9/29/2009

Prayers Of Hope In Times Of Calamity

By Cynthia Hyle Bezek

Tragedies come in all sizes and forms. They range from malicious, premeditated tragedies (like a large-scale terrorist attack or violent murder) to unavoidable but equally devastating tragedies that affect communities or individuals (such as fires and floods, cancer and car wrecks). Naturally, how you pray will depend on the specific crisis. There are, however, some common denominators that apply to any calamity. Hurting people need hope; they need an eternal perspective; they need others to reach out and care for them; they need to reach out to the Father and trust Him. As you pray for the people involved in a calamity or crisis, adapt these Scripture-based prayers as the Holy Spirit leads.

1. Dear Lord, if these hurting people have not called on You before, may they begin calling on your name right now; may they find You to be their refuge and strength, an ever-present help in their time of trouble. (Gen. 4:26; Ps. 46:1)

2. Lord of heaven and earth, encourage these friends to seek You, reach out to You, and find You because You are not far from them. Give them hope that You are with them so that the waters they are passing through will not sweep them away, and the fire they are walking through will not burn them. (Acts 17:27; Is. 43:2)

3. Living Word, make Your Word come alive to those who suffer. When their souls are weary with sorrow, strengthen them according to Your Word. Give them longing for Your precepts, and preserve their lives by them. Comfort them with Your promises. Use this affliction to bring them near to Your ways. Sustain them according to Your promise, and do not let their hopes be dashed. Give them a love for Your law, Lord, so they will have great peace and nothing will cause them to stumble. (Ps. 119: 28,40,50,67,116,165)

4. God of peace and unity, bind affected families together in love. When one member is weak, fill the others with strength and compassion so that the one who falls will have someone to pick him up. Help them not to lose patience with each other, attack each other, or in any other way be separated by these tragic circumstances; instead, knit them together in love and strength. (Eccl. 4:9-12; Mt. 19:6)

5. Loving Father, draw the children involved in this tragedy to Yourself. Let them come to You without hindrance. Strip away any foothold in their lives that Satan may try to gain through this tragedy. Rather, use it to refine their faith in You. (Mt. 19:13-14; Lk. 17:1-2; Eph. 1:27; 1 Pet. 1:6-7)

6. Stir Your body to action, Lord Jesus. Surround these hurting people with those who will minister to them. Send believers who will offer food, visits, and other ministry in Your Name. Prompt Your people to reach out and offer the comfort they themselves have received from You. Give them opportunities to share the reason for the hope they have. (Mt. 25:37-40; 2 Cor. 1:3-4; 1 Pet. 3:15)

7. Eternal Father, prompt these friends to view their circumstances from the perspective of eternity. Help them to consider the fleetingness of life, the vain bustling around, and the storing up of wealth. Cause them to ponder the eternity You have set in their hearts. Give them a heart of wisdom as they realize that all our
days are numbered. (Ps. 39:4-6; Eccl. 3:11; Ps. 90: 10-12)

8. Sovereign Lord, help these dear ones to be like Job, to see You as good and find reasons to praise You even though You have taken away. Grant them faith to accept trouble from You as well as good things, and give them confidence that even though You slay them, they can still hope in You. (Job 1:21, 2:10, 13:15)

9. Great Redeemer, protect these friends from feeling persecuted. Bless them with confidence that You intend good for them. Please redeem every loss and every painful memory, and use them for the saving of many lives. Help them to know that You understand how they feel because You also suffered. (Gen. 50:20; Heb. 4:15-16)

10. Author of life, on behalf of these friends I come before You to resist every attempt of the evil one to steal and kill and destroy through this tragedy. You are the resurrection and the life; bring the blessings of life and fullness into these friends’ lives. (Jn. 10:10, 11:25)

11. Merciful Savior, help these friends to see Your grace clearly and seek it to guard themselves against any root of bitterness. (Heb. 12:15)

12. God of all hope, help these friends to not lose sight of the plans You have for them—to prosper them and not to harm them, to give them a hope and a future. Help them, Holy Spirit, to hope in You and not in circumstances, so their strength will be renewed. Fill them with joy and peace as they trust in You so that they may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Jer. 29:11; Is. 40:31; Ro. 15:13)

9/27/2009

Shine In Times Of Calamity

By John North

For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, but the wicked stumble in time of calamity. (Proverbs 24:16)

There is no time when a Christian stands out more than in times of calamity!

Sometimes we think that it is in times when all is going well that God’s hand is most evident in our lives, and that may be true from our perspective. But what shows the world the reality of Christ in our lives is not the times when all is going well, but the times when everything is turning bad.

The world knows all about joy and happiness and generosity in times of blessing. Blessing brings those same things out in them. But what the world knows nothing of is joy and happiness and generosity when you are experiencing calamity. They don’t know anything about the nearness of God in the midst of suffering.

What the world trusts in is their good circumstances. When those good circumstances disappear they are left groping, with nothing to trust in. That is when they notice the difference God makes in a person’s life! That is why sufferings during calamities are often a part of God’s plan for our lives. He wants people to see the difference He makes in our lives.

What are you going through now? Are you using this time to get closer to God and rely on Him more deeply?

9/17/2009

Compete against the situation, rather than against a rival

The Hare and The Tortoise (The many variations of the story)
Author Unknown

This is an age old fable of the tortoise and hare race. Everyone knows who won the race or do you? Well, recently I heard a new version of this story with a new twist. Read this inspirational teamwork story with lessons in teamwork from an age old fable.

1. Once upon a time a tortoise and a hare had an argument about who was faster. They decided to settle the argument with a race. The tortoise and hare both agreed on a route and started off the race. The hare shot ahead and ran briskly for some time. Then seeing that he was far ahead of the tortoise, he thought he'd sit under a tree for some time and relax before continuing the race. He sat under the tree and soon fell asleep. The tortoise plodding on overtook him and soon finished the race, emerging as the undisputed champ. The hare woke up and realized that he'd lost the race.

The moral of the story is that slow and steady wins the race. This is the version of the story that we've all grown up with.

2. But then recently, someone told me a more interesting version of this tortoise and hare story. It continues.

The hare was disappointed at losing the race and he did some soul-searching. He realized that he'd lost the race only because he had been overconfident, careless and lax. If he had not taken things for granted, there's no way the tortoise could have beaten him. So he challenged the tortoise to another race. The tortoise agreed. This time, the hare went all out and ran without stopping from start to finish. He won by several miles.

The moral of the story? Fast and consistent will always beat the slow and steady. If you have two people in your organization, one slow, methodical and reliable, and the other fast and still reliable at what he does, the fast and reliable chap will consistently climb the organizational ladder faster than the slow, methodical chap. It's good to be slow and steady; but it's better to be fast and reliable.

3. But the story doesn't end here. The tortoise did some thinking this time, and realized that there's no way he can beat the hare in a race the way it was currently formatted. He thought for a while, and then challenged the hare to another race, but on a slightly different route. The hare agreed. The tortoise and hare started off. In keeping with his self-made commitment to be consistently fast, the hare took off and ran at top speed until he came to a broad river. The finishing line was a couple of kilometers on the other side of the river. The hare sat there wondering what to do. In the meantime the tortoise trundled along, got into the river, swam to the opposite bank, continued walking and finished the race.

The moral of the story? First identify your core competency and then change the playing field to suit your core competency. In an organization, if you are a good speaker, make sure you create opportunities to give presentations that enable the senior management to notice you. If your strength is analysis, make sure you do some sort of research, make a report and send it upstairs. Working to your strengths will not only get you noticed, but will also create opportunities for growth and advancement.

The story still hasn't ended.

4. The tortoise and hare, by this time, had become pretty good friends and they did some thinking together. Both realized that the last race could have been run much better. So the tortoise and hare decided to do the last race again, but to run as a team this time. They started off, and this time the hare carried the tortoise till the riverbank. There, the tortoise took over and swam across with the hare on his back. On the opposite bank, the hare again carried the tortoise and they reached the finishing line together. Both the tortoise and hare felt a greater sense of satisfaction than they'd felt earlier.

The moral of the story? It's good to be individually brilliant and to have strong core competencies; but unless you're able to work in a team and harness each other's core competencies, you'll always perform below par because there will always be situations at which you'll do poorly and someone else does well.

Teamwork is mainly about situational leadership, letting the person with the relevant core competency for a situation take leadership. There are more lessons to be learned from this inspirational teamwork story.

Note that neither the tortoise nor hare gave up after failures. The hare decided to work harder and put in more effort after his failure. The tortoise changed his strategy because he was already working as hard as he could. In life, when faced with failure, sometimes it is appropriate to work harder and put in more effort. Sometimes it is appropriate to change strategy and try something different. And sometimes it is appropriate to do both.

The tortoise and hare also learned another vital lesson in teamwork. When we stop competing against a rival and instead start competing against the situation, we perform far better.

* * * * *
When Roberto Goizueta took over as CEO of Coca-Cola in the 1980s, he was faced with intense competition from Pepsi that was eating into Coke's growth. His executives were Pepsi-focused and intent on increasing market share 0.1 per cent a time. Goizueta decided to stop competing against Pepsi and instead compete against the situation of 0.1 per cent growth.

He asked his executives what was the average fluid intake of an American per day? The answer was 14 ounces. What was Coke's share of that? Two ounces. Goizueta said Coke needed a larger share of that market. The competition wasn't Pepsi. It was the water, tea, coffee, milk and fruit juices that went into the remaining 12 ounces. The public should reach for a Coke whenever they felt like drinking something.

To this end, Coke put up vending machines at every street corner. Sales took a quantum jump and Pepsi has never quite caught up since.

To sum up, the story of the hare and tortoise teaches us many things. Chief among them are that fast and consistent will always beat slow and steady; work to your competencies; pooling resources and working as a team will always beat individual performers; never give up when faced with failure; and finally, compete against the situation, not against a rival.

9/10/2009

Following The Lord's Guidance

The Mountain Climber
Author Unknown

They tell the story of a mountain climber who, desperate to conquer the Aconcagua, initiated his climb after years of preparation. But he wanted the glory to himself, therefore, he went up alone. He started climbing and it was becoming later, and later. He did not prepare for camping, but decided to keep on going.

Soon it got dark. Night fell with heaviness at a very high altitude. Visibility was zero. Everything was black. There was no moon, and the stars were covered by clouds.

As he was climbing a ridge at about 100 meters from the top, he slipped and fell. Falling rapidly he could only see blotches of darkness that passed. He felt a terrible sensation of being sucked in by gravity. He kept falling... and in those anguishing moments good and bad memories passed through his mind. He thought certainly he would die.

But then he felt a jolt that almost tore him in half. Yes! Like any good mountain climber he had staked himself with a long rope tied to his waist. In those moments of stillness, suspended in the air he had no other choice but to shout: "Help me God!"

All of a sudden he perceived a voice from above... "What do you want me to do?"

"Save me please..."

"Do you really trust that I can save you?"

"Of course, God."

"Ok then, set free of the rope now and you will live to climb another day."

There was big bewilderment and a moment of silence and stillness. For several minutes, and then hours, the man held tightly to the rope pondering intently upon the voice he perceived. Finally, early in the morning, a team of rescuers found him and brought him home.

In an interview, the team leader of the rescuers said that they found the mountain climber hanging stiffly to a rope just about five feet off the ground near a cave... his body frozen to death.

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Trusting more on his own assessment of his situation instead of following the Lord's guidance, the mountain climber missed his chance of living to climb back some other day with success.

9/07/2009

"Dad, I want you to be my best man."

Reaching Out
By Michael T. Smith

I first signed onto the internet in 1996. The first thing I did was search for writing groups. There were hundreds of them, but I wanted one with a chat room where I could correspond personally with writers.

The one I joined was special. I met many aspiring writers and a few established ones. In this group I met a young man named Dan (Not his real name). We became friends, and over the years I learned his life story. Dan is Korean and had been adopted by an American family. Dan was a young boy when his father left him and his mom. Later his mother slowly pushed him away from her.

At 18, Dan was on his own in the world. He worked two jobs and was going to school. He tried hard, but he was not making it. His two jobs were dragging his marks down. He would lose jobs when he tried to get his marks up. Dan was falling down and had no one to pick him up. He had no anchor. His family had abandoned him; life had abandoned him; his future a mountain too high to climb.

Dan latched onto me and began calling me his cyber dad.

A few years back Dan emailed me. He had reached his limit. He had lost another job. Juggling jobs and school had failed.He had dropped the "ball." With the loss of income he could not pay the rent for his tiny room. His landlord was going to throw him out.

Dan confessed to me that he was close to ending it all. Myself and another friend of his chipped together and sent him a couple hundred dollars to pay his rent. This was money I could not afford to give, but he needed it more than I did. Before I sent him the money, I went online and did a search of government agencies in the area where he lived. I mailed several government officials and told them I had a special request for someone in need.

I said, "I know this may seem strange, but I have a friend in need. I am a Canadian who belongs to an internet writing group. A young man I met there needs your help. He has lost his job and his landlord is throwing him out for non-payment of rent. He has been struggling with two jobs and school and has no family to help him. I believe he is considering suicide. I ask you for any assistance you can give."

Only one mailed back. She was a compassionate lady who mailed me a list of support and help groups. They included the suicide help line and a group that could assist him with work related assistance.

I mailed Dan the list and made him promise to use them before I sent him money. He promised he would, and he did. The groups did assist him. He got a new job and his future looked brighter. I also made him call every relative he could find for their help. He was skeptical, but did it. One kindly aunt gave him a room.

Dan was on his way.

This occurred in 1998. Dan and I moved on from there. We emailed once every few months, and he always called me Dad.

In December of 2003 Dan called me. He had met a young lady and he asked me if I would come to his wedding. The wedding was going to be in Kansas. I said I would love to be there to watch him get married. He replied, "Dad, you don't understand. I don't want you to just be there; I want you to be my best man."

I was floored. I had never met Dan before, but how could I refuse? In the spring of 2004 I flew to Kansas to give this young man his first hug from his cyber dad and had the honor of standing by his side as he took his new bride into his life.

I have been through a lot in my 45 years on this world. Some of it has been very hard and some of it has been wonderful. My visit to Kansas was one of the wonderful ones.

I learned a valuable lesson - reach out and touch someone and you will be touched back - give and you shall receive.

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I am posting this particular entry in my blog as a humble appreciation of a Canadian citizen who had shown a heroic spirit in trying to save a child during the tragedy of the SuperFerry 9 in the Philippines. He was one of the passengers of the sinking ship. He risked himself and was injured in the act, but nonetheless the child still didn't made it alive.

video

9/05/2009

In Unity There Is Strength

Colors Of The Rainbow
Author Unknown

Once upon a time the colors of the world started to quarrel. All claimed that they were the best. The most important, the most useful, the most beautiful and the favorite.

Green said: "Clearly I am the most important. I am the sign of life and of hope. I was chosen for grass, trees and leaves. Without me, all animals would die. Look over the countryside and you will see that I am in the majority."

Blue interrupted: "You only think about the earth, but consider the sky and the sea. It is the water that is the basis of life and drawn up by the clouds from the deep sea. The sky gives space and peace and serenity. Without my peace, you would all be nothing."

Yellow chuckled: "You are all so serious. I bring laughter, gaiety, and warmth into the world. The sun is yellow, the moon is yellow, and the stars are yellow. Every time you look at a sunflower, the whole world starts to smile. Without me there would be no fun."

Orange started next to blow her trumpet: "I am the color of health and strength. I may be scarce, but I am precious for I serve the needs of human life. I carry the most important vitamins. Think of carrots, pumpkins, oranges, mangoes, and papayas. I don't hang around all the time, but when I fill the sky at sunrise or sunset My beauty is so striking that no one gives another thought to any of you."

Red could stand it no longer he shouted out: "I am the ruler of all of you. I am blood - life's blood!I am the color of danger and of bravery. I am willing to fight for a cause. I bring fire into the blood. Without me, the earth would be as empty as the moon. I am the color of passion and of love, the red rose, the poinsettia and the poppy."

Purple rose up to his full height. He was very tall and spoke with great pomp: "I am the color of royalty and power. Kings, chiefs, and bishops have always chosen me for I am the sign of authority and wisdom. People do not question me! They listen and obey."

Finally Indigo spoke, much more quietly than all the others. But with just as much determination: "Think of me. I am the color of silence. You hardly notice me, but without me you all become superficial. I represent thought and reflection, twilight and deep water. You need me for balance and contrast, for prayer and inner peace."

And so all the colors went on boasting each other. Each convinced of his or her own superiority. Their quarreling became louder and louder. Suddenly there was a startling flash of bright lightening, thunder rolled and boomed. Rain started to pour down relentlessly. The colors crouched down in fear, drawing close to one another for comfort.

In the midst of the clamor, the Rain began to speak: "You foolish colors, fighting amongst yourselves, each trying to dominate the rest. Don't you know that you were each made for a special purpose, unique and different? Join hands with one another and come to me."

Doing as they were told, the colors united and joined hands.

The Rain continued: "From now on, when it rains, each of you will stretch across the sky. In a great bow of color as a reminder that you can all live in peace. The Rainbow is a sign of hope for tomorrow."

And so, whenever a good rain washes the world and a Rainbow appears in the sky, it is to let us remember to appreciate one another.

God said, “This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set my rainbow in the cloud, and it will be for a sign of a covenant between me and the earth." (Genesis 9:12-13.)

The Father and His Sons
Aesop

A father had a family of sons who were perpetually quarreling among themselves. When he failed to heal their disputes by his exhortations, he determined to give them a practical illustration of the evils of disunion; and for this purpose he one day told them to bring him a bundle of sticks. When they had done so, he placed the faggot into the hands of each of them in succession, and ordered them to break it in pieces. They tried with all their strength, and were not able to do it. He next opened the faggot, took the sticks separately, one by one, and again put them into his sons' hands, on which they broke them easily. He then addressed them in these words: "My sons, if you are of one mind, and unite to assist each other, you will be as this faggot, uninjured by all the attempts of your enemies; but if you are divided among yourselves, you will be broken as easily as these sticks."

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Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (Psalms 133:1)

9/01/2009

The Emperor's Seeds

Author Unknown

Once there was an emperor in the Far East who was growing old and knew it was coming time to choose his successor. Instead of choosing one of his assistants, or one of his own children, he decided to do something different.

He called all the young people in the kingdom together one day. He said, “It has come time for me to step down and to choose the next emperor. I have decided to choose one of you.” The kids were shocked! But the emperor continued. “I am going to give each one of you a seed today. One seed. It is a very special seed. I want you to go home, plant the seed, water it and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from this one seed. I will then judge the plants that you bring to me, and the one I choose will be the next emperor of the kingdom!”

There was one boy named Ling who was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly told his mother the whole story. She helped him get a pot and some planting soil, and he planted the seed and watered it carefully. Every day he would water it and watch to see if it had grown.

After about three weeks, some of the other youths began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Ling kept going home and checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by. Still nothing.

By now others were talking about their plants but Ling didn’t have a plant, and he felt like a failure. Six months went by, still nothing in Ling’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Ling didn’t say anything to his friends, however. He just kept waiting for his seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the youths of the kingdom brought their plants to the emperor for inspection. Ling told his mother that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But she encouraged him to go, and to take his pot, and to be honest about what happened. Ling felt sick to his stomach, but he knew his mother was right. He took his empty pot to the palace.

When Ling arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by all the other youths. They were beautiful, in all shapes and sizes. Ling put his empty pot on the floor and many of the other kids laughed at him. A few felt sorry for him and just said, “Hey nice try.”

When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young people. Ling just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown,” said the emperor. “Today, one of you will be appointed the next emperor!”

All of a sudden, the emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered his guards to bring him to the front. Ling was terrified. “The emperor knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me killed!”

When Ling got to the front, the Emperor asked his name. “My name is Ling,” he replied. All the kids were laughing and making fun of him. The emperor asked everyone to quiet down. He looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, “Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!” Ling couldn’t believe it. Ling couldn’t even grow his seed. How could he be the new emperor?

Then the emperor said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone here a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds which would not grow. All of you, except Ling, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Ling was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new emperor!”

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The Lord's ways are not as the ways of emperors. His tests are not deceiving. His test causes no dishonesty, rather it results in the abundance of faith. When He calls sowers to task, He gives them real live good seeds of different varieties.

Isaiah 55:8-13

My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For as the rain comes down and the snow from the sky, and doesn't return there, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, and gives seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing; and all the trees of the fields shall clap their hands.

Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree; and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

You who are called by the Lord, behold, the Lord has not given you a seed that cannot grow, but rather, in your hands He is placing a live sprouting seed. Therefore delight yourself in Him and He shall prosper that which He has entrusted to you.