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Friday, October 29, 2010

He Stole First!

Lawrence Ritter wrote one of the greatest baseball books of all time--THE GLORY OF THEIR TIMES. It came about because Ritter, in the 1960s, traveled all over the country interviewing the great Major League Baseball players from the turn-of-the-century.

One of the stories found in the book was told about Germany Schaefer, who was a teammate of Ty Cobb on the Detroit Tigers. Germany Schaefer was the last man to steal first base. Let me explain.

The Tigers were playing Cleveland and, late in the game, the two teams were tied. Future Hall of Famer, Davy Jones, was on third base, while Schaefer was on first. Immediately before a pitch, Schaefer flashed Jones the sign for a double steal. This signified that Schaefer would steal second on the next pitch. If he drew a throw from the catcher, Jones would run for home plate.

The pitcher delivered and, sure enough, Schaefer stole second. However, the catcher refused to throw the ball to second, so Jones had to remain on third base. Now, men were on second and third.

During the next pitch, Schaefer shouted, “Let’s try again!”  Screaming like a banshee, Schaefer sprinted to first base and dove with a head-first slide. He was hoping the catcher would throw to first, but again, the catcher held on to the ball.

As for everyone else, fans and players included, they stood with their mouths wide open. They were completely stunned.

The next pitch, Schaefer let out another whoop and stole second again. This steal attempt aggravated the catcher so much that he DID throw the ball to second. Jones, then, tore off for home. Both runners were safe, and Detroit had scored a run.

Later, Major League Baseball outlawed stealing first. I have to chalk one up for Germany Schaefer. He was resourceful, if he was anything.

I believe we, as Christians, should be resourceful when it comes to the Kingdom of God. We should use our finances, our skills, our time, and every gift God gives to help advance the Kingdom. We may not steal home, but we will help others find a home—in heaven.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Blessed Kidnapping

In 1943, two Jewish teenagers living in Krakow, Poland were seized from their families by Nazi soldiers. Their names were Kuba and Helen, and neither knew the other. Both kidnappings were independent—two more typical examples of the Nazis inhumanity toward people.

Kuba and Helen were transported to the city of Plaszow, Poland.  Efficient Nazi paperwork was filled out. Both Kuba and Helen were loaded by German soldiers onto trucks. Intuitively, they realized, they were probably being taking to a concentration camp… and to their deaths.

Instead, they were taken to a factory owned by a German businessman named Oskar Schindler. There Kuba and Helen toiled for Schindler until he had to relocate his factory to Czechoslovakia. However, both remained on Schindler’s list.

Then, Helen’s life took a dramatic twist. Nazi soldiers mistakenly placed her on a train bound for a concentration camp.  Schindler discovered the error and rescued her.

After the war, Helen and Kuba met, fell in love, and got married.  In 1945, both Helen and Kuba had a chance to return to Krakow to search for their families. Kuba's parents and brothers had been killed. Helen's parents and six of her nine siblings were murdered. So Helen and Kuba decided to take the ravaged remains of their lives and begin again, creating a new life. In 1949, they moved to the United States.

Several years ago, when the movie, SCHINDLER’S LIST, was released, a national publication sent a reporter to interview Jews, who survived the Nazi Holocaust, due to the work of Oskar Schindler.  Among them were Kuba and Helen Beck. In the ensuing years, they had created a new life and a new family, built upon love. They remembered their great loss; yet, they were thankful for their great blessing.

My mind goes back to that fateful day back in 1943, when Kuba and Helen were taken from their families and thrown onto trucks. Up to that point, it had to have been the worst moment in their entire lives. If there was a God, how could He have permitted this to happen? But that "bad" experience set into motion a chain of events that ultimately saved their lives.

I wonder how often we look at our worst moments with desolation, not realizing that under God’s providential care, we are actually being blessed.

Next time you get the chance, read the story of Joseph in the biblical book of Genesis, chapters 37-50.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Man in Cell Number Seven

A while back, my oldest daughter and I saw the Clint Eastwood movie, INVICTUS. It told the inspiring story of the South Africa’s World Cup champion Rugby team, which played a role in the healing of a new nation.

Nelson Mandela was the visionary behind the reconciliation of South Africa. The title, INVICTUS, is a reference to the poem Mandela recited to himself to help him endure the horrors of prison.

Mandela was convicted in 1964 of plotting against the government. When his mother died in 1968, the government would not let him attend her funeral. In 1969, the government refused to let him attend the funeral of his oldest son, who died in a car accident.

Mandela spent 18 years in a prison cell that was seven feet by nine feet. His diet consisted of corn porridge and a drink made of brackish water, yeast, and sugar. Each day he would work breaking rocks at a limestone quarry.

While in jail, Mandela refused to adorn the walls in his cell. He did not ever want it to feel like home. Each day, he would do exercises in his cell anticipating the day he would be free. For 26 years he did those exercises.

As you might imagine, there were days when even he was down. Still, he survived and in 1990 he was released. In 1994, he was elected president of South Africa.

When I think of all Nelson Mandela experienced, I find it staggering he could be a man of forgiveness, racial healing, and racial reconciliation. Proof positive, yet again, that what is done to a man, does not have to come out of man.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Thirty years ago, Jim McGuiggan offered an illustration that has stuck with me. It may be based upon a true story, or it may be a parable; I’m not sure.

There was a young girl in Italy named Maria Soransino. She fell in love with a thug named Azul Barberry, and he was a barbarian.

He was well established in the mafia, especially the drug business. He was also responsible for murder.

In the early fifties, Maria was 17. Barberry was arrested and put on trial. She saw his clippings and photos in the newspaper and, for some strange reason, she fell in love with him.

He was sentenced to 99 years in prison, and she began writing him 2 or 3 times every week without fail.  She would began her letter-"Dear Mr. Barberry, I love you…" and she would fill her letters with current events and things she thought would be interesting.

Maria wrote Azul for ten years and never heard a word.  She didn't date any other guy, she just wrote him.

Now in this criminal's first few years in prison, he was just as big a hoodlum as when he was out.  But as time passed, he began to change.  He started taking the pictures of pornograqhy off his jail cell wall and put pictures up of this beautiful young woman. They started to correspond with each other and she would visit every now and then.

In the early 70's, when Maria was 38, 21 years after she first fell in love with this character, she got a letter from him asking her to marry him.  Would she? You bet.  So Maria traveled to the prison and married him.

As Jim noted, here was a girl with all her sinfulness and humanity and selfishness. And she knew what it was to get a hold of somebody, love him, and change his life.

She did not do so flawlessly, but somebody did. In a sense, all of us who are Christians were all criminals at one time. God took hold of us and wouldn't let go.

God runs to sinners and villains.  God's a people person. Just look at Jesus.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Real Repentance

It was a nationally televised NFL game. The Miami Dolphins were playing the Los Angeles Rams. The Dolphins head coach, Don Shula, destined to become the winningest coach of all-time, watched the referee make a call against his team, with which he vehemently disagreed.

Shula let the ref know how he felt. He used language that many would consider inappropriate. An open microphone picked up Shula’s words, and millions throughout the country heard him.

The next week, the office of the Miami Dolphins was inundated with letters from fans all over the United States addressed to Don Shula. The fans were letting the coach know how much he had let them down.

Every person whose letter included a return address received a personal apology from Don Shula. He made no excuses. His typical response ran like this, “Thank you for taking time to write. Please accept my apologies for the remarks. I value your respect and will do my best to earn it again.”*

Real repentance is not simply feeling sorry about what we do wrong. Real repentance means being so sorry, we want to cease what we’re doing wrong and make amends for it.

Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets (II Cor. 7:10.) THE MESSAGE

*For further reading, consult EVERYONE’S A COACH by Don Shula and Ken Blanchard and THE DANIEL DILEMMA: THE MORAL MAN IN THE PUBLIC ARENA by Peggy Stanton.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Amusing Ourselves to Death

In August, 2005, a South Korean man identified to the press only as “Lee”, sat down at a computer in an internet café to play video games. For the next 50 hours, he played almost non-stop. He played until he died.

Lee’s mother had sent former work collegues to find him, after he had not returned home. They found him in the cyberspace café and relayed his mother’s message. He replied that he would finish the game and then return home. He passed away a few minutes later.

Heart failure was the culprit. Lee’s death became an international sensation. "We presume the cause of death was heart failure stemming from exhaustion," a provincial police official from Lee’s South Korean province stated.

When I think of Lee, I think of how his life, and death, are warnings to us. As Paul wrote, “Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body, not abusing it, as is so common among those who know nothing of God” (I Thess. 4:4-5.) THE MESSAGE

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Looking for Spirit in all the Wrong Places

According to a Christian Research Institute report in 2003, more than 30 percent of Americans believed in astrology, and more than 50 percent believe in ghosts. A Harris Poll, that year, stated 60 percent of people under thirty believed in ghosts and 43 percent believed in astrology.

Nothing I have observed since then, causes me to believe those figures have gone down. If anything, the percentages have increased.

As Christian researcher Elliot Miller has written, people are looking for spiritual answers to life’s problems, they are just not interested in the ones God is offering.

Good information for those of us who are Christians, as we enter the Halloween season.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bad Publicity

  5 In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus.
 6 Christ himself was like God in everything.
       But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit.
 7 But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing.
       He was born as a man
       and became like a servant.
 8 And when he was living as a man,
he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death—death on a cross (Phil 2:5-8). NCV

Abraham Lincoln believed people should not think too highly of themselves or boast about their accomplishments. He reportedly said, “What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.”

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Can you remember ever being lost?  I remember when I was about four or five years old, I went with my mom and grandmother from my hometown to the city of Tyler, on a shopping trip.  I say I went; perhaps it would be more accurate to say Mom and Granny drug me to Tyler. 

I grew up in the town of Winnsboro, not exactly the industrial center of the South.  At that time Tyler, with a population of 50,000 people, seemed like a metropolis to me. 

When we arrived at Tyler, our first stop was a dress shop.  Yippee, you know I was having fun then.  About two minutes in that dress shop and I was a basket case.  After a great deal of hard work, I managed to gradually ease away from my dress-happy kinfolk and make way for a life on my on.  But it wasn't long before I realized I was lost.  I was just starting to get scared when Mom found me.  Whew!  Close call, but I made it without breaking a sweat.

Next, we proceeded to eat Mexican food at a restaurant.  An hour in there and I was bored stiff!  On the way out I thought I would do some more exploring.  Again, I got lost.  But just like before, Mom came up before I got  too far away.  So my spirit of adventure remained intact.

Our final stop of the day was K-Mart.  Now that was paradise.  Unfortunately, Mom didn't know how to shop at K-Mart.  She completely ignored the toys!  Well, I had about all that I could take.  So when she wasn't looking, I sneaked off to the toy section. 

I had big problems though; I couldn't find it.  The more I looked for it, the more lost I became.  It wasn't long before I got scared, real scared.  I had truly done it this time.  I was REALLY lost. 

Here I was a midget in the land of giants.  All I could see was women's skirts.  The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that I was doomed to spend the rest of my life running into skirted women at K-Mart.  I even began missing Mom and Granny.  Finally, when I could take it no more, I began crying out for my mom.  

Finally, as tears were streaming down my face, a very nice K-Mart employee asked for my mom's name.  She then took me to the front of the store where they called Mom's name on the intercom.  In the meantime, seemingly half the population of the U.S., all of them mean strangers, stared at a child sobbing hysterically—me. 

Soon Mom came, and when she picked me up and held me, dried my tears and hugged me, I knew everything was going to be okay.  All I could think of was, "Why did I leave my mom?"

You know where I'm going with this don't you?  Whenever I mess up, really blow it, and I see the reality of my sin and repent and come back to God, it's just like Mom hugging me and wiping away those tears.  Isn't it funny how, so often, it is out of our sorrow of sin that we find the joy of God?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Satan’s Convention

This was sent to me a decade ago. The author is unknown, but the words are still relevant.

Satan’s Convention

Satan called a worldwide convention.  In his opening address to his evil angels, he said, "We can't keep the Christians from going to church. We can't keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth.  We can't even keep them from conservative values. But we can do something else. We can keep them from forming an intimate, abiding experience in Christ.

If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken. So let them go to church, let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time, so they can't gain that experience in Jesus Christ.

This is what I want you to do, angels.  Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day."

"How shall we do this?”  shouted his angels.

"Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life and invent unnumbered schemes to occupy their minds," he answered. "Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, then, borrow, borrow, borrow. Convince the wives to go to work and the husbands to work 6 or 7 days a week, 0-12 hrs. a day, so they can afford their lifestyles.  Keep them from spending time with their children.  As their family fragments, soon their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work."

"Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still small voice.  Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive, to keep the TV, the VCR, and their CD's going constantly in their homes.  And see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays music constantly.  This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ."

"Fill their coffee tables with magazines and newspapers.  Pound their minds with the news 24 hrs. a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards.  Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, sweepstakes, mail order catalogues, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering, free products, services, and false hopes."

"Even in their recreation, let them be excessive.  Have them return from their recreation exhausted, disquieted and unprepared for the coming week.  Don't let them go out in nature.  Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts and movies instead.

And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotion."

"Let them be involved in soul-winning.  But crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power from Christ. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family unity for the good of the cause."  It was quite a convention in the end.

And the evil angels went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get busy, busy, busy and rush here and there.

"Be still and know that I am God."  Have you taken time to listen lately?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Don’t Ignore this Warning!

            Ignoring warnings can be dangerous. TODAY IN THE WORD wrote, several years ago, about a Hessian commander, who learned that lesson the hard way.

            During the Revolutionary War, a loyalist spy appeared at the headquarters of Hessian commander, Colonel Johann Rall, carrying an urgent message. General George Washington and his Continental army had secretly crossed the Delaware River that morning and were advancing on Trenton, New Jersey, where the Hessians were encamped.

            The spy was denied an audience with the commander and instead, wrote his message on a piece of paper. A porter took the note to the Hessian colonel, but because Rall was involved in a poker game, he stuffed the unread note into his pocket.

            When the guards at the Hessian camp began firing their muskets in a futile attempt to stop Washington’s army, Rall was still playing cards. Without time to organize, the Hessian army was captured. The battle occurred the day after Christmas, 1776, giving the colonists a late present—their first major victory of the war.

            The apostle Peter two thousand years ago sent us all a warning:

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings (I Pet. 5:8-9).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Culture Clash

Romans 14:1-4:
 1Welcome all the Lord's followers, even those whose faith is weak. Don't criticize them for having beliefs that are different from yours. 2Some think it is all right to eat anything, while those whose faith is weak will eat only vegetables. 3But you should not criticize others for eating or for not eating. After all, God welcomes everyone. 4What right do you have to criticize someone else's servants? Only their Lord can decide if they are doing right, and the Lord will make sure that they do right. CEV
Each culture has its own taboos. Kenneth Matthews writes of a missionary couple from the United States, who grew up in the “Bible Belt.” There, alcohol and cigarette smoking were banished for members of their church.

This couple decided to move to Germany to do missionary work. After they relocated, they decided to visit the home of a German couple, who were Christians.

The missionaries arrived at the house of their hosts and knocked on the door. The German hostess opened the door, and proceeded to drop her wine glass.

The fact the she was drinking wine shocked the missionary couple. Later, they were even more surprised to learn the reason the German hostess had dropped her wine glass— she was shocked to see the missionary's wife with makeup on her face–a no–no in German Christian culture.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cards You Will Never See at Hallmark

We, Christians, need to be careful lest our words turn someone off in such a way as to preclude him or her from receiving Jesus. Several years ago, someone sent me an email that gave this subject a humorous perspective. It’s called, CARDS YOU WILL NEVER SEE IN HALLMARK. Here are a few:

"Congratulations on your wedding day! Too bad no one likes your wife."

"How could two people as beautiful as you have such an ugly baby?"

"I've always wanted to have someone to hold, someone to love. After having met you, I've changed my mind."

"Looking back over the years that we've been together, I can't help but wonder: What in the world was I thinking?"

"As you grow older, Mom, I think of all the gifts you've given me. Like the need for therapy..."

"Congratulations on your promotion. Before you go, would you like to take this knife out of my back. You'll probably need it again."

"Someday I hope to get married, but not to you."

"Happy Birthday! You look great for your age.... Almost Lifelike!

"When we were together, you always said you'd die for me. Now that we've broken up, I think it's time you kept your promise."

"I knew the day would come when you would leave me for my best friend. So here's his leash, water bowl and chew toys."

"We have been friends for a very long time, whatdaya say we call it quits."

"You are such a good friend that if we were on a sinking ship and there was only one life jacket.... I'd miss you heaps and think of you often."

Clearly, we don’t want to make those mistakes! What we may forget is that sometimes, our words may sound as blunt and as uncaring as those from the “cards.”

5Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone (Col. 4:5-7.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


            Years ago, a woman wrote the following to READERS DIGEST:

            When my husband and I were first married, we spent much of our free time grilling dinner on our patio and speculating about the other couples living in our condominium complex. We named them all: the Activity Fans ran about in sweat pants and sneakers, the Newlyweds strolled arm in arm, the Shoppers never came home without packages, and the Carryouts had Chinese food delivered every other night.

            One morning Mrs. Newlywed knocked on our door, explaining that she had locked herself out of her condo and needed to phone her husband. She told him she was calling from a neighbor's and asked him to come home and let her in. He must have asked her which neighbor, because she glanced at me and shielded the receiver with her hand. "You know," she whispered into the phone, "the Barbecuers!"

            Isn’t it funny how we intuitively desire to label people? I am glad Jesus doesn’t do this.

            (Incidentally, check out the term BLOGGER uses for the keywords in a post: labels!)

Monday, October 11, 2010

For Better or Worse

A few years ago, a woman wrote in a national magazine about attending a wedding. Her husband had begun attending college again, so money was tight for her family of seven.

At the wedding, the minister asked the bride-to-be, "Do you take this man for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health?"

Hearing the question, the woman’s four-year-old daughter turned to her mother and said in a whisper loud enough for many to hear, "You picked poorer, didn't you, Mom?"

When it comes to the challenges of marriage, I hope we will all pick staying.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Honesty IS the Best Policy

            A couple of decades ago, Pauline Nichter, 46, and her husband Tom, 44, had both lost their jobs. They were living out of motels with their 11-year-old son. They were in danger of losing their car because they couldn't make the payments.

            One day, Pauline found a wallet in a LA mall. It had a credit card, an airline ticket to New Zealand, and $2394 in cash.

            For a second, she thought about taking the money. But instead she took the wallet to the nearest police station, where the owner reclaimed them. Word of her honesty quickly got out and the community responded.

            The Nichters received more than 10 job offers and an apartment rent-free for six months. An anonymous donor brought the car payments up to date. Other people gave cash. One elderly couple walked into the police station, asked how much cash and had been in the wallet, and the left them a check for the exact amount.

            At a news conference Pauline, with tears, said, "Never in a million years would I have thought this would happen to us. What we have received is far more than what was in the wallet."

            This is a neat story. However, it would have been a neat story even if the Nichter’s had not been blessed by others.

            Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways (Prov. 28:6.)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Lord Looks at the Heart

John Hockenberry is journalist, who has been at the volcano of Mt. St. Helens, worked the war in Afghanistan, and the Middle East. He has been present at wars and revolutions. He was in the middle of a mess in the Gaza strip, when there was violence between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

The interesting thing about this is that John was present at all of these events... in a wheelchair. He has been there since he was 19, when he and a friend were involved in a car wreck, after the man they had hitched a ride with fell asleep at the wheel and flipped the car.

John is recognized as a great journalist and has worked for such networks as National Public Radio and ABC. You see, it's not the appearance of the man that is important; it's what is in his heart.

Fortunately, the Lord knows this. Often, we judge a person by the external. Not God.

But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (I Sam. 16:7.)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

An Eye for an Eye

Here is something crazy. It really happened. Here are the main characters you need to know:

Robert Golub—the 21-year-old convicted of murder
Kelly Tinyes—the 13-year-old murder victim
John Golub—Robert’s father
Richie Tinyes—Kelly’s father
Vicki Tinyes—Kelly’s mother

Several years ago, a national magazine reported that in Valley Stream, N.Y., 21-year-old Robert Golub, an unemployed body builder, murdered 13-year-old Kelly Tinyes, in the house of his parents. He then hid the body in the basement. He is now serving a 25 years-to-life sentence.

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, his parents thought that he was innocent. Somewhere along the way, they began to feel that their son was a victim and denied justice.

Tension started immediately after the murder, when the Golub's son was a suspect. It elevated when the Tinyes felt hurt that the Golubs never expressed their condolences. Meanwhile, the Golubs felt under siege because a week after Kelly's funeral, a crowd began gathering outside their house screaming, "Murderers! Devils! Get out!" From there, things escalated.

Frustrated and angry, the Golubs began to taunt the Tinyes family, who happened to live five houses down the street. The Tinyes family struck back—with the result being that over the next 5 years, there were more than 100 complaints from the two families against each other. From the collateral damage, neighbors filed dozens more.  

There were also six arrests based on complaints by both parents—and one trial. In 1994, Robert Golub’s dad, John, was charged with criminal mischief and assault for allegedly ramming the back of the pickup truck belonging to Richie Tinyes, the father of the victim.

At the trial, Golub admitted throwing rocks at Kelly Tinyes’ mother, Vicki, and shouting obscenities at her and her husband. He was acquitted after explaining that he was afraid of the Tinyes family.

Later, Golub was arrested again for steering his car onto the Tinyes' lawn and narrowly missing Vicki. His defense: she squirted water from the water hose on his car. The charges were later dropped for lack of evidence.

The Tinyes family charged the Golubs with various crimes; meanwhile, John Golub claimed that members of the Tinyes family doused his car with paint, threw garbage on his lawn, set off a cherry bomb in his yard, and put dog droppings in his mailbox.

Of the Tinyes, John Golub said, "In the beginning I cried for them. But yell at me, I'll yell back. Spit in my face, I'll spit back."

Maybe this is one of many reasons Jesus said,

 38"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you (Mt. 5:38-42.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Temple of the 1000 Buddhas

Rick Atchley once related the story about a temple located in Kioto, Japan. It was called the “Temple of the 1000 Buddhas.” When one entered into that temple to worship, he encountered 1000 images of Buddha—each one slightly different than the other. Why? So that the worshipper could go in and find the image of Buddha that looked most like him. That would be the one he worshiped.  

Could we be guilty of similar worship?

"How do you get 300 people to worship God together when they can't worship God alone?"
--Ravi Zacharias

Monday, October 4, 2010

Quadruple amputee Swims 21 Miles Across the English Channel

That’s the headline I read last week. Philippe Croizon is 42-years-old. Sixteen years ago, he was electrocuted when he touched a power line, while adjusting a TV antenna.

A few years ago, Croizon was watching a documentary on swimming the English Channel. Inspired, he began to dream of accomplishing the same. For two years, he trained using prosthetic flippers and a snorkel for breathing.

Saturday, September 18, Croizon began his quest at 8 a.m. GMT. After 13 hours and 30 minutes, Croizon completed the crossing. What amazes me almost as much is the fact that he finished 11 hours ahead of schedule. That means he planned to swim for 24 hours straight!

The Bible is full of people with excuses—see Adam, Eve, Moses, Jeremiah--and more. I guess that is the human tendency.

Certainly, I am not immune. Still, I’ll think about Croizon the next time I’m tempted to find an excuse.

Friday, October 1, 2010

My Heroes have always been Cowboys

A former elder at Shiloh, Cecil Taylor, sent a story to me you may have seen in your email box.

One Sunday morning, an old cowboy entered a church just before services were to begin. Although, the old man and his clothes were spotlessly clean, he wore jeans, a denim shirt and boots that were very worn and ragged. In his hand, he carried a worn out old hat and an equally worn out bible.

The church he entered was in a very upscale and exclusive part of the city. It was the largest and most beautiful church the old cowboy had ever seen. The people of the congregation were all dressed with expensive clothes and accessories.

As the cowboy took a seat, the others moved away from him. No one greeted, spoke to, or welcomed him. They were all appalled at his appearance and did not attempt to hide it.

The preacher gave a long sermon about Hellfire and brimstone and a stern lecture on how much money the church needed to do God's work. As the old cowboy was leaving the church, the preacher approached him and asked the cowboy to do him a favor. "Before you come back in here again, have a talk with God and ask him what He thinks would be appropriate attire for worship." The old cowboy assured the preacher he would.

The next Sunday, he showed back up for the services wearing the same ragged jeans, shirt, boots, and hat. Once again, he was completely shunned and ignored.

The preacher approached the man and said, "I thought I asked you to speak to God before you came back to our church." "I did," replied the old cowboy. "If you spoke to God, what did he tell you the proper attire should be for worshiping in here?" asked the preacher. "Well, sir, God told me that He didn't have a clue what I should wear. He says He's never been in this church before.