Sunday, December 31, 2006

At the Airport in Knoxville

Beth Moore is an outstanding Bible teacher, writer of Bible studies, and is a married mother of two daughters. She is a member of First Baptist in Houston. This is one of her experiences:

April 20, 2005

At the Airport in Knoxville

Waiting to board the plane, I had the Bible on my lap and was very intent upon what I was doing. I'd had a marvelous morning with the Lord. I say that because I want to tell you it is a scary thing to have the Spirit of God really working in you. You could end up doing some things you never would have done otherwise. Life in the Spirit can be dangerous for a thousand reasons, not the least of which is your ego.

I tried to keep from staring, but he was such a strange sight. Humped over in a wheelchair, he was skin and bones, dressed in clothes that obviously fit when he was at least twenty pounds heavier. His knees protruded from his trousers, and his shoulders looked like the coat hanger was still in his shirt. His hands looked like tangled masses of veins and bones. The strangest part of him was his hair and nails. Stringy gray hair hung well over his shoulders and down part of his back. His fingernails were long, clean but strangely out of place on an old man.

I looked down at my Bible as fast as I could, discomfort burning my face. As I tried to imagine what his story might have been, I found myself wondering if I'd just had a Howard Hughes sighting.

Then, I remembered that he was dead. So this man in the airport...an impersonator maybe?

Was a camera on us somewhere?

There I sat, trying to concentrate on the Word to keep from being concerned about a thin slice of humanity served on a wheelchair only a few seats from me. All the while my heart was growing more and more overwhelmed with a feeling for him.
Let's admit it. Curiosity is a heap more comfortable than true concern, and suddenly I was awash with aching emotion for this bizarre-looking old man.

I had walked with God long enough to see the handwriting on the wall. I've learned that when I begin to feel what God feels, something so contrary to my natural feelings, something dramatic is bound to happen. And it may be embarrassing. I immediately began to resist because I could feel God working on my spirit and I started arguing with God in my mind.

"Oh, no, God, please, no." I looked up at the ceiling as if I could stare straight through it into heaven and said, "Don't make me witness to this man. Not right here and now. Please. I'll do anything. Put me on the same plane, but don't make me get up here and witness to this man in front of this gawking audience. Please, Lord!"

There I sat in the blue vinyl chair begging His Highness,"Please don't make me witness to this man. Not now. I'll do it on the plane."
Then I heard it... "I don't want you to witness to him. I want you to brush his hair."

The words were so clear, my heart leapt into my throat,and my thoughts spun like a top. Do I witness to the man or brush his hair? No-brainier. I looked straight back up at the ceiling and said, "God, as I live and breathe, I want you to know I am ready to witness to this man. I'm on this Lord. I'm your girl! You've never seen a woman witness to a man faster in your life. What difference does it make if his hair is a mess if he is not redeemed? I am going to witness to this man."

Again as clearly as I've ever heard an audible word, God seemed to write this statement across the wall of my mind. "That is not what I said, Beth. I don't want you to witness to him. I want you to go brush his hair."

I looked up at God and quipped, "I don't have a hairbrush. It's in my suitcase on the plane. How am I supposed to brush his hair without a hairbrush?"

God was so insistent that I almost involuntarily began to walk toward him as these thoughts came to me from God's word: "I will thoroughly furnish you unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:17) I stumbled over to the wheelchair thinking I could use one myself.
Even as I retell this story.my pulse quickens and I feel those same butterflies. I knelt down in front of the man and asked as demurely as possible, "Sir, may I have the pleasure of brushing your hair?"  He looked back at me and said, "What did you say?"

"May I have the pleasure of brushing your hair?" To which he responded in volume ten, "Little lady, if you expect me to hear you, you're going to have to talk louder than that."  At this point, I took a deep breath and blurted out, "SIR, MAY I HAVE THE PLEASURE OF BRUSHING YOUR HAIR?"

At which point every eye in the place darted right at me. I was the only thing in the room looking more peculiar than old Mr. Longlocks. Face  crimson and forehead breaking out in a sweat, I watched him look up at me with absolute shock on his face, and say, "If you really want to."

Are you kidding? Of course I didn't want to. But God didn't seem interested in my personal preference right about then.
He pressed on my heart until I could utter the words, "Yes, sir, I would be pleased. But I have one little problem. I don't  have a hairbrush."

"I have one in my bag," he responded. I went around to the back of that wheelchair, and I got on my hands and  knees and unzipped the stranger's old carry-on, hardly believing what I was doing. I stood up and started brushing the old man's hair. It was perfectly clean, but it was tangled and matted. I don't do many things well, but must admit I've had notable experience untangling knotted hair mothering two little girls.

Like I'd done with either Amanda or Melissa in such a condition, I began brushing at the very bottom of the strands, remembering to take my time not to pull. A miraculous thing happened to me as I started brushing that old man's hair. Everybody else in the room disappeared. There was no one alive for those moments except that old man and me. I brushed and I brushed and I brushed until every tangle was out of that hair.

I know this sounds so strange, but I've never felt that kind of love for another soul in my entire life. I believe with all my heart, I, for that few minutes, felt a portion of the very love of God. That He had overtaken my heart for a little while like someone renting a room and making Himself at home for a short while. The emotions were so strong and so pure that I knew they had to be God's.
His hair was finally as soft and smooth as an infant's.

I slipped the brush back in the bag, went around the chair to face him.

I got back down on my knees, put my hands on his knees, and said, "Sir, do you know my Jesus?"

He said, "Yes, I do." Well, that figures, I thought.

He explained, "I've known Him since I married my bride. She wouldn't marry me until I got to know the Savior." He said,  "You see, the problem is, I haven't seen my bride in months. I've had  open-heart surgery, and she's been too ill to come see me. I was sitting here thinking to myself, what a mess I must be for my bride."

Only God knows how often He allows us to be part of a divine moment when we're completely unaware of the significance. This, on the other hand, was one of those rare encounters  when I knew God had intervened in details only He could have known.  It was a God moment, and I'll never forget it. Our time came to board, and we were not on the same plane. I was deeply ashamed of how I'd acted earlier and would

have been so proud to have accompanied him on that aircraft.

I still had a few minutes, and as I gathered my  things to board, the airline hostess returned from the corridor, tears streaming down her cheeks. She said, "That old man's sitting on the plane, sobbing. Why did you do that? What made you do that?"
I said, "Do you know Jesus? He can be the bossiest thing!"

And we got to share. I learned something about God that day. He knows if you're exhausted because you're hungry, you're serving in the wrong place or it is time to move on, but you feel too responsible to budge.

He knows if you're hurting or feeling rejected. He knows if you're sick or drowning under a wave of temptation. Or He knows if you just need your hair brushed. He sees you as an individual. Tell Him your need!

I got on my own flight, sobs choking my throat, wondering how many opportunities just like that one had I missed along the way...all because I didn't want people to think I was strange. God didn't send me to that old man. He sent that old man to me.

John 1:14 "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."
__________________________________________
Life shouldn't be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather, to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and  loudly shouting, "Wow! What a ride! Thank You, Lord!"

Thanks to driver Bill for sharing!

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Friday, December 29, 2006

Sexiest Truck on the Planet

Check out these exotic truck designs

Words fail me as I gaze on the audacious curves of these full-size trucks, some of which seem to float above the ground...

Source: Concept Trucks by Luigi Colani

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Thursday, December 28, 2006

HELP! I'M AN IDIOT

 These are great!

A HILARIOUS collection of the stupidest customers to ring Britain's call centers has become a cult hit...

Source: Mirror.co.uk - News - HELP! I'M AN IDIOT

Strange in San Antonio: Two truck stop deaths blamed on drugs

A news report from San Antonio, TX highlighting part of the reason we are located in a truck stop: 

Two truck stop deaths blamed on drugs...

Source: Read article in "Strange in San Antonio" blog post

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Christmas with the Houchins'

Margaret and I had a wonderful blessing this Christmas. Our son, Sam2, and his wife, Liane, and their two kids, Sam3 & Anna came to visit us. They arrived Sunday afternoon and stayed until Monday evening.

Sunday evening we went to church together and shared communion. After church we came back home and had our family Christmas time exchanging presents and sharing a meal together. Monday morning, Christmas Day, we drove to Elkton, MD and volunteered at HomeFront Christian Outreach's Christmas meal for the community.

Below is a sample of our Christmas together... (Make sure you have your sound turned on)

(If you don't see a PhotoShow above than click here)

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Trucker Gets $17,000 Ticket

 Wow!

A truck driver gets lost in the Philadelphia suburbs and winds up with a $17,000 traffic ticket...

Source: NBC 10

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Rifle - by Rian B. Anderson

Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted so bad that year for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible. So after supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead he bundled up and went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn't worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.

Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. "Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight."

I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what.

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up the big sled unless we were going to haul a big load.

Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said.  "Here, help me." The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high sideboards on.

When we had exchanged the sideboards Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood---the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?"

"You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what? "Yeah," I said, "why?"

"I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They're out of wood, Matt." That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait.

When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. "What's in the little sack?" I asked.

"Shoes. They're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunnysacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this?

Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us. It shouldn't have been our concern. We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible. We then took the meat, flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?"

"Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt. Could we come in for a bit?" Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

"We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children --- sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out.

"We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said, then he turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring enough in to last for awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up." I wasn't the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and, much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks and so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak. My heart swelled within me and a joy filled my soul that I'd never known before. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time.
She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord himself has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes. Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two older brothers and two older sisters were all married and had moved away.

Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, 'May the Lord bless you,' I know for certain that He will."

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that. But on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunnysack rags and I knew what I had to do. So, Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand."

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Just then the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children. For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.

II Corinthians  9:6-7  
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly;  and he which soweth bountifully,
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

New Bible Helps People Keep New Year’s Resolutions

Announcing a new kind of audio Bible

Christians wanting to improve their devotional lives in the New Year just got a helping hand in keeping that familiar holiday resolution thanks to The Original GoBible, a powerful new audio Bible making its debut this Christmas...

Source: Read ASSIST news service article

War Story . . . Prayer Story

 True story from Afghanistan

Sgt. Brian C. Fleming is in the lead vehicle of a scout troop along the roads in the small town of Arghendab. After surveying the land for hours looking for insurgents, the group is on their way back to base...

Source: View Evangelical News article

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Top 20 Web Sites for Church Communicators' 2007

Check out Outreach magazine's top picks. 

Below, you’ll find 20 killer sites that can inspire you, save you time and help you do your job right. In short, they make your life easier. Isn't the Web a wonderful thing?

Source: ourtrachmagazine.com picks

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Barna's 12 Most Significant Religious Findings of 2006

The annual Barna summary is not very encouraging. 

Even though George Barna has been conducting national public opinion surveys for a quarter-century, surprises emerge each year from those studies. The California-based researcher traditionally ends each year by identifying some of the unexpected and most significant findings of the passing year. Barna released his list of the twelve most noteworthy results of 2006, and described a few themes that ran through this year’s surveys.

Barna selected the following dozen outcomes as the most significant findings of 2006...

Source: Welcome to The Barna Group!

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Cooling My Heels in Kansas

The big blizzard we are all watching in the news is more than just an inconvenience to a truck driver, especially with Christmas only a few days away.  Read a typical account in this truck driver's blog:

May be a late trip home for Christmas for a whole lot of us stuck along I-70.

Source: The Truckin’ Blog

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Christmas Shame

 A great Christmas story by Eugene Peterson (aka The Message translator):

The year we had no tree, Mother planted within me a seed of discontent with all cultural displays of religion...

Source: read the article on Christianity Today

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

How Will We Respond to the Homeless this Christmas?

How would you answer this question? 

The individual, a guest at Joy Junction, said "I heard these two women talking and one was saying, ‘Oh, that’s a homeless center. I’m glad I don’t stay there with those people. They’re dirty and smelly!’"...

Source: Read the article

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Merry Christmas

The Houchins' family wishes you a blessed and merry Christmas and a happy New Year!  Our Christmas card for you is here.

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Leroy The Redneck Reindeer

Make sure you turn your sound up for this one: 

Well, you've all heard about Rudolph and his nose,
But I'll tell you a Christmas tale that never has been told...

Source: Leroy The Redneck Reindeer

With thanks to Paige Orange

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Review of The God Delusion

 The best seller book The God Delusion is accurately reviewed in this article by John Bambenek:

The book itself is separated into two main components. The first is a philosophical attack against religion and the existence of God. The second is a long series of case studies showing the supposed harm of religion on humanity...

Source: read the complete review on Blogger News Network

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

A Different Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light, I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest, My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white, Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe, Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep, Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem, So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near, But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear, And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night, A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old, Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled, Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear, "Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve, You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift, Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right, I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line, That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam', And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while, But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag, The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone, Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet, I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another, Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all, To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright, Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least, "Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done, For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret, "Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone, To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead, To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust, That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

[forwarded by Diane Carrozzo]

Source: Mickey's Funnies

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Monday, December 11, 2006

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum!

Here is the history of the Christmas tree: 

Let them over whom the fires of hell are imminent affix to their posts laurels doomed presently to burn: to them the testimonies of darkness and the omens of their penalties are suitable. You are a light of the world, and a tree ever green. If you have renounced temples, make not your own gate a temple." Thus did the second-century theologian Tertullian condemn those Christians who celebrated the winter festivals or decorated their houses with laurel boughs in honor of the Roman emperor...

Source: Read the Christian History Article

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The History Behind ’The Nativity Story’

I don't know about you, but I believe the Bible because I know the author.  Even so, I find it reassuring to know that real, tangible facts support my beliefs and personal experiences.  If you have not explored the overwhelming supporting evidence for the accuracy of the New Testament then I urge you to click on the link below and read an excellent and concise summary of the facts.

Christianity is the only religion that can be verified objectively by historical evidence. The New Testament's depiction of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ does not violate the basic laws of logic. It fits the facts...

Source: ASSIST New Service Article

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

New Website Encourages Children To Believe In Christ

This is a new outreach to kids: 

CCN, December 5, 2006 - /Christian Newswire/ -- In their most recent Dynamation (dynamic animation) titled "Life of Christ," Kids 4 Truth introduces a simple Gospel presentation that blends music, artwork, narration, and Scripture to communicate the unchanging message of Jesus Christ.

Blaise Pascal said regarding Christianity: “Our religion is wise and foolish. Wise, because it is the most learned and most founded on miracles, prophecies, etc. Foolish, because it is not all this which makes us belong to it.... It is the cross that makes [us] believe.”

This Christmas season, it’s wonderful to remember Christ as the babe in the manger; but it’s imperative to acknowledge Him as the God-Man Who died for our sins, was buried, and rose again to prove His ultimate power and superiority over sin and death.

The Life of Christ Dynamation is a free online resource to help people of all ages remember the Reason for the season—the Reason for any season: Jesus Christ.

Watch the Life of Christ Dynamation now [turn your sound on]: www.kids4truth.com/gospel (about 3-minutes long)...

Source: Read more at Christian Newswire

Paperwhites

There is a wonderful aroma in our dinning room this week.  Margaret has two Narcissus Paperwhites bulbs planted in containers in the room and they are both blooming this week!

Paperwhites

The blooms are tiny but the fragrance is very noticeable.

What a treat to have beautiful flowers to admire even though it is winter outside. They are a reminder that we serve a God of beauty and also of the promised eventual return of spring. God is so good to us!

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Parable of the Birds

I have heard this parable before but didn't know the source nor did I have a copy of it to share.  This morning I received the following in an email message.  Enjoy!

"Parable of the Birds"

For as many years as I can remember, I've enjoyed Paul Harvey's annual Christmas broadcast on which he retells the "Parable of the Birds." It's an excellent illustration of why God sent His Son to earth – what we celebrate at Christmastime.

The modern parable apparently originated with the late Louis Cassels, who was, for many years, the religion editor for United Press International, and first appeared in his weekly column in 1959 in more than four hundred newspapers.

The parable has been told and retold countless times over the years since, and I found several versions of it on the web. So I've taken the liberty of combining some of the best elements of each and adding some embellishments of my own to this timeless tale.

Here, then, is our adaptation of the "Parable of the Birds."

This is a story about a modern man, one of us. He was not a Scrooge. He was a kind, decent, mostly good man, generous to his family, upright in his dealings with others. But he did not believe in all that incarnation stuff that the churches proclaim at Christmas time. It just didn't make sense to him and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just could not swallow the Jesus story about God coming to earth as a man.

Now it was Christmas eve and the family was getting ready for church. "I'm truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, "but I'm not going with you to church this evening." He said he'd feel like a hypocrite. Rather, he would stay home while they went. But, he promised, he would wait up for them. So, he stayed and they went.

Shortly after the rest of his family drove away, snow began to fall. He went to the window and watched the flurries getting heavier and heavier. It was one of those picture-postcard winter evenings. So he walked back to his comfortable fireside chair and began reading his newspaper.

Soon, though, his leisure was abruptly interrupted. He was startled by a loud "thud," quickly followed by another. And then another. "What could that be?"

At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to investigate, he found a pitiful flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the storm, and in a desperate search for shelter they had tried to fly through his large picture window.

"I can't let these poor creatures lie there and freeze," he thought. He was, after all, a reasonably compassionate man. "But how could I possibly help them?"

Then he remembered the barn out back where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter — if only he could direct the birds to it. He quickly put on his coat and boots and tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on the light to show the poor birds the way.

But the birds didn't come in.

"Food will bring them in," he thought. So he hurried back to the house and fetched bread crumbs, which he hastily sprinkled on the snow to make a trail from near where the birds were into the safety of the barn.

But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around and waving his arms. None of that worked. Instead they scattered in every direction — except into the protection of the warm, lighted barn.

"They find me a strange and terrifying creature," he said to himself. "If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me. If only I could convince them... If only I could show them that I'm not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how?" Any move he made tended to frighten the birds, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.

In frustration and with a growing sense of urgency as the storm and the birds' plight worsened, an odd thought came to him: "If only I could be a bird myself for a few minutes, perhaps I could lead them to safety. If only I could mingle with them and speak their language, and tell them not to be afraid, and show them the way to the safe, warm barn. But I'd have to be one of them, so they could see and hear and understand and not be afraid."

At that moment the sound of church bells pierced the frigid night, reaching the man's ears clearly even above the sound of the howling winter winds. He stood there, suddenly awestruck, listening to the pealing of the bells and their age-old message. Joy To The World. Oh Holy Night. Away In A Manger. These were all Christmas carols he had heard since childhood. But they had never before affected him in the way they now did.

Then, there in the snow, he sank to his knees, gazed heavenward and, choked with emotion, whispered, "Now I understand. Now I see why you had to do it."

"In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him... And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world." (1 John 4:9,14.)

Jesus said, "For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." (John 18:37.)

- Paul

Thanks to Sharon Daniels for sharing!

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Nativity Story

Margaret and I did something tonight that we seldom do - we went to the movies.  We went to see the Nativity Story which just opened yesterday.  We enjoyed the move very much.  There were a few minor errors compared to Scripture, errors I suspect were concessions to popular tradition.  Overall it was exceptionally well done including some outstanding photography.  I encourage you to see the movie and remember the reason for the season.

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins