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Around the Bend

Christian book: Apple Drop
Apple Drop
This humorous story started when I realized that some people seem to be able to make us laugh without doing anything except show up. For example audiences start smiling when Rowan Atkinson, or Victor Borge, or Ben Elton, or John Cleese, or Frank Spencer simply come into view. The best comedians can do that. I took this idea and added some apples and ended up with a happy world.

But of course happiness is far more than feeling good. It is a wholeness thing, it includes body, mind and spirit. It integrates our attitudes, our goals and our self-image. A very poor person can be much happier than a very rich person, and the other way round.

"Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers." 3 John 1:2

"Happy are your men, and happy are these your servants, which stand continually before you, and hear your wisdom." 2 Chronicles 9:7 (The queen of Sheba said this to King Solomon)

"If you are reproached for the name of Christ, happy are you; for the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you." 1 Peter 4:14

God offers a happiness which is deeper and more satisfying that the comparatively shallow, and momentary happiness which a joke can deliver.

Christian book: Beans
This story is a modern translation of the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale, but there is an underlying story which is of a boy who has a no-hoper dad and a mother who doesn't have much to give in the way of role-modeling. Yet the boy survives, and he in fact, is smarter than both his parents because he has a secret plan to help them both.

"Cast your bread upon the waters: for you shalt find it after many days." Ecclesiastes 11:1 What this proverb seems to be saying is, give things a chance, have a go, try things. You never know, something might work, and you might see a great return. Better to try and fail than not try at all. The beans might have been worthless, but at least the 'Dad' in the story was willing to try them out.

"He that gathers in summer is a wise son: but he that sleeps in harvest is a son that causes shame." Proverbs 10:5

This proverb is telling is that work, or labor, is good. It also tells us that we should grab the opportunities when they come, such as the summer harvest, and not let it go by.

"The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son makes a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother." Proverbs 10:1

In the story, the "son" is wise enough to plan ahead for his parent's welfare, even though they don't appreciate what he is doing.

Christian book: Grass
In this story I wanted to say something about the temporary and passing nature of this world. All life has a limit in length, all living things die, all friendships must be broken. And yet there is hope, because when one generation of grass dies, a new generation springs up, a picture of the resurrection.

The key verse that set this story rolling was in Isaiah 40:6:

"The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:

The grass withers, the flower fades: because the spirit of the LORD blows upon it: surely the people is grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades: but the word of our God shall stand for ever." (Also see 1 Peter 1:24)

Christian book: Monday's Bread
Monday's Bread
I was watching some sea gulls one day. They were all standing into the wind and it looked like they were holding a prayer meeting. This led me to think about whether gulls knew when to stop eating, should they be given more than they could manage? It also raised the issue of thankfulness, and human nature in the face of plenty. In a parallel, there are fabulously wealthy leaders on Planet Earth who spend more time amassing personal wealth than caring for the poor. Just like a bunch of greedy gulls.

The man in the story is me one very early Sunday morning.

"And he (Jesus) said to them, "Take heed, and beware of covetousness (greed): for a man's life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses." Luke 12:15

"The horseleach has two daughters, crying, "Give, give!" Proverbs 30:15

"Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter." Isaiah 56:11

Christian book: Not Like Cynthia
Not Like Cynthia
This is a dark story with a very sharp twist at the end. Don't pre-judge it until you read the last few words.

What I wanted to ask was, "What if you were given the biscuit?" What if the opportunity came to you? Would you have the grace and love to forgive everyone who has ever hurt you?

So much trouble is caused in the world by unforgiveness, and revenge. So many people refuse to let a matter end with them.

"For I perceive that you art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity." Acts 8:23

"Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness" Romans 3:14

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice" Ephesians 4:31

"Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled." Hebrews 12:15

Christian book: Promises, Promises
Promises, Promises
I was thinking about King Midas and his foolish request, and the way the Greek gods were so human, so full of all the sinful ways of humans, and how unlike they were to the majestic, wise, everlasting God, who is the one true God. This led me to another idea, about people and their promises, and whether we need to keep even the silliest ones.

"For all the promises of God in him are Yes, and in him Amen." 2 Corinthians 1:20

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." Hebrews 11:13

"Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (desire) 2 Peter 1:4

Christian book: Skellington Day
Skellington Day
This funny story is about a man of bones who comes to visit a brave little kid, and together they have a hilarious adventure. The one serious bit is the comment by the skeleton that humans are cremating themselves, so there are a lot of relatives missing from the skeleton party.

I take no sides on the issue of cremation, but I have noticed that it was the Christian influence that brought in the alternative (burial) right across Europe. (See Encyclopedia Brittanica 1962 vol 6, page 665 on) Only Egypt embalmed, Judea buried in sepulchers and China buried in earth.

Just for your interest you might like to look at: Amos 2:1,2. Interest to see that God burned Sodom and Gomorrah "to ashes" (2Peter 2:6). Again, Achan was destroyed by fire as a punishment (Joshua 7:26). In 1Kings 13:1-3 we read how burning to ashes is God's punishment for serious idolatry, 2Kings 23:14-16. You might like to also consider Deut. 21:22,23.

In the history of the kings of England, which goes back over a thousand years, it was always the custom, to bury the royal dead. Even those who were beheaded had their heads sewn back on because it was believed they would need to be all there when the day of resurrection broke.

As I said, the Skellington story was not meant to be a serious look at cremation, but I does make you wonder how a bunch of party-loving skellingtons could live it up if all their bones were gone?