Insights on Living from an Ancient

Insights on Living from an Ancient

Insights on Living from An Ancient

Come in,” he said to me, “So, you would like to interview Me?”

“If you have the time,” I said.

He smiled through his beard and said: “What questions do you have in mind to ask me?”

“None that are new to you. What’s the one thing that surprises you most about mankind?”

He answered: “That they get bored of being children, are in a rush to grow up, and then long to be children again.

That they lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore their health.

That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live neither for the present nor the future.

That they live as if they will never die, and they die as if they had never lived…”

His hands took mine and we were silent. After a long period, I said, “May I ask you another question?”

He replied with a smile.

“As a father, what would you ask your children to do for the New Year?”

“To learn they cannot make anyone love them. What they can do is to let themselves be loved.

To learn that it takes years to build trust, and a few seconds to destroy it.

To learn that what is most valuable is not what they have in their lives, but who they have in their lives.

To learn that it is not good to compare themselves to others. There will be others better or worse than they are.

To learn that a rich person is not one who has the most, but is one who needs the least.

To learn that they should control their attitudes, otherwise their attitudes will control them. To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in persons we love and that it takes many years to heal them. To learn to forgive by practising forgiveness.

To learn that there are persons that love them dearly, but simply do not know how to show their feelings.

To learn that money can buy everything but happiness.

To learn that while at times they may be entitled to be upset, that does not give them the right to upset those around them.

To learn that great dreams do not require great wings, but landing gear to achieve.

To learn that true friends are scarce, he/she who has found one has found a true treasure.

To learn that it is not always enough that they be forgiven by others, but that they forgive themselves.

To learn that they are masters of what they keep to themselves and slaves of what they say.

To learn that they shall reap what they plant; if they plant gossip they will harvest intrigues, if they plant love they will harvest happiness.

To learn that true happiness is not to achieve their goals but to learn to be satisfied with what they already achieved. To learn that happiness is a decision. They decide to be happy with what they are and have, or die from envy and jealousy of what they lack.

To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see something totally different.

To learn that those who are honest with themselves without considering the consequences go far in life.

To learn that even though they may think they have nothing to give when a friend cries with them, they find the strength to appease the pain.

To learn that by trying to hold on to love ones, they very quickly push them away; and by letting go of those they love, they will be side by side forever.

To learn that even though the word “love” has many different meanings, it loses value when it is overstated.

To learn that they can never do something extraordinary for Me to love them; I simply do.

To learn that the shortest distance they could be from Me is the distance of a prayer.”

— Author Unknown

Meditation: For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. – 1 Corinthians 1:21

You will succeed in Jesus Name!

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The Tramp

The Tramp

The Tramp

It was a cold winter’s day that Sunday. The parking lot to the church was filling up quickly. I noticed as I got out of my car that fellow church members were whispering among themselves as they walked to the church. As I got closer I saw a man leaned up against the wall outside the church. He was almost lying down as if he was asleep. He had on a long trench coat that was almost in shreds and a hat topped his head, pulled down so you could not see his face.

He wore shoes that looked 30 years old, too small for his feet with holes all over them, his toes stuck out. I assumed this tramp was homeless, and asleep, so I walked on by through the doors of the church. We all fellowshipped for a few minutes, and someone brought up the man lying outside. People snickered and gossiped but no one bothered to ask him to come in, including me.

A few moments later church began. We all waited for the Preacher to take his place and to give us the Word, when the doors to the church opened. In came the homeless man walking down the aisle with his head down. People gasped and whispered and made faces. He made his way down the aisle and up onto the pulpit he took off his hat and coat.

My heart sank.

There stood our preacher…he was the “homeless man.”

No one said a word.

The preacher took his Bible and laid it on the stand. “Folks, I don’t think I have to tell you what I am preaching about today.”

Then he started singing the words to this song. “If I can help somebody as I pass along. If I can cheer somebody with a word or song. If I can show somebody that he’s traveling wrong. Then my living shall not be in vain.”

“Is your living in vain?”

— Author Unknown

Meditation: Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. – James 1:27

You will succeed in Jesus Name!

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The Best and Favourite Teacher

The Best and Favourite Teacher

The Best and Favourite Teacher

As she stood in front of her 5th-grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant.

It got to the point where Mrs Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big “F” at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past records and she put Teddy’s off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy’s first-grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners… he is a joy to be around…”

His second-grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student, well-liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”

His third-grade teacher wrote, “His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.”

Teddy’s fourth-grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class.”

By now, Mrs Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy’s. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper That he got from a grocery bag Mrs Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume.

But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, “Mrs Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to.” After the children left, she cried for at least an hour.

On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her “teacher’s pets.”

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling* her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honours. He assured Mrs Thompson that she was still the best and favourite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favourite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer… The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.

The story does not end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.

Of course, Mrs Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other, and Dr Stoddard whispered in Mrs Thompson’s ear, “Thank you Mrs Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.”

Mrs Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, “Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn’t know how to teach until I met you.”

(For you that don’t know, Teddy Stoddard is the Dr. at Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines that has the Stoddard Cancer Wing.)

Random acts of kindness, I think they call it? “Believe in Angels, then return the favour.”

— Author Unknown

Meditation: And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just. – Luke 14:14

You will succeed in Jesus Name!

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The Butterfly Story

The Butterfly Story

An avid Gardener saw a small Butterfly laying few eggs in one of the pots in his garden. Since that day he looked at the egg with ever-growing curiosity and eagerness. The egg started to move and shake a little. He was excited to see a new life coming up right in front of his eyes. He spent hours watching the egg now.

The egg started to expand and develop cracks. A tiny head and antennae started to come out ever so slowly. The man’s excitement knew no bounds. He got his magnifying glasses and sat to watch the life and body of a pupa coming out. He saw the struggle of the tender pupa and couldn’t resist his urge to “HELP”. He went and got a tender forceps to help the egg break, a nip here, a nip there to help the struggling life and the pupa was out.

The man was ecstatic!

He waited now each day for the pupa to grow and fly like a beautiful butterfly, but alas that never happened. The larvae pupa had an oversized head and kept crawling along in the pot for the full four weeks and died!

Depressed the man went to his botanist friend and asked the reason. His friend told him the struggle to break out of the egg helps the larvae to send blood to its wings and the head push helps the head to remain small so that the tender wings can support it thru its four-week life cycle.

In his eagerness to help the butterfly, the man destroyed a beautiful life!

Struggles help all of us, that’s why a bit of effort goes a long way to develop our strength to face life’s difficulties!

As parents, we sometimes go too far trying to help and protect our kids from life’s harsh realities and disappointments. We don’t want our kids to struggle as we did.

Harvard psychiatrist Dr Dan Kindlon says that over-protected children are more likely to struggle in relationships and with challenges. We’re sending our kids the message that they’re not capable of helping themselves.

To quote clinical psychologist, Dr Wendy’s Moral: “It is our job to prepare our children for the road and not prepare the road for our children.”

— Author Unknown

Meditation: Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

You will succeed in Jesus Name!

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Your Actions May Change A Life

Your Actions May Change A Life

Your Actions May Change A Life

One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.” I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friends tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on.

As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him. He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him and as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye.

As I handed him his glasses, I said, “Those guys are jerks. They really should get lives.”

He looked at me and said, “Hey thanks!” There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.

I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before. He said he had gone to private school before now. I would have never hung out with a private school kid before. We talked all the way home, and I carried his books.

He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play football on Saturday with me and my friends. He said yes. We hung all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him. And my friends thought the same of him. Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again.

I stopped him and said, “boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books every day!” He just laughed and handed me half the books.

Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. When we were seniors, we began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke. I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem. He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship.

Kyle was valedictorian of our class. I teased him all the time about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak.

On graduation day, I saw Kyle. He looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than me and all the girls loved him! Boy, sometimes I was jealous. Today was one of those days. I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!”

He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled. “Thanks,” he said.

As he started his speech, he cleared his throat and began: “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach…but mostly your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story.” I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home. He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile. “Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.”

I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment. I saw his mom and dad looking at me smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize its depth.

Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture, you can change a person’s life, for better or for worse. God puts us all in each other’s lives to impact one another in some way. Look for God in others.

— Author Unknown

Meditation: Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little. – Luke 7:47

You will succeed in Jesus Name!

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Making Others Happy

Making Others Happy

Making Others Happy

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Then unexpectedly, a sinister thought entered his mind. Why should the other man alone experience all the pleasures of seeing everything while he himself never got to see anything? It didn’t seem fair.

At first thought the man felt ashamed. But as the days passed and he missed seeing more sights, his envy eroded into resentment and soon turned him sour. He began to brood and he found himself unable to sleep. He should be by that window – that thought, and only that thought, now controlled his life.

Late one night as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window began to cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man watched in the dimly lit room as the struggling man by the window groped for the button to call for help. Listening from across the room he never moved, never pushed his own button which would have brought the nurse running in. In less than five minutes the coughing and choking stopped, along with that the sound of breathing. Now there was only silence, deathly silence.

The following morning the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths. When she found the lifeless body of the man by the window, she was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take it away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”

Postscript:

You can interpret the story in any way you like. But one moral stands out: There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all of the things you have that money cannot buy.

— Author Unknown

Meditation: Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. – Philippians 2:4

You will succeed in Jesus Name!

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