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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What Do Snoop Dog and Tom Landry Have in Common?

A few years ago, a national magazine asked the rapper and now corporate spokesman, Snoop Dog, who he more favored when he coached his son’s peewee football games: Bill Parcells or Vince Lombardi.

"I'm more like Tom Landry, cool, calm and collected.,” he replied. “And I have the brim on at every game."

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Marathon

I recently read in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED that the original distance for the marathon was not 26 miles 385 yards. In 1896, in Athens, Greece, the host for the first modern Olympic Games, the length was 25 miles.

The current distance comes to us thanks to Queen Alexandra of Great Britain. In the London Games in 1908, she asked that the race begin on the east lawn of Windsor Castle and end in front of the royal box in White City Stadium—a distance of 26 miles 385 yards. This became standard in 1921. Yet, for all of these years, printed works and popular culture have continued to refer to the 26 mile 385 yard measurement as that of the original length for the Olympic Games of ancient Greece.

I wonder how often Christians offer a doctrine or teaching as having come from the Bible, when, in reality, it came from another source—the spiritual equivalent of Queen Alexandra.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Deaf Girl

Philip Yancey writes of a girl raised by deaf parents. When she desired to shut them out of her life, she would simply close her eyes.

Of course, this action would make her parents feel angry; they could only communicate with her through signing.

Yancey concluded, “As I think of that young girl, her eyelids sealed tight against the frantic hand motions of her parents, I get a picture of how God must feel when I shut him out.”

Ouch! How many times do I shut God out?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The “Why” of Thanksgiving

Here is a portion of the original Thanksgiving proclamation by Abraham Lincoln:

… It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony wherof I have herunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed."


A. Lincoln 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Firing Customers

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. The opposite attitude of gratitude is complaining. Lately, I have been leading a study in the book of Numbers for some of our church members. The subject of grumbling consumes most of chapters eleven through twenty-one. God, Himself, eliminates many of the Hebrews for this sin.

All of this reminds me of a blog written by Seth Godin a few months ago. He addresses those in business and marketing, but I think his words illuminate the book of Numbers:

Some consumers are short-sighted, greedy and selfish.

Extend yourself a little and they'll want a lot.

Offer a free drink in the restaurant one night and they're angry that it's not there the next.

The nuts in first class weren't warm!

The challenge of winning more than your fair share of the market is that the best available strategy--providing remarkable service and an honest human connection--will be abused by a few people you work with.

You have three choices: put up with the whiners, write off everyone, or, deliberately exclude the ungrateful curs.

Firing the customers you can't possibly please gives you the bandwidth and resources to coddle the ones that truly deserve your attention and repay you with referrals, applause and loyalty.

God is firing customers in Numbers.

As Christians, the least we can do, when we disagree, is get it out, get on with it, or get on down the road.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Gift of Grumbling

Charles Spurgeon was a great preacher of the 1800s. He told the following story:
A heavy wagon was being dragged along a country lane by a team of oxen. The axles groaned and creaked terribly, when the oxen turning around thus addressed the wheels, “Hey there, why do you make so much noise? We bear all the labor, and we—not you—ought to cry out!” Those complain first in our churches who have the least to do. The gift of grumbling is largely dispensed among those who have no other talents, or who keep what they have wrapped up in a napkin.
--Charles Spurgeon from The Quotable Spurgeon

God has always maintained an aversion to grumbling and complaining. Throughout Scripture, one can find serious commands against and punishments for these grave sins. An entire section of a biblical book—Numbers—offers story after story of God’s displeasure with these core issues, ranging from chapters eleven through twenty-one. Even Moses was not immune from the anti-God spirit, and he lost the Promise Land over it.

Paul phrased God's desires succinctly in his letter to the Philippians:

14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. NLT

Monday, November 22, 2010


When I was in college, Jim McGuiggan told a story drawn from a movie he had seen. The movie was about a rich father with a son named Durkey.  (Not, Turkey—Durkey.)

The father owned a couple of planes and Durkey was out flying in one of them with the father's pilot. There was trouble, they radioed “Mayday”, and they crashed in the desert. 

The authorities searched and found the plane, the pilot was dead and, Durkey, aged 7, had wandered off.  The authorities called the father and told him the story. 

He called a print shop owned by a friend and had several 1000 pamphlets printed up. Then the father got in his other plane and flew up over the crash area and dropped these pamphlets from the sky.

Durkey picked up one of the sheets and it said, "Durkey, I know you're afraid, but don't worry, I love you, I'm looking for you, and I’ll find you."

If I was 7 years old and found that note, it would help me.

Nevertheless, there was a time I was lost and and had wandered away from my Heavenly Father. He sent me a message, a love letter, really, in flesh.

The message said, “Mark, I know your lost and I know you are afraid. But I love you, I’m looking for you, and I’ll find you.” And He did.

Jesus was my message from God.

14The Word became a human being and lived here with us. We saw his true glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. From him all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us (John 1:14). CEV

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Fog

The following story is offered on
On July 4, 1952, at the age of 34, [Florence] Chadwick attempted to become the first woman to swim 21 miles across the Catalina Channel, from Catalina Island to Palos Verde on the California coast. The weather that day was not auspicious-the ocean was ice cold, the fog was so thick that she could hardly see the support boats that followed her, and sharks prowled around her. Several times, her support crew used rifles to drive away the sharks. While Americans watched on television, she swam for hours. Her mother and her trainer, who were in one of the support boats, encouraged her to keep going. However, after 15 hours and 55 minutes, with only a half mile to go, she felt that she couldn't go on, and asked to be taken out of the water.
Brian Cavanaugh, in A Fresh Packet of Sower's Seeds, noted that she told a reporter, "Look, I'm not excusing myself, but if I could have seen land I know I could have made it." The fog had made her unable to see her goal, and it had felt to her like she was getting nowhere.

I think, sometimes, we do the same thing when it comes to the pressures of life. Jesus says we allow the worries of this world to choke out our view of Jesus. As one writer has noted, perhaps we should take a page out of Paul’s book and not allow anything to take our eyes off Jesus.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me (Phil. 2:12).

By the way, two months later, Florence Chadwick swam the channel.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

You Think You’ve Got it Bad?

We still have a few folks left who remember life in the 1920s. It was tough. Most people had to heat their homes by firewood or, in the north, awake at 4:00 A.M. on frigid winter mornings to open the furnace and shovel coal. (Failure to do so meant frozen pipes.)

In 1920, the typical workweek was sixty hours minimum. Women worked even longer hours in the home. The leisure industry was non-existent because few people had time for leisure.

Fifty percent of the population eliminated their wastes in a privy in the backyard. If you were a man in the 1920s, you could expect to live fifty-four years.*

Long for the good old days?

Think we’re blessed today?

*data supplied from the book-- HUSTLING GOD by M. Craig Barnes, page 90.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Meet the Wife

There is an old story about a woman, who, for several years, had been having trouble getting to sleep at night because she feared burglars. One night, her husband heard a noise in the house, so he went downstairs to investigate. When he got there, he did find a burglar.

“Good evening,” said the man of the house. “I am pleased to see you. Come upstairs and meet my wife. She has been waiting 10 years to meet you.” 

25Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear” (Mt. 6:25a).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


This morning, I heard on the radio much commentary on the Michael Vick story. In case you have not heard, Michael Vick is currently the top-ranked quarterback in the NFL.

Ten years ago, he was the first player taken in the NFL draft. He earned tens of millions of dollars, while becoming a pro bowl quarterback. Then, federal investigators discovered he was running a dog-fighting ring. 

Vick was sentenced to almost two years in prison. Last year, the Philadelphia Eagles decided to give him a chance as a back-up quarterback. This year, after starter Kevin Kolb got hurt the first game of the season, Vick took over as the starter and, now, might be the best player in football.

This has made a number of people mad. They feel that Vick should be banished from the sport forever.

One talk-show host compared these people to those who are bitter over the brokers of Wall Street, who cost people their life savings, went to prison, and are now seeking to live a better life. They just can’t let this sin go. The Wall Street reference made me think.

Material riches will one day rot or burn up. Forgiveness is a quality that will enrich the soul forever.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Can one person make a difference? Biblical commentator, James Boice, wrote of one who did.

In 1983, Jack Eckerd, owner of the ECKERD drugstore chain, offered his life to Christ. As a result, he became convicted that his drugstores' offering PLAYBOY and PENHOUSE magazines for sale brought God no glory.

Eckerd phoned his company’s president and informed him he desired to remove any pornographic magazines from the more than seventeen hundred Eckerd drugstores.

This information did not set well with the president. ECKERD drugstores made millions of dollars off of the sales of these magazines. However, since Eckerd owned the stores, he held the ultimate authority.

Interestingly enough, Jack Eckerd’s decision was like a stone thrown into a calm pond—it created ripples. Many other stores followed ECKERD’s lead, culminating with mighty 7-Eleven, who in1986 finally removed pornography from all 4500 of its stores.

This titanic impact was made in our American culture without the passing of a single law. One man made a difference because his conscience spoke to him.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Casey at the Bat

William DeWolf Hopper was a superstar in Vaudeville and later, motion pictures, during the late 1800s and early 1900s. His main source of fame was his recital of the famous poem “Casey at the Bat” (“But there is no joy in Mudville-mighty Casey has struck out”). He recited the poem to live audiences over 10,000 times.

The poem was written by a gentleman named Ernest Lawrence Thayer in 1888. He and Hopper did have occasion to meet once. It was a year after Thayer wrote the poem. A club had invited them both to join them one evening.  The members convinced Thayer to recite the poem for them.  Hopper later wrote that Thayer’s version “… was the worst delivery of the poem I have ever heard.”*

I find it fascinating that Thayer, the very author of the poem, would do such a poor job reciting his own work. Yet, each of us has our own gifts. For Thayer, it was writing. For Hopper, it was performing.

What’s yours? Do you use it?

4There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but they all come from the same Spirit. 5There are different ways to serve the same Lord, 6and we can each do different things. Yet the same God works in all of us and helps us in everything we do.
11But it is the Spirit who does all this and decides which gifts to give to each of us (I Cor. 12:4-6, 11). CEV

*This story is found in the book BASEBALL ANECDOTES by Daniel Okrent and Steve Wulf.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

You Asked My Opinion of Him

The publication OUR DAILY BREAD related a story about Robert E. Lee. In honor of Veteran’s Day, I thought I would pass this story of one of America’s greatest soldiers.

During the Civil War, General Lee was asked to assess a fellow officer. This particular officer had been offering very negative comments concerning Lee.

Lee’s response was to state he found the officer’s performance very satisfactory. This answer created confusion for the questioner.

“General, I guess you don’t know what he’s been saying about you.”

Lee replied, “I know, but I was asked my opinion of him, not his opinion of me.”

Matt. 6: 12 Forgive us for doing wrong, as we forgive others. CEV

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Faithful to Her Cause

A few years ago, I watched a documentary on Mother Teresa, narrated by Sir Richard Attenborough. Cameras followed her around the world.

One location filmed was her work in San Francisco. Mother Teresa had a benefactor seeking to bless her work there and had donated a building. Unfortunately for the benefactor, the building had too many amenities.

Touring the building, Mother Teresa announced, “We need to remove the running water, the fans, the carpet…. We have taken a vow of poverty.”

No one would have faulted her for accepting these gifts. She did not even want her nuns to raise funds for the work. She believed God would provide.

I admire Mother Teresa’s integrity of purpose. Poverty was what she did. Poverty, for Jesus, was who she was.

Who are you for Jesus? Are you faithful to that calling?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Corrected Vision

Tommy Nelson tells about meeting a woman who had terrible vision. She suffered what appeared to be a catastrophic fall—she fell off a thirty-foot high precipice and landed on her head.

The woman entered a coma. She woke up… to perfect vision.

Nelson asked an optometrist friend how that could happen. The optometrist explained that bad vision is the result of a faulty lens within the eye. For example, the lens within the eye can become rigid, distorting the focus of light. One of the functions of glasses is to play the part of the lens. These days, one of the things that can correct the lens within the human eye is surgery—or you can fall thirty feet and land on your head. The optometrist recommended the former.

Nelson notes that people can live the same way. Sometimes, the spiritual lens with which we can view life becomes distorted. We don’t see well and we don’t live well. Some of us need the spiritual equivalent of a thirty-foot fall, landing on our head, to get our spiritual lens functioning again. The easier way, and ultimately, the less painful one, would be to allow the Word of God to perform spiritual surgery.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Heb. 4:12).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Honk! Honk!

When you lead, life can be difficult. Usually, there are people following behind who complain.

I heard about a woman who was in a car that had stalled at the intersection. Try as she might, she could not get the car started. Behind her was a man who insisted on honking his horn every few seconds.

Finally, the woman got out of her car, walk calmly back to the man’s car, she looked into the window and she said, “I’m having trouble getting my car started. Why don’t you go up there and see if you can fix it, and I’ll sit in your car and honk the horn at you?”

It’s a lot easier to honk the horn than to fix the car.

It is a lot easier to criticize leaders than to be one.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ten Signs Your Amish Teen Is In Trouble

As the parent of teenagers, I was amused when I came across this in my old files.

Ten Signs Your Amish Teen Is In Trouble

10. Sometimes stays in bed til after 6am.

9. In his sock drawer, you find pictures of women without bonnets.

8.  Shows up at barn raisings in full "Kiss" makeup.

7.  When you criticize him, he yells, "Thou stinketh!”

6.  His name is Jebediah, but he goes by "Jeb Daddy."

5.  Defiantly says, "If I had a radio, I'd listen to rap."

4.  You come upon his secret stash of colorful socks.

3.  Uses slang expression: "Talk to the hand, cause the beard ain't listening."

2.  Was recently pulled over for "driving under the influence of cottage cheese."

1.  He's wearing his big black hat backwards.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


In 1996, the great humorist Erma Bombeck lost her battle to cancer at age 69. The following thoughts, written by her, were circulated via email. They were actually written when she was age 52. Certainly, they still apply.

by Erma Bombeck

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television - and more while watching life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime. Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
               When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later.    Now go get washed up for dinner." There would have been more "I love yous"… more "I'm sorrys" but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute...look at it and really see it... live it...and never give it back.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Builder

This parable was sent to me over ten years ago. No one knows who wrote it, but I hope you enjoy it.

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.

The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career.

When the carpenter finished his work and the builder came to inspect the house, the contractor handed the front-door key to the carpenter. "This is your house," he said, "my gift to you." 

What a shock! What a shame!

If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.

So it is with us. We build our lives in a distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to put up less than the best. At important points we do not give the job our best effort. Then with a shock we look at the situation we have created and find that we are now living in the house we have built.  If we had realized, we would have done it differently.

Think of yourself as the carpenter. Think about your house. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. Build wisely.  It is the only life you will ever build. Even if you live it for only one day more, that day deserves to be lived graciously and with dignity.

The plaque on the wall says, "Life is a do-it-yourself project".  Who could say it more clearly?  Your life today is the result of your attitudes and choices in the past.  Your life tomorrow will be the result of your attitudes and the choices you make today.
--Author unknown
Psalm 118:24 (NIV)
24 The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Almightygod (@almightygod) is now following your tweets (@sean_fuller) on Twitter

The other day, my friend, Sean Fuller, received this tweet:
Almightygod (@almightygod) is now following your tweets (@sean_fuller) on Twitter.
We had a good laugh about that and, obviously, we assume that it is not THE ALMIGHTY who maintains this account. Still, it is a cool reminder that God offers intimacy more potent than Twitter:
Psalm 139:1-17
 1 O LORD, you have searched me
       and you know me.
 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; 
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; 
you are familiar with all my ways.
 4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
 5 You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, 
too lofty for me to attain.
 7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; 
if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.
 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 10 even there your hand will guide me, 
your right hand will hold me fast.
 11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"
 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; 
the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, 
I know that full well.
 15 My frame was not hidden from you 
when I was made in the secret place. 
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Why Are People Getting Hurt?

According to WORLD MAGAZINE, an abnormal number of people were getting hurt this fall in Germany. It was a special time of year with a number of visitors.

They were celebrating the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest, which is an annual festival known for its heavy consumption of beer and traditional German foods, along with exuberant celebrating. Yet, police became concerned because of a 66 % increase in human head injuries. Moreover, most of these injuries had one factor in common—they were the result of being struck in the head by the festival’s one-liter glass mugs.

The police and government officials began a thorough investigation. Their findings were dramatic and profound: “One of the reasons is an excess of alcohol consumption.”