| A |
American Indian was in downtown . New York, walking with his friend, who lived in New York City. Suddenly he said, "I hear a cricket."
"Oh, you're crazy," his friend replied.
"No, I hear a cricket. I do! I'm sure of it."
"It's the noon hour. There are people bustling around, cars honking, taxis squealing, noises from the city. I'm sure you can't hear it."
"I'm sure I do." He listened attentively and then walked to the corner, across the street, and looked all around. Finally on the corner he found a shrub in a large cement planter. He dug beneath the leaves and found a cricket.
His friend was astounded. But the Cherokee said, "No. My ears are no different from yours. It simply depends on what you are listening to. Here, let me show you."
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of change—a few quarters, some dimes, nickels, and pennies. And he dropped it on the concrete.
Every head within a block turned.
"You see what I mean?" he said as he began picking up his coins. "It all depends on what you are listening for."
Not only must Christians have "ears to hear" (Mt. 13:9), but they must learn what to listen for.
—Tim Hansel in When 1 Relax I Feel Guilty
| I |
was cleaning out a desk drawer when I found a flashlight I hadn't used in over a year. I flipped the switch but wasn't surprised when it gave no light. I unscrewed it and shook it to get the batteries out, but they wouldn't budge.
Finally, after some effort, they came loose. What a mess! Battery acid had corroded the entire inside of the flashlight. The batteries were new when I'd put them in, and I'd stored them in a safe, warm place. But there was one problem. Those batteries weren't made to be warm and comfortable. They were designed to be turned on—to be used.
It's the same with us. We weren't created to be warm, safe, and comfortable. You and I were made to be "turned on"—to put our love to work, to apply our patience in difficult, trying situations—to let our light shine.
—Ted Engstrom in The Pursuit of Excellence
ver feel overwhelmed by the Bible's command to love unconditionally? When people ask me, "How can I ever start to love everyone like I should?" I give the same answer I give those who ask how they can start jogging: Start slow, and then get slower! For the first week, the goal is just to keep moving.
Too many people buy new shoes and a fancy running suit and sprint out the door, eagerly chugging as hard as they can for about three blocks. Then their stomachs begin to ache, their muscles cramp, and their lungs burn. They wind up hitchhiking home exhausted, and gasp, "I will never do that again."
That's called anaerobic (without oxygen) running. It's caused by a body using up more oxygen than it takes in.
Many people try to run that way, and many people try to love that way. They love with great fervor and self-sacrifice, giving 100 percent but without the resources to continue for a lifetime. Down the road they find themselves in pain, gasping and cramped, saying, "I will never do that again."
Love, like running, must be aerobic. Our output must be matched by our intake. Running requires oxygen. An enduring love requires God's Word, his consolation, his presence. As we love aerobically, we'll build up our capacity to do more and more. And pretty soon we won't be huffing and puffing for half a mile; we'll be running marathons.
A Coloradan moved to
Texas and built a house with a large picture window from which he could view hundreds of miles of rangeland. "The only problem is," he said, "there's nothing to see."
About the same time, a Texan moved to Colorado and built a house with a large picture window overlooking the Rockies. "The only problem is I can't see anything," he said. "The mountains are in the way."
People have a way of missing what's right before them. They go to a city and see lights and glitter, but miss the lonely people. They hear a person's critical comments, but miss the cry for love and friendship.
A Denver woman told
her pastor of a recent experience that she felt was a sign of the times. She'd walked into a jewelry store looking for a necklace.
"I'd like a gold cross," she said.
The man behind the counter looked over the stock in the display case and said, "Do you want a plain one, or one with a little man on it?"
abe Ruth had hit 714 home runs during his baseball career and was playing one of his last major league games. The aging star was playing for the Boston Braves against the Cincinnati Reds. But he was no longer as agile as he had once been. He fumbled the ball and threw badly, and in one inning alone, his errors were responsible for five Cincinnati runs.
As the Babe walked off the field after the third out, booing and catcalls cascaded from the stands. Just then a young boy jumped over the railing onto the playing field. With tears streaking his cheeks, he threw his arms around the legs of his hero.
Ruth didn't hesitate. He picked up the boy, hugged him, and set him down on his feet with a playful pat on the head. Suddenly the booing stopped. In fact, a hush fell over the entire park. In those brief moments, the crowd saw a different kind of hero: a man who in spite of a dismal day on the field could still care about a little boy.
He was no longer being judged by his accomplishments—neither the past successes nor the present failures—but by a completely different standard. Suddenly it was not his works that mattered, but a relationship.
—Adapted from Alfred Kolatch in Guideposts, August 1974
don't know what comes to your mind when you hear the word fat, but I have a good idea. In America fat is nearly always a dirty word. We spend billions of dollars on pills, diet books, and exercise machines to help us lose excess fat. I hadn't heard a kind word about fat in years—that is, until I met Dr. Paul Brand.
"Fat is absolutely gorgeous," says Brand, a medical doctor who has worked with lepers in India. "When I perform surgery, I marvel at the shimmering, lush layers of fat that spread apart as I open up the body. Those cells insulate against cold, provide protection for the valuable organs underneath, and give a firm, healthy appearance to the whole body." I had never thought of fat quite like that!
"But those are just side benefits," he continues. "The real value of fat is as a storehouse. Locked in those fat cells are the treasures of the human body. When I run or work or expend any energy, fat cells make that possible. They act as banker cells. It's absolutely beautiful to observe the cooperation among those cells!"
Dr. Brand applies the analogy of fat to the body of Christ. Each individual Christian in a relatively wealthy country like America is called to be a fat cell. America has a treasure house of wealth and spiritual resources. The challenge to us, as Christians, is to wisely use those resources for the rest of the body.
Ever since talking to Dr. Brand, I have taken a sort of whimsical pleasure once each month in thinking of myself as a fat cell—on the day I write out checks for Christian organizations. It has helped my attitude. No longer do I concentrate on how I could have used that money I am giving away; rather, I contemplate my privilege to funnel those resources back into Christ's body to help accomplish his work all around the world.
—Philip Yancey in World Concern Update, January 1982
f you have 50 bottles to be filled with water, you don't take a bucket and dump it out hoping to fill them all. No, you grab the first bottle by the neck, and then you pour in water until it is filled. Then you go on to the next bottle. . . .
So many churches think of evangelism as a two- or three-week program, which requires bringing in someone with a big name who draws crowds.
I always ask, "Are you training each member of your church to be a witness whenever the opportunity arises?"
quoted in Christianity Today,
March 5, 1982
FAILURE AND— PERSEVERANCE
hen he was seven years old, his family was forced out of their home on a legal technicality, and he had to work to help support them.
At age nine, his mother died.
At 22, he lost his job as a store clerk. He wanted to go to law school, but his education wasn't good enough.
At 23, he went into debt to become a partner in a small store.
At 26, his business partner died, leaving him a huge debt that took years to repay.
At 28, after courting a girl for four years, he asked her to marry him. She said no.
At 37, on his third try, he was elected to Congress, but two years later, he failed to be reelected.
At 41, his four-year-old son died.
At 45, he ran for the Senate and lost.
At 47, he failed as the vice-presidential candidate.
At 49, he ran for the Senate again, and lost.
At 51, he was elected president of the United States. His name was Abraham Lincoln, a man many consider the greatest leader the country ever had.
Some people get all the breaks.
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