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Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
December 20, 2011

I was always the guy whose hair was a little longer than the other guys. I took a fair amount of teasing from friends and family about my long hair. Then a few years ago in mid-December, my brother Josh and best friend Brian challenged me to go a whole year without cutting my hair.
I was tired of their teasing, so I made that my New Years resolution.

At the time, I thought it was just a funny New Years resolution, made in the spirit of taking on a dare.

By summer my hair had grown quite a bit. Around that time, I decided that at the end of the year I would donate my hair to “Locks for Love.” That is a charitable organization that makes hair pieces for children who lose their hair from disease, especially cancer.

The minimum hair length required to make a hair donation is 10 inches. I was sure I would have enough by the end of the year.

By fall I was back in college. My hair was long enough that some of my school friends didn’t recognize me. I was determined not to cut my hair until January.

One night in November, Brian and four other friends pulled a prank on me. They sneaked into my room and cut my hair while I was sleeping. At first I was so angry … I couldn’t understand why they would do that when I was so close to completing my full year without a haircut!

Luckily, I was still able to donate my hair – it was about 11 inches long – to “Locks for Love.”

From this experience I learned that new years resolutions are not just about giving up or changing a personal habit. I feel I did something truly worthwhile for someone else.

 

by John from Los Angeles, California
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
December 29, 1990

Confetti in Times Square at New Years “I never make New Year’s Resolutions, anymore,” the man told me, “I never keep them, anyway.” I can remember all too many resolutions I’ve made and let slip away, too. But I believe New Year’s resolutions are worth making. Let me tell you why.

First, we all need changes. Some we find very hard to admit to ourselves. I’ve heard people who say, “I have no regrets about my life. If I had it to do over, I’d do it the same way again.” But that attitude is way too blind and self-serving so far as I’m concerned. There is great power in confession–to ourselves, to God, to others. Owning up to our failures is the first, painful step on the road to something better.

Second, when we change calendars is a good time for reassessment. How did last year go? What do I want to do differently this year? This time of year always reminds me of a passage of scripture, better understood by farmers than suburbanites: “Break up your unplowed ground, and do not sow among thorns” (Jer 4:3). It makes sense. The more land you put into production, the more prosperous you’ll be. But some of us are stupid enough to try to sow seeds in land overrun by star thistle without breaking up the soil and taking care to root out the thorns as they come up. Call it laziness. Call it stupidity.

Let me ask you a serious question. What percentage of your life is producing something of value to God? How much “unplowed ground” do you have that ought to be broken up in this coming year and made useful? Reassessment. The brink of a new year is a good time for reassessment.

Third, New Year’s is an excellent time for mid-course corrections. Sure, we might fail in what we set out to do, but if we fail to plan, the old saw goes, then we plan to fail. If you’re so fearful of failure that you never set up your row of tin cans to shoot at, you’re not very likely to hit any at all. Failure is not the end. For the person who determines to learn from it, failure is a friend.

One of my heroes in the Bible is the Apostle Paul. Talk about failure! Throughout his life he was opposed, persecuted, shipwrecked, stoned and left for dead, deserted by trusted co-workers, slandered, and scorned. Sometimes it seemed that projects to which he had devoted years were turning to dust before his eyes. But during one of his stints in prison, we can see from one of his letters an unwillingness to quit. “Forgetting what is behind,” he wrote, “and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13-14, NIV) No wonder he made a mark on his world. He stopped looking back, and looked forward instead. He didn’t let the fear of failure keep him from trying again.

Fourth, New Year’s is a time to learn to rely more heavily on the grace of God. Now I’ve met a few self-made men and women and so have you, but so often these people seem proud and driven. There is another way: beginning to trust in God’s help. One more secret from the Apostle Paul: “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength,” he said (Phil 4:13, NIV). And God’s strength saw him through a lot–through pain, through joy, and through accomplishment.

If this last year, you didn’t practice relying on the Lord as much as you should have, there is no time like the present to make a New Year’s resolution. In fact, why don’t you say a short prayer right now–use these words if you like: “Dear God, I want the new year to be different for me.” Now spell out in prayer some of the changes you’d like to see. And close this way: “Lord Jesus, I know that I’m going to need a lot of help for this. So right now I place myself in your hands. Help me to receive Your strength. Amen.” Good. Now you’ve got a much better chance of a Happy New Year.

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
December 23, 2003

“This same Jesus, who has been taken from you will come back in the same way you have seen Him go” (Acts 1:11).

We were driving through the city. Our son, daughter-in-law and three-year-old granddaughter were with us. To keep my granddaughter occupied, I began to sing to her and she sang back to me.

One of the songs I sang was,

“Soon and Very Soon, we are Going to Meet the King.”

I sang it a few times and she listened carefully, then she looked at me and said,

“No, Grandma, we are going to the mall.”

Well, at the time we all laughed, but later I thought about what she said. Don’t we as adults often act as if we prefer to go the mall, rather than looking for His return? Are we looking forward to the King’s coming or are we so busy with stuff – running to and fro -that we rarely give a thought that maybe, just maybe, the King is coming back today?

Are you looking forward to seeing Jesus? When was the last time you thought about His return? We get so busy with living that we forget that we are on earth for a short time compared to eternity.

Are you ready? Are you looking forward to seeing Him? If not, I encourage you to read the articles listed below. You can look forward to His return.

Father, I am so glad Jesus is returning to earth. Maybe He will come today, maybe tomorrow. Give us gladness of heart and readiness because we know our Lord is coming soon. Amen.

by Katherine Kehler

bronwyn's corner

It’s “the season” – the time of all things Christmassy. My house is decorated to an acceptably-low standard, my pants are cutting into my cookie-consumer waist, Nat King Cole is crooning a Yule-tide tune on Pandora. It’s beginning to look a LOT like Christmas.

And yet, people are complaining about “the war against Christmas”. Apparently, materialism and Santa are trying to edge in against Christ’s rightful place in the season. They will know we are Christians by the way we don’t say “Happy Holidays”, and all that. As with many of the culturally “big” holidays, I have some mixed feelings about it.

christmasgiftsPersonally, we have not told our kids about Santa. This decision also means I need to give my 6 year old a “don’t tell the other kids that Santa isn’t real and make them cry” pep talk before she goes for play dates at this time…

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Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
December 20, 1995

There have been many stories of the origins of the Christmas carol “Silent Night, Holy Night.” In fact, the carol goes back further than when Christmas cards began. One of the most popularly told one is as follows:

In the winter of 1818 at St. Nicholas’ Church at Obendorf, a village near Salzburg, Austria, Joseph Mohr, the assistant to the priest, faced a dilemma. It was just days before Christmas, and the church organ which was so important to providing music for the Christmas services was broken. Since the organ repairman was not a local of the village it would actually be months before the repair could be made, and Christmas would be long past.

His solution to the problem of the broken organ resulted in one of the most popular Christmas carols of all time. In 1816 Mohr had written a simple poem that the villagers could understand expressing the wonder of the birth of Jesus. He asked his friend Franz Gruber who was the organist at St. Nicholas to write music to accompany his poem so that they could sing it together using a guitar to accompany their singing.

They first performed their newly composed Christmas carol at the Christmas Eve midnight service on December 24, 1818. It did not instantly receive the worldwide recognition it has come to know, however. It was not until years later in 1825 when Carl Mauracher was rebuilding the organ at St. Nicholas that a handwritten copy of the words and music was found in the organ loft.

Mauracher was from an area in the mountains of Tyrol which had many traveling folk choirs who performed throughout Europe. He carried the carol back home, and it became a popular song with the choirs as they traveled and spread its popularity wherever they went.

In some versions of the story it is told that mice had eaten the bellows of the organ. Others say that Gruber himself had broken the organ. It is believed that there was frequent flooding of the area that caused rust and mildew to affect the condition of the church organ often making it unplayable. It is actually not known however if the organ was truly broken at Christmastime of 1818. Some say that Mohr simply wanted a new carol for the service and was fond of the guitar as an instrument. Some stories tell that both the poem and the music were hastily written that Christmas Eve. A manuscript for “Silent Night” in Mohr’s hand was discovered in 1995 which is dated 1816. In the manuscript Mohr credits the melody used for the carol to Franz Gruber.

Whatever the details of the circumstances, Joseph Mohr’s and Franz Gruber’s contribution of Christmas music for their village’s Christmas Eve midnight mass gave us all the beautiful “Silent Night, Holy Night.”

Author Unknown - Please comment if you know the author
 so credit can be given
Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
December 19, 2006

…On the following day, December 23, school was canceled because of a winter storm. I knew my students would be as excited as I was for the extra day off right before the holiday break. It would also be nice to have a beautiful, white Christmas. The roads were covered in snow, and the trees were buried under a sheer layer of ice. It was much too hazardous to venture out, so I just stayed inside and reflected on my situation.

By the end of that snowy day, I had come to the conclusion that it wasn’t the proposal I needed. It was simply that I wanted to feel loved and appreciated enough that someone would want to be with me forever. I prayed to God and asked that someday a man would think I was important enough to give me a diamond, the symbol of the commitment that my heart needed the most.

Christmas Eve finally arrived. Paul came to my house so we could ride together to my sister’s holiday party. I was happy to be with him but a little sad knowing he wouldn’t be proposing that night.

By this time, almost all the snow and ice had quietly melted away. I realized that we wouldn’t have a white Christmas after all. It would, however, make the drive to the party much safer.

The gathering was a happy one. My nieces and nephew were a joy to watch as they opened their gifts. Paul and I had a wonderful time with my family. Eventually, after all the gifts had been opened and all goodbyes repeatedly exchanged, we left.

It was a long, quiet ride home, as Paul fell asleep 25 minutes into the trip. The roads were dry and the trees were barren. Yet the stars shone brightly against the black, cloudless sky, adding a touch of beauty to the night.

As I neared my home, a small group of trees caught my attention. They stood out from the rest of the dull, dry landscape. Of all the trees I had passed on my way home, these were the only ones that had any sign of the recent winter storm upon their branches. As I drove, I wondered how this could be. The temperature was much too warm. Yet somehow the branches were covered in an incredible layer of ice. I had seen ice-covered trees many times before, but something about these was extraordinary. This was a dazzling light like I had never seen before.

As I gazed at the beautiful trees, warmth spread through my heart. This was a truly magical moment. No longer was I seeing these winter-decorated branches with the eyes on my face; I now looked upon them with the eyes in my heart and soul. That night — Christmas Eve 1997–the air was clean and crisp, the sky was entirely filled with stars, and the trees…the trees sparkled with diamonds. Thousands and thousands of diamonds.

In my heart I knew this was God’s way of answering my prayers. I had needed him to show me that there was a man who thought I was worth a commitment, the commitment that is symbolized by a diamond ring. That Christmas Eve, God covered the trees in diamonds for my eyes and heart to behold. It was his way of showing me that he thought I was special and worthwhile enough for an eternal commitment.

As Paul slept quietly in the seat next to me, completely unaware of the miracle that had taken place, joyous tears of peace and self-worth streamed down my face. I knew that I had found someone who would love me forever, and realizing this was more profound and meaningful than any marriage proposal I could ever receive.

 

By Cynthia J. Teixeira
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