Search This Blog

Friday, November 30, 2012

“I’m Moving Again.”

            Too many believe that great people reached their heights without trials, tribulations, failures, and heartaches. They did not.
            The story is told of a young man, who was a struggling newspaper writer in San Francisco. A lady saw him one day with a cigar box under his arm looking in a shop window. “Mr. Clemens, I always see you with a cigar box under your arm. I'm afraid you are smoking too much,” she told him.
            “It isn't that,” he replied. “I'm moving again.”
            In spite of those dire circumstances, Samuel Clemens would go on to write great novels under a pen name—Mark Twain.
            If you are God's man or God’s woman and are presently facing difficult times, it does not necessarily mean that God is displeased with you. Nor does it mean that you are to remain in difficult times.
            I invite you to faithfully look to God, allow this time to deepen your intimacy with him, enjoy his presence, and wait expectantly for what he will do next in your life. 
            If you do, I can promise your life will never be boring!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Of Monsters and Men—“Just Listen”

           Periodically, a popular song comes along that presents the Christian a great opportunity. The song offers a cultural cue—pointing to the Kingdom of God. Such is the case with the popular contemporary song called “Little Talks” by the Icelandic indie group Of Monsters and Men.
            Now I must admit, when I first heard the song on the radio, its catchy tune caught my attention. Although I am not a dancer, I can relate to what participants on (the old TV show) American Bandstand’s segment, “rate a record”, use to say about a good tune, “Its got a good beat, and I can dance to it.” However, Stephanie Schoppert has blogged a profound interpretation of the lyrics.
            To Schoppert, the song is about a couple in a long and loving marriage arriving upon a season of adversity. The wife begins to deal with issues of dementia, Alzheimer's, or some other debilitating affliction of the mind. As Schoppert writes,Both [husband and wife] are struggling with the woman losing her grasp on reality and the knowledge that one way or another they will soon be completely separated. One of the main lines of the song ‘Though the Truth may vary, the ship will carry our bodies safe to shore’ tell that even though they may both seen the world differently they will both end up in the same place. One day they will both be on the other side and together the way they used to be.”
            That is the Christian hope!
            I have no idea whether or not the members Of Monsters and Men are Christians, nor if Stephanie Schoppert is one; nevertheless, Schoppert’s interpretation and “Little Talks’” lyrics—at the very least instinctively express the hope that humans harbor in their hearts... there is something on the other side. Furthermore, people want to believe that our decaying bodies and minds do not represent all there is to human existence. Surely there is more; and surely there is meaning in the experiences of our lives!
            Well, there is. And we Christians should seize the opportunities our culture offers to share the Christian story of redemption and hope.
             I would encourage you to listen to “Little Talks.” Who knows, perhaps you will find other ways to connect with our culture through the song. Here’s a link:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Grudge

            George Washington was a great man, but he was not perfect. In 1798, he allowed himself to be swayed by Alexander Hamilton into taking command of the United States Armed Forces. (Washington was concerned about a potential French invasion.)
            John Adams was president, and you might imagine how difficult it was for him to give up his role as commander in chief. He resented the fact that members of his cabinet had been working behind the scenes against him, and that Washington allowed himself to be involved in the process. Because of this, historian Joseph Ellis wrote, “… Adams, who believed that holding grudges was a measure of personal integrity, never forgave him….”
            John Adams’ reason for maintaining a grudge is a common one. He (and those like him) mistakenly believed that holding a grudge is a  badge of honor. Sadly, this idea is mistaken. Holding a grudge is a sign of self-righteousness.

Friday, November 16, 2012

How to Learn

            A young boy once approached his father to ask, "Dad, why does the wind blow?"
            His father responded, "I don't know, son." 
            "Dad, where do the clouds come from?"
            "I'm not sure, son." 
            "Dad, what makes a rainbow?"
            "No idea, son."
            "Dad, do you mind me asking you all these questions?" 
            "Not at all, son. How else are you going to learn?"
            Let’s hope that father, and those of us who are parents, do a lot better job when our children ask the question, “Why should I follow Jesus?”

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Here’s the Story—Maureen McCormick’s Ordeal

            When I was a kid, The Brady Bunch was a major TV series. You can imagine how surprised I was to discover that my kids enjoyed watching Brady Bunch reruns.
            During my childhood, a number of girls would have loved to trade places with Maureen McCormick, who played Marcia Brady. She was pretty, a star on television, and seemed to have it made.
            That is why I found it interesting to discover in her book Here’s The Story that her life was far from ideal. One example is the story of her mother.
            As a teenager, Maureen learned a horrible family secret. Her grandmother (her mother's mother) had contracted syphilis from her grandfather, who had himself become infected with the disease while serving oversees during World War I. Maureen’s grandmother in turn passed along to her daughter, Maureen’s mother, during birth.
            The disease necessitated that Maureen’s grandmother enter a mental institution where she died. One week later, her husband, Maureen’s granddad, committed suicide. Both were in their thirties.
            These tragedies and her own case of syphilis took a terrible toll on Maureen’s mother. She was treated as an outcast in ways such as being given her own dishes and silverware, lest someone else (they thought) get infected. Throughout her childhood she was sent to experimental hospitals searching new treatments for the venereal disease. Although the treatments ultimately proved successful, Maureen’s mother still paid a price. As an adult she battled mental illness.
            Learning of all of this as a young teenager, Maureen grew terrified that syphilis—and all of its side effects—had been passed down to her. In some of her famous crying scenes on the Brady Bunch, Maureen cried real tears. She never knew when she would have to surrender her career to disease, thus emotions churned beneath the surface.
            So consider this: many of the girls envying Maureen McCormick were in fact living far more tranquil and happier lives.
            Often, the people whose lives we covet are enduring far worse circumstances than we can ever imagine—yet another reason why we should find our contentment in Christ… and not in circumstances.

… for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Phil. 4:11b NIV.)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Top Ten (Worst) Analogies Found in High School Papers

          My wife, Judy, teaches writing at a junior high school in Tyler. I bet she can relate to the following, which gave me a laugh:

Top Ten Worst Analogies Found in High School Papers

10. “The politician was gone but unnoticed, like the period after the Dr. on a Dr Pepper can."

9. “He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it."

8. “The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't."

7. "McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty Bag filled with vegetable soup."

6. "From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and "Jeopardy" comes on at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30."

5. "Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze."

4. "Bob was as perplexed as a hacker who means to access\\aaakk/ch@ung but gets         T:\\flw.quidaaakk/ch@ung by mistake."

3. "Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever."

2. "The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease."

1. “Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph."

            Clearly, these analogies were efforts poorly conceived and executed. They fall short of the mark… like my efforts before God have often done.

"23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…" (Rom. 3:23 NIV.)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Dog Bite that Saved a Family

            Legend tells of the Clark family in Scotland. Many years ago, they had a dream to immigrate to the United States.
            The two parents worked and saved for themselves and for their nine children. After several years, they had saved enough money and had arranged for their passports. They booked passage on a new ship sailing to the United States.
            Seven days before they were to sail, the youngest son was bitten by a dog. The doctor was fearful that the dog had rabies; he ordered the parents to quarantine their son. This meant the family could not sail.
            Mother and father were terribly disappointed. They were angry with their son, and, frankly, they were angry with God.
            Five days after the ship had embarked for America, word spread throughout Scotland that the mighty Titanic had sunk.
            That was the ship the Clark family was to have sailed upon.
            When the father received word of the tragedy, he ran home and hugged his son. He thanked God for saving their lives. What was seen to be a tragedy had in fact been a blessing.
            Perhaps you have experienced a similar occurrence in your life.
            Or maybe you are enduring a set back right now, and someday you will discover that it was a blessing.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Does Killing Your Enemy Work?

            What if society allowed you to kill your enemy in an honorable way? 
            Aaron Burr had a legitimate beef with Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton had spread vicious lies about him. Hamilton was his political enemy.            
            According to the custom of the day, Burr exchanged a series of notes with Hamilton that led to a duel. In the duel, Aaron Burr shot and killed Alexander Hamilton. This was completely legal.
            Formerly, the majority of the country had sided with Burr in his dispute with Hamilton. After the duel, the country turned against him. This led to a series of unfortunate events, which ultimately provoked him to flee into exile; Burr’s story would go on to provide inspiration for the novel The Man Without a Country.
            Many people suffer under the delusion that removal of an enemy would make their lives better. They may not wish their enemy to be dead, but they expend a lot of mental energy fantasizing about their enemy moving to another locale, losing his or her position of influence, and no longer being around to bother them.
`            Aaron Burr removed his enemy in accordance to the law of the land. It did not solve his problem. It made his problem worse. Removing your enemy will not help you or your cause.
            God understands a better way to treat enemies, because he made us. This is why Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… (Mt. 5:43-44 NIV.)
            Contrast Aaron Burr’s response with that of Abraham Lincoln: Abraham Lincoln placed personal enemies in his cabinet for the sake of the Union. That action helped save the Union.

Friday, November 2, 2012

When “I is…” is Correct

            I must be more careful to not interrupt people when they talk. Several years ago, someone sent me a story that illustrated how interruptions created disruptions in the classroom:

TEACHER: “Ellen, give me a sentence starting with ‘I’.”
ELLEN: “I is...”
TEACHER: “No, No, Ellen. Always say, ‘I am.’”
ELLEN: “All right... ‘I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.’"

            I know I am called to offer grace in my everyday interactions with people. I am to be salt and light. The less I interrupt people, the more grace I offer people.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ike Throws His Club!

            Anger can get you. Just ask President Dwight Eisenhower.
            Normally, Ike kept his emotions in check. Once, though, he was playing golf with his personal physician, Dr. Howard Snyder. Ike was having a bad back nine when he grew furious about a shot he hit with his sand wedge on hole number 17. Dr. Snyder did not think the shot was so bad and told him, “Fine shot.”
            Eisenhower exploded and threw his sand wedge at the doctor. The shaft of the club wrapped itself around the Dr. Snyder’s shin; meanwhile, the club head barely missed. Had it struck him, it would have broken his leg.
            Watch out for anger!
Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly (Prov. 14:29 ESV.)

Source: IKE’S BLUFF by Evan Thomas