Saturday, May 25, 2013



      The young man was at the end of his rope.

      Seeing no way out, he dropped to his knees in prayer.

      "Lord, I can't go on," he said.

      "I have too heavy a cross to bear."

      The Lord replied,

      "My son, if you can't bear it's weight,

      just place your cross inside this room.

      Then open another door and pick any cross you wish."

      The man was filled with relief.

      "Thank you, Lord,"

      he sighed, and did as he was told.

      As he looked around the room he saw many different crosses;

      some so large the tops were not visible.

      Then he spotted a tiny cross leaning against a far wall.

      "I'd like that one, Lord,"

      he whispered. And the Lord replied,

      "My son, that's the cross you brought in."

When life problems seem overwhelming,
it helps to look around and see what others are having to endure.
Then you may see for yourself that you are more fortunate than you realized.

~ Author known to God ~


                                                                                                                                   by Bob Perks

It couldn't be more perfect. The morning air was filled with the smell of fresh baked cinnamon rolls. They are legendary in this home.

Oh, not the ones that come in a can. The ones that grandmother creates. They take much longer, but they wouldn't want it any other way.

When they visit her, they sleep in a little later. Not so much because they are tired from the trip. They only live a few hours away.

They really don't need to sleep over, either, but they do for all the right reasons.

It's home. You don't just visit home. You return to it. You re-live it. You soak in the smells of early morning yeast dough and cinnamon. You roll over in the thought of sweet cream icing dripping off your chin.

You stay in bed just a little longer so you can hear the sounds of home once more.

The clanking of the pans, the sound of the rolling pin, the thump of the oven door as it closes and the signal that makes you jump to your feet... the baking sheet sliding off the're home.

Mom and dad rush to get the children up. Running down the hallway they pause for moment to inhale the smell of fresh coffee. Not just any coffee. This coffee is created in the same old percolator that grandmother has used since grandfather and she were married.

"It still works better than those new things they sell," she would be quick to tell you.

Everyone now gathered around the kitchen table, they settle into a quiet almost trance-like existence. Everyone's eyes are now fixed on grandmother. Eight eyes follow each cinnamon roll as they are placed on the plate in front of them. You don't dive into it. You savor the moment as you watch the icing slowly melt down the sides.

By now your mind has already consumed it, but your belly cries out with a rumble..."I can't wait any longer !"

"This is heavenly," mother says.

"You are an angel," father adds.

Then, from the smallest child comes the biggest question.

"Grandmother, when you go to heaven can we still visit ?" the child asks.

Grandmother takes her place at the head of the table, picks up her fork and says, "I will visit you."

"How ?" the child asks.

Grandmother takes her first bite of the cinnamon roll, places the fork back down and leans toward the child.

Smiling, she places her finger on the child's heart and says, "I'll be right here. Somewhere in between."

Who says you can't go home ?


                                                                                            by  Joseph Walker

"That's it ! I'm through ! I'll not take another step !"

William threw his tired teenage body to the ground in the sparse shade of the first tree they had seen in several days. Caroline stood beside him anxiously, torn between love and loyalty for her older brother and the fact that the pioneer wagon train was moving on without them.

She nudged him gently with her foot. "Come along, William. We don't want to fall behind."

"I don't care. Let them go. I'll just stay here the rest of my life."

"I shouldn't think that would be very long, since you have no food or blankets."

"I don't care," William said, closing his eyes against the dust and heat and, perhaps, life itself. Then he added softly, "It's too far. I can't do it."

Caroline was startled by what she was hearing from her brother. They had been through so much together ;their mother's death during childbirth in England; the family's immigration to America via a perilous ocean voyage during which their younger sister died; working with their father to build a new life for themselves in America; and then their father's accidental death just a few weeks before the start of the trek west.

They had walked, side-by-side, every step of the way from New York to... well, wherever this place was. And through it all, William had been strong and courageous. Caroline had leaned on his strength, even come to depend upon it. But now, she had to be the strong one.

"You can't leave me alone, William," she said. "Not now."

"I'm not leaving you," William insisted. "I'm staying. If you go, you'll be leaving me."

She paused a moment, watching the dust settle on the parched ground behind the last wagon as it rumbled up the trail.

"All right," she said at last. "But at least walk with me the rest of the day. Then you can come back here, if you like."

That seemed like a small request to William. Surely he could walk just one more day. It was the least he could do for Caroline.

"One more day," he agreed. "Then I'm through."

When he arose the next morning, Caroline wasn't in her blanket. He finally found her on a small rise just outside the camp.

"See that hill off in the distance there ?" she said as he approached her. He turned to look.

"Yes," he said. "I see it."

"I wish you would walk that far with me," she said. "Then you can go back to your tree."

William continued looking at the hill. It didn't seem to be such a great distance. Surely he could walk with Caroline that far. She was, after all, his sister.

"I'll walk with you to the hill," he agreed. "But no further."

It took two days for the pioneer company to reach the hill, and by then Caroline was focused on a range of mountains looming out there on the western horizon. She persuaded her brother to walk with her "just that far." And then to a distant grove of trees beyond that. And then to the river beyond that. And then to the next range of mountains. And then, suddenly, their journey was over. Caroline had coaxed William into walking with her more than 1,000 miles.

She didn't do it by convincing him to walk 1,000 miles all it once. She did it by urging him to walk with her one more day.

Life often confronts us with journeys that seem long, and obstacles that appear to be overwhelming. It can be discouraging to look down the road at the enormity of the task before us and to consider all that needs to be done. We need to remember that we rarely accomplish any great thing all at once.

Rather, we do it just as Caroline and William did. One hill, one river, one mountain at a time.


Like any good mother, when Karen found out that another baby was on the way, she did what she could to help her 3-year-old son, Michael, prepare for a new sibling. They find out that the new baby is going to be a girl, and day after day, night after night, Michael sings to his sister in Mommy's tummy.

The pregnancy progresses normally for Karen, an active member of the Panther Creek United Methodist Church in Morristown, Tennessee. Then the labor pains come. Every five minutes... every minute. But complications arise during delivery. After hours of labor a C-section is required. Finally, Michael's little sister is born. But she is in serious condition. With siren howling in the night, the ambulance rushes the infant to the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Mary's Hospital, Knoxville, Tennessee.

The days inch by. The little girl gets worse. The pediatric specialist tells the parents, "There is very little hope. Be prepared for the worst." Karen and her husband contact a local cemetery about a burial plot. They have fixed up a special room in their home for the new baby -- now they plan a funeral.

Michael, keeps begging his parents to let him see his sister, "I want to sing to her," he says.

Week two: Still in intensive care. It looks as if a funeral will come before the week is over. Michael keeps nagging about singing to his sister, but kids are never allowed in Intensive Care. But Karen makes up her mind. She will take Michael whether they like it or not. If he doesn't see his sister now, he may never see her alive.

She dresses him in an oversized scrub suit and marches him into ICU. He looks like a walking laundry basket, but the head nurse recognizes him as a child and bellows, "Get that kid out of here now! No children are allowed in ICU." The mother rises up strong in Karen, and the usually mild-mannered lady glares steel-eyed into the head nurse's face, her lips a firm line. "He is not leaving until he sings to his sister!"

Karen tows Michael to his sister's bedside. He gazes at the tiny infant losing the battle to live. And he begins to sing. In the pure hearted voice of a 3-year-old, Michael sings:

"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray..."
Instantly the baby girl responds. The pulse rate becomes calm and steady. Keep on singing, Michael.
"You never know, dear, how much I love you, Please don't take my sunshine away..."
The ragged, strained breathing becomes as smooth as a kitten's purr. Keep on singing, Michael.
"The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms..."
Michael's little sister relaxes as rest, healing rest, seems to sweep over her. Keep on singing, Michael.
"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Please don't, take my sunshine away."
Tears conquer the face of the bossy head nurse. Karen glows. Funeral plans are scrapped. The next, day - the very next day - the little girl is well enough to go home! Woman's Day magazine called it "the miracle of a brother's song." The medical staff just called it a miracle. Karen called it a miracle of God's love.

A few weeks later, Michael's little sister was baptized at the Panther Creek Church. If you were planning that service, what song would you select ? Who would you have sing it ? Would you ask the congregation to sing along ?

I talked to Tennessee Pastor G. Steve Sallee, who first shared the story with Leonard Sweet, who published an abbreviated version of it in Homiletics. Pastor Sallee said that when Sweet told the story at the Lake Junaluska conference center, a woman jumped up from the congregation, ran to the podium, and interrupted the sermon. "It's true," the woman cried out. "And those were my grandchildren. And I want to praise God for the miracle of love." The shekinah (the presence of God in the world) of heaven fell. The order of service was destroyed. The whole congregation was hugging, weeping, and praising God as they sang together "You Are My Sunshine."

The Holy Spirit turned that old love song from the Charleston flappers era into a hymn of praise too deep for words.

In this sad world, people all around us lie dying from depression, from criticism, from failure, from sin. If you have a song, won't you please sing it.

In your community there are people who are in despair, people who just can't find the wherewithal to try again. If you have a song won't you please sing it?

In your church, in your family, there are people for whom hope is as dim as a flashlight left on all night. Don't you know someone who hasn't been serenaded with a love song in 20 years? If all you have is an old love song from the '20s, if that's all in the world you have, won't you please sing it?

The Bible says, "The tongue has the power of life and death" (Proverbs 18:21,NIV). So, if you have a song, won't you sing it? The Bible says, "The tongue of the just is as choice silver" (Proverbs 10:20). So if you have a song, won't you please sing, it? "But I don't have much of a voice," you say. Well, I don't mean that you have to literally, blurt out an old love song like "You Are My Sunshine" or "Love Me Tender." Your God-given song may be a yard mowed, showing up at the nursing home with a bunch of wildflowers, baking a batch of brownies, or sending a check so a college student can come home for Christmas. Your best tune, the best life-giving music you will ever make, may sound like a long overdue apology, a generous helping of forgiveness, a $100 bill given to a stranger, volunteer work at the Salvation Army, or a Christmas card to one who was sure you had forgotten him or her long ago.

If you have a song, won't you please sing it? If all you can do is hum, whistle, or belt out an, old love song from the flappers generation, maybe, just maybe, God can transform it into a hymn clothed in the shekinah of His love.


Keep on singing . . .

Addendum -- Titus 3:8 "These things I have told you are all true. I want you to insist on them so that everyone who trusts in God will be careful to do good deeds all the time. These things are good and beneficial for everyone."