For the last 20 years I have presented the Gospel to each new youth at the highly secure prison for the kids ages 13 to 19 at Gainesville, Texas. It is the first time that most any of them have stopped “running on the streets” and had the time to think about their life. Most every one made a decision to make God part of their life. After our hour+ together I would write each one a letter. As a result I corresponded more with many of them. And in each letter I would enclose a group of short stories or poems. They really liked them, especially those with an emotional message. You probably would not believe how many locked-up prison boys have loved theses little stories, and read them over and over.
In my soon to be published book I enclosed a long list of those short stories in the Appendix. Since the prison boys liked them so much, I thought you may like to see some of them. So, here is a 18th group of them for you. And you are welcome to share them with others.
Jerry is the manager of a restaurant in rural America. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would always reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!”
Many of the waiters at his restaurant quit their jobs when he changed jobs so they could follow him around from restaurant to restaurant. There reason the waiters followed Jerry was because of his attitude.
He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was always there, telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.
Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, “I don’t get it! No one can be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?” Jerry replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, I have two choices today. I can choose to be in a good mood or I can choose to be in a bad mood. I always choose to be in a good mood.
Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I always choose to learn from it.
Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I always choose the positive side of life.”
“But it’s not always that easy,” I protested.
“Yes, it is,” Jerry said “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. It’s your choice how you live your life.”
Several years later, I heard that Jerry accidentally did something you are never supposed to do in the restaurant business: he left the back door of his restaurant open one morning and was robbed by three armed men.
While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness slipped off the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him. Luckily, Jerry was found quickly and rushed to the hospital. After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body.
I saw Jerry about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, “If I were any better, I’d be twins. Want to see my scars?” I declined to see his wounds, but did ask him what had gone through his mind as the robbery took place.
“The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door,” Jerry replied. “Then, after they shot me, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or choose to die. I chose to live.”
“Weren’t you scared?” I asked. Jerry continued, “The paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the Emergency Room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read ‘He’s a dead man.’ I knew I need to take action.”
“What did you do?” I asked. “Well, there was a big nurse shouting questions at me,” said Jerry. “She asked if I was allergic to anything.”
‘Yes,’ I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, ‘Bullets!’ Over their laughter, I told them, ‘I am choosing to live. Please operate on me as if I am alive, not dead’.”
Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that EVERY DAY YOU HAVE THE CHOICE TO EITHER ENJOY YOUR LIFE, OR TO HATE IT.
The only thing that is truly yours that no one can control or take from you – is YOUR ATTITUDE, so if you can take care of that, everything else in life becomes much easier.
And it has been observed over the years……..that those who are closest to God invariably have the best attitudes!
Scott got to church early to get a good seat for the Christmas service. He found a seat up against the aisle, and settled in. People were starting to file in wearing their Sunday finery when he remembered his cell phone was on. Just as he started to cut it off, John walked up with a big smile and a handshake. A typical Sunday morning conversation ensued, and as it was ending John questioned Scott about turning off his cell phone.
“You never know,” he said. “Some desperate soul just might need you,” he smiled.
Scott grimaced, reconsidered, and turned the phone onto vibrate. Scott ran a one-man towing business, and the last thing he wanted this morning was to have to miss the service to haul someone out of a ditch, or worse, drag the shredded remains of someone’s car off of the highway.
Not five minutes passed before his cell phone vibrated. As he walked toward the lobby to answer the call he could only think, “Full retail for this one.”
It was old Mrs. Wingate, a widow whose dilapidated jalopy was headed for the Guinness Book of World records for running long past the natural life span of any car. Her car had broken down on her way to church, and she was stranded on the side of the road, freezing. She was perhaps the kindliest little old lady anyone could ever hope to meet, and he could scarcely ask her to call anyone else. After all, she and his Mom were good friends.
When he arrived, Scott could see the steam still rising from her hood. She smiled gracefully as only a true Southern lady could, and they commiserated for a moment over her ailing car. As he slipped a pair of coveralls over his Sunday pants and shirt, he asked her to step in front of his truck for safety’s sake.
“Why, whatever for?” she asked. He explained how when the steel cable pulled her car up onto the flat bed of his truck there was always the possibility that it could snap, and either hurt or maybe even kill someone.
She gave a little gasp, and moved in front of the truck. In just a few minutes her ailing car was secured, and the pair took off towards her mechanic’s shop. Since her church was almost on the way, he asked if he could drop her off there. She turned to him and said, “Yes, thank you.”
As he pulled up to the side door of her church to let her out, she asked, “How much do I owe you.” He smiled, knowing that she was as poor as a church mouse. He pointed to the church building and said, “This one’s on the House.” She smiled that smile that only the truly thankful and relieved could smile, she put her time-worn hand on his forearm and said, “I will always pray for your safety.”
As she walked towards the church she joined some friends. As he pulled away, he could see them clustered in that tight huddle ladies form when some news needs to be shared. He knew he did not need to ask if she could get a ride home. That was as given as tomorrow’s sunrise.
A year later, Scott’s Reserve Unit got called up for combat duty. He had all the training he needed, and now it was the time to pony up. He went through the usual tearful goodbyes with his parents and friends, and took the long grueling flight overseas.
Shortly after arriving, his unit was assigned to clear a town of “insurgents.” With his mechanical skills, it was no surprise that he was assigned to a support group helping to maintain other vehicles in their unit.
It was not a peaceful day. Occasionally, the distinctive clatter of AK-47s would be heard along with the blast of rocket propelled grenades. This was usually followed by M-16 and 50 caliber machine gun fire. It wasn’t long before his team got the call to assist a wounded humvee towards the center of town.
They quickly descended on the shot-up vehicle, and began repairs. As they worked away it became obvious what parts and tools were needed, so Scott returned to the truck to get them. As he rounded the back of the truck he ran face-first into a enemy soldier that had slipped up quietly. Instantly an AK-47 was shoved into his face, and he heard the hammer of the rifle drop as the trigger was pulled. It was the loudest sound he had ever heard in his life. For whatever reason, the gun had not discharged, but he had heard that gun’s hammer hit steel like a blacksmith’s hammer striking an anvil.
Immediately he reacted. With his left hand he swept the gun aside, and with his right hand slammed the heavy wrench he was carrying into the head of the enemy soldier. The grungy, AK-47 carrying guerilla went down like a pile of rags. Calling for help, he turned his unconscious would-be killer over to the combat troops.
He was shaking so hard he couldn’t stand up. He sat down on the truck’s tailgate. He could only think, “The gun should have gone off. It should have blown my brains across the street. I should be dead.” But he wasn’t.
By evening, his nerves had finally settled down as much as they were going to that day. His team had been called back to work on a downed vehicle in a well-secured area so they moved away from the fighting. After chow the mail caught up with them. He got two letters, and a post card. He flipped the post card over and found that it was from that dear old soul, Mrs. Wingate.
It had only one sentence:
“I will always pray for your safety.”
He bowed his head, and quietly cried.
Science vs. God
‘Let me explain the problem science has with Jesus Christ.’ The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.
‘You’re a Christian, aren’t you, son?’
‘Yes sir,’ the student says.
‘So you believe in God?’
‘Is God good?’
‘Sure! God’s good.’
‘Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?’
‘Are you good or evil?’
‘The Bible says I’m evil.’
The professor grins knowingly. ‘Aha! The Bible!’ He considers for a moment.
‘Here’s one for you. Let’s say there’s a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?’
‘Yes sir, I would.’
‘So you’re good…!’
‘I wouldn’t say that.’
‘But why not say that? You’d help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn’t.’
The student does not answer, so the professor continues. ‘He doesn’t, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him How is this Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?’
The student remains silent.
‘No, you can’t, can you?’ the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax.
‘Let’s start again, young fella, is God good?’
‘Er…yes,’ the student says.
‘Is Satan good?’
The student doesn’t hesitate on this one. ‘No.’
‘Then where does Satan come from?’
The student : ‘From…God…’
‘That’s right. God made Satan, didn’t he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?’
‘Evil’s everywhere, isn’t it? And God did make everything, correct?’
‘So who created evil?’ The professor continued, ‘If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.’
Without allowing the student to answer, the professor continues: ‘Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?’
The student: ‘Yes.’
‘So who created them?’
The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. ‘Who created them? There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized.
‘Tell me,’ he continues onto another student. ‘Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?’
The student’s voice is confident: ‘Yes, professor, I do’
The old man stops pacing. ‘Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?’
‘No sir. I’ve never seen Him’
‘Then tell us if you’ve ever heard your Jesus?’
‘No, sir, I have not.’
‘Have you ever actually felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?’
‘No, sir, I’m afraid I haven’t.’
‘Yet you still believe in him?’
‘According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?’
‘Nothing,’ the student replies. ‘I only have my faith.’
‘Yes, faith,’ the professor repeats. ‘And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith.’
The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of his own. ‘Professor, is there such thing as heat?’
‘Yes,’ the professor replies. ‘There’s heat.’
‘And is there such a thing as cold?’
‘Yes, son, there’s cold too.’
‘No sir, there isn’t.’
The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain.
‘You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don’t have anything called ‘cold’. We can hit up to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.’
Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.
‘What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?’
‘Yes,’ the professor replies without hesitation. ‘What is night if it isn’t darkness?’
‘You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it’s called darkness, isn’t it? That’s the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, darkness isn’t. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?’
The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. ‘So what point are you making, young man?’
‘Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.’
The professor’s face cannot hide his surprise this time. ‘Flawed? Can you explain how?’
‘You are working on the premise of duality,’ the student explains. ‘You argue that there is life and then there’s death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it.’
‘Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?’
‘If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do’
‘Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?’
The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.
‘Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?’
The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided.
‘To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean.’
The student looks around the room. ‘Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor’s brain?’ The class breaks out into laughter.
‘Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor’s brain, felt the professor’s brain, touched or smelled the professor’s brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir. So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?’
Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable.
Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. ‘I guess you’ll have to take it on faith.’
‘Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,’ the student continues. ‘Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?’
Now uncertain, the professor responds, ‘Of course, there is. We see it everyday. It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.’
To this the student replied, ‘Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God.
God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.’
The professor sat down.
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