ANSWERS -- Require right questions
As the salesman came to the front door, he turned to the little boy sitting on the steps and asked, "Is your mother home?" He said yes, and the salesman began to ring the doorbell. After several rings and no response, he turned to the boy and said, "I thought you said your mother was home," to which the boy replied, "She is, but this isn't my house."
Sometimes we get the wrong answers because we don't ask the right questions.
Some folks are like Charlie Brown in the comic strip Peanuts. One frame showed him laying in bed saying to himself. "Sometimes you lie in bed at night, and you don't have a single thing to worry about." The next frame Charlie adds: "That always worries me!"
Some folks are so determined to worry, they'll even worry that they don't have anything to worry about.
ASSURANCE -- Gives strength
During the first half of construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, some twenty men fell from the work to death or serious injury. Finally they stopped construction and built a giant net under the area, so that if anyone fell they would be caught. During the rest of the construction, only eight men fell. Not only did the net make them safer -- it also made them more confident and thus less likely to fall. One other interesting point is that, during the latter part of the work, they improved their efficiency by 25 percent. Their confidence helped them work better.
So it is in the Christian life: because of the assurance of God's grace and care, we can live and serve with confidence and security.
CHURCH -- Offers mutual support
Robert Schuller explains that the root system of most trees is as wide and deep as the leaf line is wide and high. That is not true, however, of the redwood, which has roots that spread out in all directions but not very deep. That creates a problem for a redwood standing alone, for it can easily be blown over because the lack of deep roots gives it no stability. But when several redwoods grow together, their root structures intertwine with each other and help support the whole group. Though weak as separate trees, they become strong as a group.
The church brings us together as individual Christians and provides the strength of love and support from one another.
EVANGELISM -- Personal contact essential
According to Oklahoma's Baptist Message, a recent survey of 10,000 people revealed that, of those who answered the question, "What was responsible for your coming to church," 79 percent answered, "A friend or relative invited me."
No matter what else we do in the way of church programs or mass media efforts, there is no substitute for personal evangelism.
The June 1984 issue of National Geographic revealed that "Unconfirmed reports ... state that University of Florida entomologists have succeeded in mating a praying mantis with a termite, thereby producing a bug that says grace before starting to eat your house."
In this age of cults and religious frauds, we would do well to heed Christ's warning to beware of those would-be teachers and leaders who, while seeking honor and glory for themselves, devour widow's houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. (Terry L. Pruett)
FAMILIES -- Violence common
Recent reports indicate that domestic violence may be a problem in as many as 60 percent of American families. More than a million cases of child abuse are reported every year, and more than 1.8 million wives each year are beaten by their husbands.
FUTURE -- Created by present actions
A year and an hour may seem far removed in meaning, but they are both derived from the same root word, which meant a portion of time. The common origin of both words is a reminder that what we choose to do with our hours now will inevitably determine what will happen to our years in the future.
Rabbi Samuel M. Silver concludes, "We must not think of our future in terms of years. Years don't just happen, but hours do! And in the years are the cumulative results of hours of work, or hours of worry, or hours of investment of patience and time and love."
GOD'S LOVE -- Seen in Jesus
On their 50th anniversary, the wife complained, "You never tell me you love me." The old husband replied, "I told you I loved you on our wedding day, didn't I? Well, if I ever change my mind, I'll let you know."
God expressed His love for us through Jesus -- and He keeps on showing His love for us every day of our lives.
MARRIAGE -- Takes effort
The things that bring couples together are rarely the things that hold them together as relationships mature, according to Yale psychologist Robert Sternberg. While passion is the first to flower, it is also the first to fade; intimacy and commitment are slower to develop, but matter far more in making a marriage last, Sternberg says.
"You have to work constantly at rejuvenating a relationship," Sternberg explains. "You can't just count on it being OK, or it will tend toward a hollow commitment ... People need to put the kind of energy into it that they put into their children or career."
A minister was being chased by a lion and was about to lose the race, so he fell to his knees and prayed, "Lord, please make a Christian of that lion." Suddenly the lion dropped to his knees and prayed, "Thank you, Lord, for the meal I am about to receive."
As one observer has noted: "Be careful what you pray for. You just might get it."
PRAYER -- Confidence in
At an all-day preaching conference, the bishop said to the new preacher, "I want you to preach this afternoon." The young man had only preached 2 or 3 times before, and those outings had been rather poor. "I don't have anything prepared. What am I going to do," he implored the bishop, who answered, "Just trust the Lord, son. He'll provide."
The young pastor spent the next hour praying feverishly, and while everyone else was at lunch he returned to the sanctuary. There on the front pew he found a freshly-typed sermon manuscript. "Thank you Lord!" he cried, and after reviewing it several times, he preached it vigorously that afternoon. After he had concluded, the bishop rushed up to him and said, "That was my sermon you just preached! I don't have anything else ready. What am I going to do?", to which the young man responded reassuringly, "Just trust the Lord, bishop. He'll provide!"
PREACHING -- Should challenge
One congregation started complaining about the pastor. "He always preaches over our heads," they said, to which he replied, "I'm trying to get you to lift your heads."
PRIORITIES -- Can lose sight
Peter James Flamming tells about the renovation of the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond. The columns of the hotel had been painted over, and during the renovation they removed 10 coats of paint. Underneath they found beautiful and valuable pink marble. What was most beautiful had been covered up over the years and forgotten.
It is easy in the spiritual life to do the same thing -- to take the vitality of that first Christian experience and cover it with layers of experience or ceremonies or externals, losing sight of the most valuable treasure of all: Christ.
SACRIFICE -- Some causes justify
Dr. Turner, pastor of the American church in Berlin before World War II, visited Heinrich Niemoeller, the elderly father of Martin Niemoeller, who defied Hitler and spent many months in a concentration camp. Turner recalled that, as they stood at the door preparing to part, "Grandmother Niemoeller held my left hand in her two hands. The grandfather of Martin's seven children patted my right hand and then put his hand on my shoulder. 'When you go back to America, do not let anyone pity the father and mother of Martin Niemoeller. Only pity any follower of Christ who does not know the joy that is set before those who endure the cross despising the shame.
"Yes, it is a terrible thing to have a son in a concentration camp. Paula here and I know that. But there would be something more terrible for us: if God had needed a faithful martyr, and our Martin had been unwilling."
SERVICE -- Takes different forms
John Bisagno tells of a group of coal miners who went to Winston Churchill asking for permission to leave the mines and join the army to fight. They felt they weren't able to be a part of the action where they were. The next day Churchill addressed 4,000 miners in Royal Hall. He told them:
"Gentlemen, they say Hitler is coming. They say he has 100,000 on the sea, 100,000 on the land, and 100,000 in the air. But I say to you that one day we are going to be victorious over this matter and one day we will walk down the streets of London in victory and I will say to a young soldier, 'Where were you in Britain's finest hour?' And he will answer, 'I was in the trench with my rifle fulfilling my responsibility, doing my part for my country.' And, I will say to a wife and mother, 'Where were you in Britain's finest hour?' She will say, 'I was in a hospital caring for the wounded, fulfilling my responsibility and doing my part for my country.' And I will ask some of you where you were in Britain's finest hour and you will say, 'I was down in the pit of the mine with my face against the face of the coal, fulfilling my responsibility, doing my part for my country'." ("The Power of a Positive Influence," from faithful to the Lord)
God has given each of us different gifts, and called each of us to different forms of service. Whatever God has called you to do, it is as significant as any other task.
STEWARDSHIP -- Attitude important
The pastor encountered a little boy standing in the hall after Sunday School crying. When he asked what was wrong, the boy pointed back inside the classroom and said, "That teacher took my nickel!"
Sometimes we give to God with much the same attitude -- as if God was taking something away that belongs to us. The truth is, all we have belongs to Him. The amazing thing is that He allows us to use so much of it for ourselves and asks so little!
TEN COMMANDMENTS -- Relevance of
One old story tells of a small town editor in west Texas who had some space to fill, so he had the Ten Commandments set in type and ran them in the paper without comment. Seven men left town the next day and another wrote, "Cancel my subscription. You're getting too personal."
It is amazing how relevant God's timeless principles are to even a modern society such as ours.
TRUTH -- Usually simple
Little Johnny was asked by a stranger how old he was. "I'm four," he answered. "When will you be five?" came the question, and after a moment of thought Johnny answered: "When I'm through being four."
VALUES -- World's unlike Christ's
Myron S. Augsburger has pointed out how much the world's values differ from God's:
"God says, 'Blessed are the poor in spirit,' but we say 'blessed are the achievers.' God says, 'Blessed are those who mourn,' but we say 'blessed are the self-fulfilled.' Jesus says 'Blessed are the merciful,' but we say 'blessed are the manipulators' ... Jesus challenges the very selfishness that determines so much of our social behavior."
WITNESS -- By example
In his book A Second Touch, Keith Miller tells about a Christian businessman who was rushing to catch a train when, in his haste, he bumped into a small boy carrying a puzzle. The pieces scattered all over the sidewalk, but instead of rushing on to catch the train, the man stopped and helped the boy pick up the pieces even as the train pulled away. When they had finished, the boy looked at him and said, "Mister, are you Jesus?"
When we allow Christ to live out his love through us, it makes an impact on those we encounter.