Headed Up? Headed Down? It Depends…

Guest Blogger Pastor Bill Zulker from Pennsylvania shares a brief but beautiful piece of truth.

I started flying lessons with him when I was 79, and then helicopter lessons when I was 81. I now have about 150 hours floating around in the sky. What a thrill!

I remember what my flight instructor told me a few years ago. One of the best lessons I learned was when he stressed the difference between “Altitude” and “Attitude.”

Altitude is how high or high low you are flying.
Attitude is whether you are headed up, flying level, or headed down.

He kept saying, “Watch your Attitude” “Watch your Attitude.”
There is even a gauge on the instrument panel that shows what your attitude is!

If the nose of the plane is pointed too high, there may not be enough power to keep it afloat.
If the nose is pointed too low, you will hit the ground and crash.

SOOOO…. the lesson in life is this:

When the going gets rough, or the trials seem difficult, then “WATCH YOUR ATTITUDE!” 

It will make all the difference in the outcome.

The Gospel of Luke in 12 Minutes!!

This is a guest post from a wonderful storyteller and man of GOD….
His website is:  www.blessedbythespokenword.com

Indivisible

My wife Lucy is 48 inches tall and I am a towering eight inches taller. We belong to an organization called Little People of America. Often we are referred to as “little people” but that is a misnomer.  We are simply people who happen to be little.

“What’s the difference,?” you might ask.  On the surface it may seem the same but there is a difference…a BIG difference. We know many folks who are short statured and they focus on the fact that they are little. We choose to focus on the fact we are people. Size is a physical description but that is not our identity!

In our country today, we have many groups who hyphenate who they are. “I am Afro-American” or “I am Mexican-American.”  The list can continue forever….”Italian-American,” “Irish-American” “Afghan-America,” “Iraqi-American.” These are all people who came from different backgrounds to the United States of America for  the same reason….a better life! It seems today that our states are still united  but our people are not.

Americans are unique in that we are not defined by what we look like or where we came from. We are defined by our attitude; of where we are going and who we are becoming.  Being short or tall, black or brown, having a different culture or language, physical strength or weakness does not define us! Outside circumstances do not  define us! In America we are free and we define ourselves!

America is a country that cannot be defeated by outside forces and so evil has wormed its way inside. It tries to separate and divide us through our physical differences for it knows that when our spirits unite we cannot be defeated. Causing us to identify ourselves as minority groups, evil tells us that we must fight against the “conspiring majority” and teaches us to fear each other. We are told to vote for what is best for our cause, not what is best for our country.

Not too long ago I saw over 1000 American flags displayed by an organization called Flags 4 Freedom and it made me think of the lives that were sacrificed so you and I could be Americans without any splintery hyphens. Their lives gave us the right to respectfully disagree and to responsibly live together, embracing our unity and honoring our diversity. Those flags reminded me of a pledge I used to say every day at school. Perhaps we should say it every day at work.

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I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands
one nation under GOD,
indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all

The Story of God and the Caterpillar

As written by guest blogger Charles E Pennington ll

This morning as I began my quiet time I was urged to write you a story about a caterpillar with so many legs.

GOD quietly spoke to the caterpillar and said if you will just turn from your ways, die to yourself, I will change you into the most beautiful butterfly. You will not have to use your many legs to inch up this tree as you will be free to just soar to the top with the wings like an eagle.

The caterpillar resisted and said “No” to that quiet voice and continued inching up the tree in defiance. He watched as several of his friends hearing that same voice stopped and began forming a cocoon. He looked on in disgust and believing he knew best….traveled farther out on the tree limb.

As he inched away from the trunk of the tree he was quickly spotted by an old owl. The owl flew down and ate him at once. When the caterpillar went before GOD, he found GOD in tears and the caterpillar begged for his mercy.

“Oh, my child” GOD said, “I cry not that you refused to obey me….but I cry for all the joy I had planned for your life that was lost.”

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If Every School Principal…..

This is article from desk of Dennis Prager….. (www.dennisprager.com)
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If every school principal gave this speech at the beginning of the next school year, America would be a better place.

To the students and faculty of our high school:

I am your new principal, and honored to be so. There is no greater calling than to teach young people.  I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our school. I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers and against our country.

First, this school will no longer honor race or ethnicity. I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white. I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships. The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity — your character, your scholarship, your humanity. And the only national identity this school will care about is American.

This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans. If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial or religious identity through school, you will have to go elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity, race and non-American nationality based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America , one of it sthree central values — epluribus Unum, “from many, one.” And thisschool will be guided by America ‘s values. This includes all after school clubs. I will not authorize clubs that divide students based on any identities. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else may become in vogue in a society divided by political correctness.Your clubs will be based on interests and passions, not blood, ethnic, racial or other physically defined ties. Those clubs just cultivate narcissism — an unhealthy preoccupation with the self — while the purpose of education is to get you to think beyond yourself. So we will have clubs that transport you to the wonders and glories of art, music, astronomy, languages you do not already speak, carpentry and more. If the only extracurricular activities you can imagine being interested in are those based on ethnic, racial or sexual identity, that means that little outside of yourself really interests you.

Second, I am uninterested in whether English is your native language. My only interest in terms of language is that you leave this school speaking and writing English as fluently as possible. The English language has united America ‘s citizens for over 200 years, and it will unite us at this school. It is one of the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants has always come to be one country. And if you leave this school without excellent English language skills, I would be remiss in my duty to ensure that you will be prepared to successfully compete in the American job market. We will learn other languages here –it is deplorable that most Americans only speak English — but if youwant classes taught in your native language rather than in English, this is not your school.

Third, because I regard learning as a sacred endeavor , everything in this school will reflect learning’s elevated status. This means, among other things, that you and your teachers will dress accordingly. Many people in our society dress more formally for Hollywood events than for church or school. These people have their priorities backward. Therefore, there will be a formal dress code at this school.

Fourth, no obscene language will be tolerated anywhere on this school’s property — whether in class, in the hallways or at athletic events. If you can’t speak without using the f -word, you can’t speak. By obscene language I mean the words banned by the Federal Communications Commission, plus epithets such as “Nigger,” even when used by one black student to address another black, or “bitch,” even when addressed by a girl to a girlfriend. It is my intent that by the time you leave this school, you will be among the few your age to instinctively distinguish between the elevated and the degraded, the holy and the obscene.

Fifth, we will end all self-esteem programs. In this school, self-esteem will be attained in only one way — the way people attained it until decided otherwise a generation ago — by earning it. One immediate consequence is that there will be one valedictorian, not eight.

Sixth, and last, I am reorienting the school toward academics and away from politics and propaganda. No more time will be devoted to scaring you about smoking and caffeine, or terrifying you about sexual harassment or global warming. No more semesters will be devoted to condom wearing and teaching you to regard sexual relations as only or primarily a health issue… There will be no more attempts to convince you that you are a victim because you are not white, or not male, or not heterosexual or not Christian. We will have failed if any one of you graduates this school and does not consider him or herself inordinately fortunate — to be alive and to be an American.

Now, please stand and join me in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country. As many of you do not know the words, your teachers will hand them out to you.

Christless Christmas

(Today’s post comes from Herman Leonard in New Roads, Louisiana)

There isn’t much on the shelf today that truly epitomizes just what Christmas means to me

Oh, there are decorations, lights galore as you stroll down the aisles, an occasional artificial tree.

Have we elevated ourselves only to look down upon GOD, self-efficient in every way, no longer in need?

Are we self-designated saviours without need of assistance, relying upon our good works, which is sinful indeed?

There is no hope for a generation who thinks like this, nothing but judgment that awaits them in the end.

We must reach out to JESUS and cling to His cross, for this is reality and the message of Christmas, my friend.

When I celebrated my first Christmas on the day of my salvation, oh what joy it brought and blessed relief!

Because JESUS is my reality now for He came and found this sinner, of whom I was indeed chief.

I cannot imagine living one day without Him now, and I thank Him so much for His sacrifice on the tree

JESUS died to save sinners, not self-appointed saviours, this is the heart of Christmas and what it means to me.

I celebrate my LORD and SAVIOUR, my Redeemer each and every day, He is not only a part, but indeed my very life.

For He penetrated a heart that had become stone by the the SPIRIT of His WORD, slicing through as a knife.

A Christless Christmas, I wouldn’t even consider because I know Him now, and no greater love have I ever known,

Love was demonstrated on His Cross as He laid life down, and thank You, my Saviour, for this love that was shown.

(The poet’s own commentary on Christless Christmas)

It seemd as though there is a new celebration out there that supercedes the joyous time of Christmas and it’s called “Black Friday.”  People pushing each other to get there first to the items on sale with no regard to the people before them. It’s a mad, mad rush! Get all I can and can all I get is the new attitude these days, Most are not shopping for others but for themselves. This is so far from the heart of Christmas.

To sum up what Christmas truly means, we need only to look at John 3:16-17 which says: “For GOD so loved the world that He gave His only begotten SON what whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For GOD did not send His SON into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Some how or another, we have “wrapped up” ourselves into this commercialization of Christmas, and if we are honest with ourselves, for the most part have put CHRIST off tot the side. I know this sounds hard but it is the truth. JESUS is the heart of Christmas and, yes, He is the Reason for the Season. There were no Christmas trees at the manager and the only Light was the star that settled over CHRIST’s birthplace which led the Wise men there. This is so important to grasp because all of these other things are menial in comparison.

I always knew that CHRIST died for the world. Most people do. What I didn’t know in my heart was that CHRIST died specifically for me. Until that day I received Him into my heart and it became personal. Now i view it in a totally different perspective, it’s ALL about JESUS!

To take CHRIST out of Christmas means you are only with “mas” or as I see it “mess.” We can never find true peace until we have an encounter with the “Prince of Peace.”  If you don’t know Him, you can. He is never far from those who call upon Him in sincerity of heart, not in mind. GOD is not playing games. He was serious when He sent His SON to save us. Serious enough to have Him crucified, nailed to the Cross for our sins, a place we deserved to be.

Let’s make “CHRIST” the focus of Christmas again. All of these other things are okay but they should never replace JESUS. Finally, these words from Christian singer David Meece:

“We were the reason He gave His life
We were the reason that He suffered and died
To a world that was lost, He gave all He could give,To show us the reason to live.”

This, my friend, is the true meaning of Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a Difference a Year Makes!

This morning I got up at 5:00am, went to the gym walked about mile and half on the treadmill, worked out on four “weight” machines, spent twenty minutes on the stair stepper and exercised on the mat for another ten minutes. I felt so good I went to the local coffee shop to celebrate with a green tea!

Why celebrate you ask…..welllllll….last year I had my aorta reduced and repaired and a triple by-pass done. I began cardio rehab one year ago today and I could barely move. I was so concerned that my quality of life would be diminished forever! I was repeatedly told it was going to get better but I felt so weak, I didn’t believe it!

I’m writing today because….I am amazed! Amazed at the goodness of GOD. Amazed at the support of people…family, friends and strangers! Amazed at the resiliency of the human body and amazed at all that medical professionals go through to be prepared to help people like you and I when the time comes.

I’m also writing because I want you to know I am thankful to GOD and the wonderful people He created. I want you to be thankful too! Whatever tough situation you may be in…physical, relational or financial….give it time. We may not enjoy the waiting but…..time heals all wounds when we let it.

It is the nature of life to heal… when you let it. As children we fall and sometimes cut ourselves. The brain immediately sends alerts through nervous system that we need special attention in the damaged area. The first responders stop the blood flow, work on reducing the pain and then begin the rebuilding or healing process. The same process is repeated outwardly when a corporation has a financial crisis or a country is hit with a devastating storm. It’s how we widen our minds, strengthen our bodies and deepen our spirits.

Whatever your challenge, jot it down on the calendar and then release it to GOD. Watch as time passes and see the mountain slowly melt away. Perhaps you’ll find yourself smiling, sipping a green tea and saying “What s difference a year makes!”

Surprise….

It was a routine cardio stress echo test on a treadmill and I felt good about taking it. I had been going to the gym on a regular basis and images-1felt confident I would do well. The general procedure is that they take pictures of your heart before and after your time on the treadmill. The pictures and corresponding graph show the cardiologist if there are any abnormalities that need attention.
 
Within 48 hours  a cardiac catheterization was scheduled and I was told I would need a triple by-pass and an Aorta reduction!!! Lucy and I looked at each in disbelief! The thought of our life together ending frightened us and after the shock wore off, tears began to gently fall.
 
albuquerque_56I wasn’t as afraid of dying as I was of leaving Lucy. I knew she is strong and could go on without me but….something inside didn’t want her to. We are a team and I wanted it to stay that way forever.
 
 After being kept in the hospital an extra day to consult with various members of the cardiac by-pass team, we got educated as each doctor and nurse took their time in explaining the procedure and answering our questions.  We were also encouraged to watch videos on how to prepare for surgery and how to prepare for the recovery period. Recovery period?  Maybe I wasn’t going to die after all!
Lucy stayed in the hospital with me for two nights and when we woke on the second morning, we both felt better. In our eyes the circumstance was growing smaller and our GOD was becoming bigger! Lucy suggested we read stories of healing in the Bible and we opened up the book of Mark and started to both read and discuss the miracles of JESUS. It was beyond therapeutic and soon GOD impressed upon us that I was not sick, I just needed repair and there is a difference.
 
Sometimes when we are told we have a health issue,  we jump to conclusions and start telling ourselves the very things we don’t want to happen and start looking for symptoms we never noticed before. It was important for us to watch our words and start talking more about the recovery than the surgery; focus on the healing that would take 6-8 weeks rather than the heart repair that would take only 6 hours.
 
Although the by-pass surgery was being done on me, the recovery period would be as much work for Lucy as it would be for me. She would be doing everything for me at first and we were cautioned that this could depress me and overwhelm her. I am to be as gentle with her during this time as she is with me. We will both be recovering.
 
photoRight now we are preparing.  Because they deflate the lungs and a machine breathes for you during the surgery, I am on breathing exercise now to make my lungs stronger later. We needed to purchase a recliner so my feet will be elevated and get a tray for meals. They want me to start walking 2-3 days after surgery and as you might guess, I am looking forward to that!
 
Each day the dark ravens of negativity appear at different times for Lucy and I but we simply notice them, open the door of our mind and release them. We can’t stop black birds from entering our mind but we can stop them from building a nest there!
 
Lucy is a rock. She told me she locks eyes with JESUS and does not look to the right or the left.  We believe that life often flows into the form we dictate and so we listen to upbeat music, speak what we desire and stand on the Word of GOD.
 
Thousands of heart by-passes are successfully done every day in America.  It just becomes a big deal when it’s my heart!  A friend told me that the difference between major heart surgery and minor heart surgery depends on whose heart it is!!! The truth is we live in a wondrous age and in a magnificent nation and we belong to a Glorious Kingdom where we serve a loving GOD.  
 
And….SURPRISE!…..Nothing changes that!!

The Rescue

Construction began in the summer of 1967.  For forty-five years hundreds of thousands of people from all around the United States and beyond came to see the re-enactment of the last days of CHRIST. It was called The Great Passion Play  located in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Financial problems began to arise and attendance began to wane in the latter years and in December of 2012, it wasimages announced that The Great Passion Play was at an end and would not open its gates for the next season.  The story spread like wildfire across the the Internet and many whined and complained about the downward spiritual spiral our country was on.  It seemed that the play had died and now was being buried is a sea of negative agreement.

Somewhere in Oklahoma in a little town called Ada was a pastor and his wife who saw a flicker of hope. A few years earlier they had the idea to share the Gospel through a network of country radio stations. They called their endeavor The Gospel Stations Network.

Randall and Susie Christy decided to use prayer and the connections they had because of the radio stations to attempt to rescimages-1ue the floundering play.  They broadcast the need, called on friends and people from everywhere began to respond. Youth groups came and made a mission trip out of it. They painted, weeded, repaired and did whatever they were asked. People of every age, size and color joined together and began to believe that they could take a stand for CHRIST right in the middle of America!

People volunteered their time and talents. Some participated in the play, others directed traffic or sold tickets or concessions. Some manned the gift shop or cleared the trees, others drove golf carts for transporting the visitors who had a hard time walking. We had the opportunity to share the story of  Zacchaeus with many as the word got out that The Great Passion Play had been rescued!

A summer of dreams and hard work paid off and Labor Day weekend 2013 had the best attendance since 2006!  The good news is that The Great Passion Play is back in business and is already taking reservations for 2014! So put Eureka Springs on your travel plans for next year and make JESUS part of your vacation!

What The Heck is a Baldknobber?

Orginally, it was was a group of motivated vigilantes in the southern part of the state of Missouri, The group got its name from the grassy bald knob summits of the Ozark Mountains in the area. Today it’s a well-loved family show in Branson, Missouri! They have been singing, playing and joking for over 50 continuous years!

This past week, friends took us to experience the Baldknobbers Jamboree …..and we got the shock of our life!  The humor was funny and clean!  Their vocabulary had advanced beyond the typical four letter variety that we have become accustomed to.

images-11They saluted all five branches of the military service and asked the men and women to stand as the song for their particular branch was sung. It was inspiring to see people of all ages slowly stand and be acknowledged for their contribution to freedom. You could tell they were proud to have served but reluctant to accept the accolades lavished upon them.  It made us want to go and talk to every one of them and learn their story.

The show ended with the cast honoring GOD. Singing “How Great Thou Art” there was no doubt that these people (cast and audience alike) still believed in one nation under GOD.

We left that night knowing that not only did the entertainers do their best to put on a good show… but they lightened our  life with laughter, encouraged and appreciated individuals and humbled themselves before their Creator.

America is full of good, decent, hard working, GOD honoring people. They are so busy serving and contributing that they often go unnoticed. Encourage and support the people who encourage and support the people!