Wednesday, December 16, 2009

L o v e

A Beautiful Story - Love

Author: John Powell

John Powell, a professor at Loyola University in Chicago writes about a student named Tommy in his "Theology of Faith" class:

Some twelve years ago, I stood watching my university students file into the classroom for our first session in the Theology of Faith. That was the day I first saw Tommy. My eyes and my mind both blinked. He was combing his long flaxen hair, which hung six inches below his shoulders.

It was the first time I had ever seen a boy with hair that long. I guess it was just coming into fashion then. I know in my mind that it isn't what's on your head but what's in it that counts; but on that day I was unprepared and my emotions flipped. I immediately filed Tommy under 'S' for strange, very strange.

Tommy turned out to be the "atheist in residence" in my Theology of Faith course. He constantly objected to, smirked at, or whined about the possibility of an unconditionally loving Father/God. We lived with each other in relative peace for one semester, although I admit he was, for me at times, a serious pain in the back pew.

When he came up at the end of the course to turn in his final exam, he asked in a slightly cynical tone, "Do you think I'll ever find God?"

I decided instantly on a little shock therapy. "No!" I said very emphatically.

"Oh," he responded, "I thought that was the product you were pushing."

I let him get five steps from the classroom door, then called out, "Tommy! I don't think you'll ever find Him, but I am absolutely certain that He will find you!"

He shrugged a little and left my class and my life. I felt slightly disappointed at the thought that he had missed my clever line: "He will find you!" At least I thought it was clever.

Later I heard that Tommy had graduated, and I was duly grateful. Then a sad report came. I heard Tommy had terminal cancer. Before I could search him out, he came to see me. When he walked into my office, his body was very badly wasted, and the long hair had all fallen out as a result of chemotherapy, but his eyes were bright, and his voice was firm for the first time, I believe.

"Tommy, I've thought about you so often. I hear you are sick," I blurted out.

"Oh, yes, very sick. I have cancer in both lungs. It's a matter of weeks."

"Can you talk about it, Tom?" I asked.

"Sure, what would you like to know?" he replied.

"What's it like to be only twenty-four and dying?"

"Well, it could be worse."

"Like what?"

"Well, like being fifty and having no values or ideals; like being fifty and thinking that booze, seducing women, and making money are the real 'biggies' in life."

(I began to look through my mental file cabinet under 'S' where I had filed Tommy as strange. It seems as though everybody I try to reject by classification, God sends back into my life to educate me.)

"But what I really came to see you about," Tom said, "is something you said to me on the last day of class."

(He remembered!)

He continued, "I asked you if you thought I would ever find God, and you said, 'No! ‘which surprised me. Then you said, 'But He will find you.' I thought about that a lot, even though my search for God was hardly intense at that time.

(My clever line... He thought about that a lot!)

"But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and told me that it was malignant, that's when I got serious about locating God. And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really began banging bloody fists against the bronze doors of heaven, but God did not come out. In fact, nothing happened. Did you ever try something for a long time with great effort and with no success? You get psychologically glutted; fed up with trying. And then you quit.

Well, one day I woke up, and instead of throwing a few more futile appeals over that high brick wall to a God who may or may not be there, I just quit. I decided that I didn't really care about God, about an afterlife, or anything like that. I decided to spend what time I had left doing something more profitable. I thought about you and your class, and I remembered something else you had said: 'The essential sadness is to go through life without loving. But it would be almost equally sad to go through life and leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you had loved them.'

So, I began with the hardest one, my Dad. He was reading the newspaper when I approached him.


"Yes, what?" he asked without lowering the newspaper

"Dad, I would like to talk with you."

"Well, talk."

"I mean it's really important."

The newspaper came down three slow inches. "What is it?"

"Dad, I love you. I just wanted you to know that."

(Tom smiled at me and said it with obvious satisfaction, as though he felt a warm and secret joy flowing inside of him.)

"The newspaper fluttered to the floor. Then my father did two things I could never remember him ever doing before. He cried and he hugged me.

We talked all night, even though he had to go to work the next morning. It felt so good to be close to my father, to see his tears, to feel his hug, to hear him say that he loved me.

It was easier with my mother and little brother. They cried with me, too, and we hugged each other, and started saying really nice things to each other. We shared the things we had been keeping secret for so many years.

I was only sorry about one thing - that I had waited so long. Here I was, just beginning to open up to all the people I had actually been close to.

Then, one day, I turned around and God was there!  He didn't come to me when I pleaded with Him.  I guess I was like an animal trainer holding out a hoop; 'C'mon, jump through.  C'mon, I'll give You three days, three weeks.' Apparently God does things in His own way and at His own hour.  But the important thing is that He was there. He found me. You were right.  He found me even after I stopped looking for Him."

"Tommy," I practically gasped, "I think you are saying something very important and much more universal than you realize.  To me, at least, you are saying that the surest way to find God is not to make Him a private possession, a problem solver, or an instant consolation in time of need, but rather to open up to love.  You know, the Apostle John said that.

He said: 'God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him.'

Tom, could I ask you a favor? You know, when I had you in class you were a real pain. But (laughingly) you can make it all up to me now.  Would you come into my present Theology of Faith course and tell them what you have just told me?  If I told them the same thing it wouldn't be half as effective as if you were to tell them."

"Ooh .. I was ready for you, but I don't know if I'm ready for your class." 

"Tom, think about it. If and when you are ready, give me a call."

In a few days, Tom called, said he was ready for the class that he wanted to do that for God and for me.  So we scheduled a date, but he never made it. He had another appointment, far more important than the one with me and my class.

Of course, his life was not really ended by his death, only changed. He made the great step from faith into vision. He found a life far more beautiful than the eye of man has ever seen or the ear of man has ever heard, or the mind of man has ever imagined.

Before he died, we talked one last time.

"I'm not going to make it to your class," he said.

"I know, Tom."

"Will you tell them for me? Will you...tell the whole world for me?" "I will, Tom. I'll tell them. I'll do my best."

So, to all of you who have been kind enough to hear this simple statement about love, thank you for listening.  And to you, Tommy, somewhere in the sunlit, verdant hills of heaven - I told them, Tommy, as best I could.

If this story means anything to you, please pass it on to a friend or two. It is a true story and is not enhanced for publicity purposes.

With thanks, John Powell, Professor Loyola University, Chicago

I verified this story on ; which stated the following: “This story was written by Father John Powell; a retired professor at Loyola University in Chicago.  Father Powell is advanced in years, but found him and talked with him.   The story was fresh in his mind and he confirmed that it is true and happened in the way that he described it.”

“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.” - John 15:9 

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009



Author: Nancy Turner

Salt, when dissolved in water, may disappear, but it does not cease to exist. We can be sure of its presence by tasting the water. Likewise, the indwelling Christ, though unseen, will be made evident to others from the love which he imparts to us. Sadhu Sundar Singh

Attitude: The longer one lives, the more one realizes the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude is more important than facts, more important than circumstances, failures or successes, and certainly more important than what other people think or say.  It's more important than appearance, talent or skill.  Attitude can make or break a man, a home, a family, or an organization; it can shatter dreams, ideas, relationships, and children's futures.

Every day, each one of us has a choice regarding not only the clothes we wear, but the attitude we present for that day.  It's the last thing we put on as we leave our home.

People should have a mirror by the door, just to make sure their attitude is on straight.

We cannot change, as God cannot change, the past, nor can we guarantee that those we smile at or say "Good Morning" to will be pleasant or even civil, since anger has a way of inserting its sharp words into pleasant as well as strained conversations.

The time we spend interacting with people may vary from a few seconds to hours, and happens under all circumstances, such as walking down the street or school hallway.

We may think that a head nod, or a brief "Hello" is insignificant, but think again.  As a clown, I have come to realize that those few moments are what children and people remember.

Two weeks ago, another clown and I were at a Friendly's restaurant in Concord.  We had just finished a parade and were still in costume.  We were tired, hot and hungry.

Since it was during that heat wave, many parents were there with their children, and you know how clowns react with children.  So we made balloons and passed them from table to table until all the kids had at least one.  Just as our food arrived, a small boy about nine years old came from somewhere and tugged at my sleeve and said, "When I grow up, I want to be just like you." We never did get to eat.

What I'm trying to say is that whether you interact with people in three minutes or three hours, you leave behind a feeling or attitude of caring or not caring, of sensitivity or insensitivity, and as one clown said, "You walk away leaving a legend or a nightmare."

Each one of us should realize that as we walk away, we leave something behind.  What we leave depends on us.

Submitted by BRIDGE TO THE WORLD to subscribe send an email to:

“Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?” - Luke 14:34 


Wasting Precious Time
Author: Joseph Sica

I recently visited a friend in the hospice unit at one of our local   hospitals.

As I was talking with Bill, a gentleman walked into the room.  Bill   began to cry and so did the gentleman.  The gentleman leaned over the bed   to embrace Bill.  After a few moments the gentleman, Ken, said to me, “He’s my brother.  We haven’t spoken in over 25 years.”

Caught by surprise by his comment, I said, “You’re kidding me?”

“No,” replied Ken.  “We had an argument over a piece of property and have been estranged from each other.”

Bill said, “Ken, you haven’t met my children.”

Then Bill introduced his children to their uncle.  I left the hospice unit thinking, there’s something wrong when we can’t forgive.  Life is short and it’s difficult to make up for all the time that has been lost.

This experience caused me to think the power of forgiveness and the need for it in our lives.  Sure, when someone says something or does something to cause us harm, it hurts.  But we need to move beyond the hurt, to healing, which comes from forgiveness.

I like to think of forgiveness as the bold choice we make to clear out of our lives resentment, bitterness, anger, hatred, and revenge.  We need to ask ourselves, “Do I want to waste precious time and energy carrying around these nasty feelings?”

It’s the unfinished business we may have with a spouse, parent, child, brother or sister, or friend which we need to take care of before it’s too late.

Holding on to the past only weakens the relationship and keeps us from mending it and putting it back together.

When we refuse to forgive, the other person owns us.

Often forgiveness is not for the other person, it’s for us -- to let it go and begin again.

Charlie came to see me about a problem he was having.  He was angry with his father for dying.  He said, “He died just when I was getting to know him as a buddy, a friend.  We’d fish, hunt, and golf together.  Now it’s all gone.”

I told him, “You have unfinished business with your father.  Go and tell him.”

“He’s dead,” Charlie said, “How can I?”

I said, “Get in your car and go to the cemetery and tell him how angry you are with him.”  He left me looking confused.

Two weeks later, Charlie came and told me, “I feel better.  I drove to the cemetery and stood over his grave and dumped my angry.  Then I closed my eyes and said to myself what I felt my dad would say.  Wow, I never realized how much energy keeping all that anger inside can do to a person.”

I agreed and applauded Charlie for what he did.

Forgiveness brings healing, freedom, and peace back into our lives. It opens our eyes to see what happened.  It calls us to break down the walls, stop the silent treatment and put an end to the cold war.  One day, the roles of wronged and wrongdoer may be reversed.

Use today as an opportunity to open a door that has been closed too long.  Forgive.  Let it go.  Put it behind you and see how much better you will feel.

Give it try.  It works.

“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” -Matthew 18:21-22

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Looking At The Heavens


I am finding myself looking at the heavens a lot more these days. I am trying to watch and enjoy as many sunrises and sunsets as I can, and I am letting their beauty fill my soul with happiness. I love seeing God paint the heavens with glorious reds, purples, pinks, oranges, and golds. I love gazing with wonder at these ever-changing masterpieces. Every sunrise feels like God is welcoming us to a new day full of wonder and delight. Every sunset feels like God is kissing us goodnight and wishing us sweet dreams. Every time I look at them I feel God’s peace and joy, and I know that I am loved by the greatest love imaginable.

Looking at the heavens helps me to feel the Heaven inside myself too. When I gaze at the sky and witness God’s glorious creation I want to thank God for my own life and all the wonderful blessings in it. When I stare at those beautiful sunrises and sunsets I happily remember that I am here to live a beautiful life full of peace and love. When I look at those bright heavens each day of my life I want to share the Heaven in my own soul as well.

Every day the sun rises again in the morning sky. It’s welcoming beauty and light is always there even if it is sometimes hidden by the clouds. Every evening the sun sets in the night sky but not without a promise of even more beauty and light the next day. Take some time today to look up at the heavens then. Take some time today to find the Heaven within yourself. Take some time today to make your own life a Heavenly light full of love, joy, peace, happiness, goodness, and delight. Take some time today to share that light with the world and show others that they can do the same. Take some time today to remember that God loves you and wants you to live a life as joyful as the sunrise and as beautiful as the setting sun.

By Joseph J. Mazzella

Joshua 1:9 “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

Psalm 91:14-16 “Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him My salvation.”

All of these scriptures can be found in the King James Version Bible. 

Source ---

Genie In The Lamp


How many of us at one time or another have wished that those fairy tales were true and that we could somehow find a magic lamp with a genie in it? How many of us have wished that we could have those three wishes that would change our lives? How many of us have wished that we could finally get all that money and all that stuff so that we could finally be happy? I
hate to say it, but I was one of those genie wishers for a long time myself. I finally realized, however, that I didn’t need a genie in a lamp because I already had an angel in my mind.

That angel had always been there trying to get my attention and show me the truth about life and love, but for a long time I was too busy wishing for a genie to hear him. I was waiting to get all of that stuff so that I could finally be happy. One glorious day, though, I finally heard what my angel had been whispering all those years. “More stuff isn’t going to make you happy. Being happy is going to make you happy.” It was then that I realized that I wasn’t just taking the long way to joy, I was also taking the wrong way to joy.

We don’t need a genie in a lamp to bring us joy. We don’t need three magic wishes to bring us happiness. All we need to do is listen to the angel in our minds. That angel is telling us everyday just how much God loves us and wants us to be happy. That angel is telling us everyday that we can choose love, joy, and oneness with God as well. That angel is telling us everyday that we are here to do God’s will by sharing that love and joy with the world.

Shove the genie back in the lamp then. God didn’t bring you here to sit around waiting for your world to get better. God brought you here to make the world better yourself. Share your love, joy, talent, and energy with the world. Create your own happiness everyday with what you think, feel, and do. Listen to that angel in your mind and become an angel in your own

By Joseph J. Mazzella

Read and meditate on these scriptures:

Hebrews 13:5-6 “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

Psalm 16:8-11 “I have set the LORD always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at
Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

Psalm 103:1-5 “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless
His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who
redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness
and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy
youth is renewed like the eagle's.”

Psalm 118:5-9 “I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me,
and set me in a large place. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear:
what can man do unto me? The LORD taketh my part with them that help me:
therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me. It is better to
trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in
the LORD than to put confidence in princes.”

All of these scriptures can be found in the King James Version Bible.

Source ---

The Eyes That See


I have a blind friend who lives in New York City. Although we have never met face to face, we still write each other frequently. She is a remarkable lady and has become like a sister to me. Her optimistic and enthusiastic letters always lift my spirits and the inspiring poems she shares with the world always bring a smile to my face. She is all the more amazing due to
the fact that she lost her sight halfway through her life. She had to give up her career and relearn to do everything that most of us take for granted.

Many would have given up after such a loss, but not her. Instead she embarked on a glorious new life full of award winning volunteer work. Her days are full of teaching English to new immigrants, counseling hurting hearts, writing, serving her religious community and helping others in every way she can.

The light of my friend’s example is a beacon that I try to follow as well. Whenever I feel too challenged in my own life I look at the challenges that she has overcome in hers. She may have lost her sight, but she never lost her soul. She knows that the eyes that really see are the eyes of the heart, and she does her best everyday to follow the loving vision that they give to her. I am sure too that the eyes of the angels watching over her are always filled with tears of joy and that their faces are always full of shining smiles.

I hope then that when you go through your own life you are not distracted by the murky view that this world so often gives you. I hope that you see it for the illusion it is and instead look at life with the clear vision of your heart’s eyes. God wants us to see this world and our lives through the eyes of love. It is only then that our sight will be pure. It is only then that our path will shine brightly before us. It is only then that we will see how we were meant to live and how we can best bring Heaven to Earth.

By Joseph J. Mazzella

Read and meditate on these scriptures:

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Matthew 25:37-40 Jesus says, “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 'When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 'Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' "And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'”

Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus declares, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

All scriptures can be found in the New King James Version. 

Source ---

The Gift


A story about an old Bendix washing machine helped one man get through the valley of loss.

His parents acquired the washer when John Claypool was a small boy. It happened during World War II. His family owned no washing machine and, since gasoline was rationed, they could ill afford trips to the laundry several miles away. Keeping clothes clean became a problem for young John's household.

A family friend was drafted into the service, and his wife prepared to go with him. John's family offered to store their furniture while they were away. To the family's surprise, the friends suggested they use their Bendix while they were gone. “It would be better for it to be running,” they said, “than sitting up rusting.” So this is how they acquired the washer.

Young John helped with the washing, and across the years he developed an affection for the old, green Bendix. But eventually the war ended. Their friends returned. In the meantime he had forgotten how the machine came to be in their basement in the first place. When the friends came to take it away, John grew terribly upset -- and let his feelings be known.

His wise mother sat him down and said, “Wait a minute, Son. You must remember, that machine never belonged to us in the first place. That we ever got to use it at all was a gift. So, instead of being mad at it being taken away, let's use this occasion to be grateful that we had it at all.”

The lesson proved invaluable. Years later, John watched his eight-year-old daughter die a slow and painful death of leukemia. Though he struggled for months with her death, John could not really begin healing from the loss until he remembered the old Bendix.

“I am here to testify,” he said, “that this is the only way down the mountain of loss...when I remember that Laura Lou was a gift, pure and simple, something I neither earned nor deserved nor had a right to. And when I remember that the appropriate response to a gift, even when it is taken away, is gratitude, then I am better able to try and thank God that
I was ever given her in the first place.”

His daughter was given to him to love and nurture. She never belonged to him, but he had the awesome privilege of sharing her life for a while. When he realized that simple fact, everything changed. He could now begin healing from the tragedy of her loss by focusing instead on the wonder of her life. He started to see Laura Lou as a marvelous gift that he was fortunate enough to enjoy for a time. He felt grateful. He found strength and healing. He finally knew he could get through the valley of loss.

We all experience loss -- loss of people, loss of jobs, loss of relationships, loss of independence, loss of esteem, loss of things. What if you view that which is lost as a gift you were given for a time? Perhaps that simple choice of trying to reframe your loss will change sad memories into thankful ones. And perhaps it will get you unstuck and back
on the road to healing and wholeness.

By Steve Goodier

Read and meditate on these scriptures:

Psalm 139:1-6 “O LORD, Thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, Thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.” 

Source ---


Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Greatest Gift

The Greatest Gift

Author: Joseph Frith

Story Editor: Joyce Schowalter

It was the Christmas season, and as I drove home from work I thought how this year was unlike any Christmas I'd ever experienced. Springfield, Illinois, is completely opposite from the Roanoke Valley of Virginia I'd always called home.

My wife and I met on the Internet, and shortly after we married I moved west to her home in Illinois. Two wonderful daughters, Jamie and Audrey, came with the marriage, and I was happy... but still, for the first time at Christmas, my family and friends were 800 miles away.

A few weeks earlier my wife, Betsy, had asked me about my Christmas traditions. I told her we always had ham for Christmas dinner. "What else?" I told her about Mom's applesauce cake; every year Mom baked at least six cakes, mostly for gifts. Each year she said they were too much trouble, yet she kept making them. The first Christmas after she died there was no applesauce cake -- then my sister started making them.

Talking about mom's cake reminded me of my grandmother, who lived with us while I grew up and was like a second mother to me. I told my wife about Grandma's boiled custard. If it had been any thicker you'd have had to eat it with a spoon, and it was so rich that a small cup was enough.

Long after she stopped "doing for the grandchildren," only getting presents for her great-grandkids, she still made custard for me, saying, "I know how much you love it and your Christmas wouldn't be the same without it." Sadly, she never wrote down the recipe, so when she passed away no one knew how to make it.

When I got home and walked into the house, an aroma and a flood of memories hit me: applesauce cake! My wife came from the kitchen. I started to ask how she knew the right recipe. "I got the recipe from your sister; I hope it turned out OK." I told her if it tasted as good as it smelled it would be perfect.

After dinner on Christmas day, Betsy asked, "Who wants cake?" Of course we all did. She asked me to go to the living room and the girls would bring the cake in. A minute later Jamie handed me a plate and Audrey set a cup on the tray next to me.

Inside the cup -- it couldn't be -- custard! It was golden yellow and almost too thick to pour. Looking up through tears I saw my wife standing in the doorway. She said, "I found the recipe on the Internet; I hope it tastes like your grandmother's". And it did, it tasted just like I remembered.

Late that night, after everyone else was in bed, I sat in the living room lit only by the Christmas tree. I realized that the greatest gift I'd gotten that day hadn't been under the tree: it had been in my wife's heart.

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” –Proverbs 18:10

In His Service, <>< Sherry and Jim Heard
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