Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A One-line Comprehension Passage

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Read the passage carefully and then answer the following questions.

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Suddenly feeling the line go taut, Adrian excitedly hauled it in.

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1.            What is the name of the boy in the story?

2.            To what does the “it” in the passage refer?

3.            What word in the passage may mean the same as tight?

4.            What was the boy holding in his hand?

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5.            What do you think he was doing?

6.            Choose an appropriate adjective to place before the word “line”.

7.            What do you think caused the boy to be excited?

8.            What word in the passage may mean the same as pulled?

9.            What words tell us that the boy had probably done this activity before?

10.        Why do you think the line suddenly became taut?

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11.        Besides the line what else do you think the boy might have used in this activity?

12.        What do you think the boy expected to find when he hauled in the line?

13.        Write a single sentence to suitably begin the story.

14.        Write a single sentence to appropriately end this story.

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15.        Where do you think this activity might have taken place?

16.        Suggest a suitable topic for this passage.

In the spaces following list the four adverbs in the passage.

17.        (………………………………....)

18.        (…………………………………)

19.        (…………………………………)

20.        (…………………………………)

Stewart Russell © 2016

Monday, August 29, 2016

Who’s Really Playing God?

Image result for images of a medical doctor

Sometimes a doctor dares to tell a person
How long he or she will live,
Such predictions often amuse me
Since last I checked life was God’s to give.

More than such prognoses though
There is another matter we must contemplate,
This also has to do with doctors
And the god-like decisions they sometimes take.

For example take the following scenario
In which a doctor must make a decision
Whether to euthanize a dying patient
Or extend the life of a terminally ill person.

Such a question brings to the fore
Some very thought provoking considerations
Like whether life can still have meaning
In times of severe suffering or loss of vital functions.

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Who among us including the doctor
Can determine when life no longer has meaning
Or whether a machine hooked up person
Has brain capacity to keep thought streaming?

And what about the will of God?
Shouldn’t this also be of critical thought?
Isn’t it God who gives life purpose and meaning?
Isn’t He the one through whom life is wrought?

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Isn’t my life and yours a gift from God?
And as such should we not seek to preserve it?
Isn’t He sovereign over its beginning and its end?
And as such should we not cherish every little bit?

Is it not murder to actually take one’s life?
Therefore what about euthanasia or mercy killing?
Is it any different when a doctor does it
In particular to relieve a patient’s suffering?

Suffering which is a part of our natural life
Performs a vital developmental roll
Particularly in the life of a born again believer
Whom it helps to spiritually grow.

Is he not playing God when he determines
How much suffering is really too much?
And what about the Hippocratic oath he swore?
Isn’t he reneging on this when he takes a life as such?

Is he not also playing God when on the other hand
He dares to prolong the existence of a patient
Who is hooked up to numerous machines
And whose natural life is already spent?

No life activity other than the machines,
No brain activity, no semblance of thought,
Only the experimentation of doctors in charge
In their attempt to buy what cannot be bought.

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Life is God’s to give and to take
Time here is not man’s to create or make,
Mercy killing is a God’s alone decision
Prolongation of death is not a God-given provision.

Consider the following gauge if you will
Of the difference between preserve and prolong:
To preserve natural life is certainly right
But to prolong death is absolutely wrong.

In the final analysis it would appear to me
That life must be permitted to run its course,
Actively speeding up death is wrong
And prolonging the same should not be enforced.

Rather than Play God we should let God be God,
Either of the two is encroaching on His domain,
In life-ending matters depend on God for wisdom
And consider what is meaningful while life remains.

Stewart Russell © 2016

Friday, August 26, 2016

A Forced Landing

Image result for drawings of a small airplane flying overheadThe light aircraft began to splutter and drop lower and lower.  Jason and Mike wondered what the matter could be.  The pilot appeared to be making some kind of a signal to someone but no one except the two boys was around.  He continued to wave frantically from the window of the plane as it drifted lower and lower.  They were certain that something of a serious nature was wrong.

Jason and Mike lived not far from the airport.  Most evenings after they had arrived home from school, they would go for a walk.  Before returning home, they used to stop by the fence that bordered the airport and watched the planes touch down on the runway.  This pastime was a great thrill for them.  From that vantage point they had even witnessed the arrival of the supersonic Concorde.

That evening was not unlike any other.   They sat on the grass just gazing at the oncoming planes and taking note of the way in which they appear to be getting bigger as they drew nearer.  Finally, they appear so near over their heads that they felt they would just drop on them.  On those occasions they used to wonder, “What if the pilot makes a mistake!”  What was about to happen that evening was not the pilot’s mistake but they could see that something out of the extraordinary was about to unfold. 

They kept their eyes on the small plane as it came lower and lower while circling all of the time.   Suddenly Jason exclaimed, “Notice something Mike?”

“No, what?” Mike inquired after looking a little harder.  “I don’t see anything unusual, ”

“Watch the landing wheels!” Jason said with some consternation in his voice.  “They are not staying down.”  It was then that Mike realized that the wheels were coming down and then retracting.  “That’s why the pilot has been circling and circling,” Jason opined.

“May be too,” observed Mike, “that’s why the plane is spluttering.”

“Highly unlikely,” Jason retorted.  “May be it’s running out of fuel.  He has been circling for quite for a while.” 

Jason knew more about planes than the average boy his age because his uncle worked at the airport.  Uncle Bob worked with the maintenance crew.  Often he would take Jason along and he would explain many things about how planes work.  Mike knew this and respected Jason for his knowledge about planes.

“What’s he going to do?” inquired Mike.  “He just can’t circle all day long.  Why is he waving like that?  Do you think he is afraid, Jason?   Will he crash, Jason?

The questions kept coming fast and furious.  Jason had no answers for Mike and it seemed as if the pilot had no answer for his dilemma.  He just kept circling and circling and coming lower and

lower.  In fact the plane seemed to be coming closer and closer to where they were now standing.  They had long scrambled to their feet to get a better view of it.

Suddenly an idea occurred to Jason.  “I know why he is frantically waving his hand.  He is trying to tell us something.  He wants to land on this pasture.  He wants us to get as far away as we possibly can.”  

“But why does he want to land here on this pasture when the airstrip is just over there?” Mike asked.

“I suppose the grass here would help to cushion the landing and besides it would be away from all the other planes and buildings just in case it catches afire.  Then again, may be he doesn’t have enough fuel to make it to the airstrip.”   Jason noted with a certain smugness that once again his knowledge had impressed his friend.  He could see the admiration in his face.  However it was time to get out of there.

The boys ran some distance from where they were and then stopped at a point that they considered to be safe.  At this time the pilot had stopped waving and began to make his descent.  He had obviously decided that he was going to attempt a force landing.  There was a fairly strong wind blowing and Jason wondered how he would handled this problem, especially in addition to all of the other problems with which he already had to grapple.

The aircraft came in leaning to one side.  Jason was certain the wing was going to touch.  The plane touched the grass on the back wheels which held firmly and ran for some distance before the fuselage slid along the grass.  It was a good belly landing.  However the unevenness of the terrain caused the plane to flip to a side before coming to rest.  The left wing was broken off as well as the propeller.   

The boys stood transfixed in their position for a moment or so, too afraid to even breathe.  There was no movement coming from the cockpit.  Suddenly they started to run toward the damaged plane.  They were both very concerned for the well being of the pilot.

“Is he dead?” Mike asked in almost a whisper as they slowed while nearing the scene of the crash.

“I do not think so, “Jason responded.  “At least I hope not.”

On arrival at the crash site they noticed that there was no movement.  They climbed up on the plane to see what they could do to help the pilot.  They were not sure that there was anything they could do but they meant to give it a try anyway.   What the boys saw exceeded their greatest expectations.  The pilot had a gash over his right eye and he appeared not to be breathing.  This was Jason’s greatest nightmare for the pilot of the aircraft was none other than his Uncle Bob.  “We’ve got to do something,” he said in desperation.  “We can’t just stay here and stare at him.   Mike, you find someone with a phone and call an ambulance.   Go quickly!  I’ll wait here and see if he comes to.”
Mike was off in a dash.  He hurried across the field and headed straight for the nearest house.   He ran up to the front door and knocked.  The door was answered by a young girl.   Mike quickly related the incident and asked if he could make a call.  The girl replied that he could but she could do a lot more than that.  Mike inquired, “What do you mean?” 

The young girl informed Mike that her name was Ann and her father was a doctor.  At that moment Dr. Harris entered the room and seeing Mike there, inquired concerning the problem.   Having heard about the crash, he invited both youngsters to journey with him to the site.   Ann climbed into the Jeep’s cabin while Mike vaulted on to the back.  In a cloud of dust they were off.
Meanwhile Jason was crouched over his uncle in the small cockpit of the plane willing him to open his eyes.  He had become so close to Uncle Bob and admired him so much that he could not bear the thought of losing him.  He was not even aware that he had muttered the words, “Don’t die Uncle Bob.  You can’t do this to me.  What would I do if you die?  Come on Uncle, Please open your eyes.” 

The gash above Bob’s eye was not by any means a big one.  The blood had already clotted.  Jason thought to himself that he had probably struck his face to the dashboard where all of the instruments for flying were.  Suddenly Jason heard the roar of a vehicle.  Looking in the distance he could see the Jeep coming with great speed.  It was bouncing precariously as it speeded towards the plane.  Before it actually stopped, Mike jumped from the back and scrambled up the side of the plane.  Dr. Harris was behind him showing that he was very nimble and athletic for his forty years.  Snatching his stethoscope from his satchel he rested it on Bob’s chest.  Whatever the sign, he seemed pleased because a bright smile lit up his face.  He proceeded to lift Bob from the wreck with the help of the two boys.  Together they place him in the Jeep and were off to the hospital.  Jason wanted to inquire about Bob’s condition but he felt somewhat abashed. 

Dr. Harris turned to his daughter and remarked, “I expect him to come out of it any time now.  He was knocked unconscious when his head stuck the dash.”  Just about that same time Jason heard his uncle groan.  To this day he will tell you that it was the most beautiful and relieving groan that he had ever heard.

Uncle Bob sat upright in the reclining chair in his home.  Present were his wife, Jason, Mike, Dr. Harris and his daughter.  They were all listening to Uncle Bob as he recounted what had actually transpired. 
“I was coming in to land when I realized that the landing gear was not functioning properly.  I began to circle hoping that whatever was wrong would correct itself.  As I circled the fuel gauge was reading lower and lower.  When the plane began to splutter I realized that I had no fuel left and I decided to land it in the field.  It was on my approach that I saw you boys in the field and signalled for you to run as far away as you could.  Well the rest is history.”

“To have landed in that field without sustaining anymore damage was a tremendous feat,” Dr. Harris remarked.  “How did you manage that?” 
“Uncle Bob is one of the best pilots there is,” said Jason beaming with pride and satisfaction.  “And when I grow up I want to be able to fly an aeroplane just like he can.”  With that, Uncle Bob thanked Dr. Harris once again while ruffling the hair of the two boys. 

“You know, you two boys acted very responsibly today.  Were it not for your wise action, things might not have turned out the way they did.  I am very proud of you all.  Well tomorrow we will have the wreck remove from the field.”  With that Dr. Harris and his daughter were off leaving the two boys to chat with Uncle Bob.  In their eyes, Uncle Bob was truly a hero.   
Stewart Russell © 2016

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Water, the Real Winner

“Water, water, water,” his voice faded away as if all of his strength had gone.

Image result for images of giving a drink of waterMark had been running for a long time and at a fierce rate.  He had been punishing himself in an all out attempt to win the school’s cross country marathon.  He was not far from the finish line; only another hundred metres, but he had collapsed from exhaustion and thirst.  He had pushed himself too hard.

“Somebody get some water quickly before he passes out,” shouted a spectator.

“From where?” inquired another.  “There are no houses around here.”

“But we need water and we need it fast,” insisted yet another spectator.  They had assembled along the route to witness this annual event.  Yet, not one of them had any water and Mark was in serious trouble.

He muttered again, “Water, water, please give me water.”  His voice was barely audible.

By this time the first runner came in sight.  It was almost five minutes since Mark had collapsed.  He was way ahead of the nearest competitor yet here he was lying on the ground, unable to convert this lead into triumph.  His main problem, however, was not winning the race but getting water.  For the third time he mouthed, “Water, water.”  This time he could only form the words.  There was no sound coming from his lips.

The first runner came nearer and nearer.  “Shawn is getting closer!” shouted a spectator.  “No way Mark can win this race now.  I always knew he didn’t have a chance.  My money was always on Shawn.  This would be his third year as champion.”

“How could you be thinking of the race at this time, you insensitive idiot?” responded one of the spectators who was now fanning Mark in an attempt to revive him.

Shawn arrived at the scene and stopped.  “What’s happening here?” he asked. 

“It’s Mark.  He has collapsed from exhaustion.  He called for water but we don’t have any and as you can see, there are no houses around.”

Image result for images of giving a drink of water“Don’t worry,” replied Shawn. “I still have a little with me.  I always run with my water.  Here, let me get through to him.” 

In three minutes Mark was on his feet and ready to run again.  “Come on, Mark. Let’s go.  We still have a race to finish and I can see our nearest rival in the distance.  He’s catching up quickly.” 

Mark stumbled over the finish line, with Shawn giving him just a little push.  “Congrats,” said Shawn.  “You deserve to win, Mark.” 

“Thanks,” replied Mark.  “I couldn’t have done it without your water and your push.”

They both laughed and then watched as the other competitors made their way to the finish line.  They fought for the bronze but everybody knew who had won the gold and silver. 

Image result for images for and the winner is waterThe announcer’s voiced boomed with the aid of the microphone.  “Here are the results of the school’s annual cross country marathon.  In third position, Henderson Skeete, in second position, Shawn Spencer and the gold goes to Mark Small.” 

If you ask him now, Mark would still tell you that the real winner was water. 
Stewart Russell © 1999

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Is an Ex-Christian for Real?

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Are you in the business for the show
But the Saviour Jesus you do not know?
In your church are you one its pillars
But being born again does not matter?

Have you claimed to know the Lord Christ
Without acknowledging he paid sin’s price?
Did you fully trust Jesus alone for salvation
Or were you deceived by some clever concoction?

A person may claim he was once a Christian
But now denies the source of that salvation,
An ex-Christian some say but is that true?
He has lost his salvation: is that your view?

O she was among us for quite a while
Check the date in the membership file,
To be involved in church activity was her style
And her list of ministries stretched a mile.

He must have been saved though he isn’t now
He appears to have lost his salvation somehow,
Ex-Christians they have suddenly become
Once saved but no longer of God’s kingdom.

You should have heard him; he could preach
You should have seen her; she could teach,
Bible study sessions were their hallmark
And at prayer meetings were there at the start.

Yet she fell away and she no longer comes
Ask him about Christ and away he runs,
Viewing Christianity an absolute waste of time
He expresses, “It doesn’t even cross my mind.

I am now an ex-Christian and happy it is so
And one day you’ll be too; that I know
And you’ll know when I tell you I used to be
Just wait a little while and you will see.”

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Could it be possible that they once were saved
And now this is the way in which they behave?
Having no regard for what was once held as true
They are now ex-Christians even in our view.
Maybe an ex-Christian is like dehydrated water
Doesn’t exist now or even in the here after,
Could it be that such a person was never saved
But was simply enthused by the limelight he craved?

For the thrill they join a church and quickly climb
And become involved as if running out of time,
Surpassing all others to reach their pinnacle
Being large and in charge and influencing people.

But did they have an encounter with the Saviour?
If such was the case why their contrary behavior?
Could it be that they were simply among us
But in all reality they never had come to Jesus.

Activities and membership in a choice of church
Do not any poor unregenerate sinner convert,
Salvation is by God’s grace and faith in Christ alone
Let’s cut through the fat and get to the bone.

A person could be a Christian in the name only
But concerning being genuine he is only a phony,
With his lips he praises but never in his heart
Not long and he’ll hear, “I never knew you, depart!”

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How could Christ say he never knew someone?
Maybe that someone was never reborn,
A church member, yes and great at ministry
But he never addressed the issue regarding eternity.

For him that comes to Jesus there’s no doubt
That under no circumstance would he be cast out,
Coming to Christ and becoming a church member
Are quite different; the latter could be a pretender.

Being a devout church member is no guarantee
Even though one serves his church sincerely,
The only safeguard is to be born again
Christ as he spoke to Nicodemus made this plain.

Being born again is the second birth
It’s not of the flesh and it’s not of this earth,
Being born again is for keeps, not again and again
Hence saved to the uttermost is the Christian’s refrain.

You see the Father is the one who draws to the Son
And the Spirit implants that one in God’s kingdom,
And one who comes to the Father through Jesus Christ
Is once and for all covered; Jesus paid that price. 

As a man cannot be born of the flesh a second time
Neither of the Spirit one could reasonably opine,
The comparison that was made appears quite clear
And to come to that conclusion to me is flawlessly fair.

Is an ex-Christian for real?  Not according to the Word
For to be born again twice seems rather absurd,
The Spirit bears witness we are children of the King
And every child of God has a right to shout and sing.

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An ex-Christian was not a Christian in the first place
And to imply that he was is a spiritual disgrace,
And for him to believe that I will follow in his stream
Means he never placed faith in the One who redeems.

I rejoice my name is stamped in the book of the Lamb
I praise God for the One who sits at His right hand,
Life eternal is mine thanks to God’s redemptive plan
Upon this assurance all born-again believers stand.

Stewart Russell © 2016