Read an Excerpt
The Broken Eggshell (Read James 3:2-10)
"I hate you, Allen!" Tom shouted. "Don't ever come in my room again! You're a thief!"
"Whoa, there," called Grandpa, coming down the hall. "What's all this yelling about?"
"Tom says I stole his scissors, but I didn't," Allen called from his room. "He's a liar, and he better stay out of my room, too!" Allen slammed his door.
With a sigh, Grandpa checked into the incident. It wasn't long before he discovered Tom's scissors on the hall table. With angry words, both boys insisted the other had left them there.
"Quiet!" ordered Grandpa. He motioned for them to follow him and headed for the kitchen, where he placed an egg and an empty teacup on the counter. "Allen, you crack this egg into the cup," said Grandpa. The boys wondered what he was getting at, but Allen obeyed. "Now," said Grandpa, "Tom, you put the egg back into the shell again, pleasejust the way it was."
Tom frowned. "What do you mean?" he asked. "That's impossible, Grandpa. You can't fix a broken egg."
"Like Humpty Dumpty, eh?" Grandpa chuckled. Then he became serious. "The point is, there's something else like Humpty Dumptysomething that can't be easily mended. I'm thinking of feelings. You boys said some ugly things to each other. Taking words back is just as impossible as mending an egg." Both boys felt bad. "Never forget how harmful words can be," cautioned Grandpa. "God says the tongue is like a firethat cannot be put out. That's how much damage words can do. Even saying you're sorry doesn't make them disappear."
"I am sorry, though," Tom told his brother.
"Yeah ... well ... me too," replied Allen. "You can come in my room, if you want." D.F.
HOW ABOUT YOU?
Are you careful about the words you speak, or do you say things before you think? Even when you say you're sorry, the other person may still remember those words you said. Ask God to help you tame your tongue.
"Don't use bad language. Say only what is good and helpful to those you are talking to, and what will give them a blessing." Ephesians 4:29, TLB
* Think before You Speak
Afraid of the Dark (Read 2 Corinthians 4:3-6)
Kim did her best to comfort Billy, the little boy she was baby-sitting, but he was terrified. A nightmare had awakened him, and he was sure that monsters were hiding in his room. "There's no such thing as a monster, Billy," Kim said as she sat on his bed and hugged him.
When she tried to tuck him under the covers, he clutched at her frantically. "I want my mommy!" he choked out between sobs.
"Listen, Billy," Kim soothed, "your mommy and daddy will be home later, but you're safe with me. I'll tell you whatwhy don't I leave the door open and turn on the hall light. I'll be right outside the door."
"I want my bear," Billy whimpered.
"All right." Kim placed the scruffy teddy in his arms. She dried his tears and then quietly left the room. "Please let him sleep," Kim prayed. And after Billy called out to her for reassurance several times, he did sleep.
Kim was tired when Billy's parents finally came home, but she perked up when they apologized for being late and paid her overtime. The extra money meant she would be able to buy the camera she'd been wanting.
At church the next day, a missionary showed slides of his work in India. The sound of the eerie pipe music filled the room. Kim saw people, their faces twisted by fear, offering sacrifices to cruel-looking idols. Why, she thought suddenly, they're just like Billy. They're scared of the darkonly the darkness they're afraid of is the darkness of evil. They need to know there's Someone to take care of them. They need the light of Jesus. Then something occurred to her. She had money. She could give some of it to help send them the gospel. The camera could wait for a while. A.L.
HOW ABOUT YOU?
Have you been afraid of the dark? Can you imagine how much worse it would be to be surrounded by the darkness of evil, with no knowledge that God loves you or that Jesus died for you? Think about what you can do to help send the light of the gospel to the people who live in such darkness.
"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." Isaiah 9:2, NIV
* Reach These in Spiritual Darkness
In His Arms (Read Isaiah 40:28-31)
Lesa tore open the door and stumbled down the hallway. "Mother! Mother!" she called. "Is it true?"
"Settle down there, Lesa." Dad met her and put an arm around her shoulders. "What's wrong?"
"David said his mom doesn't have a job anymore, and that all the plant workers have been laid off. It must be trueyou're home, too!" exclaimed Lesa. "Daddy, if you don't have your job anymore, how will we pay Kari's doctor bills?"
Just then, Mom came down the steps with baby Kari. Kari's eyes lit up when she saw Lesa, and she eagerly-reached out her hands. Dad let Lesa out of his bear hug so that she could take Kari. Lesa couldn't help remembering when Kari was sick and had to go to the hospital so often. She was such a quiet and dull baby then, not at all like the bright, happy baby she was now. She squeezed her little sister even tighter in her arms.
Dad saw the tight hug Lesa gave Kari. "Lesa, whose arms are holding Kari?" he asked.
"That's a funny question," said Lesa. "My arms are. Why did you ask that?"
"Well," said Dad, "is she really safe in your arms? Maybe I should take her."
Lesa looked puzzled. "But, Dad, you and Mom have taught me to be very careful with Kari. I'm in fourth grade, you know. Why don't you trust me with Kari now?"
Dad smiled. "Actually, I do," he said. "I'll leave her with you. But think about thisyou're worried because I'm out of work. I know it's a scary thought, and I'll admit that Mom and I feel a little shaky about it, too. But we decided to leave it in the arms that are holding us."
Lesa stared blankly at her father for a minute, and then she smiled. "God's arms," she said simply. Yes, it was true. God's arms were underneath her family. He would hold them tight, no matter what happened with Dad's job. P.J.
HOW ABOUT YOU?
Are you worried about your future? Has your mom or dad been laid off or lost a job? Remember, God knew it was going to happen before you did, and he knows what to do about it. Trust him.
"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." Deuteronomy 33:27, NKJV
* Rest in His Arms
Mystery Soup (Read 1 Samuel 16:6-13)
The front door slammed, signaling that John was home from school. When he didn't burst into the kitchen as usual, Mother checked on him. "What's wrong?" she asked the glum-faced boy sitting on the sofa.
John scowled. "I have to work on a social studies project with that new boy, Stefan," he mumbled. "You should see him. His pants are too short, his socks never match, and his hair's always a mess."
"But what makes you think he wouldn't be a good project partner?" asked Mother.
"I just told you," grumbled John. "If you could see him, you wouldn't ask that question."
Just then there was a loud clunk in the kitchen. They both hurried to the kitchen, where they found John's two-year-old brother, Travis, surrounded by cans from the cupboard, many with the labels peeled off. "Oh, no," moaned Mother, looking at the mess. After thinking a moment, she said, "John, you can help me. Would you tape the labels back on these cans, please? I want them done neatly."
"But which label goes on which can?" asked John.
"Don't worry about that," Mother said. "Just make sure it looks nice. Then let's have one that says 'Corn' for dinner."
"But, Mom," protested John, "if you just slap the labels on any old can, the outside might not match what's inside."
"So the outside appearance isn't really important, is it?" asked Mother. She smiled at John. "That's something I think you should remember. You've already judged Stefan because of how he looks. You've slapped a label on him without knowing what's on the inside. Find out what Stefan is like as a persondon't just judge him on his looks."
John thought about it. "Maybe I should get to know him," he decided. "But what are you going to do about those cans?"
Mother laughed. "I guess we'll be having mystery soup for a while." S.P.Z.
HOW ABOUT YOU?
Do you judge people by the way they look or dress? Do you label them without finding out what is inside? God doesn't judge on outward appearances, and neither should you. Try to discover what's in the heart.
"The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7, NKJV
* Don't Judge by Appearance
Battered Bears (Read 1 Timothy 5:1-4)
As Jenny gave her battered old teddy bear a hug before setting him on her pillow, her brother, Adam, walked past her bedroom door. "Why don't you give that ratty old thing a decent burialin the garbage can?" asked Adam, laughing at his own joke.
"Be quiet, Adam," shouted Jenny. "You're not funny."
Mother appeared in the doorway. "Let's go, kids," she said. Jenny made a face. They were going to visit Great-Aunt Catherine at the nursing home. Her mind was no longer alert, and the children hated visiting her.
At the nursing home, they found Great-Aunt Catherine sorting through ancient photographs, as usual. Mother talked gently to her about the past while the children drew pictures. Jenny sketched a funny picture of her great-aunt and some of the other old folks and showed it to Adam, and they snickered together in the corner. They didn't notice Mother until she pulled the sketch from Adam's hand.
Back home, Mother steered the children to Jenny's room. She took the teddy bear from the bed. "Jenny, you didn't like Adam making fun of your bear," she said. "I guess you still love it, even though its fur is rubbed off and one eye is missing, right?" Jenny nodded. "Well," said Mother, "I love Great-Aunt Catherine, even though she's old. She raised me after my parents died. It hurts me to see you make fun of herjust like it hurt you, Jenny, when Adam made fun of this bear."
"I'm sorry," murmured Jenny. Both children were ashamed of their attitude that morning.
"God commands us to honor and respect old people, even though they may have broken bodies and childlike minds," continued Mother. "They have spent their lives in service to their families and friends. Now it's our turn to be of service to them. Will you both please try to remember that?"
Jenny and Adam nodded solemnly. Adam even gave the old teddy bear a gentle pat as he left the room. E.C.O.
HOW ABOUT YOU?
Have you ever made fun of older people? Do you get impatient with the elderly members of your church or family when they cannot move fast or when they tell the same stories over and over? Proverbs 16:31 says that gray hair is a crown of glory. Treat older people with honor and respect.
"You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man." Leviticus 19:32, NKJV
* Respect the Elderly
Allen's Allergies (Read Psalm 34:12-16)
"Mom, the itchy spots are back on my skin," Allen said, holding out his arms. "I have bumps on my legs, too."
"Oh, Allen," said Mother, "your allergies are acting up again. I haven't changed the laundry detergent or any of our soaps. I can't imagine what caused this reaction, can you?"
Allen scratched his arms as he thought. "When I was over at Bob's this morning, his mom had some stuff out to the send to the mission," he said. "Bob and I dressed up in some of his dad's old camouflage clothes. I suppose they were washed in something I'm allergic to."
"I suspect that's it," said Mother. "Go take a shower, and then we'll get your prescription refilled."
As Allen and his mother drove home after picking up the medicine, Allen sighed. "It's hard to remember that I need to be careful about what touches my skin," he said. "We were having so much fun that I didn't even think about it." He rubbed his arms. "My allergies remind me, though," he added. "It's too bad they don't remind me ahead of time!"
"Isn't that the truth!" agreed Mother. She smiled at her son. "You know," she added, "dressing in those clothes was innocent fun, and it's too bad you have to avoid things like that. But you do, or you get this negative reaction. There are other things that we need to be very careful to avoid, too, even though they seem like innocent fun. We need to think about the consequences before getting involved in those things."
"Like what?" asked Allen.
"Well, ... like watching bad TV shows, or reading dirty books, or going places where we'll be tempted to do wrong," said Mother. "Those kinds of things, like any sinful activity, will stir up a negative reaction in our lives. We need to ask the Lord to remind us to avoid things that will harm us." N.E.K.
HOW ABOUT YOU?
Are you allergic to anythingfoods, bees, medicine, weeds, soap? if so, you know it's best for you to avoid those things, Sin can cause a very bad reaction in your life as well, Try to avoid sinful things so you can avoid their consequences, too,
"Keep away from every kind of evil." 1 Thessalonians 5:22, TLB
* Avoid Sinful Activity