Monthly Archives: March 2006

Humor of Abraham Lincoln

I love this letter from Abraham Lincoln:

One day . . . I got into a fit of musing in my room and stood resting my elbows on the bureau. Looking into the glass, it struck me what an ugly man I was. The fact grew on me and I made up my mind that I must be the ugliest man in the world. It so maddened me that I resolved, should I ever see an uglier, I would shoot him on sight. Not long after this, Andy [naming a lawyer present] came to town and the first time I saw him I said to myself: ‘There’s the man.’ I went home, took down my gun, and prowled around the streets waiting for him. He soon came along. ‘Halt, Andy,’ said I, pointing the gun at him, ‘say your prayers, for I am going to shoot you.’ ‘Why, Mr. Lincoln, what’s the matter? What have I done?’ ‘Well, I made an oath that if I ever saw an uglier man than I am, I’d shoot him on the spot. You are uglier, surely; so make ready to die.’ ‘Mr. Lincoln, do you really think that I am uglier than you?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Well, Mr. Lincoln,’ said Andy deliberately and looking me squarely in the face, ‘if I am any uglier, fire away.’

There are several other funny letters from famous people at:
www.wnyc.org/books/15539

Wish I had said that

According to Elmer Towns the Duke of Canterbury once said:
“Any change for any reason for any purpose should be deplored.”

I don’t know whether to be ashamed or blessed by this phone call

Being the only full time church employee I end up taking a lot of phone calls that would normally go to staff people.
I just got a call from a group that has ministry materials and events for teens. The young lady wanted to talk to the youth minister, but settled for me instead.

Frankly, I didn’t want to talk to her. I told her that we receive their mail and that it is placed in the youth department’s mail box, but she wanted to tell me all about their program anyway.

Only people in church offices will identify with this, but I think of calls like this as “sanctified telemarketing.” It is definitely telemarketing, but you are often talking to a very nice person who expects you to be a very nice person in return. Saying, “I’m not interested” and hanging up is not acceptable.

The young lady told me she was 18 and very excited about their program. She could hear in my voice that I wasn’t as enthusiastic about talking to her as she was about talking to me.

Early in the conversation, she stopped and asked me, “Are you okay?”

I replied, “I’m okay.”

She said, “You sound kind of down.”

I said, “No, really, I’m fine.”

So she went back to wanting to tell me all about her program. I really didn’t want to hear it, and told her again, that we get their mailing and that it was already in the right hands.

So, bless her heart, she asked if she could pray with me.

I said, “Sure.”

She prayed a heartfelt prayer for our teens, our church, and for me.

When she finished, I said, “Thank you for that good prayer.”

She asked, “Are you sure you’re okay? You sound sad.”

I assured her that I wasn’t sad, and that I was okay.

It was time for her to hang up, but, bless her heart, she took time to assure me that she was much more concerned about helping teens know the Lord than she was about selling her product.

Even though she mistook my lack of enthusiasm for listening to her tell me about her products for some kind of personal sadness, I couldn’t help but be impressed by her spirit.

Tell you what, I wish that young lady attended our church.

Inspirational story of Gohn Geddie

I am reading through ‘How we got our Bible’ by Ralph Earle and found this paragraph inspiring:

A missionary named John Geddie settled on one of the islands of the New Hebrides in 1848. At once he set to work translating the Gospel of Mark. It was published in 1853. Ten years later the New Testament appeared, and in 1879 the entire Bible. The epitaph on his tombstone reads as follows:

WHEN HE CAME IN 1848 THERE WAS NOT A CHRISTIAN;
WHEN HE DIED IN 1872 THERE WAS NOT A HEATHEN.

Wow.

Value of Prayer

From S.D. Gordon in “Quiet Talks on Prayer”:

Prayer wonderfully clears the vision; steadies the nerves; defines duty; stiffens the purpose; sweetens and strengthens the spirit.

You can read this book online at Project Gutenberg’s Quiet Talks on Prayer, by S. D. (Samuel Dickey) Gordon

The elder brother

The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 22 has a second act that should get the attention of we church people. You will recall that when the prodigal returned and was greeted with compassion and celebration by his father that the elder son angrily refused to join in the celebration.

The reason was that he didn’t think his brother deserved to be forgiven and re-instated as a son in the household. Their father plead with him to join the celebration.

There is a great danger that we church people will be like the elder brother. We have never left home, we do the work of the Father, and we consider ourselves to be good children. The problem is that there is nothing of the compassion for the lost that we see in our Heavenly Father.

Our Heavenly Father loves lost people so much that he pictures himself as the Good Shepherd, he woman seeking the lost coin, and the compassionate Father to the prodigal. As his children, we must share in that compassion for the lost. Otherwise, we are like the elder brother – doing all the right things, but without the compassion for lost people that characterizes our Father. The danger is that we can be lost in the church.

The encouraging and challenging word here is that the Father pleads with elder sons to join in the celebration – to share in his concern for lost people, and in his joy when the lost are found.

A holy God and a holy people

In my studies, I learned that the holiness of God has three aspects:

  1. Purity: God is absolutely free from sin
  2. “Otherness”: He is beyond us in every way – there is that about Him that we can never comprehend, and the only things we can know about Him are those things He reveals to us
  3. Transcendence: He is glorious, bright and beautiful

I have been considering what that means in relation to the holiness available to human beings. I think that the three aspects of God’s holiness are mirrored in the lives of those who have fully yielded their lives to Him:

  1. Purity: God is willing and able to purify the hearts of those who surrender their all to Him
  2. “Otherness”: God calls us, as a holy people to be separate from the world – to be “in it but not of it”
  3. Transcendent: that is, we are to reflect the glory of God – to be the “light of the world”

Please note that when we speak of holiness like this we must remember that God is holy and we, by his grace, are being made holy. Holiness in men and women is only possible by God’s creating a reflection of His holiness in us.

God and history

I have been reading The Message for my daily Bible reading this year. Eugene Peterson brings a fresh perspective to Scripture and I recommend it for devotional reading.

A hidden gem in this work is Peterson’s introductions to books and other sections of the Bible. He catches my attention in nearly every one.

I have just read his “Introduction to the History Books” of the Bible. Peterson points out that we often view history from an economic or political or some other point of view. For the Hebrews, every bit of history was about God and how He worked through the events of that day.

That got me to thinking about how even we Christians generally miss the boat. We talk about current events, even historical ones, as though these things are totally separate from our faith. If we would think more like the Hebrews we would spend more time deciding how we, as God’s people, ought to respond to things like terrorism threats, or hurricanes, or elections. God isn’t some “secret power” behind these things. He has given us free will and won’t compromise that even to stop people from doing bad things — and, Jesus made it clear that it “rains on the just and the unjust — sometimes hurricanes just happen.

However, God is definitely at work in and through history making events.

Where are His people in all this? Are we just watching the news or are we seeking a response that puts us in harmony with a God who is never just a bystander in history?

A fresh touch

I am reading, once again, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. Today I read the words, “Our store of spiritual power apparently dissipates with time.”

I think he is right on target. Not only can I tell you I have seen it — I can tell you I have experienced it.

There is great value in faithfulness, holding steady in our spiritual walk no matter how we feel at a given point. But we must not allow the natural drift of life to lull us to sleep spiritually. As Cymbala points out, not long after Pentecost the disciples were praying once again for spiritual boldness. God answered that prayer by giving them a fresh empowering of the Holy Spirit.

So, today I ask myself about my own spiritual fire — and find myself joining the disciples in praying for “fresh wind, fresh fire.”

How about you?

If you have a child who is away from God today…

I am re-reading Jim Cymbala’s “Fresh Wind Fresh Fire” and just finished the chapter in which he talks about his daughter who was living far from God.

If you have a child who is away from God today I recommend that you get this book and read this chapter. The price of the book is worth it just for this story.