Curve in the Narrow Road

By William Bausch

Once, there was a farming town that could be reached only by a narrow road with a bad curve in it. There were frequent accidents on the road especially at that curve, and the preacher would preach to the people of the town to make sure they were Good Samaritans. And so they were, as they would pick up the people on the road, for this was a religious work.

One day, someone suggested that they buy an ambulance to get the accident victims to the hospital more quickly. The preacher preached, and the people gave, for this was religious work.

Then one day, a councilman suggested that the town authorize building a wider road and taking out the dangerous curve. Now it so happened that the mayor had a farm market and fruit stand right at the curve on the road and so he was against taking out the curve.

Someone asked the preacher to say a word to the mayor and to the congregation next Sunday about it. But the preacher and most of the people figured they'd better stay politically correct on the matter. So the next Sunday, the preacher preached on the Good Samaritan and encouraged the people about their generous work. The people were encouraged indeed and continued their good work -- of picking up accident victims.

How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? How long will mockers delight themselves in mockery, and fools hate knowledge? Because they hated knowledge, and didn't choose the fear of the Lord. They wanted none of my counsel. They despised all my reproof. Therefore they will eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own schemes. For the backsliding of the simple will put an end to them. The careless ease of fools will destroy them. (Proverbs 1:22, 29-32)


Selecting Servant Leaders

It Is All In The Resumes
Author Unknown
Food For Thought - InJesus.com

Jordan Management Consultants
Jerusalem 26544

Re: Personnel Evaluations

Jesus, Son of Joseph
The Woodcrafter's Carpentry Shop
Nazareth 25922

Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for managerial positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests, and we have not only run the results through our computers, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocation aptitude consultant.

It is the opinion of the staff that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capacity. We have summarized the findings of our study below:

* Simon Peter is emotional, unstable and given to fits of temper.

* Andrew has absolutely no quality of leadership.

* The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interests above Company loyalty.

* Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale.

* We believe it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau.

* James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus, definitely have radical leanings. Additionally, they both registered high scores on the manic depressive scale.

* However, one of the candidates shows great potential. He's a man of ability and resourcefulness; he is a great networker; has a keen business mind; and has strong contacts in influential circles. He's highly motivated, very ambitious and adept with financial matters. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your Controller and Chief Operating Officer.

* All the other profiles are self-explanatory. We wish you the utmost success in your new venture.

What if Jesus had chosen the twelve based on the modern methods of leadership selection? Most of them would have never had a chance to participate. Jesus chooses people not for who they are, but for what they can become in Him. Aren't you glad that when Jesus looked at you, He didn't take you for what you were (a sinner); but He took you for what you could be? Jesus sees the potential in all of us, and has called us to be disciples. Jesus is still saying, "Follow Me!"

You didn't choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatever you will ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (John 15:16)


Suffering: Why?

By Richard Abanes

No one enjoys suffering. But it is a fact of life. And no amount of denial, excuses, spiritual fantasies, or Bible twisting is going to eradicate the sad truth that everyone will suffer at some point in their life—and some people will suffer not only more often than others, but also more intensely than others. Ultimately, of course, we will all suffer death, which is an unavoidable consequence of simply being human.

This is why Christianity, contrary to some assertions we hear these days, does not teach that it is possible to “end” suffering. Such an idea is nowhere to be found in Christ’s sermons, or anywhere in the Bible. In fact, the very opposite is taught in scripture—i.e., followers of Jesus will experience all kinds of suffering for myriad reasons. History has repeatedly born out the accuracy of this teaching with frightening clarity.

Christian suffering began almost immediately after Jesus ascended to heaven (Acts 1:10–12). But believers in Christ recalled two very crucial statements that their Lord had previously made. First, he had given them a warning, coupled with a word of encouragement: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Second, in his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus promised: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).

The Christian’s hope, in other words, is not to escape suffering, but to endure it with the strength, guidance, and comfort of God that is made available to us through the Holy Spirit, who is variously called the Counselor, Helper, or Comforter (John 14:16).The answer for Christians who live in a world rife with suffering is to look to, and lean on, God, “who comforts the downcast” (2 Cor. 7:6). It is through God’s comfort that Paul, who suffered unceasingly, was able to remain at peace. “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances,” he revealed. “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:11–13). Paul endured many difficult trials, yet he rejoiced:

I have worked much harder [than the false teachers], been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. (2 Cor. 11:23–27).

Was Paul happy about such experiences? Hardly. Did he enjoy the pain of it all? Certainly not. But he did find peace and contentment, going so far as to say he found “delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties,” concluding that he was at his strongest when he was feeling his weakest (2 Cor. 12:10). How was that possible? Because it is through weakness of body, mind, and spirit that the power of God works most effectively in, with, and through Christians (2 Cor. 13:3–4).

When it comes to suffering, Christianity does not offer an escape route from it but rather a pathway through it—with God as the source of all that is necessary to bear the anguish of whatever comes. Some people are eventually delivered from their suffering (see Job 42:10–16). On other occasions, however, the suffering lasts for extended periods of time, even to the point of death (Heb. 11:35–39). But regardless of the outcome, what Christians cling to is the promise of an ultimate deliverance from suffering that will last for eternity. Paul said, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18). Peter also pointed to our heavenly hope: “Though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (1 Peter 1:6).


What's Your Mission?

Count Me As A Missionary
By Christopher Notes

A young aviator came to us the other day. He had two rows of battle ribbons on his uniform, and deep, tired lines on his face. He spoke of war as he had been seeing it -- of planes being blasted from the sky, of hunger and heat, and the ever-present terror of death. Now, after a brief furlough, he was off once more to the battlefront.

"If I don't come again," he said, "I should like to leave a message for you to pass on. I've seen men kill men and yet win no victory. There is no victory unless we win our enemies to the knowledge of the truth.

"All Christians -- all of us -- have let this war happen. We have saved the truth for ourselves, and let the rest of the world fester in a disease that is now infecting us. We may put down this disease with force, beat it to the earth; but in years to come, it will rise again, for its roots will still be there. It is for the missionaries to win the battle over the evil ideas in men's minds.

"This I believe so deeply, that I say now that , if I should come back again, you can count me as a missionary. Put me down to go out again all over the world to do this work.

"There must be millions of boys, too young to fight, who would be willing to give their lives to this work if they understood its urgency. Tell them what we have done, and are doing our part. It is for them to finish the job."

Author Unknown

Epitaph for a missionary in Africa: "To the world he was a man. To us, who knew him, he was the world."

A missionary's true honor is in the genuine gratitude of the hearts of those he served.

When Money Does Not Count
By Salt Shaker

The old doctor had never refused a call either for rich or for poor. But now he was tired and retired.

One midnight he received a call. "Have you any money?" he asked the midnight caller.

"Certainly," the caller replied.

"Then go to the new doctor. I'm too old to get out of bed for anyone who can pay for it."

Enemies Believe In Your Good Work
By Frank Mihalic

During Christ's life there were times when even the devils had to admit that he was working miracles and doing good. And sometimes he had to shut them up. This same thing can happen to us when enemies of goodness and virtue by their actions admit that they really believe in us and that we are doing good...

A good example was the renegade outlaw named Calles who ruled Mexico and brought it to its knees during the late 1920s, making it a special point to strangle the Church. It was the time of the martyrdom of the likes of Fr. Pro and others... To this day his decree against wearing a religious habit in public still stands -- for Sisters also. No cleric may vote. Once, Calles came down with some serious illness that required surgery. He would not make use of any of the state-run hospitals for this, being wary that the physicians might take his life. The only hospitals he could trust were those being run by the Sisters... No matter how much he had persecuted them, he knew that heir belief in doing good to one's enemy would come through. He went, had his operation successfully, recuperated, and went right back to making life miserable for the likes of the Catholic Sisters...

Another example happened in Papua New Guinea when a renegade rascal who had often robbed from the mission came down with a tropical ulcer and promptly betook himself to the mission clinic. The nurse in charge seeing him, of all people, gave him studied neglect... He got upset and screamed, "You've got to help me. That's why you came to PNG."

Or the case of one of the murderers of a nun in Papua, who when he was pursued by his own villagers, ran to the convent of the very Sister he had murdered... for his own safety, knowing that no matter what happened, the Sisters would not harm him...

The Nature To Save
By Lovasik

A Hindu went down to the Ganges to pray and saw some sort of large insect flourishing around in the water. He decided to keep it from drowning, so he stretched out his finger and gave it a chance to hop aboard. Instead, it stung him, It was a scorpion. He tried again, it repeated the painful sting.

Someone nearby was watching and asked the Hindu what he was doing. When he answered, the man said, "You're wasting your time. A scorpion is no good; it will only sting you."

The man answered, "It is the scorpion's nature to sting. It is man's nature to save."

Jesus' words as recorded in Matthew 5:43-48:

"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Don't even the tax collectors do the same? If you only greet your friends, what more do you do than others? Don't even the tax collectors do the same? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."


Looking At Things Differently

The Two Buckets
By Cheer Up

One day two buckets met at a well. One of them looked morose. "What's the trouble?" asked the second bucket sympathetically.

"Oh!" replied the first, gloomy bucket, "I get so weary of being dragged to this well every weekend by my preoccupied owner who works in an office. No matter how full I am every time I come out of this well, I always come back here empty the next weekend."

The second bucket smiled cheerfully and remarked, "My owner is a very busy farmer who grows plants and tends flocks. He brings me to this well several times everyday. I always come here empty, yet when I come out of this well I go away full."

Giving Up A Habit
By Daniel Lord

A man was a chain-smoker but dreaded the thought of dying of chest cancer. He knew that eventually -- or perhaps sooner -- he would have to make the final decision. All the more so since all the recent newspapers and magazines carried frightful reports of lung cancer.

So there came the fateful day, finally, when he made his big decision. He decided and gave up the habit -- not the smoking but the reading.

Winner Or Loser
By Mile-Hi Evangelist

A winner says, "Let's find out."
A loser says, "Nobody knows."

When a winner makes a mistake, he says, "I was wrong."
When a losers makes a mistake, he says, "It wasn't my fault."

A winner goes through a problem.
A loser goes around it, and never gets past it.

A winner says, "I'm good, but not as good as I ougt to be."
A loser says, "I'm not as bad as a lot of other people are."

A winner tries to learn from those who are superior to him.
A loser tries to tear down those who are superior to him.

A winner says, "There ought to be a better way to do it."
A loser says, "That's the way it's always been done here."

There are things that need to be looked at in a different way in order to see the beauty behind their abstractness. But to the uninitiated eyes, no amount of looking at these things differently will reveal these things' true beauty unless at least these things themselves are caused to be oriented differently.

It is only in total darkness that even the tiniest spark of light is appreciated. So also, it is in the abstractness of things that beauty may be discovered.