Once upon a time, there lived a young boy named John. His mother taught him to be honest. She told him many stories about God. Sadly, she died and he went to live with his uncle, George. One day George told John, “You work in a large shop. The shopkeeper trusts you. Bring home some things from the shop. They will be useful as we are poor. Take things when nobody is watching.”

The next day, George waited for the boy to come. John came in. But he was not carrying anything. He said “Somebody was watching me.” George told him “Try again tomorrow.”For a week, John came home without anything. Each time he said “Somebody was watching me.” George got very angry. He said “Who could be watching you all the time? You are very foolish. For this John said “God! He watches all of us all the time. Nobody can hide anything from Him.

Hearing this from the young boy, George felt ashamed. Never again did he ask John to steal anything.

   (Deena Elsa George, C/o. A084)

Three Little Trees

Once upon a mountaintop, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up. The first little tree looked up at the stars and said: "I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I'll be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!"  

The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on it's way to the ocean. "I want to be traveling mighty waters and carrying powerful kings. I'll be the strongest ship in the world!" 

The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and women worked in a busy town. "I don't want to leave the mountain top at all. I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me, they'll raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world." 

Years passed. The rain came, the sun shone, and the little trees grew tall. 

One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain. The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, "This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining ax, the first tree fell. "Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest, I shall hold wonderful treasure!" The first tree said.  

The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, "This tree is strong. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining ax, the second tree fell. "Now I shall sail mighty waters!" thought the second tree. "I shall be a strong ship for mighty kings!" 

The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven. But the woodcutter never even looked up. "Any kind of tree will do for me. " He muttered. With a swoop of his shining ax, the third tree fell. 

The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought her to a carpenter's shop. But the carpenter fashioned the tree into a feed box for animals. The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold, nor with treasure. She was coated with saw dust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals. 

The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took her to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ship was made that day. Instead the once strong tree was hammered and sawed into a simple fishing boat. She was too small and too weak to sail to an ocean, or even a river; instead she was taken to a little lake.

The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard. "What happened?" The once tall tree wondered. "All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountain top and point to God..." 

Many, many days and night passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams. 

But one night, golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feed box. "I wish I could make a cradle for him." her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and the sturdy wood. "This manger is beautiful." she said. And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world. 

One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake. Soon a thundering and thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. She knew she did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through with the wind and the rain. The tired man awakened. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, "Peace." The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. And suddenly the second tree knew he was carrying the king of heaven and earth. 

One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hands to her. She felt ugly and harsh and cruel. But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth tremble with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God's love had changed everything. It had made the third tree strong. And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God. That was better than being the tallest tree in the world. 

The next time you feel down because you didn't get what you want, sit tight and be happy because God is thinking of something better to give you.

The Spider Web

During one of the many Reformation battles, a young soldier found himself and his army being soundly defeated by the enemy. He and his comrades hastily retreated from the battlefield in defeat, running away in fear of their very lives.

The enemy gave chase. The young man ran hard and fast, full of fear and desperation, and soon found himself cut off from his comrades. The soldier eventually came upon a rocky ledge containing a cave.

Knowing the enemy was close behind, and that he was exhausted from the chase, he chose to hide there. After he crawled in, he fell to his face in the darkness, desperately crying to God to save him and protect him from his enemies. He made a bargain with God. He promised that if God saved him, he would serve Him for the remainder of his days.

When he looked up from his despairing plea for help, he saw a spider beginning to weave its web at the entrance to the cave. As he watched the delicate threads being slowly drawn across the mouth of the cave, the young soldier pondered its irony. He thought,

"I asked God for protection and deliverance, and He sent me a spider instead. How can a spider save me?"

His heart was hardened, knowing the enemy would soon discover his hiding place and kill him. Soon he did hear the sound of his enemies, who were now scouring the area looking for those in hiding.

One soldier with a gun slowly walked up to the cave's entrance. As the young man crouched in the darkness, hoping to surprise the enemy in a last-minute desperate attempt to save his own life, he felt his heart pounding wildly out of control.

As the enemy cautiously moved forward to enter the cave, he came upon the spider's web, which by now was completely strung across the opening. He backed away and called out to a comrade, "There can't be anyone in here. They would have had to break this spider's web to enter the cave. Let's move on."

Years later, this young man, who made good his promise by becoming a preacher and evangelist, wrote about that ordeal.

What he observed has stood by me in times of trouble, especially during those times when everything seemed impossible:

"Where God is, a spider's web is as a stone wall. Where God is not, a stone wall is as a spider's web."

"For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things." - Luke 12:30


The Villager and the Happy Man

In a small village in the valley, there lived a man who was always happy, kind, and well disposed to everyone he met. He always smiled and had a kind and encouraging word to say whenever necessary. Everyone who met him left feeling, better, happier and elated. People knew they could count on him, and regarded him as a great friend.

One of the village dwellers was curious to know what his secret was, how could he be always so kind and helpful? How is it that he held no grudge towards anyone and was always happy? Once, upon meeting him in the street he asked him: "Most people are selfish and unsatisfied. They do not smile as often as you do; neither are they as helpful or kind as you are. How do you explain it?"

"When you make peace with yourself, then you can be in peace with the rest of the world. If you can recognize the spirit in yourself, you can recognize the spirit in everyone, and then you find it natural to be kind and well disposed to all. If your thoughts are under your control you become strong and firm. The outer mask of the personality is like a robot programmed to do certain tasks. Your habits and thoughts are the programs. Be free from these programming and then the inner good that resides in you will be revealed." 

"But a lot of work is necessary. Good habits have to be developed. The ability to concentrate and to control the thoughts has to be strengthened. The work is difficult and endless. There are many walls that need to be to climbed. It is not an easy task." Lamented the villager. 

"Do not think about the difficulties, otherwise that what you will see and experience. Just quieten your feelings and thoughts and try to stay in this peace. All the abilities and powers awaken spontaneously. You do not work on them directly. They are by-products of your peace of mind. Just try to be calm and do not let yourself be carried away by your thoughts."

"Is that all?" Asked the villager.

"Try to watch your thoughts and see how they come and go. Stay in the quietness that arises. The moments of peace will be brief at first, but in time they will get longer. This peace is also strength, power, kindness, and love. When you realize that you are one with the Universal Power, you begin to act from a different dimension, not from the selfish, small, limited

"I will try to remember your words," said the villager and continued, "there is another thing that I am curious about. You do not seem to be influenced by the environment. You have a kind word to everyone and are helpful. Yet people do not exploit your goodness, and they treat you well."

"Goodness and being kind do not necessarily point to weakness.  

When you are good you can also be strong. People sense your strength and do not impose on you. When you are strong and calm inside, you help people because you can and you want to. You then act from strength and not from weakness. Goodness can also go with power and strength, it is not a sign of weakness as some people erroneously think."

"Thank you very much for your advice", said the villager and went away happy and satisfied.

A Brother’s Song

Like any good mother, when Karen found out that   another baby was on the way, she did what she could to help her 3-year-old son, Michael, prepare for a new sibling.  They found out that the new baby was going be a girl,   and day after day, night after night, Michael sang to his sister in mommy's tummy. He was building a bond of love with his little sister before he even met her. The pregnancy progressed normally for Karen, an active   member of the Panther Creek United Methodist Church in   Morristown, Tennessee.

In time, the labor pains came.   Soon it was every five minutes, every three, every   minute. But serious complications arose during delivery and Karen found herself in hours of labor. Would a C-section be required?

Finally, after a long struggle, Michael's little sister was born. But she was in very serious condition. With a siren howling in the night, the ambulance rushed the infant to the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Mary's Hospital, Knoxville, Tennessee.

The days inched by. The little girl got worse. The pediatrician had to tell the parents there is very little hope. Be prepared for the worst. Karen and her husband contacted a local cemetery about a burial plot.

They had fixed up a special room in their house for their new baby but now they found themselves having to plan for a funeral.

Michael, however, kept begging his parents to let him see his sister. I want to sing to her, he kept saying. Week two in intensive care looked as if a funeral would come before the week was over. Michael kept nagging about singing to his sister, but kids are never allowed in Intensive Care.

Karen decided to take Michael whether they liked it or   not. If he didn't see his sister right then, he may never see her alive. She dressed him in an oversized scrub suit and marched him into ICU. He looked like a walking laundry basket. The head nurse recognized him as a child and bellowed, "Get that kid out of here now. No children are allowed." The mother rose up strong in Karen, and the usually mild-mannered lady glared steel-eyed right into the head nurse's face, her lips a firm line. "He is not leaving until he sings to his sister" she stated. Then Karen towed Michael to his sister's bedside. He
gazed at the tiny infant losing the battle to live.  After a moment, he began to sing. In the pure-hearted voice of a 3-year-old, Michael sang: "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine; you make me happy when skies are grey." Instantly the baby girl seemed to respond. The pulse rate began to calm down and become steady. "Keep on singing, Michael," encouraged Karen with tears in her eyes. "You never know, dear, how  much I love you, please don't take my sunshine away."

As Michael sang to his sister, the baby's ragged, strained breathing became as smooth as a kitten’s purr. "Keep on singing, sweetheart." "The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms".

Michael's little sister began to relax as rest, healing rest, seemed to sweep over her. "Keep on singing, Michael."

 Tears had now conquered the face of the bossy head nurse. Karen glowed. "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Please don't take my sunshine away...." The next, day...the very next day...the little girl was well enough to go home.

Woman's Day Magazine called it The Miracle of a Brother’s Song. The medical staff just called it a miracle. Karen called it a miracle of God's love.