A message of life. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”(A) There are many people who have inspired me, and to each I am grateful. And no one has been more inspiring to me than Yahshua, the man we know as Jesus Christ. And close behind him has been his follower Saul of Tarsus, the man we know as Apostle Paul, who suffered far more than most of us ever will, yet said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”(B)

INSIST ON YOURSELF; NEVER IMITATE. There are a set of people who make a living inspiring people…they are motivational speakers like the sports heroes Magic Johnson and outfielder Pete Rose. And businesses hire such people to motivate their employees to be better managers & salesmen. But these speakers never touch me like Christ & Paul. What speaks to me about Christ & Paul is that life kept trying to traumatize them & they kept loving & kept doing good. They successfully showed that one could as the Word of God says, “let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”(C) And I will never be a Magic Johnson, so I am not going to imitate him. In fact, on that basis it might seem a poor goal to imitate Christ, except that we are commanded it in God’s Word, and Christ says that His Spirit will live within us to help us accomplish it. “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”(D) “But as many as receive him [Christ], to them gave he power to become the sons of God…”(E) “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…”(F) “For we walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us…”(G) Unfortunately (yet we count it all joy), while some of us walk around asking what would Jesus do, others are asking what would Machiavelli & Jeffry Damler do? They prey on those who pray. “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him [Christ] who loved us.”(H) “And he [Christ’s Spirit] said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”(I) Wow!

CHICKEN SOUP FOR YOUR SOUL? There are a series of Chicken Soup books that have stories to inspire…I have picked these books up on various occasions and been disappointed…the words lack something. But I will share what has inspired me. I’ve listened to Nick Vujicic a couple of times. Nick was born with Tetra-amelia syndrome…which means he was born with no limps…that’s right, no legs or arms. When you see how he accepts himself and can fully function and live life with a smile…I tell you… all my problems (and possibly yours too) seem small in comparison. The power of who he is in the face of overwhelming difficulties is inspiring. And now I want to tell you about someone who possibly even one ups Nick!! (As if that were possible.)

RALPH G. NEPPEL. Sometimes people come along like Nick and Ralph & teach us by example to quit whining and get winning. Ralph was an Iowa farmboy who was drafted into the army in WW 2. The peacock feathered American generals had slaughtered over 35,000 American boys trying to take a forest from hell called Huertgen Forest. On the other side as American forces came out of the forest, the Germans counterattacked. Ralph ended up in front of one of those counterattacks as an actual Tiger tank with its fearsome .88 cannon rolled towards him in the cold dark. Ralph had a machine gun. When he scattered the German infantry behind the tank, it belched a round right into Ralph and his 2 assistants at the machine gun. The .88 shell killed his two companions instantly, and tossed Ralph legless ten yards back. Disregarding his excruciating pain of one leg gone & the other totally shredded, Ralph inched himself back in the dark on his elbows to the machine gun, which by the feel of it was still working. Surprising the German infantry, he wiped them out, and the tank decided to turn around without support. Ralph had singlehandedly saved his sleeping company. But that is just the prelude to the story. That is just how he lost his legs…not the rest of the story which is how he cheered people up in the hospital, how he never complained, how he learned to walk with two prosthesis legs, then to play golf, ride horseback, drive a car, play baseball and everything else. He went back home & married his dream girl. Ralph was awarded by presidents the Medal of Honor (the highest award) & the Handicapped Person of the Year. He worked for the VA and whenever Ralph heard of a vet who was depressed about his injuries, he would go visit them & inspire them. For years he cheered up depressed vets. He also raised four children. (By the way, Wikipedia has a short article on this hero.)

So yes, I am inspired. I am inspired by a savior that endured the torture of Roman whips & a crucifixion, and could say as he died a painful death “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”(J) I am inspired by the Nicks of this world, who get up every morning with a smile on their face, and courage in their hearts, when they face far more than I ever will. I am inspired by the Ralphs of this world who courageously face the enemy and protect others, and then go on to inspire countless people to face their discouraging losses. “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.”(K) “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”(L)

(A) 2 TIM 1:7 (B) PHIL 4:13 (C) GAL 6:9 (D) JN 14:18 (E) JN 1:12 (F) PHIL 2:5 (G) EPH 5:2a (H) ROM 8:37 (I) 2 COR 12:9 (J) LK 23:34 (K) PS 31:24 (L) PHIL 1:6


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