ON BEING HONEST

The story is told that one day Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, visited a prison and talked with each of the inmates. There were endless tales of innocence, or misunderstood motives, and of exploitation. Finally the king stopped at the cell of a convict who remained silent.

“Well,” remarked Frederick, “I suppose you are an innocent victim too?”

“No, sir, I’m not,” replied the man. “I’m guilty and deserve my punishment.”

Turning to the warden, the king said, “Here, release this rascal before he corrupts all these fine innocent people in here!”

Source | William T. Golosn Jr, On the Matter of Relationships
(Xulon Press, 2007) page 216

CONSIDER THIS

Paul W. Powell once observed, “Pride is so subtle that if we aren’t careful we’ll be proud of our humility.”

When this happens our goodness becomes badness. Our virtues become vices. We can easily become like the Sunday School teacher who, having told the story of the Pharisee and the publican (Luke 18:9-14), said, ‘Children, let’s bow our heads and thank God we are not like the Pharisee!’

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A QUARTER FOR JESUS

Several years ago, a young priest, fresh out of the seminary, was assigned as pastor to as small parish, in a small town. Some weeks after he arrived, he had an occasion to ride the local bus from the rectory to the downtown area. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him a quarter too much change. As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, “You’d better give the quarter back. It would be wrong to keep it.” Then he thought, “Oh, forget it, it’s only a quarter. Who would worry about this little amount? Anyway, the bus company gets too much fare; they will never miss it. Accept it as a ‘gift from God’ and keep quiet.”

When his stop came, he paused momentarily at the door, and then he handed the quarter to the driver and said, “Here, you gave me too much change.”

The driver, with a smile, replied, “Aren’t you the new pastor in town?”

“Yes”, he replied.

“Well, I have been thinking a lot lately about returning to church.  I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. I’ll see you at church on Sunday.”

When the young priest stepped off of the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest light pole, held on, and said, “Oh my God, I almost sold Jesus for twenty-five cents!”

Source | Unknown

CONSIDER THIS

Our lives are the only scriptures some people will ever read.  For many, we are the only edition of the Bible.

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits..
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

 

AUTHENTIC PRAYER

Late one evening a poor farmer on his way back from the market found himself without his prayer book. The wheel of his cart had come off right in the middle of the woods and it distressed him that this day should pass without him having said his prayers. So this is the prayer he made: “I have done something very foolish, Lord. I came away from home this morning without my prayer book and my memory is such that I cannot recite a single prayer without it. So this is what I am going to do: I shall recite the alphabet five times very slowly and you, to whom all prayers are known, can put the letters together to form the prayers I can’t remember.”

And the Lord said to his angels, “Of all the prayers I have heard today, this one was undoubtedly the best because it came from a heart that was simple and sincere.”

Source | Paulo Coelho

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A VARIATION OF THE SAME STORY

A Jewish farmer, because he was carelessness, had to spend a Sabbath in his field. Preoccupied with his work, he let the sun go down without going home. Being a pious believer, he was not allowed to travel until sunset the next day. So he spend the day in the field, by himself, missing the Seder meal with his family and services at the synagogue. When he finally did return home the next evening, he was met by an irate wife and an equally upset rabbi. The rabbi chided him for his carelessness and asked him: “What did you do in the field by yourself all day? Did you at least pray?”

“Rabbi,” the farmer answered, “I’m not a very smart man and I don’t know many prayers. All the prayers I knew, I said in five minutes. What I did the rest of the day was simply recite the alphabet. I left it up to God to make some words out of all those letters.”

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • How would your life change if instead of praying by the book you consciously choose to leave the book behind and instead recite the alphabet slowly like it were a sacred mantra?
  • How would your prayer change if instead instead of praying the words of other – these are the printed prayers – you humbly and simply weave together a few of your words emerging from the heart?

THE EMPEROR AND THE SEEDS

What follows if another, older rendition of the previous story:

In the Far East, the emperor was growing old and knew it was time to choose his successor. Instead of choosing one of his assistants or his children, he decided to do something different. He called young people in the kingdom together one day. He said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next emperor. I have decided to choose one of you.”

The children were shocked, but the emperor continued. “I am going to give each one of you a seed today – one very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from this one seed. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next emperor.”

One boy, named Ling, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his mother the story. She helped him get a pot and planting soil, and he planted the seed and watered it, carefully. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown.. After about three weeks, some of the other youths began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Ling kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants, but Ling didn’t have a plant and he felt like a failure. Six months went by — still nothing in Ling’s pot.

He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Ling didn’t say anything to his friends, however. He just kept waiting for his seed to grow. A year finally went by and all the youths of the kingdom brought their plants to the emperor for inspection. Ling told his mother that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But his mother asked him to be honest about what happened.

Ling felt sick at his stomach, but he knew his mother was right. He took his empty pot to the palace. When Ling arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other youths. They were beautiful — in all shapes and sizes. Ling put his empty pot on the floor and many of the other children laughed at him. A few felt sorry for him and just said, “Hey, nice try.”

When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young people. Ling just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown,” said the emperor. “Today one of you will be appointed the next emperor!”

All of a sudden, the emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered his guards to bring him to the front. Ling was terrified. He thought, “The emperor knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me killed!”

When Ling got to the front, the Emperor asked his name. “My name is Ling,” he replied. All the kids were laughing and making fun of him. The emperor asked everyone to quiet down. He looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, “Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!”

Ling couldn’t believe it. Ling couldn’t even grow his seed. How could he be the new emperor?

Then the emperor said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone here a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds that would not grow. All of you, except Ling, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Ling was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he Is the one who will be the new emperor!”

Source | Wayne Rice, More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks

PONDER AND CONSIDER

Be careful what you plant, now; it will determine what you will reap tomorrow. The seeds you now scatter will make life worse or better for you and for the ones who will come after you.

  • What you sow,  you shall reap. | Galatians 6:7
  • Whatever you give to life, life gives back to you.

SEEDS AND CEO

A successful business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business.

Instead of choosing one of his directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you.” The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued. “I am going to give each one of you a seed today – one very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO.”

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew.

Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing.

By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn’t have a plant and he felt like a failure.

Six months went by  – still nothing in Jim’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn’t say anything to his colleagues, however, he just kept watering and fertilizing the soil – he so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection.

Jim told his wife that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful – in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives.

Jim just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown,” said the CEO. “Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!”

All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, “The CEO knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!”

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed – Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, “Behold your next Chief Executive Officer! His name is Jim!”

Jim couldn’t believe it. Jim couldn’t even grow his seed.

“How could he be the new CEO?” the others said.

Then the CEO said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead – it was not possible for them to grow. All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!”

Source | unknown

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • Plant honesty and you will reap trust
  • Plant goodness and you will forge authentic friendships
  • Plant humility and you will reap depth
  • Plant perseverance and you will reap contentment and deep joy
  • Plant consideration and you will reap right vision and perspective
  • Plant hard work and you will reap real success
  • Plant forgiveness and you will reap reconciliation and possible new beginnings

 

THE NAKED TRUTH CLOTHED

Truth entered a village naked as the day she was born. The villagers had one look at the naked truth and were afraid of the stark harshness and drove her out in anger and malice.

Dejected, the Truth wandered in the desert. Without food and nourishment, she weakened and would have soon died of loneliness. One day she got to the home of the Parable. Parable took her in, nursed her back to life. Soon the Truth was feeling well again. This time she returned to the same village clothed in a parable and was welcome and accepted with ease.

Source | Unknown

PONDER AND CONSIDER

Whenever, and wherever stories are told – be it through teaching, preaching, counselling, spiritual companionship, management – a chord is plucked within the understanding of the listeners. Often the story is heard by the ear, but listened to by the sub-conscious mind where its deeper meaning resides.

 

THE WISE FARMER AND HIS LAZY SONS

A hard-working and generous farmer lived with his three lazy, greedy sons. He was elderly, and just before he died, he called them to him and told them that their inheritance was buried in his fields, and that they would have to dig it up in order to receive it. No sooner than his spirit left him than his sons went out and tore apart the fields looking for the buried treasure. Having dug up the entire farm and found nothing, however, they began to wonder if it was a trick, and if their father, in his generosity, had already given all his money away to the poor. One of the sons said, “Well, we’ve already dug the fields, we might as well sow a crop to take advantage of it.” His brothers agreed, and they planted wheat in the fields, took in a good harvest, and sold it for a large sum.
After the harvest, the sons wondered if they might have just missed the treasure when digging for it, so they dug up the fields once again just in case; having found no treasure, they once again planted a crop and sold it. This continued for a few years, until the sons had at last become accustomed to the labor and realized the lesson that their father had left them with on their deathbed. They became honest and content, and lived their lives in peace.

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Another shorter version:
Once upon a time there was a farmer who had three lazy sons. While he and his wife worked day and night to tend their vineyards the sons refused to lift a finger. On his deathbed the farmer told them that he had buried a treasure in the vineyard. The sons dug up every inch of the vineyard trying to find the pot of gold. After many years of searching, they never found the spot where the treasure was hidden. However, all of their digging cultivated the ground in the vineyard. Soon the grapevines produced such abundant fruit that the three lazy sons grew wealthy, unwittingly, from their own hard work.
PONDER AND CONSIDER
  • There is not such thing as a fruitful harvest without the sweat of sowing and planting.