Spring 2004 Issue From the Teaching & Sharing Center www.wsharing.com
WHAT IS THIS?
In an offer to one of the non-profits earlier this year I put a quarterly/seasonal email communication to its members into the package. When they rejected my offer, it dawned on me that if I could fit one in for them, I should do one for my own member mailing list, the poetís circle. Itís a little more complicated to do one for you though since about half of you either do not have email, or have not provided me with your email address, if you do have it. Print, package, and send adds substantial work/cost. Nevertheless, I decided Iíd give it a try.
The Mini7News does not replace the full wsharing newsletter. It is an in-between communication. It will be much shorter. Hopefully, less than a seven minute read, with seven or fewer articles and/or sections. Why 7? Itís a significant number for the Cherokee, and Biblically as well. There are of course seven Cherokee clans. But, my choice of 7 here relates more to the seven directions. While most First Nations traditions speak of the four directions, some historians claim the Cherokee referred to seven directions: east, south, west, north, up, down and within oneís self. East, south, west, north, up, down and within seems to me a pretty complete picture. And it is my hope that in spite of its brevity, the Mini7News can cover "all the bases" (so to speak) regarding the Teaching & Sharing Center. Weíll see.
Enough money came in to pay the end of February bills, and should be enough to cover the end of March as well. Thank you to those who have been sending contributions (including some new people).
Shortly after I sent you the communication about the financial situation, I also sent one out to the national Christian organizations I link to the wsharing.com website, and a letter to all the local churches. Most of the national organizations responded they would pray for the Center. Three sent me addresses of financial help websites to take a look at, but only one of those expressed willingness to look at a ministry, like mine, which is not a 501c3 corporation. That one has a possibility of a grant, but they are not taking applications until June. As of this writing, none of the local churches have responded.
While I wonít normally be writing about finances (I hope), I will include a finances box toward the end in each Mini7News so you will know where the Center stands regarding needs vs available money. I donít know how long the Center is intended to be here, but it appears the Holy Spirit has been working overtime to keep it going these last two months, which brings me to the next news.
THARí BLOWS A BOOKSTORE FROM THE EAST
Technically, it is from the west (Nevada). But, it came to me by a quirk from the east (Vermont). The fuller explanation is on my website, along with the bookstore. Sound confusing? You should have been there when it was all happening. However, the result is that I now have a full service Christian book store connected to (as a part of) the wsharing family.
The book store is an offering from Spread The Word Ministries. Since the Center doesnít have any spare cash, I took the $319 set up cost out of my personal savings. It sounds like a lot of money, but as someone who works with this (website) stuff all the time now, trust me, it is an exceptional opportunity.
Plus, I opted for a two-thirds discounted price and only one-third profit for the available margins, so you should be able to get some very good prices through the "wsharing bookstore" site. Many more details are online and you can access the bookstore through www.wsharing.com or directly at its own address http://wsharing.spreadtheword.com. Unfortunately, you need Internet access to benefit.
FROM YOUR EMAILS
Is Christianity For The Birds?
For some of you that question would bring a hearty "amen," or maybe more likely "yeah duh," as a response. But, even though these two emails I received utilize birds to convey the message, I think they are pretty good parables worth sharing.
There was once a man who didn't believe in God, and he didn't hesitate to let others know how he felt about religion and religious holidays, like Christmas. His wife, however, did believe, and she raised their children to also have faith in God and Jesus, despite his disparaging comments.
One snowy Christmas Eve, his wife was taking their children to a Christmas Eve service in the farm community in which they lived. She asked him to come, but he refused. "That story is nonsense!" he said. "Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That's ridiculous!" So she and the children left, and he stayed home.
A while later, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the window, all he saw was a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the window. Then another thump. He looked out, but couldn't see more than a few feet.
When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside to see what could have been beating on his window. In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and could not go on. They were lost and stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed. The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help them. The barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It is warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he walked over to the barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside.
But the geese just fluttered around aimlessly and did not seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. The man tried to get their attention, but that just seemed to scare them and they moved further away. He went into the house and came back out with some bread, broke it up, and made a bread crumbs trail leading to the barn. They still didn't catch on.
Now he was getting frustrated. He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe.
"Why don't they follow me?!" he exclaimed. "Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?" He thought for a moment and realized that they just wouldn't follow a human. "If only I were a goose, then I could save them," he said out loud.
Then he had an idea. He went into the barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as he circled around behind the flock of wild geese. He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn -- and one by one the other geese followed it to safety.
He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes earlier replayed in his mind: "If only I were a goose, then I could save them!" Then he thought about what he had said to his wife earlier. "Why would God want to be like us? That's ridiculous!" Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done. We were like the geese -- blind, lost, perishing. God had His Son become like us so He could show us the way and save us. That was the meaning of Christmas, he realized.
As the winds and blinding snow died down, his soul became quiet and pondered this wonderful thought. Suddenly he understood what Christmas was all about, why Christ had come. Years of doubt and disbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer: "Thank You, God, for coming in human form to get me out of the storm!"
There once was a man named George Thomas, pastor in a
small New England town. One Easter Sunday morning he came to the Church
carrying a rusty, bent, old bird cage, and set it by the pulpit. Eyebrows
were raised and, as if in response, Pastor Thomas began to speak..."I was
walking through town yesterday when I saw a young boy coming toward me
swinging this bird cage. On the bottom of the cage were three little wild
birds, shivering with cold and fright. I stopped the lad and asked, "What
you got there, son?" "Just some old birds," came the reply.
"But you'll get tired
of those birds sooner or later. What will you do?"
"How much?" the pastor asked again.
Jesus said, "DONE!"
YES I SAW "THE PASSION"
To answer many of you who have asked me that question. I spent a fair amount of time looking at the wall (what I do when something gory or gruesome is on the screen in a movie). But, it was moving and thought provoking. I think the greatest thing about the movie is that in the year 2004, all across America, Jesus, the Christ, is finally the main focus of the Easter holiday season (including Lent).
ARE YOU MISSING THE BOAT?
It occurred to me as I wrote this heading, that for some the question could refer to the above parables. If thatís the case, feel free to see it as such. But, I actually intended it to mention that if you have an email address, but I do not have you on the tpc-TEC (website) email list, you are missing a number of communications (website updates and more) sent out to those who are online. If you are not already receiving the "updates," you should email me with your address. You can still receive a paper copy of newsletters if you desire, even on the tpc-TEC list.
BACK TO THE BOOKSTORE
After I had already written about the bookstore, I decided to have some business cards made with the Internet site address on them. Iíve enclosed four of them if you are receiving this by regular mail. The only way for the bookstore to benefit the Center is for people to know about it. So, please pass them along to someone. The 20% discount option I selected should save them some money, making it a favor youíre doing for them as well.
If you are reading this online, you can visit the bookstore then email a friend the address (URL) to accomplish the same thing. All that needs to happen is for people to be aware of it. The rest should take care of itself. Thanks for your help.
As an extra incentive for you to check it out, and to let people know about the bookstore, Iíve included a coupon below which adds an additional 5% to the regular 20% making the typical discount 25% until Donnaís birthday (April 30). You need to enter the tpc033004 discount code to get the extra savings.
I think youíll find the buys pretty good though even at my normal pricing structure. Someone told me they bought a copy of The Purpose Driven Life for $12.98 at WalMart. The price on the wsharing bookstore site is $13.56 (only 58Ę difference) and you know what kind of buying clout WalMart has. With over 150,000 Christian items now available through wsharing, youíre not even going to find most of them at WalMart. So, check it out.
THATíS A WRAP
Like I said, Iím going to try to keep these short. That should encourage me to actually do them more regularly, and hopefully encourage more of you to actually read them as well. If you have a suggestion for something youíd like to see in the Mini7News, let me know. For someone many of you refer to as a writer, Iím never quite sure what to communicate to you.