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Friday, March 1, 2013


            The great French general of World War I, Marshal Foch, was visiting Great Britain when he was cornered by a boorish Englishman who launched into a tirade against French politeness.
            “There is nothing in it but wind,” he sneered.
            “There is nothing but wind in a tire,” Foch politely replied, “but it makes riding in a car very smooth and pleasant.”
            We as Christians should be known for our politeness. This is one of the undergirding themes of Proverbs, and is certainly a virtue that reflects the fruit of the Spirit.

Source: Edmund Fuller

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I Need More

          In the summer of 1995, David Miller decided to leave the corporate world to go to seminary. He wrote four hundred friends and acquaintances alerting them of his startling decision. He expected his decision to be received with scorn and disdain. What he got instead were positive responses. One summarized well the reaction from the corporate world:
I have worked hard to reach the pinnacle of my profession. I have more money than God, yet I am unfulfilled. My marriage is in shambles, I hardly know my kids, and when I look in the mirror, I wonder where the man went who so idealistically graduated from college 30 years ago and was ready to make his mark on the world. I'd like to talk to my pastor, but he has no clue about my world and the pressures I face. Let me know what you find in seminary. I'd like to talk with you.
             All over the world, successful people are coming to the realization that they need more. I think I know where they can find it. How about you?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

’Ol McDonald Had A Farm

            An old story is told of a preacher driving by a farm. Its fields were ripe unto harvest; all rows had been plowed in perfect symmetry. The farm looked picturesque—like the painting of a master artist.
            And then the minister saw the farmer on his tractor. He flagged him down, and the farmer stopped. The preacher introduced himself and, full of enthusiasm, said to the farmer, “My friend, this is beautiful! God has certainly blessed you with a wonderful farm.”
            The farmer suspended movement for a moment and then slowly pulled out his bandana and wiped his brow. He gazed at the preacher, then at the farm, and then back at the preacher again. Then, with deliberation, the farmer said, “Yes, He has, and we’re grateful. But you should have seen this place when He had it all to Himself.”
            Now, I don’t like where some people take that story; namely, to overemphasize the role people play in their lives and thereby diminishing the role God plays. Having said that, I do notice that many Christians go the other direction and reduce the responsibility God has given humans to work. Indeed, work is one way to collaborate with God in his Kingdom.
            As the farmer invested in removing rocks, trees, plowing, sowing seeds…, so we too invest time and effort in our work. This is good, and it was so before the Fall of Adam.
·      Enjoy your work.
·      Invest in it.
·      Work hard.
·      See your work as a collaboration with God.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Splendor of the Ordinary

            Tradition and scripture indicate that Jesus spent the bulk of his life as a carpenter. Prison Fellowship’s Mark Earley wrote a few years ago about an amusing moment in the movie The Passion of the Christ:
            The scene shows Jesus at work as a carpenter, finishing a table. His mother comes over to examine it. Her opinion? The table is too high.
            Not to worry, Jesus responds; He’ll build tall chairs to go with it.
            Mary is not convinced. As she walks away, she mutters, “It’ll never catch on.”
            That scene playfully reminds us that part of Jesus’ mission consisted of work. In this case, his work was manual, and we forget that it was a service to people.
            Justin Martyr, an early church leader, said in the second century that a common sight in Palestine was that of planters working behind plows Jesus had made when he was a carpenter. What an amazing thought—Jesus worked with his hands, and he cared greatly about the quality of his craftsmanship!
                I don't know who coined the phrase “the splendor of the ordinary,” but I like it. It captures well Jesus’ view toward his daily work.
            Does it capture our view?

Friday, February 15, 2013

He’s Not Our Kid!

            Former Virginia governor and U.S. Senator, George Allen, tells a funny story that illustrates the competitive spirit of his father, for whom he was named. Coach George Allen coached the Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins during the 60s and 70s.
            Once, when Allen was coaching the Redskins, they were playing the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia. One of the officials made a terrible call against the Redskins, and the entire Washington bench protested.
            It just so happened that Bruce Allen, the coach's son, was on the sideline that day working as a ball boy. Bruce began screaming at the referee informing him of just how bad a job he was doing. The referee, none too pleased, informed Coach Allen that Washington would receive an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty if “that kid” didn’t shut up.
            Apprehensive that he would receive a penalty, Allen told the official, “That kid is not with us. He must be one those ball boys the Eagles gave us.” Evidently, the line judge accepted that explanation, because he did not call a penalty on the Redskins.
            Now, I doubt if Allen would have ultimately renounced his son, but that humorous story lends itself to ponder the troubling thing that Jesus said to his disciples, “51 Do you think that I came to bring peace to earth? No indeed! I came to make people choose sides. 52 A family of five will be divided, with two of them against the other three. 53 Fathers and sons will turn against one another, and mothers and daughters will do the same. Mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law will also turn against each other” (Luke 12:51-53 CEV.)
            Wow! If the gospel writers had not recorded what Jesus said, it would be easy to place him in a box and package him in an innocuous way that would cause the whole world to love him.
            Strangely enough, God has always seemed more concerned with having himself expressed through the venue of truth rather than of good marketing. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Where Opportunity Knocks

           Consultant Bob Beaudine once advised a man who had a deep desire to become the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. He loved baseball and was intricately involved in the game.
            The position was open, and he had to decide whether not to pursue the opportunity; meanwhile, he had another opportunity that did not look so promising. The commissioner's job seemed the better option.
            Beaudine researched the opportunity for Commissioner and came back with the conclusion that it was not likely he would get it. So George decided to pursue his other possibility–run for governor… of Texas. He ran and he won. He ran again and won by an even greater landslide. Then George W. Bush ran for the presidency of the United States twice and won.             
            What looked like a great opportunity was not, and what looked like a poor opportunity was, instead, a life changer.             
             Keep that in mind when you are at work. What to you may seem a dead-end job may instead be the doorway to your future. I have heard it said (and I believe it to be true) that there is virtually no position in business or industry—be it doorman or trash man, maid or waitress—from which someone has not risen to the position of chairman, president, or some other notable location.
  • ·      Enjoy your work.
  • ·      You never know from whence your next opportunity may come. 

Source: Bob Beaudine, The Power of Who

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


            Myra Blalock was a dear, sweet woman. I say, “was”, because Myra passed away a couple of months ago.
            Last week, our church office received a phone call from Myra’s former boss. She effusively praised Myra. From the boss’s description, Myra authentically illustrated her faith through her work.
            Myra’s employer had been wrestling with how she was going to replace someone so valuable. That is why she called Myra’s church—was there someone else there who might be interested in Myra’s old job?
            Do you hear what Myra’s employer was asking? She was trying to account for someone who had stood out so much in the workplace. She was hoping that perhaps the group that helped form Myra’s faith could help her find someone else who would also be impactful.
            I love Myra’s story. It is a great testimony.
            What about us?
            Are we offering our best at work?
            If we are Christians, are we blessing those in our workplace so much that our employers seek to find the community that is helping to form our faith?

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Half-Million Dollar Mistake…That Led To A Fortune

           Mike McCoy wanted to enter the natural gas business; what he needed was a partner. He found one and they decided to drill for natural gas in an asparagus field that they had purchased in Northern California.
            Unfortunately, a valued employee whom McCoy had previously hired made a mistake. He accidentally poured cement into the well and ruined it. That mistake cost a half-million dollars and McCoy and his partner had practically no money left. Now McCoy had to call his new partner and tell him that one of McCoy’s best friends and most trusted employees had lost them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
            McCoy was amazed to discover that his partner reacted in a magnanimous way. He reacted with great equanimity and graciously told McCoy to let his worker keep his job. The partners borrowed another $500,000 and moved the drill bit 100 feet from the spot they had wanted to drill.             
            It was good that McCoy’s partner treated the mistaken employee in such a kind way. The next day the partners hit a reservoir of natural gas. The well was valued at $40 million. That huge and costly mistake actually led to the partner's greatest drilling triumph.
            Sometimes our worst defeats can in fact be laying the groundwork for our greatest victories. Lost gas wells, lost interviews, lost employees, lost bosses, and lost jobs can actually work to steer us in the direction that we need to go. That's why it's important to never allow ourselves to grow discouraged.
            Having said that, some of you may grow discouraged knowing that the windfall of that natural gas well was the critical financial victory that would allow McCoy’s partner to pursue his dream–owning a professional football franchise. Yes, an employee’s costly mistake paved the way for Jerry Jones to buy the Dallas Cowboys.
            And now you know the rest of the story!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Shine Bright Like a Diamond

           Diamonds shine brightest on the darkest tapestries. As much as we hate it, the same is true with human lives.
            I was recently reading from a biography on radio newscaster and personality, Paul Harvey. Years ago, Harvey’s son, Paul Junior, spent an extensive amount of time researching the story of a boy named Joachim. He was a Jew trapped in the World War II concentration camp of Bergen-Belson.
            As he neared his 13th birthday, Joachim appealed to a rabbi, also a prisoner in the same camp, to help him “celebrate” his bar mitzvah. The rabbi agreed and during the middle of the night, away from anyone who could hurt them, the rabbi gave Joachim his bar mitzvah.
            Afterward, the rabbi also gave Joachim a scroll of the Torah. He told the boy, “I am not going to survive this; I'll die here, and you're going to go on. Take this Torah scroll, and I want you to remind people who see it of what happened here.”
            Shortly thereafter, the Allied army liberated Joachim from the concentration camp. He went on to become an exceptional physicist and had the privilege of working on one of the space shuttle projects. He became acquainted with one of astronauts, and he related to him his story at Bergen–Belsen. He also gave the astronaut the Torah scroll.
            The astronaut was so honored, he decided to take the scroll with him on his mission on the space shuttle Columbia. Tragically, the astronaut, Israeli Air Force Col. Elan Ramon, was killed along with the six other astronauts on Saturday morning, February 1, 2003, over the forests of east Texas as they were descending to land.
            Space shuttles missions had become so routine, even American citizens typically paid them scant attention. Yet, because of this tragedy, the whole world was watching. Consequently, the Columbia tragedy drew the attention of the world to the Torah scroll, and to the story of Bergen—Belsen.
            Adversity in human lives provides the tapestry that allow the “diamonds” to shine brightest.
            Paul is the ultimate example of someone who got this. Consider his encouragement to the Corinthians, But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (II Cor. 12:9-10.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Stitch for Time

            Horace Porter, served as General Grant’s secretary during the Civil War. Before the epic Battle of Cold Harbor, he noticed an interesting occurrence: many of the northern troops were sewing their clothes before battle. That seemed strange, so he decided to investigate.
            What he discovered was this, "... upon closer examination it was found that the men were calmly writing their names and home addresses on slips of paper, and pinning them on the backs of their coats, so that their dead bodies might be recognized upon the field, and their fate made known to their families at home."
         Some later read Porter's report and interpreted it as a sign of bad morale. Porter disagreed, "They were veterans who knew well from terrible experience the danger which awaited them…. Their minds were occupied not with thoughts of shirking their duty, but with preparation for the desperate work of the coming morning. Such courage is more than heroic – it is sublime."
            I think disciples of the Lord Jesus should maintain a similar attitude. Jesus, in Luke 9:23, tells us, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
            Crosses are for killing. We should all be prepared to die in the service of the King. Even if we do not die physically, we shall surely die to self.
            There are things more important than our own lives.

Story source: H. W. Brands The Man Who Saved the Union 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Top Ten Fun Things to Do In a Mall

It’s time for something funny. Someone sent this to me several years ago:

Top Ten Fun Things to Do In a Mall
            10. Ask mall cops for stories of World War I.
               9. Wear pancake makeup and new clothes and pose as a fashion dummy in clothes departments, occasionally screaming without warning.

              8. At a department, buy pajamas in the clothing department, change into them, and then test mattresses in your pajamas.
              7. Rummage through the jellybean bin at the candy store, insisting that you lost a contact lens.

              6. In the changing rooms, announce in a singsong voice, "I see London, I see France..."
               5. "Toast" plastic gag hot dogs in front of the fake fireplace display.

             4. Ask the information desk for a stroller, and someone to push you around in it.

             3. Hand a stack of pants back to the changing room attendant and scornfully announce that none of them are "leakproof".

             2. At the stylist, ask to have the hair on your back permed.

              1. Try on flea collars at the pet store while occasionally pausing to scratch yourself.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

“He Will Come Back, Won’t He?”

            Yesterday, my oldest daughter, Haleigh, left for Italy. She is going to study abroad with the program from Harding University. After she left, I felt the saddest emotions I have felt since… well, since we dropped her off at college back in 2011.
            I always enjoyed the writings of the late Erma Bombeck. Years ago, when I was a boy or a young teenager, she related a story that psychologists, writers, and even Ronald Reagan have shared with their audiences. It seemed so apropos to what I was feeling that I thought I would share it with you. Warning, you might want to grab a box of Kleenexes before you read!

            When Mike was three he wanted a sandbox, and his father said, “There goes the yard. We’ll have kids over here day and night and they’ll throw sand and it’ll kill the grass for sure.”
            And Mike’s mother said, “It’ll come back.”
            When Mike was five, he wanted a jungle gym with swings that would take his breath away and bars to take him to the summit.  And his father said, “Good grief!  I’ve seen those things in back yards, and do you know what the yards look like?  Mud holes in a pasture!  Kids digging their gym shoes in the ground.  It’ll kill the grass.”
            And Mike’s mother said, “It’ll come back.”
            Between breaths, when Daddy was blowing up the plastic swimming pool, he warned, “They’ll track water everywhere and they’ll have a million water fights and you won’t be able to take out the garbage without stepping in mud up to your neck and we’ll have the only brown lawn on the block.”
            And Mike’s mother said, “It’ll come back.”
            When Mike was twelve, he volunteered his yard for a camp-out.  As the boys hoisted the tents and drove in the spikes, Mike’s father said, “You know those tents and all those big feet are going to trample down every single blade of grass, don’t you?  Don’t bother to answer.  I know what you’re going to say – ‘It’ll come back’.”
            Just when it looked as if the new seed might take root, winter came and the sled runners beat it into ridges.  And Mike’s father shook his head and said, “I never asked for much in life – only a patch of grass.”
            And Mike’s mother said, “It’ll come back.”
            Now Mike is eighteen.  The lawn this year is beautiful – green and alive and rolling out like a carpet along the drive where gym shoes had trod; along the garage where bicycles used to fall; and around the flower beds where little boys used to dig with teaspoons.
            But Mike’s father doesn’t notice.  He looks anxiously beyond the yard and asks, “Mike will come back, won’t he?”
            Next time you feel irritated with your children, remember Mike’s dad.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Who’s the Fan?

            A video clip has been going around showing a fan at a Miami Heat basketball game making a half court shot to win $75,000. The fun part, though, is to watch what happens afterward. Lebron James immediately runs onto the court and tackles him out of sheer joy. It was an unusual reversal: the fan acted like the superstar; the superstar acted like the fan.
            I’m reminded of Paul’s words in Rom. 12:15, Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (NIV 1984.) If ever anyone modeled rejoicing with those who rejoice, it was Lebron.
            Some of us, I think, struggle more with rejoicing with those who rejoice than weeping with those who weep. We should take a page out of Lebron’s book: even though God has blessed him greatly, he did not obsess over those blessings or himself. Otherwise, he would have missed the chance to truly forget about himself and focus on someone else.
            I’m sure the fan, Michael Drysch, will remember winning $75,000 with satisfaction. I dare say he will look back upon Lebron’s spontaneous hug with even more joy and pleasure.

(Here’s a link to the video: )

Friday, January 25, 2013


            I came across this poem, and it reminded me of how risky God’s call of faith must have sounded to the Christians in the book Hebrews:

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
The hope is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing does nothing,
            but has nothing and is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he cannot learn, feel, change, grow, or live
Chained by his certitudes, he is a slave; he has
            forfeited his freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.
––Author unknown