LOVE OF MONEY
ntegrity is more than not being deceitful or slipshod. It means doing everything "heartily as unto the Lord" (Col. 3:23). In his book Lyrics, Oscar Hammerstein II points out one reason why, a reason Christians have always known:
A year or so ago, on the cover of the New York Herald Tribune Sunday magazine, I saw a picture of the Statue of Liberty . . . taken from a helicopter and it showed the top of the statue's head. I was amazed at the detail there. The sculptor had done a painstaking job with the lady's coiffure, and yet he must have been pretty sure that the only eyes that would ever see this detail would be the uncritical eyes of sea gulls. He could not have dreamt that any man would ever fly over this head. He was artist enough, however, to finish off this part of the statue with as much care as he had devoted to her face and her arms and the torch and everything that people can see as they sail up the bay. . . . When you are creating a work of art, or any other kind of work, finish the job off perfectly. You never know when a helicopter, or some other instrument not at the moment invented, may come along and find you out.
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any people think money is security, but 1 Timothy 6:9 warns that it can be just the opposite. A few years ago, columnist Jim Bishop reported what happened to people who won the state lottery:
Rosa Grayson of Washington won $400 a week for life. She hides in her apartment. For the first time in her life, she has "nerves." Everyone tries to put the touch on her. "People are so mean," she said. "I hope you win the lottery and see what happens to you."
When the McGugarts of New York won the Irish Sweepstakes, they were happy. Pop was a steamfit-ter. Johnny, twenty-six, loaded crates on docks. Tim was going to night school. Pop split the million with his sons. They all said the money wouldn't change their plans.
A year later, the million wasn't gone; it was bent. The boys weren't speaking to Pop, or each other. Johnny was chasing expensive race horses; Tim was catching up with expensive girls. Mom accused Pop of hiding his poke from her. Within two years, all of them were in court for nonpayment of income taxes. "It's the Devil's own money," Mom said. Both boys were studying hard to become alcoholics.
All these people hoped and prayed for sudden wealth. All had their prayers answered. All were wrecked on a dollar sign.
— Chuck Rasmussen Pinckney, Michigan
WHEN GOD SPEAKS"
ny of us more than twenty-five years old can probably remember where we were when we first heard of President Kennedy's assassination in 1963.
British novelist David Lodge, in the introduction to one of his books, tells where he was — in a theater watching the performance of a satirical revue he had helped write. In one sketch, a character demonstrated his nonchalance in an interview by holding a transistor radio to his ear. The actor playing the part always tuned in to a real broadcast.
Suddenly came the announcement that President Kennedy had been shot. The actor quickly switched it off, but it was too late. Reality had interrupted stage comedy.
For many believers, worship, prayer, and Scripture are a nonchalant charade. They don't expect anything significant to happen, but suddenly God's reality breaks through, and they're shocked.
— Brian Powley Ipswich, England
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atching a trapeze show is breathtaking. We wonder at the dexterity and timing. We gasp at near-misses. In most cases, there is a net underneath. When they fall, they jump up and bounce back to the trapeze.
In Christ, we live on the trapeze. The whole world should be able to watch and say, "Look how they live, how they love one another. Look how well the husbands treat their wives. And aren't they the best workers in the factories and offices, the best neighbors, the best students?" That is to live on the trapeze, being a show to the world.
What happens when we slip? The net is surely there. The blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ, has provided forgiveness for all our trespasses. Both the net and the ability to stay on the trapeze are works of God's grace.
Of course, we cannot be continually sleeping on the net. If that is the case, I doubt whether that person is a trapezist.
— Juan Carlos Ortiz in As 1 Have Loved You
n his book, Lee: The Last Years, Charles Bracelen Flood reports that after the Civil War, Robert E. Lee visited a Kentucky lady who took him to the remains of a grand old tree in front of her house. There she bitterly cried that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Federal artillery fire. She looked to Lee for a word condemning the North or at least sympa-
thizing with her loss.
After a brief silence, Lee said, "Cut it down, my dear Madam, and forget it."
It is better to forgive the
injustices of the past than
to allow them to remain,
let bitterness take root and
poison the rest of our life.
— Michael Williams
man found a cocoon of the emperor moth and took it home to watch it emerge. One day a small opening appeared, and for several hours the moth struggled but couldn't seem to force its body past a certain point.
Deciding something was wrong, the man took scissors and snipped the remaining bit of cocoon. The moth emerged easily, its body large and swollen, the wings small and shriveled.
He expected that in a few hours the wings would spread out in their natural beauty, but they did not. Instead of developing into a creature free to fly, the moth spent its life dragging around a swollen body and shriveled wings.
The constricting cocoon and the struggle necessary to pass through the tiny opening are God's way of forcing fluid from the body into the wings. The "merciful" snip was, in reality, cruel. Sometimes the struggle is exactly what we need. — Beth Landers Waterloo, Ontario
n a plaque marking Abraham Lincoln's birthplace near Hodgenville, Kentucky, is recorded this scrap of conversation: "Any news down t' the village, Ezry?" "Well, Squire McLains's gone t' Washington t' see Madison swore in, and ol' Spellman tells me this Bonaparte fella has captured most o' Spain. What's new out here, neighbor?"
"Nuthin', nuthin' a'tall, 'cept fer a new baby born t' Tom Lincoln's. Nothin' ever happens out here."
Some events, whether birthdays in Hodgenville (or Bethlehem) or spiritual rebirth in a person's life, may not create much earthly splash, but those of lasting importance will eventually get the notice they deserve.
SPECKS AND PLANKS"
t the turn of the century, the world's most distinguished astronomer was certain there were canals on Mars. Sir Percival Lowell, esteemed for his study of the solar system, had a particular fascination with the Red Planet.
When he heard, in 1877, that an Italian astronomer had seen straight lines crisscrossing the Martian surface, Lowell spent the rest of his years squinting into the eyepiece of his giant telescope in Arizona, mapping the channels and canals he saw. He was convinced the canals were proof of intelligent life on Mars, possibly an older but wiser race than humanity.
Lowell's observations gained wide acceptance. So eminent was he, none dared contradict him.
Now, of course, things are different. Space probes have orbited Mars and landed on its surface. The entire planet has been mapped, and no one has seen a canal. How could Lowell have "seen" so much that wasn't there?
Two possibilities: (1) he so wanted to see canals that he did, over and over again, and (2) we know now that he suffered from a rare eye disease that made him see the blood vessels in his own eyes. The Martian "canals" he saw were nothing more than the bulging veins of his eyeballs. Today the malady is known as "Lowell's syndrome."
When Jesus (Matt. 7:1-3) warns that "in the same way you judge others, you will be judged" and warns of seeing "the speck of sawdust" in another's eye while missing the plank in our own, could he not be referring to the spiritual equivalent of Lowell's syndrome? Over and over, we "see" faults in others because we don't want to believe anything better about them. And so often we think we have a firsthand view of their shortcomings, when in fact our vision is distorted by our own disease.
— Glenn W. McDonald Zionsville, Indiana
red Craddock, in an address to ministers, caught the practical implications of consecration. "To give my life for Christ appears glorious," he said. "To pour myself out for others ... to pay the ultimate price of martyrdom — I'll do it. I'm ready, Lord, to go out in a blaze of glory.
"We think giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table — 'Here's my life, Lord. I'm giving it all.'
"But the reality for most of us is that he sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $1,000 for quarters. We go through life putting out 25tf here and 50« there. Listen to the neighbor kid's troubles instead of saying, 'Get lost.' Go to a committee meeting. Give a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home.
"Usually giving our life to Christ isn't glorious. It's done in all those little acts of love, 25<t at a time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it's harder to live the Christian life little by little over the long haul."
— Darryl Bell Maple Grove, Minnesota
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