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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"You’re Like God"

            A few years ago, I read where a grandmother told about a conversation with her grandson:
            My grandson was visiting one day when he asked, “Granny, do you know how you and God are alike?”
            I mentally polished my halo while I asked, “No, how are we alike?”
            “You’re both old,” he replied.

            Nothing like kids to keep you humble.

Monday, May 30, 2011


           I first read the following story over thirty years ago. It was written by a gentleman named Harold Poland:

On the slope of Longs Peak near Estes Park lies the ruin of a giant tree.  It had stood there for 400 years defying winter storms and bitter cold.  
It had been struck by lightning 14 times and many of its gnarled limbs had been broken by howling winds. Yet it stood.
Nothing in nature seemed able to conquer it!  But it has, at last, been felled by beetles working beneath its bark.
Men are like that:  Able to stand the "giant" temptations. Capable of withstanding every wind of doctrine, every trial of circumstance and every vicious assault of Satan.
They will not succumb to the big sins (so called)--murder, adultery, theft, and lying.  But while no adverse feature of life seemed capable of destroying their determination, sinking their spirit, or claiming their affection, the "little beetles" moved in, ate away at the insides, and claim the life of another of God's giants. . . . .
Little resentments, hostilities, and unforgiving attitudes take over.  Pettiness, hidden anger, annoyances, and grudge eat away beneath the surface until, at last, man falls.
            What does it take to "fell a giant"?  Don't let the little things destroy you!


Friday, May 27, 2011

The Singer

            Dale Carnegie writes about a boy who was ten years old, who lived in Naples, Italy. He worked in a factory, but he deeply desired to be a professional singer. He found a teacher, but she gave him negative feedback, “You can't sing. You haven't any voice at all. It sounds like the wind in the shutters.”
            The boy's mother was certainly no expert when it came to music and voice. She was a simple peasant woman. Yet, her attitude toward her boy’s singing was different.
            She would often put her arms around him and encourage him and his singing. When she noticed improvements, she would rapidly tell him. She would sacrifice her personal comfort and go barefoot in order to pay for music lessons for her son.
            Because of that mother's encouragement, the boy's life was changed. We know him as in Enrico Caruso. He would go on to become the most famous opera singer of his generation.
            God values encouragement. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (I Thess. 5:11.)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hush Little Luxury

       I wish I knew who wrote this little ditty addressing materialism in America. I think it is spot on:

            Hush little luxury, don’t you cry –
            You’ll be a necessity bye-and-bye.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Reaping Negative Waves

          Legend has it the inventor of radar—Sir Robert Watson—was stopped in Canada for speeding. This was several years after his successful invention.             
          Police had set a radar trap and snagged Watt. Later, he supposedly wrote this poem:


            This is a humorous reminder to me of Gal. 5:

7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. NIV

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Bear Story

18You look forward to the day when the LORD comes to judge.
   But you are in for trouble!
   It won't be a time of sunshine; all will be darkness.
    19You will run from a lion, only to meet a bear… (Amos 5:18-19.) CEV

            Over a decade ago, OUR DAILY BREAD included a funny story:

            Two hunters came across a bear so big that they dropped their rifles and ran for cover. One man climbed a tree while the other hid in a nearby cave. The bear was in no hurry to eat, so he sat down between the tree and the cave to reflect upon his good fortune.
            Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, the hunter in the cave came rushing out, almost ran into the waiting bear, hesitated, and then dashed back in again.
            The same thing happened a second time. When he emerged for the third time, his companion in the tree frantically called out, “Woody, are you crazy? Stay in the cave till he leaves!”
            “Can’t,” panted Woody, “there’s another bear in there.”
            The Bible says that a similar kind of dilemma will someday come upon the godless. They will find trouble in the very place they run for safety (Amos 5:18).            
            According to the prophet Amos, these people may be religious, and even long for the coming of the Lord, without realizing that His arrival will present for them the greatest problem of all—judgment of their wrongdoing.
            … [Applying this text to today,] a person who never puts his faith in the Lamb of God (John 1:29) will one day find that the Lamb will be unto him like a lion on one side and a bear on the other (Hos. 13:7,8). There will be no place to hide. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Top Nine Hymns for the Over Fifty Crowd

            Someone sent this to me several years ago. I shared it with my church yesterday morning, and they got a chuckle out of it.

Top Nine Hymns for the Over 50 Crowd

            9-Precious Lord, Take My Hand, And Help Me Up

            8-It Is Well with My Soul, But My Knees Hurt

            7-Nobody Knows the Trouble I Have Seeing

            6-Just a Slower Walk with Thee

            5-Count Your Many Birthdays, Name Them One by One

            4-Go Tell It on the Mountain, But Speak Up

            3-Give Me the Old Timers' Religion

            2-Blessed Insurance

            1-Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah…
                                    I've Forgotten Where I Parked

Friday, May 20, 2011

Evil Kings

         In his classic commentary, THE MINOR PROPHETS, Frederic William Farr reminds us that the kings addressed by the Bible’s prophets were vicious rulers:

The kings of Assyria tormented the miserable world. They flung away the bodies of soldiers like so much clay; they made pyramids of human heads. They burned cities and filled populous lands with death and devastation. They scattered whole countries with corpses as with chaff; they had heaps of men on stakes. They strewed the mountains and choked rivers with dead bones; they cut off the hands of kings and nailed them on the walls; they left their bodies to rot with bears and dogs at the entrance gates of the cities...

Perhaps this is one reason the prophet Jonah wanted to head out in the opposite direction of Nineveh.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


            Discipleship: a difficult word to define… an even more difficult concept to live out.
            It starts with total commitment.
            Here is a story I have often heard, best told by Gary Golike in the newspaper THE VALLEY NEWS.*            
          Tim Bowden, in his book "One Crowded Hour" about cameraman Neil Davis, tells of an incident that happened in Borneo during the confrontation between Malaysia and Indonesia in 1964. A group of Gurkha soldiers from Nepal were asked if they would be willing to jump from transport planes into combat against the Indonesians if the need arose. The Gurkhas had the right to turn down the request because they had never been trained as paratroopers. Bowden quotes Davis’s account of the story:
          "Now the Gurkhas usually agreed to anything, but on this occasion they provisionally rejected the plan. But the next day one of their NCOs sought out the British officer who made the request and said they had discussed the matter further and would be prepared to jump out of the planes under certain conditions.
          "‘What are they?’ asked the British officer.
          "The Gurkhas told him they would jump if the land was marshy or reasonably soft with no rocky outcrops, because they were inexperienced in falling. The British officer considered this and said that the dropping area would almost certainly be over jungle, and there would not be rocky outcrops, so that seemed all right. Was there anything else?
          "‘Yes,’ said the Gurkhas. They wanted the plane to fly as slowly as possible and no more than 100 feet high. The British officer pointed out the planes always did fly as slowly as possible when dropping troops, but to jump from 100 feet was impossible, because the parachutes would not open in time from that height.
          "‘Oh,’ said the Gurkhas. ‘That’s all right, then. We’ll jump with parachutes anywhere. You didn’t mention parachutes before!’

            Until they understood completely, the Gurkhas were negotiating the height of their jump from the plane—without parachutes!
            The Gurkhas’ commitment to their cause illustrates the commitment called for in true discipleship.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Priority Spending

            A story goes…
            A lady was standing in front of a casino when she was approached by a desperate looking man, “Please!” the man begged frantically, “Could you possibly spare $500. My wife is very sick, and I really need the money to take her to the doctor and to buy her the medicine she needs.”
            The lady looked at him suspiciously and said, “If I give you $500, how do I know you won’t just go into a casino and gamble it all away?”
            The man quickly responded, “Oh no, I wouldn’t do that! I’ve got gambling money!”

            We all have priorities with regard to our spending.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


            Okay, so this is not so much a story as it is a poem. So I’m cheating!
            It’s such a good poem, I’ve got to share it. (Don’t know who wrote it.)

Yesterday is History,
Tomorrow a Mystery,
Today is a Gift,
That is why it's called the Present

Monday, May 16, 2011

I Will Be With You Always

Over fifty years ago, Harry McCormick Lintz wrote a book he called STRENGTH FOR EACH DAY. In it, he tells the story of a group of thirty Christians, who met in secret for worship in one of the eastern European countries located behind the “iron curtain.”
Secret police received a tip and raided an assembly. They began counting the Christians and found thirty present. An old Christian gentleman spoke up and said, “I’m sorry sir, but you missed one.”
The police officer became frustrated and counted again and again; each time, he counted only thirty.
Finally, the officer said, “There are only thirty of you miserable Christians here.”
The wise Christian replied, “No, there’s thirty one. Jesus is with us, but you forget to count him.”

“…I will be with you always, even until the end of this age” (Mt. 28:20b.) NCV

Friday, May 13, 2011

Getting Along

            Anyone knowing me knows Phillip Yancey is one of my favorite writers. In his book WHAT’S SO AMAZING ABOUT GRACE (p. 33), he writes:

            Mark Twain used to say he put a dog and a cat in a cage together as an experiment, to see if they could get along. They did, so he put in a bird, pig and goat. They, too, got along fine after a few adjustments. Then he put in a Baptist, Presbyterian, and Catholic; soon there was not a living thing left.

            I wonder if Jesus looks at Christians today… and mourns. Here is what He prayed, Father, I pray that they can be one. As you are in me and I am in you, I pray that they can also be one in us. Then the world will believe that you sent me” (John 17:21). NCV

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Man’s Life and His Possessions

            I read little fiction, but one novel I enjoyed several years ago was A MAN IN FULL by Tom Wolfe. In the book, Charlie Croker, a very rich man, lies in his hospital bed musing on the betrayal of his friend, Inman Armholster, “All I have to do is say, ‘The deal’s off.’ One sentence is all it would take. I can salvage my honor-and lose everything I have. Why kid myself? This is Atlanta-where your ‘honor’ IS the things you possess.”
            Too many people think like Charlie—honor lies in what we possess. Jesus felt differently, “Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot” (LUKE 12:15b.)  THE MESSAGE


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hey Old Timer!

            A few years ago, when I was forty-two, my family and I visited some friends of our family. We took our kids swimming in a community pool belonging to homeowners in my friend’s subdivision.
            While in the pool, I took my friend’s toy football and threw it to some kids, who were jumping off the diving board. One boy was about 11 years old, and he began conversing with my friend and me—just trying to get to know us.
            Later, a 14-year-old boy began playing catch with the 11-year-old. The 11-year-old was having trouble throwing the ball correctly to the 14-year-old, who was jumping off the diving board. The older boy began calling out, "Hey, old timer. Old timer!"
            I finally realized—he was calling to me! Since the 11-year-old was failing, the older boy wanted me to throw him the ball. Now, I didn't feel old, but “old timer” was the only way that teenager could describe me.
            An old hymn opens with the line, “Time is filled with Swift transition.” It certainly is.
            13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes (James 4:13-14.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Amish Anger

             Here is an account that gave me pause:

An author for READERS DIGEST writes how he studied the Amish people in preparation for an article on them. In his observation at the school yard, he noted that the children never screamed or yelled. This amazed him. He spoke to the schoolmaster. He remarked how he had not once heard an Amish child yell, and asked why the schoolmaster thought that was so. The schoolmaster replied, Well, have you ever heard an Amish adult yell?

Counter Attack, Jay Carty, Multnomah Press, 1988, p. 41ff

Monday, May 9, 2011

Perilous Worship

            I love the old story about the preacher who noticed little Alex gazing at the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. The seven-year-old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the preacher walked up, stood beside the boy, and said quietly, "Good morning Alex."
            "Good morning," replied the young lad, focused on the plaque. "Dr. McGhee, what is this?" Alex asked.
            "Well son, these are all the men who have died in the Service," replied the preacher.
            Soberly, they stood together, staring at the large plaque. Little Alex’s voice barely broke the silence when he asked quietly, "Which one, the 9:00 or the 10:30 service?"

Friday, May 6, 2011


         A few years ago*, Peiter Vanvliet repeatedly called 911 from a Plant City, Florida phone booth. His message was law enforcement officials had a warrant out for his arrest. He stood ready to turn himself in and would wait by the phone booth, until the police were able to pick him up for arrest.
         The operator dutifully reported this information and law enforcement authorities prepared to make the arrest. They uncovered a complicating factor—there was no warrant for Vanvliet’s arrest.   
         At last, a sheriff’s deputy arrived at the pay phone to arrest Vanvliet. The reason? Vanvliet had made so many calls, he was arrested for abusing the 911-phone system.
         I know Christians like Peiter Vanvliet. They carry with them burdens of guilt that should not be present. Consequently, they are miserable and do not reach their potential for God. 
         A favorite verse for me is Rom. 8:1  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”
         As a Christian:
         Are you going to trust your gut?
         Or, are you going to trust God?        

*Source: WORLD MAGAZINE August 23, 2008

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Take a Quiz!

Here’s a fun quiz from
The answers are at the bottom:
1) How long did the Hundred Years War last?

2) Which country makes Panama hats?

3) From which animal do we get catgut?

4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?

5) What is a camel's hair brush made of?

6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?

7) What was King George VI's first name?

8) What color is a purple finch?

9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?

10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?

All done? Check your answers below!



1) How long did the Hundred Years War last?
116 years

2) Which country makes Panama hats?

3) From which animal do we get cat gut?
 Sheep and Horses

4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?

5) What is a camel's hair brush made of?
 Squirrel fur

6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?

7) What was King George VI's first name?

8) What color is a purple finch?

9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?
 New Zealand

10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?

         Sometimes, what appears to be the obvious answer is not the true answer. Sort of like the world’s solutions for the challenges of life.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


            I read a story recently about a teenage girl who wanted to buy her first bikini. She approached her parents and alerted them to her wish.
            Her father calmly replied, “Let’s discuss this, but first, take off your shirt and pants.”
            This horrified the teenager. She exclaimed, “Dad! I can’t do that! I would be standing here in my underwear!”
            He gently explained that standing in her underwear would cover up more of her body than a bikini would; moreover, she was standing in the presence of only her mom and dad. If they could not see her in garments that covered more of her body, why would she want to be seen in less before an infinitely larger group of people?
            The teenager never mentioned bikinis again.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Man Who Couldn’t Ride

       SHANE is one of my favorite movies. Perhaps you have read the story (it appears in Wikipedia and other internet sites) that one actor found it extremely difficult to mount and dismount horses. Finally, George Stevens determined that the actor had made the perfect dismount—and it was captured on film!
            Thereafter, Stevens used that dismount for every scene he needed with the actor dismounting a horse.
            What about the mount? No problem. Stevens ran the dismount in reverse. Voila! The perfect mount.
            I have not found scholarly confirmation of this story. Even if it did not happen exactly that way, it provides a good parable. A good director can edit a movie in such a way as to take a flawed actor and make his performance outstanding.
            I believe God is like this. He takes our performances, flawed as they are, and uses them for His outstanding purposes.

Monday, May 2, 2011

“Tell Him I’m Out”

            I was touched by a story reported by Moody Bible Institute a few years ago. It concerned the Christian author, Stuart Briscoe.
            Briscoe, as a young man, had gotten a job with a bank. One day, his boss told him, "If Mr. _______ calls for me, tell him I'm out."
            Briscoe replied, "Oh, are you planning to go somewhere?"
            "No, I just don't want to speak to him, so tell him I'm out."
            "Let me make sure I understand--Do you want me to lie for you?"
            The boss erupted in anger.
            Stuart prayed quickly in his mind, and responded in a way, he believed, that would please God, "You should be happy, because if I won't lie for you, isn't it safe to assume that I won't lie to you?"
            James 5:12b, Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.