Once upon a time two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch. Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.
One morning there was a knock on John's door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter's toolbox. "I'm looking for a few days work" he said. "Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with? Could I help you?"
"Yes," said the older brother. "I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That's my neighbor, in fact, it's my younger brother. Last week there was a meadow between us and he took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I'll go him one better. See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you to build me a fence -— an 8-foot fence — so I won't need to see his place or his face anymore."
The carpenter said, "I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I'll be able to do a job that pleases you."
The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job.
The farmer's eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all. It was a bridge — a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work handrails and all — and the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming across, his hand outstretched. "You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I've said and done."
The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other's hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox on his shoulder. "No, wait! Stay a few days. I've a lot of other projects for you," said the older brother.
"I'd love to stay on," the carpenter said, "but, I have many more bridges to build."
On Taking the Bible Literally
Dr. U.S. radio personality Dr. Laura Schlesinger stated that homosexuality was an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and could not be condoned under any circumstance. The following was written in response:
Dear Dr. Laura,
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them.
1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev. 1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstral uncleanliness - Lev. 15:19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
4. Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?
5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?
6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?
7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?
9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton-polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev. 24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.
Your devoted disciple and adoring fan...
By Kent Ashcraft
(1) "Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't like and just give her a house." * Steven Seagal
(2) "The problem with the designated driver program, it's not a desirable job. But if you ever get sucked into doing it, have fun with it. At the end of the night, drop them off at the wrong house." * Jeff Foxworthy
(3) "See, the problem is that God gives men a brain and a penis, and only enough blood to run one at a time." * Robin Williams
(4) "If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's life without even considering if there is a man on base." * Dave Barry
(5) "What do people mean when they say the computer went down on them?" * Marilyn Pittman
(6) "Relationships are hard. It's like a full time job, and we should treat it like one. If your boyfriend or girlfriend wants to leave you, they should give you two weeks' notice. There should be severance pay, and before they leave you, they should have to find you a temp." * Bob Ettinger
(7) "My Mom said she learned how to swim when someone took her out in the lake and threw her off the boat. I said, 'Mom, they weren't trying to teach you how to swim." * Paula Poundstone
(8) "A study in the Washington Post says that women have better verbal skills than men. I just want to say to the authors of that study: 'Duh.'" * Conan O'Brien
(9) "Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant? I'm halfway through my fish burger and I realize, Oh my Goodness I could be eating a slow learner." * Lynda Montgomery
(10) "The day I worry about cleaning my house is the day Sears comes out with a riding vacuum cleaner." * Roseanne
(11) "I think that's how Chicago got started. A bunch of people in New York said, 'Gee, I'm enjoying the crime and the poverty, but it just isn't cold enough. Let's go west.'" * Richard Jeni
(12) "If life was fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead." * Johnny Carson
(13) "Sometimes I think war is God's way of teaching us geography." * Paul Rodriguez
(14) "My parents didn't want to move to Florida, but they turned sixty, and that's the law." * Jerry Seinfeld
(15) "In elementary school, in case of fire you have to line up quietly in a single file line from smallest to tallest. What is the logic? Do tall people burn slower?" * Warren Hutcherson
(16) "Bigamy is having one wife/husband too many. Monogamy is the same." * Oscar Wilde
(17) "Marriage is a great institution, but I'm not ready for an institution yet." * Mae West
(18) "Suppose you were an idiot . . . And suppose you were a member of Congress . . . But I repeat myself." * Mark Twain
(19) "Our bombs are smarter than the average high school student. At least they can find Kuwait." * A. Whitney Brown
(20) "Ah, yes, divorce . . . from the Latin word meaning to rip out a man's genitals through his wallet," * Robin Williams
(21) "Women complain about premenstrual syndrome, but I think of it as the only time of the month that I can be myself." * Roseanne
(22) "You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'My God, you're right! I never would've thought of that!'" * Dave Barry
(23) "If you can't beat them, arrange to have them beaten." * George Carlin
(24) "When I die, I want to die like my grandmother who died peacefully in her sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in her car." * Author Unknown
(25) "Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar." * Drew Carey
Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
By C. S. Lewis
They're Singing Your Song
When a woman in a certain African tribe knows she is pregnant, she goes out into the wilderness with a few friends and together they pray and meditate until they hear the song of the child. They recognize that every soul has its own vibration that expresses its unique flavor and purpose. When the women attune to the song, they sing it out loud. Then they return to the tribe and teach it to everyone else.
When the child is born, the community gathers and sings the child's song to him or her. Later, when the child enters education, the village gathers and chants the child's song. When the child passes through the initiation to adulthood, the people again come together and sing. At the time of marriage, the person hears his or her song. Finally, when the soul is about to pass from this world, the family and friends gather at the person's bed, just as they did at their birth, and they sing the person to the next life.
In the African tribe there is one other occasion upon which the villagers sing to the child. If at any time during his or her life, the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, the individual is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around them. Then they sing their song to them.
The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment; it is love and the remembrance of identity. When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.
A friend is someone who knows your song and sings it to you when you have forgotten it. Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.
You may not have grown up in an African tribe that sings your song to you at crucial life transitions, but life is always reminding you when you are in tune with yourself and when you are not. When you feel good, what you are doing matches your song, and when you feel awful, it doesn't.
In the end, we shall all recognize our song and sing it well. You may feel a little warbly at the moment, but so have all the great singers. Just keep singing and you'll find your way home.
A water bearer had two large pots which hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master's house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."
"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"
"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."
Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."
This guy was on the side of the road hitch hiking on a very dark night and in the middle of a storm. The night was rolling and no car went by, thestorm was so strong he could hardly see a few feet ahead of him. Suddenly he saw a car coming towards him and stop.The guy without thinking about it got in the car closes the door just to realize there's nobody behind the wheel. The car starts slowly, the guy looks at the road and sees a curve coming his way, scared he starts to pray begging for his life.
He hasn't come out of shock, when just before he hits the curve, a hand appears thru the window and moves the wheel.The guy, paralyzed in terror, watched how the hand appears every time they are before a curve. The guy gathering strength gets out of the car and runs to the nearest town. Wet and in shock goes to a cantina and asks for two shots of tequila, and starts telling everybody about the horrible experience he went thru. A silence enveloped everybody when they realize the guy was crying and wasn't drunk.
About half an hour later two guys walked in the same cantina and one said to the other. "Look Jose, that's the pendejo (stupid guy for those that don't understand Spanish) that got in the car when we were pushing it."
I found one of my best teachers on the boardwalk at Coney Island maybe 15 years ago. It was December, and I was doing a story about how the homeless survive in the winter months. He and I sat on the edge of the wooden supports, dangling our feet over the side, and he told me about his schedule; panhandling the boulevard when the summer crowds were gone, sleeping in a church when the temperature went below freezing, hiding from the police amidst the Tilt a Whirl and the Cyclone and some of the other seasonal rides. But he told me that most of the time he stayed on the boardwalk, facing the water, just the way we were sitting now even when it got cold and he had to wear his newspapers after he read them.
And I asked him why. Why didn't he go to one of the shelters? Why didn't he check himself into the hospital for detox? And he just stared out at the ocean and said, "Look at the view, young lady. Look at the view."
And every day, in some little way, I try to do what he said. I try to look at the view. And that's the last thing I have to tell you today, words of wisdom from a man with not a dime in his pocket, no place to go, nowhere to be. Look at the view. You'll never be disappointed.
By Anna Quindlen
The Donkey in the Well
One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally,
he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway, it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey. He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well.
At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement, he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up.
The following signs, spotted at various locations, say it all:-
1. At a military hospital — door to endoscopy: To expedite your visit, please back in.
2. On a Plumber's truck: We repair what your husband fixed.
3. On the trucks of a local plumbing company: Don't sleep with a drip. Call your plumber.
4. Pizza shop slogan: 7 days without pizza makes one weak.
5. Another Pizza shop slogan: Buy our pizza. We knead the dough.
6. At a tire shop in Milwaukee: Invite us to your next blowout.
7. Door of a plastic surgeon's office: Hello. Can we help pick your nose?
8. At a towing company: We don't charge an arm and a leg. We want tows.
9. On an electrician's truck: Let us remove your shorts.
10. On a maternity room door: Push. Push. Push.
11. At an optometrist's office: If you don't see what you're looking for, you've come to the right place.
12. On a taxidermist's window: We really know our stuff.
13. In a podiatrist's office: Time wounds all heels.
14. On a fence: Salesmen welcome! Dog food is expensive.
15. At a car dealership: The best way to get back on your feet — miss a car payment.
16. Outside a muffler shop: No appointment necessary. We hear you coming.
17. In a veterinarian's waiting room: Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!
18. At the electric company: We would be delighted if you pay your bill. However, if you don't, you will be.
19. In a restaurant window: Don't stand there and be hungry. Come on in and get fed up.
20. In the front yard of a funeral home: Drive carefully. We'll wait.
21. At a propane filling station: Tank heaven for little grills.