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Friday, October 26, 2012

The Donkey and the Dad

            When we lived in Argentina, I read a fable. It was out of Mexico, I believe, but it quickly became a favorite of mine. Since, I have seen it translated many times.
            A father was traveling with his son and a donkey. As they walked through a village, the father was leading the donkey while the boy walked behind.
            The residents of the village derided the father for not riding. To quiet them down, the father hopped on the donkey’s back and began riding.
            As they approached the next village, the townspeople reproached the father. “How inconsiderate,” they said, for he rode while making the son walk. In order to please the people, the father dismounted and placed his son on the donkey’s back.
             A few miles down the road at the next village, the people chided the boy for being lazy and making his father walk. They argued that both the father and son should ride the creature. So the father climbed back on and they set off again.
            In the fourth village, the citizens reacted with great anger when they saw father and son ride into the village. How cruel to make the donkey carry two people!
            Father and son were last seen exiting the village—both carrying the donkey down the road.
            It is ridiculous to try to please everyone.
            I am sure that is one of many reasons Jesus said that THE one whose opinion should concern us is God (consider Luke 12:4-12.)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Window

            Here is a parable you may have read. It is from CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL:
            There were once two men, both seriously ill, in the same small room of a great hospital. Quite a small room, it had one window looking out on the world. One of the men, as part of his treatment, was allowed to sit up in bed for an hour in the afternoon (something to do with draining the fluid from his lungs). His bed was next to the window.            
            But the other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. Every afternoon when the man next to the window was propped up for his hour, he would pass the time by describing what he could see outside.
            The window apparently overlooked a park where there was a lake. There were ducks and swans in the lake, and children came to throw them bread and sail model boats. Young lovers walked hand in hand beneath the trees, and there were flowers and stretches of grass, games of softball. And at the back, behind the fringe of trees, was a fine view of the city skyline.
            The man on his back would listen to the other man describe all of this, enjoying every minute. He heard how a child nearly fell into the lake, and how beautiful the girls were in their summer dresses. His friend’s descriptions eventually made him feel he could almost see what was happening outside.
            Then one fine afternoon, the thought struck him: Why should the man next to the window have all the pleasure of seeing what was going on? Why shouldn’t he get the chance?
            He felt ashamed, but the more he tried not to think like that, the worse he wanted a change. He’d do anything! One night as he stared at the ceiling, the other man suddenly woke up, coughing and choking, his hands groping for the button that would bring the nurse running. But the man watched without moving - even when the sound of breathing stopped.
            In the morning, the nurse found the other man dead, and quietly took his body away. As soon as it seemed decent, the man asked if he could be switched to the bed next to the window. So they moved him, tucked him in, and made him quite comfortable.            
            The minute they left, he propped himself up on one elbow, painfully and laboriously, and looked out the window. It faced a blank wall.

            Two men, two attitudes, two perspectives on life.

Story source: A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul Copyright 1995 by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Road Back, Which Never Ends

            As a young adult, I grew to appreciate the writings of W. C. Heinz, but it was Heinz’s interviewer that caused me to connect with Heinz. Several years ago, when Heinz was age 85 and in the twilight of his life, he granted an interview with freelance writer Jeff MacGregor. He asked Heinz about the death of his 16-year-old daughter, who died suddenly of toxic shock or some virulent form of strep.            
            Listen to MacGregor describe Heinz’s response, “It is quiet torture for him to tell this story, and he tells it carefully, as though these words were made of glass and might shatter in the telling. Might cut him.”
            Did you hear that? When you love someone deeply, and you lose him or her, talking about it can cut your soul.
            Heinz went on to speak of the day he and his wife spread their daughter's ashes at her favorite camp in Vermont. According to MacGregor, Heinz’s "eyes shut tight against something he still can't stand to look at.” And then with great poignancy, Heinz told him that as he and his wife left their daughter’s ashes behind, they “started on the road back, which never ends."
            Have you lost a loved one? Do the words you utter when talking about your loss cut you like glass? Have you started on the road back, which never ends?
            I want you to know that even though the road never ends in this life, it will end in the life to come—if you are in Christ. In Christ, in the world to come, you will find closure and ultimately healing.

            And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:3-4. NIV)

Friday, October 19, 2012

How to Fail Your Drivers Test

            A few years ago, somebody sent me the following:
How to Fail Your Drivers Test

            - Get in the car, look down at the pedals, and say, "now which one is the gas again?"

            - Turn the radio on. When the tester goes to turn it off slap his/her hand.

            - Come dressed in a suit. Before the examiner gets in the car, ask him/her to put a piece of saran wrap down so he doesn't dirty the seat.

             - When the examiner tells you to stop, step on the gas. Tell him/her that you thought it was the brake.

            - In the middle of driving, put your arm around the examiner.

            - When you stop at a light, start revving the engine while looking back and forth between the person next to you and the light.

-       Honk your horn at everything.
            Obviously, those are not very good ideas! Instead, one should do his or her very best. It’s the same with anything else we do. The Bible puts it this way, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might….”

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Going to Bed Angry

            Husbands and wives should never go to bed angry. There is an old story about a husband and wife who were experiencing a conflict. They each resorted to the classic “silent treatment.”
            Then the man realized he would need his wife, who was an early riser, to awaken him at 5:00 AM for an early morning business flight. Not wanting to be the first to break the silence (and lose), he wrote on a piece of paper before bedtime, "Please wake me at 5:00 AM."
            The next morning the man woke up, only to discover it was 9:00 AM and that he had missed his flight. Furious, he was about to go and see why his wife had not awakened him when he noticed a piece of paper by the bed.
            The paper said, “It is 5:00 AM. Wake up.”
            Conflict can hurt relationships. It is impractical.
            One way to address conflict is to address anger. Paul shared these words of practical advice, “’In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Eph. 4:26-27 NIV.)           
            Those are good words to live by.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Importance of Prayer

            I have read numerous places about the sister of William Carey. William Carey was one of the great missionaries of the past five hundred years. He spent decades preaching the gospel in India over 200 years ago.
            His sister was an invalid—bedridden for over five decades. She wrote many letters to him, and she prayed for him several hours per day for 50 years.
            I believe her ministry of prayer was every bit as important as William’s ministry of preaching!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Great-Grandmother Earns Black Belt

            It’s the year 2000.
            Georgia Long is sixty-two years of age. She is a great grandmother, and she is in poor health.
            A grandson begins taking lessons in Kuk Sool Won, which is a martial art originating in Korea. Georgia takes him and asks if the instructor would allow her to do some of the stretching exercises along with the class; she thinks the stretching will help her get into better shape. The instructor hands her a workout uniform and tells her she has become a part of the class.
            Six months later, Georgia’s grandson quits. Georgia continues. She decides that in time, she can earn a black belt.
            Georgia perseveres with all of her heart. Over the course of three years, Georgia loses fifty pounds and lowers her blood pressure. Those are the fringe benefits. She also meets her goal; she earns her black belt.
            Georgia does not stop there. In October of 2003, she competes for the world championship in the over-45 age bracket.
            I like Georgia’s story. As one newspaper of the time recorded, she was “determined to go the distance….”
            In the Bible, Caleb was an old man who was determined to go the distance with God, and he did--wholeheartedly.
            We, too, should decide to wholeheartedly go the distance with God.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Successful Flop

            Dick Fosbury was not a very good athlete, but he liked sports. He tried several before settling on the high jump in track and field.            
            He tried many of the well-known methods: the western roll, the straddle, and the scissors. At last he did something weird; he approached the bar with great speed and jumped—head facing up and back facing down—with his head leading the way over the bar. Initially, several officials protested, but since Fosbury jumped off of one foot, the jump was ruled legal.
            Great success did not arrive quickly. Fosbury spent years working on his technique. No one—no one—felt inspired to imitate it. Many ridiculed him for it.
            At last, during college, he became one of the top fifty high jumpers in the world. In 1968, he made the U.S. Olympic team. Incredibly, in the Olympic games in Mexico City later that year, Fosbury won the high jump setting an Olympic record of seven feet four inches.
            Little by little, the style caught on. In 1972, Juri Tarmak, won the Olympic gold medal deploying the straddle technique. Since then, every winning jumper has used the Fosbury Flop. For years, it has been the standard in high jumping.
            There are times a leader is so far ahead of the pack that people cannot comprehend where he is going. For God’s leader, it is essential for him to listen to voice of God. 
            This is where Hebrews chapters ten-twelve can encourage. In times when the Christian leader is ahead of everyone else, let him not preoccupy himself with their feedback. Instead, let him play to the audience of God and the cloud of witnesses (those who have gone on before in the faith.) They will cheer him on.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Man Who Would Not Dance

            There was once a man, who claimed to follow Jesus, who served under Adolph Hitler. He survived the defeat of the Second World War. Years afterward, a Christian writer asked him to reflect upon his experiences.
            One was a memory he held with great pride: during the Hitler years a dance was held one evening, and the believer’s commandant ordered him to go. The disciple of Jesus refused; he believed that dancing was wrong. He risked punishment—even death—rather than go against his convictions on dancing.
            At the same time, this individual who claimed to follow Christ, assisted Hitler in his effort to eliminate the Jews. That’s right, the man who would dare sacrifice his life rather than attend a dance, was part of the Holocaust.
            Now folks, I’m not a fan of dances, but I think someone had his priorities out of whack.

Story source: A PECULIAR PEOPLE—Rodney Clapp

Friday, October 5, 2012

“I’ll Be Different from my Parents”

           All of us who are parents would love to have the admiration of our children. Unfortunately, that proves to be very difficulty.
            As an example, let me share with you an essay that my friend’s son wrote when he was in the fifth grade. The city newspaper got a hold of it and ran it in the Sunday edition. I think you may find the letter humorous:

            I have four ways I’ll be different from my parents and here they are.  First I will not be as strict.  Second I will let my kids do anything except watch some rated R movies. Third I will have a different occupation and be more adventurous.
            The reason I picked not to be as strict is because all parents are strict but they never admit it.  Also kids don’t like strict parents.  I will let my kids watch some rated R movies because some are historical like Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line.
            My third reason was I will be more adventurous.  I would like to bungee jump and I would also like to climb a mountain unlike my parents.
            Also, I will have a different occupation than my parents because my Dad is an accountant and my Mom is a teacher.  I haven’t decided what I want to be yet, but I think I want to be something a little more exciting!!

            Aren’t you glad God did not call us to be admired by our kids? That would be a tough job! Instead, he called us to love our kids, serve our kids, and train our kids in the ways of the Lord.            
            That we can do.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Gandhi's 7 Deadly Sins

Years ago, I was fascinated to come across Gandhi's list of 7 deadly sins. They were:
1. wealth without work
2. pleasure without conscience
3. knowledge without character
4. business without morality
5. science without humanity
6. worship without sacrifice
7. politics without principle.

            That seems pretty accurate to me.
            What’s on your list?


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Inches and Seconds

            In last summer’s Olympic Games, viewers were reminded that Roger Bannister was the first man to break the "four minute mile." Bannister ran less than 1% faster than anyone else had ever done.  Just a second or two made a difference.
            Many call football "a game of inches".  The referee’s spot of the ball can be the difference between a first down and the opposition receiving possession. Possession can mean the difference between victory and defeat. A few inches can make a difference.
            Little things make a difference.
            One of the biblical words we translate as “sin” can also be translated as "missing the mark.” We may be barely off God’s standard of holiness, but we are off. We gave righteousness a shot, and we missed. When it comes to the holiness of God, little things make a difference.
            No wonder we need a Savior.