Archive for the ‘Parables’ Category

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Cliff handed the driver a generous tip, thanked him and walked into the conference hall. Signs and banners announced the launch and grand opening of the new rehab center. Without the sizeable donations and contributions from companies like his he knew they’d not even exist. Equipped with the best in housing, treatment and care they spared nothing to give the doctors, medical personnel and case workers all they needed to facilitate what the residents and patients needed. Except for the director, administrator, and well-placed case workers and professionals it was largely staffed with unpaid volunteers who themselves were recovering alcoholics and former drug addicts, and the like. They’d all been invited to the gala event. The congressman who pushed and promoted the center’s cause and creation into existence promised tax credits and incentives to the big donors funding it. He was running for president in the next election and Cliff, one of his constituents was inclined to get on board with the project. If it succeeded it was a win for them all.

They opened with speeches, introductions and honorable mentions of people significant to its inception. A formal dinner would follow. Cliff moved towards the front of the head table shaking hands, smiling and talking with ones near the director and administrator hoping to claim a seat next to the congressman as he and the director greeted guests and dignitaries.

He stood behind a seat near theirs ready to sit down when the event planner came up to him and said, “Sir, we have these seats next to the director, administrator and congressman reserved for the chaplain, case workers and mentors that work directly with them, but if you will follow me down here to the end of this row we will seat you with another group.”

He glared back at her, then said, “Young lady, do you know who I am? I’m the CEO of Scarsdale Industries and if not for our financial support and funding this event would not even be happening It is because of our involvement that…” he went on a bit too loudly. Heads turned their direction hearing the exchange of words which also caught the attention of a news photographer standing to the side, videotaping it all.

“Yes, sir. Thank you. I’m aware of who you are, but at the request of the director we have placed his staff next to them because of their selfless commitment and time to the program. I’m sure you understand my position. So, if you will please follow me, I will reseat you down on this end with the other contributors and donors.”

Cliff’s face turned red, his eyes, cold as ice glaring back as if in defiance, but without another word just nodded and followed her to the end of the long formal dining table set for the fifty some guests invited.

His dignity suffered a a direct blow from the incident. He came to the gala proud, arrogant and boastful for what he’d given to them, trying to claim some glory for himself with his position in life, but instead walked away humbled, learning a lesson in humility. He found that there is no glory for one who lives only to exalt and lift up himself so others might see his good works.

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The above story is fiction. It is my version, inspired by and based on the parable Jesus told in Luke 14:7-11, ‘the banquet feast.’ I have recently been studying the parables and stories in both the new and old testaments, and find them not only full of history, facts and truth, and a message for all, but also they are a great inspiration for stories that can speak to hearts today. We all have times when we’re needing to learn what it is like to have our stool or pedestal knocked out from under our feet. Sometimes just declaring our achievements openly before others can prove fatal to achieving what we really need demonstrated; integrity, honesty and consideration for those who maybe struggle with their own personal worth, confidence and self-esteem.  I have been reminded of that plenty of times when the still small voice of the Holy Spirit quickens my heart and I need forgiveness for my selfish attitude or indifference. 

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:11 NIV

Joyce E. Mannhalter © July 2019

The Wayward Son

“Dad, I’m taking what’s mine and leaving.”

“Why? I hoped you would want to work with your brother and I in the business. When I retire the business will be yours, and your brother’s. ”

“No. I want to see the world, travel.” He turned away avoiding the crestfallen look on his father’s face.

A few days later Mick closed out his accounts, cashed in his trust fund, took his share of the estate and left.

For months following he traveled the world, living like a man with no responsibilities or obligations. No concerns or thoughts to who or what he left behind and none for those he met along the way. He dined and partied with men and women who showed him a good time, drove fast cars, stayed at five-star hotels and resorts eating and drinking at expensive restaurants while spending, and charging all without a care. Life was good, easy. He felt free. But the money ran out, credit cards expired, loans defaulted, and he was broke, unable to pay his debts.

Now desperate and hungry he hauled grain and feed to the stock pens of a farmer eating what he could glean. When he asked for food, they replied. “Go away, can you not see all the hungry who still have no food to eat. There isn’t enough for our own.” So, he searched through alleys for scraps in waste bins behind the bars he once hung out in.

I will go home and apologize to my father and ask if he will hire me on as one of his construction workers. They at least eat well and are paid for their wages earned. I have earned nothing but the shame and disrespect of my family. Will even God forgive me for all I have done?

While walking up the long-gated drive to his father’s home he was met with the warm loving arms of his father, never asking where he’d gone or what he’d done. Only how happy he was to see him and know he had ‘come home.’ His father asked his servants to prepare a very special, festive dinner and celebration with his best wine for his youngest son had returned home.

But when Stan Jr. the older son saw all the commotion and celebration going on, he came to his father and asked what he was doing and why.

“Did I not work for you all these years faithfully running things at the business just like you taught me? And yet, now you spoil him with an outlandish display of gifts and party. Do I not deserve the same or better for all I have done?”

“Stan Sr. replied, “Son, all you need do is ask and it is yours to enjoy. All I have is yours already. But your brother was lost to us all those years and now has returned. It is time to celebrate, not be bitter. Let’s party.”

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Joyce E. Mannhalter © 2019

The above story is fiction, but the truth and parable are scriptural. The story of the prodigal son is found in Luke 15: 11-32 of the New Testament Bible. It is one of many parables or stories Jesus shared with his disciples to illustrate a truth or lesson. This parable story is one of my favorites as it depicts the love our Father God has for us who come to him lost, with a repentant heart seeking forgiveness and wishing for a new beginning, a new life in Him. receiving the gift of salvation and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in directing our steps while on our journey of faith. I love how this father reached out to his lost son in love with no condemnation or questions as to where he’d been or how he conducted his life before his return. As Father’s Day is approaching on Sunday, June 16th I thought this parable story a perfect one to share and hope you have enjoyed reading my own fictional modern version of the parable of the ‘Prodigal Son’. I want to wish all fathers out there a Happy Father’s Day. Best wishes to you and yours on this special day.

JEM

‘Parable’ of the honey bee


Parable of the honey bee

 

Clinging to life it holds on, but failing, its wings heavy from the pollen it carries it offers up;

Others hover near gathering their own and wait respectfully, knowing its fate.

When it’s time the bee succumbs, and others carry on producing what they know to do.

The life of the bee is short; their purpose vital, crucial to the environment.

It is nature’s way, a part of God’s perfect plan.

Like the common bee we live our lives too, within a span of time.

We gather what is important to us. But, it is what we offer up that is the essence

of God’s spirit in us, as a sweet nectar, and aroma that permeates the land.

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Scripture reference – 2 Corinthians 2:15 (NIV translation)

Footnotes:  The above photo is one I took in my back yard garden while watching this bee as it died. I have a good friend who has a bee hive operation as a hobby and watched him at work with his bees. I became very interested in the things I learned about bees, more so than in the past when careful to stand away from them and not be stung. The recent experience while watching and studying bees inspired me to write this ‘parable’, a short devotion about the things we have in common with a mere honey bee, and whether we seek for ourselves those things most important to us, or whether we ‘offer up’ and give back what matters most; our relationship to God, to others, and to our world in general. I love reading the stories and parables in Matthew that Jesus taught his disciples and thought the bee story made a good illustration to use. Comments on this story are welcome, as always with my stories, posts and poems.

Joyce E. Johnson © 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


TRANSFORMED

TRANSFORMED

The homeless man crouched down under the bridge, hunched over, shielding himself from the cold. His mismatched, dirty pants and shirt hung loose on his thin, weathered frame. His shoes, stripped of shoe laces, were worn through till only the inner sole rubber made contact with asphalt.

After searching through dumpsters in alleys for something to eat, he was convinced he had arrived too late. They were emptied of their contents that morning after trash pick-ups. All that remained was the stench of the garbage they held. His stomach gnawed from lingering hunger. For longer than he could remember he’d hidden in the shadow of shame, losing all but the ragged clothes on his back, with no job, and or means to support himself. He slept on park benches, under bridges, in or between boxcars, wherever he found shelter or small spaces, not yet claimed. But, there were guarded areas few like him could dare encroach upon. Like seasoned night hawks they laid claim to their space and things. Weapons fashioned of things found like sharp tin can lids made into spears protruding from sticks were bayonets, and jagged cut bottles or jars with sharp edges they used to ward off newcomers. Their found treasures, protected and hidden behind the enclaves of discarded mattresses, sheets of cardboard, crates or boxes were coveted things he had yet to lay hold to, or confiscate from another. His body still held cuts and scars from his attempts to take what another one had found.

He watched a worm slither out from its crevice in the ground until free of its cold, dark domain. When it began its slow crawl across the walk he reached out for it, but a crow swooped down and snatched it up, the worm squirming from its beak as it lifted into the sky.

As night approached the void became darker, the air colder. But he fell asleep, weary from his struggle and despair. He saw sunrise creep leisurely across the sky, bright colors in orange and yellow. He felt warmth wash over him, a soft breath of one speaking his name. “John.” A wispy like flutter brushed across his nose. A butterfly flying around him as if unafraid, unfettered, remained. Lakes, ponds, green valleys, and gardens opened up before him. Birds sang incessantly from a forest of trees.

A man walked from the light to stand over him, stretched out his hand and pulled him up. Placing a clean, warm blanket over his shoulders he embraced the man, and led him away. There before him was a table spread out with all kinds of food, and containers with fresh water.

“Eat whatever you want, whatever you like, John.” People mingled around, jubilant with praise. At the head of the table, the man spoke to all those there, saying, “Transformation, a spiritual process of re-birth is not only one of the soul, but of the mind. Today, you will be transformed. You need never go hungry again, or be homeless, or in want again. God has a plan for your life.”

The man jerked, waking up. Everything looked the same, before he fell asleep. But, there stood the one from his dream, standing before him now, helping the homeless man up from the ground.

“Here, let me help you, John. We have a place near here where you can rest, and food to eat, a shelter for those who have no home, or place to stay. We have clean beds, food, and people who want to help.”

One year later, John stood, transformed from the man he once was, in the kitchen at the shelter cooking, and serving to the homeless. Smiling at each one, he filled their plates, and offered encouragement, hope. “Enjoy your meal. There are clean clothes, shoes and socks over there, and cots where you can rest.”

Ten years later, John became the director of a new shelter. The sign above it read, “TRANSFORMED,” It became a beacon to the community. Every day, he and a team of volunteers went out on the streets, inviting those in; the homeless, needy and helpless, even disabled veterans came through their doors seeking help.

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Joyce E. Johnson – 2013


Parable of the Butterfly

English: Photograph of a Monarch Butterfly.

English: Photograph of a Monarch Butterfly. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Parable of the Butterfly

 By: Joyce E. Johnson

The butterfly struggled, working to free itself in the jar. A few holes in the lid allowed only a small amount of air to enter the glass chamber. But the heat and humidity was suffocating. It would not live much longer. Kept in a dark confining place since coming out of its cocoon, it would never know wide open spaces, or retreat to a flower under a bright sun.

It worked hard, pushing against the lid on the jar, but it became more difficult with each effort. One wing broke leaving the butterfly weak and disabled as it slid once more to the bottom of its chamber.

The captor held the jar up to his face peering intently at his prize, smiling. What a specimen I have caught.

There was little movement now from the defeated, dying butterfly.

Soon, someone came along, seeing the trapped butterfly in the jar and said to its captor. “I will give you any amount of money you want if you will let me buy your butterfly.”

The captor asked, “But, why? It’s almost dead. It’s part of my experiment.”

The prospective buyer replied, “It is mine. It is beautiful, special. Look at its color and markings. The orange on its wings are the color of sunset, and the black markings like peaks meeting the sun at dusk. There is no other like it in all of creation.”

The purchase was made, and the captor walked away clutching his wad of money.

The rescuer was happy too, buying back what He had created. Opening the jar he allowed a gush of sweet, fragrant air and warm sunlight into its chamber.

A gentle touch from his finger nudged life and energy back into the broken, disabled body of the butterfly. It soon made its way back up the mouth of the jar, feeling it’s way around, looking out at the vast amount of space beyond.

It climbed out, hugging the rim of the chamber, too afraid to go further. But, a large hand cupped close to the chamber opened, welcoming the butterfly onto its palm. Soon, the butterfly   began to explore its space, thankful to this one who rescued it, giving it a new life, freedom.

Amazingly, the broken wing was healed. Testing its wings it began its ascent into the unknown. It felt whole and strong. Taking off like a tiny glider, it soared into the sky, lifted by a soft breeze.

The rescuer stood tall, larger than life watching, smiling as the butterfly swooped higher, now free to be all he was created to be.

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         I wrote the  story, “Parable of the Butterfly” as an illustration based on the following scripture in Psalms 18:1

“He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.”

“He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”  Psalm 18:17 & 19 (NIV)

I love the  Psalms that David wrote as he went through the most difficult times in his life, crying out to God to deliver him from his sorrow, anguish and torment.  He was set free from those things and from his enemies (King Saul) who kept him running for his very life. He was in grave danger, hiding from his enemies, but God knew where he was all the time, watching over him, protecting him. Not only did God deliver David, and spare his life, but made him the new King of Israel, blessing him beyond and above what he once was before, a shepherd watching over his father’s flock. (Story can be found in I Samuel, chapters 17,18 & 19).

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