritual one. It is time to begin cleaning out closets. I have a ton of things that someone else might find useful. And so, I will take my time, and sift through, one closet at a time and one drawer at a time. I will clean and pack things up for donation to some local charities. I already began by donating a handicapped power chair to my local Goodwill center on Saturday. Apart from needing a new battery and a small stitching of upholstery, this might be a God-send to a disabled person who has no other means to obtain something like this.

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As I begin this much needed molting of the heavy winter attire weighing down my life, so will I also begin some therapeutic cleansing of my spiritual garb. I will meditate about where I am and where I would like to go as I continue my journey of faith. I will sit and listen and feel the guiding hand being placed at my back by our Heavenly Father. And if I should come to the realization that He needs for me to alter my path, I will do so….gladly! For He is my inspiration and muse for the plans I make for not just honoring Him but for honoring all those in my life that I love so dearly. It is, after all, that by my being the best Christian I can be, that I also become the best wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin and friend that I can possibly be, as well!

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‘For behold, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
‘The flowers have already appeared in the land;
The time has arrived for pruning the vines,
And the voice of the turtle-dove has been heard in our land.
‘The fig tree has ripened its figs,
And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance.
Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,
And come along!’

Song of Songs 2:11-13

(New American Standard Bible)

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http://mandyspathministry-ulc.webs.com

Copyright © 2012 “MandysPath” Ministry-ULC

Thought For The Day 02/27/12

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Catching Our Dreams

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Dreams are illustrations… from the book your soul is writing about you. 

Marsha Norman

http://www.quotegarden.com/dreams.html

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I have always marveled at how the different faiths in the world somehow manage to be so very similar to one another despite often having such diverse tenets and creeds. And yet, when we look at the bigger picture, what we are actually seeing is some masterpiece akin to one painted by DaVinci or penned by Shakespeare or composed by Brahms. Each of these works pure artistic genius, each part of the beauty that is to be founds in the arts, and yet each so different that to be able to find a common thread is no easy task. Each different. Each the same!

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Thus it is with each of the world’s religions. Each religion capable of providing to each follower the answer to the mystery that their hearts seek, each religion profoundly different, one from the other, and yet, when combined together, each acting as an integral component in the formation of the masterpiece that is FAITH!

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I have in my home a cross. I also have several versions of the Bible. They are there because they are a reminder to me of the need to remember the word of God as it was given to mankind, and also the sacrifice made by Jesus which has paved the road for my place with the Father in heaven. They are my reminder that, as a Christian, it is my responsibility to take up the cross, spiritually, and live my life in accordance with the teachings that I have been given through His word. They are intended to direct my actions in a way that is pleasing to God. They tell me to grasp a hold of and nurture the wondrous and beautiful things that are part of my life, and to let go of the things that are the temptations that would try their hardest to undermine my faith. And I think that it is this reason that, in addition to the cross and the Bible, I also have a Dreamcatcher in my home! Sacrilege, you ask? Not when you read and understand the legend of the Dreamcatcher! Spirituality is everywhere if we but choose to find it and then discover how to see it and use it. It does not replace, but rather,  should be used as an adjunct to the other mysteries that we embrace as people of faith!

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The Legend Of The Dreamcatcher

Long ago when the word was young, an old Lakota spiritual leader was on a high mountain and had a vision. In his vision, Iktomi, the great trickster and teacher of wisdom, appeared in the form of a spider. Iktomi spoke to him in a sacred language. As he spoke, Iktomi the spider picked up the elder’s willow hoop which had feathers,horsehair, beads and offerings on it, and began to spin a web.

He spoke to the elder about the cycles of life; how we begin our lives as infants, move on through childhood and on to adulthood. Finally we go to old age where we must be taken care of as infants, completing the cycle. “But”, Iktomi said as he continued to spin his web, “in each time of life there are many forces; some good and some bad. If you listen to the good forces, they will steer you in the right direction. But, if you listen to the bad forces, they’ll steer you in the wrong direction and may hurt you. So these forces can help, or can interfere with the harmony of Nature.” While the spider spoke, he continued to weave his web.

When Iktomi finished speaking, he gave the elder the web and said, “The web is a perfect circle with a hole in the center. Use the web to help your people reach their goals, making good use of their ideas, dreams and visions. If you believe in the great spirit, the web will catch your good ideas and the bad ones will go through the hole.” The elder passed on his vision to the people and now many Indian people hang a dream catcher above their bed to sift their dreams and visions. The good is captured in the web of life and carried with the people, but the evil in their dreams drops through the hole in the center of the web and is no longer a part of their lives. It’s said that the dream catcher holds the destiny of the future.

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 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their lifewill lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

Matthew 16: 24-26 (NIV)

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http://mandyspathministry-ulc.webs.com

Copyright © 2012 “MandysPath” Ministry-ULC


Thought For The Day 02/26/12

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The Time of Lent

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http://media.photobucket.com/image/lent/1BentBrother/FINALoff.jpg?o=11

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Those have a short Lent, who owe money to be paid at Easter.

Benjamin Franklin

http://www.quotegarden.com/easter.html 

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The First Sunday of Advent is a time most of us readily understand and can talk about but how many can say the same about the first Sunday in Lent without looking it up? For some, CCD classes are a stretch to recall and for many Protestant children, this may not have even been taught in Sunday School classrooms! And the fact of the matter is that today, there are not many left, that even choose to offer the requisite sacrifice asked for people of faith at this time of the year. And then, even when we do, others are apt to look at us as if we have a screw loose.

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 Case in point, is a friend of mine who makes, what many of her friends consider, is the ultimate sacrifice for these 40 days……she gives up Facebook! I’m not kidding. No reading it, no messaging on it, no posting pictures! Nothing, not even on Sundays! The only trace existing that even shows she was ever a person who used it, is that her horoscope, something she subscribed to long ago, continues its daily updates!

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Now I myself, having tried to give it up once for just a couple of days, can attest to the addiction that Facebook has become in the lives of devotees and so I can’t help but marvel at her sacrifice! It is one that I could not make, especially in light of the fact that it has become the mechanism by which people who need me are able to contact me. No, our family’s sacrifice is a bit more mundane. Although it is another tradition that is increasingly going by the wayside, we as a family, will observe meatless Fridays. (Although even I have to admit that last Friday’s dinner of shrimp and scallops marinara over linguini was hardly a sacrifice!) And there will be another sacrifice that is a bit more personal for me, as well. Just as it has been nearly as long as I can remember, my sacrifice will be giving up pretzels. Now you who know me, know that I would give my right arm for that little salty and twisted snack. (I very nearly said I would give up my firstborn, but no……I love her even more than pretzels!) Weeks and months could pass me by without a morsel of cake passing my lips. But my pretzel addiction is akin to an alcohol addiction for others. For me, choosing that as my sacrifice is truly a sacrifice! But, unlike my friend, there I sit Saturday night, waiting for the stroke of midnight, to indulge in that delicacy, which seems to begin calling my name at 11:30 PM!  And so, now, having spoken of sacrifice, I ask again, what is the meaning to be found in the first Sunday of Lent?

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The First Sunday of Lent symbolizes the mystery of Our Lord’s forty-day fast in the wilderness. But this becomes more than Christ’s mystery since we who profess belief in Him and who have come to accept him as our personal Savior, adopt this mystery as our very own. We follow his lead as his need to atone for temptation becomes our need to atone and his sacrifice becomes our sacrifice. And just as He passes through every temptation and challenge sent by Satan, arriving to a time of bitter suffering and then offering the ultimate sacrifice, so does his sacrifice draw him into the light which he shares with the rest of the world who choose him and his way. After all, in John 16:6 does not Christ say to us: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”? For my mind, giving up my pretzels pales by comparison to His sacrifice, which must be seen as the ultimate gift. However, my pretzel sacrifice is my gift back to Him, and it is one from my heart!

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Who is this coming up from the desert like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and incense made from all the spices of the merchant?

Song of Solomon 3:6 NIV

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http://mandyspathministry-ulc.webs.com

Copyright © 2012 “MandysPath” Ministry-ULC

Thought For The Day 02/25/12

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Bashing The Blues To Bits!
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laughter
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 What monstrous absurdities and paradoxes have resisted whole batteries of serious arguments, and then crumbled swiftly into dust before the ringing death-knell of a laugh! 
Agnes Repplier
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I am feeling just a bit sad today. I have no reason in particular for feeling this way although there are perhaps a dozen little reasons, each fighting one another to be acknowledged as the victor. Perhaps it’s just waking to an overcast, grey day that has my body hungering for the Vitamin D that some sunshine will give. Perhaps it’s seeing friends unhappy in grief which seems to have passed the “bad luck happens in sets of three” stage. Perhaps I am anticipating my dad’s upcoming trip to visit my sister in CO for a family wedding in CA that I wish I was able to attend. Perhaps it’s unhappiness among some of my friends and colleagues from within the ranks of my church. Perhaps it’s that my life is so tied to people who have determined that because there may be another “situation” in the Middle East, that the Future’s Market can judge and issue an edict that results in ridiculous rises in the price of my gasoline.
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None of what I’ve described here is anything that I have direct control over, as much as I wished it were otherwise. The external forces that seem to be at war with us all every day are simply that….external challenges meant to undermine our confidence and resolve and spirit. Just a thought here, but perhaps they are given to us by the Devil to cause us to question our internal fortitude as well as our faith?
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I believe that the potholes we encounter all along our pathway in life are part of the Devil’s playground and toys, intended to stir up as much “Agita” (Italian slang meaning heartburn, acid indigestion, upset stomach or, by extension, a general feeling of upset) as he can manage. Because the more upset we become, he hopes the more we will question our lives and the paths we have chosen. The question, for me, now becomes, will I allow this sadness to continue throughout my day? Or will I pick myself up, dust myself off, and put a smile not just on my face, but in my heart, as well? For we all know that like “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, so can joy and happiness and laughter every day keep the devil away! Perhaps that is why my ha-ha posts mean so much to me, and to many of you. If somehow, we can manage just one chuckle in our day, don’t you agree that the other parts, the heavier parts, become somehow less cumbersome?
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Some One Liners To Help Put That Smile Back On Your Face!
 
Author’s Unknown
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1. Give God what’s right — not what’s left. 
2. Man’s way leads to a hopeless end — God’s way leads to an endless hope.
3. A lot of kneeling will keep you in good standing.
4. He who kneels before God can stand before anyone.
5. In the sentence of life, the devil may be a comma–but never let him be the period.
6. Don’t put a question mark where God puts a period.
7. Are you wrinkled with burden? Come to the church for a faith-lift.
8. When praying, don’t give God instructions – just report for duty.
9. Don’t wait for six strong men to take you to church.
10. We don’t change God’s message — His message changes us. 
11. The church is prayer-conditioned.
12. When God ordains, He sustains.
13. WARNING: Exposure to the Son may prevent burning. 
14. Plan ahead — It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark. 
15. Most people want to serve God, but only in an advisory position. 
16. Suffering from truth decay? Brush up on your Bible.
  17. Exercise daily — walk with the Lord. 
 18. Never give the devil a ride — he will always want to drive. 
 19. Nothing else ruins the truth like stretching it. 
 20. Compassion is difficult to give away because it keeps coming back. 
 21. He who angers you controls you. 
 22. Worry is the darkroom in which negatives can develop. 
 23. Give Satan an inch & he’ll be a ruler.
24. Be ye fishers of men — you catch them & He’ll clean them. 
 25. God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. 
 26. Read the Bible — It will scare the hell out of you.
 
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A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. 
Proverbs 17:22
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http://mandyspathministry-ulc.webs.com

Copyright © 2012 “MandysPath” Ministry-ULC

Thought For The Day 02/24/12

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The Neverending Story
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Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation.  For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life. 
Albert Einstein
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I talked the other day about being a member of the club that none of us wishes we had to belong to. But just as surely as the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening, so is this membership a mandatory part of being a human being.
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I learned Wednesday of another of my friends losing her mother. And while the grieving process is such a very personal one and very different from person to person, I have walked in her shoes. I remember from a personal perspective, that when my mother passed away, I actually felt like I was 1/2 of an orphan. And that thought was extremely surprising to me, as I mused about it later on. When I lived at home my mother and I were always embroiled in some dispute or other, almost never agreeing on anything through my teen and young adult years. But, it was also my mother that was the first one that I turned to share my joys as well as my sorrows, in the years following my marriage and when distance made our connection together a phone call rather than a walk from one room to the next.
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And then I realized that we were, in reality, a part of “The Neverending Story”. In case you don’t know, this is a story, first published in 1979 and made into a movie in 1984, about a bullied boy, whose mother had recently passed away and whose father was so engrossed in his own mourning that he neglects to recognize the pain his son is going through.  And it was when Bastian was running away from the bullies that he enters a magical book store, discovers the book “The Neverending Story”, and absconds with it. Seeking refuge in a closed off part of his school, he begins reading and is transported into another place and time, where he becomes enmeshed within the lives as well as the storyline of the characters contained within the book. Many tragedies occur but it is when Bastian actually realizes that it is he and his life force that is actually directing the course of the story, that he realizes the degree of control and power that he has to help not just his new friends in Fantasia, but his father, and himself, as well. And we find that one little boy has been given the opportunity to bring hope to the world in which he lives.
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My point is that everything in our lives is intermingled with every aspect of the lives of those we are close to and even with those whose encounters with us are but casual occurrences. “The Neverending Story” is the story of life. And every single movement we make and thought we have directs the course of our own journey as part of our very own “Neverending Story”. It may be considered no more that a hiccough in the road of life for the universe when it presents as a sinkhole in our own. But each adds to the wisdom we are blessed with and adds one more layer to our character as a human being. And when we turn to God to help us along this journey that is our “Neverending Story”, we can be certain that we are blessed with the resources to meet head on, all those challenges with the knowledge that we are not facing them alone!
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A funeral I attended this week was presided by a minister I do not know but who shared a wonderful poem called “The Dash”. It moved me so much that I had to find it that very moment and bookmark it in my phone so that I would always have it at hand for inspiration! I want to share it with you today as well!
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The Dash
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I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.

He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the following date with tears,

But he said what mattered most of all was the Dash between those years.

For that Dash represents all the time that she spent alive on Earth,

And now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars, the house, the cash,

What matter is how we live and love and how we spend our Dash.

So think about this long and hard; Are there things you’d like to change?

For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real

And always try to understand the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more

And love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile,

Remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read with your life’s actions to rehash

Would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your Dash?

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Linda Ellis
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 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (NLT)

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http://mandyspathministry-ulc.webs.com

Copyright © 2012 “MandysPath” Ministry-ULC

Thought For The Day 02/23/12

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Obscurity
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Bible story picture by Gustave Dore
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We are born at a given moment, in a given place and, like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the year and of the season of which we are born. 
Carl Gustav Jung
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On February 8th, 2012, I offered a Bible quiz entitled “Did You Know?” Included were some obscure Biblical facts, including one, which was the following:
  • Question:  What is the longest name in the Bible?
  • Answer: The longest name in the Bible is Maher – Shalal – Hash – Baz. (Aren’t you glad Isaiah wasn’t your dad?)  It means “quick to plunder, swift to spoil” (see Isaiah 8:1).

I thought it would be interesting to try to discover a bit more about this person and to find out if the only relevance he plays within Isaiah is his name!

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Isaiah chapter 8 talks a bit about this person. It turns out his importance was only as a baby. He was the second son of Isaiah and a woman referred to as  “the prophetess,” who clearly brought forth prophecy on at least one occasion, and was, it is assumed, Isaiah’s wife, although that is not specifically said. The decision to call their son Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz was God’s directive to them, Isaiah having been commanded first to write it in large characters on a tablet (something quite unusual in and of itself, for the time it occurred), and afterwards to give as a symbolical name to a son that was to be born to him. The Bible says that “before the boy knows how to say ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried off by the king of Assyria.” The name was intended as a prophetic name,  intended as an object lesson and to provide a time frame for the invasion of Assyria that would serve to punish both Syria and Israel.

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I am not sure how I would feel as a person whose voice served to herald a punishment inflicted by man’s hand but directed by God’s hand. I can but hope that, perhaps, he went on to lead a life of joy and peace as he grew into his manhood. That is an end we will never know. But we can say that his role within the pages of the Bible served a purpose, and hence, his inclusion by Isaiah within the pages he penned.

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Moreover the Lord said to me, “Take a large scroll, and write on it with a man’s pen concerning Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. And I will take for Myself faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.” Then I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and bore a son. Then the Lord said to me, “Call his name Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz; for before the child shall have knowledge to cry ‘My father’ and ‘My mother,’ the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be taken away before the king of Assyria.”

Isaiah 8: 1-4

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http://mandyspathministry-ulc.webs.com

Copyright © 2012 “MandysPath” Ministry-ULC