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Shepherd's Voice

GIFT OF THE OLD ONE
by Eunice Day
The young couple had made their usual hurried, pre-Christmas visit to the little farm where dwelt their elderly parents with their small herd of goats. The farm had been named Lone Pine Farm because of the huge pine which topped the hill behind the farm, and through the years had become a talisman to the old man and his wife, and a landmark in the countryside.
The old folks no longer showed their goats, for the years had taken their toll, but they sold a little milk, and a few kids each year, and the goats were their reason for joy in the morning and contentment at day's end.
Crossly, as they prepared to leave, the young couple confronted the old folks. "Why do you not at least dispose of "The Old One". She is no longer of use to you. It's been years since you've had either kids or milk from her. You should cut corners and save where you can. Why do you keep her anyway?" The old man looked down as his worn boot scuffed at the barn floor and his arm stole defensively about the Old One's neck as he drew her to him and rubbed her gently behind the ears. He replied softly, "We keep her because of love. Only because of love."
Baffled and irritated, the young folks wished the old man and his wife a Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city as darkness stole through the valley.
So it was, that because of the leave-taking, no one noticed the insulation smouldering on the frayed wires in the old barn. None saw the first spark fall. None but the "Old One".
In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the hungry flames were licking at the loft full of hay. With a cry of horror and despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call for help as he raced to the barn to save their beloved goats. But the flames were roaring now, and the blazing heat drove him back. He sank sobbing to the ground, helpless before the fire's fury.
By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking, glowing ruins were left, and the old man and his wife. They thanked those who had come to their aid, and the old man turned to his wife, resting her white head upon his shoulders as he clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandana. Brokenly he whispered, "We have lost much, but God has spared our home on this eve of Christmas. Let us, therefore, climb the hill to the old pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair. We will look down upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared."
And so, he took her by the hand and helped her up the snowy hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the back of his hand. As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest of the hill, they looked up and gasped in amazement at the incredible beauty before them. Seemingly, every glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was caught up in the glittering, snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine, and it was aglow with heavenly candles. And poised on its top most bough, a crystal crescent moon glistened like spun glass. Never had a mere mortal created a Christmas tree such as this. Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of wonder and incredible joy as he pulled his wife forward. There, beneath the tree, was their Christmas gift.
Bedded down about the "Old One" close to the truck of the tree, was the entire herd, safe. At the first hint of smoke, she had pushed the door ajar with her muzzle and had led the goats through it. Slowly and with great dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the hill, stepping daintily through the snow. The kids were frightened and dashed about. The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling, hungry flames, and tucked their tails under them as they licked their lips and hopped like rabbits. The milkers pressed uneasily against the "Old One" as she moved calmly up the hill and to safety beneath the pine. And now, she lay among them and gazed at the faces of those she loved. Her body was brittle with years, but the golden eyes were filled with devotion as she offered her gift-Because of love

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"Give God what's right--Not what's left"

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I Can Only Imagine
 
I can only imagine what it will be like, when I walk by Your side...
I can only imagine, what my eyes will see, when Your Face is before me!
I can only imagine. I can only imagine.
Surrounded by Your Glory, what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you, Jesus? Or in awe of You, be still?
Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing 'Hallelujah!'? Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine! I can only imagine!

I can only imagine, when that day comes, when I find myself standing in the Son!
I can only imagine, when all I will do, is forever, forever worship You!
I can only imagine! I can only imagine!

Surrounded by Your Glory, what will my heart feel?

Will I dance for you, Jesus? Or in awe of You, be still?
Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing 'Hallelujah!'? Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine! Yeah! I can only imagine!

Surrounded by Your Glory, what will my heart feel?

Will I dance for you, Jesus? Or in awe of You, be still?
Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing 'Hallelujah!'? Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine! Yeah! I can only imagine!

I can only imagine! Yeah! I can only imagine!! Only imagine!!!
I can only imagine.

I can only imagine, when all I do is forever, forever worship You!
I can only imagine."

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The Lord's Prayer

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want
He maketh me to lie down in green pasture,
He leadeth me beside still waters, he restoreth my soul.
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his namesake
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I fear no evil, for thou art with me.
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.
Thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalms 23
 

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"The Beatitudes"
 
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"
"
Matthew 5:3-10 

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"The Weathered Old Barn"
~author unknown~
 
A stranger came by the other day with an offer that set me to thinking. He wanted to buy the old barn that sits out by the highway. I told him right off he was crazy. He was a city type, you could tell by his clothes, his  car, his hands, and the way he talked. He said he was driving by and saw that beautiful barn sitting out in the tall grass and wanted to know if it was for sale. I told him he had a funny idea of beauty.
Sure, it was a handsome building in its day. But then, there's been a lot of winters pass with their snow and ice and howling wind. The summer sun's  beat down on that old barn till all the paint's gone, and the wood has turned silver gray. Now the old building leans a good deal, looking kind of tired. Yet, that fellow called it beautiful.
That set me to thinking. I walked out to the field and just stood there, gazing at that old barn. The stranger said he planned to use the lumber to line the walls of his den in a new country home he's building down the road. He said you couldn't get paint that beautiful. Only years of standing in the weather, bearing the storms and scorching sun, only that can produce beautiful barn wood.
It came to me then. We're a lot like that, you and I. Only it's on the inside that the beauty grows with us. Sure we turn silver gray too... and lean a bit more than we did when we were young and full of sap. But the Good Lord knows what He's doing. And as the years pass He's busy using  the hard wealth of our lives, the dry spells and the stormy seasons, to do a  job of beautifying our souls that nothing else can produce. And to think how often folks holler because they want life easy!
 
They took the old barn down today and hauled it away to beautify a rich man's house. And I reckon someday you and I'll be hauled off to Heaven to take on whatever chores the Good Lord has for us on the Great Sky Ranch.
 
And I suspect we'll be more beautiful then for the seasons we've been through here... and just maybe even add a bit of beauty to our Father's house.
May today there be peace within you.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

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The Serinity Prayer
 
God grant me the Serinity to
accept the things I can not change...
 
The Courage to change
 the things I can...
 
And the Wisdom to
know the difference...

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THORNS 

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her shoes when she pulled open the florist shop door, against a November gust of wind. Her life had been as sweet as a spring breeze and then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a "minor" automobile accident stole her joy. This was Thanksgiving week and the time she should have delivered their infant son. She grieved over their loss.
 
Troubles had multiplied.
Her husband's company "threatened" to transfer his job to a new location. Her sister had called to say that she could not come for her long awaited holiday visit. What's worse, Sandra's friend suggested that Sandra's grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. "She has no idea what I'm feeling," thought Sandra with a shudder "Thanksgiving? Thankful for what?" she wondered.. "For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended me? For an airbag that saved my life, but took my child's?"
"Good afternoon, can I help you?"
Sandra was startled by the approach of the shop clerk. "I . . . I need an arrangement," stammered Sandra.
"For Thanksgiving? I'm convinced that flowers tell stories, " she continued.. "Are you looking for something that conveys 'gratitude' this Thanksgiving?"
"Not exactly!" Sandra blurted out. "In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong."
Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the clerk said, "I have the perfect arrangement for you."
 
Then the bell on the door rang, and the clerk greeted the new customer....
"Hi, Barbara, let me get your order." She excused herself and walked back to a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and what appeared to be long-stemmed thorny roses. Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly s nipped: there were no flowers.
"Do you want these in a box?" asked the clerk. Sandra watched - was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed.
"Yes, please," Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. "You'd think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn't be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again," she said, as she gently tapped her chest.
Sandra stammered, "Ah, that lady just left with . . . uh . . . she left with no flowers!"
"That's right," said the clerk. "I cut off the flowers. That's the 'Special'.  I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet. Barbara came into the shop three years ago, feeling much as you do today," explained the clerk. "She thought she had very little to be thankful for.   She had just lost her father; the family business was failing; her son had gotten into drugs; and she was facing major surgery. That same year I had lost my husband," continued the clerk. "For the first time in my life, I had to spend the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too much debt to allow any travel."
"So what did you do?" asked Sandra.
"I learned to be thankful for thorns," answered the clerk quietly. "I've always thanked God for the good things in my life and I never questioned Him why those good things happened to me, but when the bad stuff hit, I cried out, 'Why? Why me?!' It took time for me to learn that the dark times are important to our faith! I have always enjoyed the 'flowers' of my life, but it took the thorns to show me the beauty of God's comfort! You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we're afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others."
Sandra sucked in her breath, as she thought about what her friend had tried to tell her. "I guess the truth is I don't want comfort. I've lost a baby and I'm angry with God."
Just then someone else walked in the shop.
"Hey, Phil!" the clerk greeted the balding, rotund man.
 
"My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement . . twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems!" laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.
"Those are for your wife?" asked Sandra incredulously. "Do you mind telling me why she wants a bouquet that looks like that?"
"Four years ago, my wife and I nearly divorced," Phil replied. "After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord's grace and guidance, we trudged through problem after problem, the Lord rescued our marriage. Jenny here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she had learned from "thorny" times. That was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific "problem" and give thanks for what that problem taught us."
As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, "I highly recommend the Special!"
"I don't know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life" Sandra said to the clerk. "It's all too . . fresh."
 
"Well," the clerk replied carefully, "my experience has shown me that the thorns make the roses more precious. We treasure God's providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember that it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love....Don't resent the thorns."
Tears rolled down Sandra's cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on her resentment. "I'll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please," she managed to choke out.
"I hoped you would," said the clerk gently. "I'll have them ready in a minute."
"Thank you. What do I owe you?"
"Nothing. Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart...The first year's arrangement is always on me."
The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. "I'll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first."
 
It read: "My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns.. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant."
Praise Him for the roses; thank Him for the thorns.
God Bless all of you. Be thankful for all that the Lord does for you.
We often try to fix problems with WD-40 and Duct tape.
God did it with nails.

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