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Friday, April 29, 2011

I Dare You to Do it Again!

            Another old joke about giving:

            At a church meeting, a very wealthy man rose to tell the rest of those present about his Christian faith.
            "I'm a millionaire," he said, "and I attribute it all to the rich blessings of God in my life. I remember the turning point in my faith. I had just earned my first dollar and I went to a church meeting that night. The speaker was a missionary who told about his work. I knew that I only had a dollar bill and had to either give it all to God's work or nothing at all.”
            “So at that moment, I decided to give my whole dollar to God. I believe that God blessed that decision, and that is why I am a rich man today."
            He finished and there was an awed silence at his testimony as he moved toward his seat. As he sat down, a little old lady sitting in the same pew leaned over and said to him: "I dare you to do it again."

Thursday, April 28, 2011


            An old joke goes like this:

            A church member was critically ill in a hospital after a heart attack. While he was there, his bank informed his wife that he had inherited a million dollars.
            His wife, being concerned that the shock of the good news might kill him, asked their preacher to break the news to him as gently as possible.
            "Brother Jones," the preacher said tactfully, "let us imagine for a moment that you have inherited a million dollars. What would you do with the money?"
            Jones thought hard and long. "Brother," he said, "money means little to me any more. I am quite certain I would give it all to the CHURCH."
            The preacher gulped and staggered about the ward. Then he dropped over dead.

            Why is giving money to the church so hard?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


            Surely, somewhere, this has been said:
            A preacher, in his sermon, had called on church members to give a tenth of their income to the church.
            After the service, two members were discussing his message outside.
            The first said to the second, "The way the Lord has blessed me and my family, I'm not going to give just a TENTH! I've decided I'm going to give one TWENTIETH!"
            Startling fact: giving would actually go up in churches if members did give 1/20th of their income.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Don’t Take Off Your Clothes!

            Col. 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

            Any of you old timers, like me, remember the streaking craze? Dianne Neal Matthews wrote something, a couple of years ago, which reminded me of it.
            During the spring of 1974, college students around the nation, as a prank, began shedding their clothes and running naked in public locales. It was a fad. (A streaker even crashed the Academy Awards and ran across the stage.)
            I wonder if we, Christians, ever look like spiritual “streakers” to the beings in heaven. It seems easy for us to shed our spiritual clothes of “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
            Unfortunately, this is not prank. Let’s not take off our spiritual clothes—received from Jesus.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bury That Talent!

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

            Whenever I think of that verse, I think of a story, perhaps apocryphal, told about John Wesley. Supposedly, a woman approached Wesley and said, "I think I know what talent God gave me."
            He said, "Yes, and what is the talent that God gave you?"
            "I think my talent is to always speak my mind."
            To which Wesley replied, "I do not think that God would mind if you buried that talent."

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Family Parrot

            "Lead your life so you won't be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip." 
--Will Rogers

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Temple of the One Thousand Buddhas

            The legend is told that in Japan, there is a temple called “the temple of the one thousand Buddhas.” Upon entering the temple, a person can view one thousand images of Buddha, each one slightly different than the other.
            You might ask, what is the purpose? It is so that the worshipper can enter and find the image of Buddha that is most like him or her. That image, then, is the appropriate one to worship.
            Scripture teaches, this is one of the many reasons idolatry is wrong—humans tend to create a god in their own image.
            (Sarcasm alert!)
            Fortunately, we, in the United States, don’t have that problem.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Exasperating Your Children

Fathers, don't exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master (Eph. 6:4.) THE MESSAGE

             I have always had a plastic container filled with almonds in my office. At one time, I kept it behind my desk next to the container holding paper clips.
            The almonds’ close proximity allowed me to sit at my computer, turn around, grab me a handful of almonds, turn back around, and get back to work.
            When my youngest children, Timothy and Annie, were little, they would always ask for almonds, whenever they came by the office. One day, I noticed paper clips inside my container, just randomly placed.
            Now, I could not definitively prove who put those paper clips inside my container of almonds, but I had two prime suspects in mind.  “Hmm,” I thought to myself, “I wonder if they are trying to poison me?”
            Time, I think, has demonstrated that they were not. However, Paul’s words are a good reminder to all parents, including me. Let’s be careful we are not too hard on our kids. That is just as much a mistake, as being too easy on them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Job Application

             An old joke goes like this. Several weeks after a young man had been hired, he was called into the personnel director's office.
            "What is the meaning of this?" the director asked. "When you applied for this job, you told us you had five years experience. Now we discovered this is the first job you've ever held."
            "Well," the young man replied, "in your advertisement you said you wanted somebody with imagination."

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out (Prov. 10:9.) ESV

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mid-life Crisis—and Lavish Praise

            Today's story comes from two sources—Robert Coleman and Charles Colson. In the 1740s, a 57-year-old man was going through a severe depression. He had been rejected by the best and the brightest in Great Britain. His business deals had not worked out, and he was deep in debt. He was exhausted, and he retreated into seclusion.
            A manuscript arrived from Charles Jennings, a well-to-do, self-supporting poet. Jennings gave the man suffering a “mid-life” crisis a document celebrating the work of the Messiah, Jesus.
            Jennings's lyrics, or libretto in the musical term, utilized 53 scriptures. They told the story of Jesus’ birth, His life, suffering, death, resurrection, and His second coming.
            Now, the aforementioned depressed man was a composer. He had collaborated with Jennings before. After receiving this latest material, he locked himself in his room for several days. Refusing food and company, he worked maniacally on his composition.
            At last, he finished. Today, we know this work by the name of that depressed man; it is an adjective; people all over the planet call this work, “Handel’s Messiah.”
            With our lips and lives, whether depressed or exultant, by faith we offer our confession of Christ unto God for the sake of the world.

14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.  15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name… (Heb. 13:14-15.) NIV 1984

Friday, April 15, 2011

I Deserve My Punishment

        The publication, TODAY IN THE WORD,* once carried a story about the Prussian king, Frederick the Great. The king was touring a Berlin prison.
         Inside the prison, all of the prisoners fell on their knees before him to proclaim their innocence—except for one man, who remained silent.          
         Frederick called out to him, “Why are you here?”
         “Armed robbery, Your Majesty,” was the reply.
         “And are you guilty?”
         “Yes indeed, Your Majesty, I deserve my punishment.”
         Frederick then summoned the jailer and ordered him, “Release this guilty wretch at once. I will not have him kept in this prison where he will corrupt all the fine innocent people who occupy it.”

*Today in the Word, December 4, 1992

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Confession is Good for the Soul

     You have probably heard this one before.
      Four preachers gathered around a campfire. As campfires inevitably do, this one established an atmosphere of intimacy and introspection.
      During the conversation, one preacher said, “Our people come to us and pour out their hearts, confess certain sins and needs. Let's do the same. Confession is good for the soul.”
      In due time, trust was established and all agreed.
      One preacher confessed he liked to go to movies and would sneak off when away from his church.
      The second preacher confessed to liking to smoke cigars.
      The third preacher confessed to liking to play cards.
      When it came to the fourth preacher, he wouldn't confess. The others pressed him saying, “Come now, we confessed our sins. What is your sin?”
      Finally, the fourth preacher answered, “It is gossiping, and I can hardly wait to get out of here.” 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Power that Changes Lives

                    Robert Caro writes about a federal study of half a million farm families in the thirties, showing that each person used an average 40 gallons of water every day. A family of 5, the average, used 200 gallons or 4/5 of a ton of water every day. That's 73, 000 gallons of water—300 tonsin a year!
            In the Texas Hill Country, the average well was located 253 feet from the house. In one year, the normal person would be required to walk approximately 1750 miles carrying buckets.
               Pumping 73, 0000 gallons by hand and walking the 1750 miles would require the equivalent of 63, eight-hour, work days.
            Normally, each bucket would carry four gallons of water, which weighed 32 lbs. That's 64 pounds of water a person would have to carry, each trip, from the pump!
            And guessed who carried it? Maybe kids helped, but mostly the farmer’s wife!
            That's why so many developed back trouble and stooped backs.
            Now, imagine how electricity changed life on the farm?
            It operated pumps for water, irons for ironing, washing machines for washing.
            Now, electricity was present all that time of pumping water. Humans had not discovered it or harnessed its power. But Humanity finally discovered the power of electricity and the farm families accessed that power for themselves…. The power of electricity changed lives.
            God has power to change lives even more. You may not see it, but it is there. Go to God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Eph. 3:20-21).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


            An old joke tells about a man walking home from work one day when he saw a snail on his porch. The man said, "Oooh, a snail," and he kicked it as hard as he could—sending the snail to his neighbor's yard.
            Two years later, that same man was sitting in his front room watching television, when he heard a knock at the door.  He answered the door—finding no one there. 
            As he was about to close the door, he looked down and saw that same snail from two years ago.  The snail looked up and said, "So what was that all about???"
            Sometimes, we go to great lengths to maintain a grudge.

Monday, April 11, 2011

What Part Did You Play In Your Salvation?

            The old preacher, Harry Ironside, was asked, “What part did you play in your salvation?”
            He answered, “The important part; I got lost.”

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Price of Coffee

            William Barclay writes of one of World War II’s most dangerous missions: British sailing vessels called to transport petroleum supplies from northern Europe into Russia—via the cold North Sea.
            The waters were infested with German U-boats, which sank many of the British vessels. For the sailors on these sinking ships, death would come quickly. The water would literally freeze them to death within a few minutes.
            One sailor who survived those missions was asked, after the war, what one memory he took with him.
            He replied that there were two. First, he said he would never forget the sounds of men sinking in the water, knowing the ship he was on could not stop and help, lest it too was destroyed.
            Second, he would never forget returning to London and hearing the ladies in the stores gripe about the price of coffee.
            Reflecting on that story, Rick Atchley said that when you've been to war, not only do you obtain a sense of priority, but you are galled by the people who don't.
            How about us? There is a spiritual war going on. Do we maintain a sense of priority?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Phone Call

            Dick Stovall wrote a bulletin article, several years ago, where he told of a new attorney, who had just opened up his office. He was concerned about building a clientele and, as he heard someone at the door and saw the door opening, he grabbed up the phone, thinking that he must impress this prospective client that he was busy.      
           Pretending he had someone on the phone he said, “Well, I’m very sorry, but it will be at least two weeks due to my present case load before I could possibly take your case.”
            He put down the receiver and asked the man standing in front of his desk, “Yes, Sir, and what can I do for you?”
            The man grinned and said, “I’m here to hook up your phone.”
            Over and over again, Jesus preached against the sin of hypocrisy. Authenticity and integrity are close to His heart.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How Do You Disperse an Unruly Mob?

            A rookie police officer was taking an exam, which asked this question, "How would you disperse an unruly mob?"
            This was the answer he wrote, "Announce an offering. That does it every time."            
            He must have been an ex-preacher.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

To Keep the Conscience Clean

            Years ago, a columnist for the Dallas Morning News wrote a column featuring some of the most popular cleaning agents of the era. It was a gag about the importance of attending church, and it generated a not of reader response. I am warning you, the following is very punny:

            Are you soft soaping God about your Texsize problem? Duz you drift along with the Tide?  Though you can Cheer up and a have real Joy, the Dove of peace is sending an SOS to all. 
            The trend is to Breeze to church regularly on Sunday morning. But too many Woodbury their heads in a pillow. 
            Or work in the yard like Handy Andy.  Forgetting that the Lord's Day was made for Lesstoil.  Don't trust your Lux.  Or wait for us to Dial you up. To remind you of those Ivory palaces.
            This is not just idle Babble. Worship will add to your Lifeboy.  So Wisk yourself out of bed, Sunday. Dress up Spic and Span. Dash like a Comet to God's house.  You'll feel as Fantastic as Irish Spring and you'll have new Zest and Pride of conscious.  If you'll keep this Pledge, you too can be Mr. Clean.

            I’m all for attending church, but as a response of gratitude to the saving work of Jesus. That is the secret to a clean conscience.

Hebrews 9:14--How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!


Monday, April 4, 2011

How Did You Become a Hero?

            Humility and modesty are traits to be admired. That’s why I appreciate the story about the small boy asking John F. Kennedy how he became a war hero.  
            “It was easy,” Kennedy answered. “The Japanese sank my boat.”

Friday, April 1, 2011

Walking the Talk

            A friend of mine a few years ago told a story from Leslie Flynn’s book, DARE TO CARE LIKE JESUS. There was a baroness who lived in the Highlands of Nairobi, Kenya. She hired a young national to be her houseboy.
            The boy worked for her for three months and then he asked her for a letter of reference; he wanted to go work for a local sheik.
            The baroness thought the boy simply wanted a raise; he was very good at his job. She offered him more money, but he explained that he was not interested in a wage increase.
            He told her, "I've decided to either become a Christian or a Muslim. I couldn't figure out which I should be, so I decided to live with you, a Christian, for three months and see how you live; now I would like to live with a Muslim for three months and see how he lives. After that, I will make my decision."
            At that point, the baroness thought back over how harshly she had treated the young man over the past three months, so she said to him, "Why didn't you tell me at the beginning that you were watching me?"
            My friend’s point was that your walk could betray your talk. You can do all of the talking you want, but if your life is inconsistent with your testimony, no one listens.