BIBLE -- Most influential
A recent poll of 223 corporate CEO's and college presidents identified the Bible as the most influential book among those surveyed. Charles Dicken's A Tale of Two Cities was the second most influential volume, followed by J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye and Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. A quarter of those surveyed indicated they'd recommend the Bible first to young people, according to the National College of Education, which sponsored the poll. (EP News Service, 6/29/90)
COMMITMENT -- How much do we want?
A pair of fellows from Chicago grew tired of city life and decided to become cotton farmers in West Texas. After they bought their land, they went to town to buy supplies. One asked the manager, "What will we need to get started in the cotton farming business?"
He suggested several things -- a plow, feed, fertilizer, and a mule. The storekeeper had the other items, and offered to help them find a mule. Not knowing much about mules, they said they'd appreciate the help.
As they visited with the merchant, they noticed a stack of watermelons. "What did you say you call those?" asked one of the city boys. The storekeeper thought he'd play a joke, so he answered, "Oh, why I almost forgot. Those are mule eggs."
One of the two new farmers said, "Is that so? Well, we'll just take one of those and grow our own mule!"
They loaded all their new supplies -- the seed, the fertilizer, the plow and their mule egg -- into the back of their pick-up truck. As they headed down the bumpy road, they hit a really bad spot and the watermelon fell out onto the road and burst open. The driver noticed what happened and decided to go back.
Before they could get back to the watermelon, a big West Texas jack rabbit had crawled up into the middle of that watermelon and started eating. They'd never seen a jack rabbit before, so one turned to the other and cried out, "Hurry up! This thing has hatched and our mule's right here!"
As they ran, the jack rabbit saw them and started running in all directions. The two fellows -- not wanting to lose their investment in the mule egg -- began chasing it. The rabbit would dart this way, then that way, and the fellows would chase it in all directions, never quite catching up. They finally fell exhausted to the ground, as the rabbit ran away.
After they caught their breaths, one of them said, "It's a real shame. Now we've lost our mule and we'll never get it back." The other fellow responded, "I'm not sure that's such a bad thing. I don't believe I'd ever want to plow that fast anyhow!"
John Huffman observes, "I have a sneaking suspicion that some of us are sort of like that Chicago city slicker -- we don't want to live the Christian life quite as fast as Jesus wants us to live it. We don't want to be as effective a disciple as God wants us to be." (Huffman is Pastor, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach, CA)
In his book The Task of Joy, Calvin Miller writes:
"Many Christians are only 'Christaholics' and not disciples at all. Disciples are cross bearers; they seek Christ. Christaholics seek happiness. Disciples dare to discipline themselves, and the demands they place on themselves leave them enjoying the happiness of their growth. Christaholics are escapists looking for a shortcut to nirvana. Like drug addicts, they are trying to 'bomb out' of their depressing world.
"There is no automatic joy. Christ is not a happiness capsule; He is the way to the Father. But the way to the Father is not a carnival ride in which we sit and do nothing while we are whisked through various spiritual sensations." (Miller is Pastor, Westside Church, Omaha, NE)
DISSATISFACTION -- Not always bad
"When Michelangelo, the 16th century Italian artist and sculptor, was thirty years old, he accepted the commission to make forty marble statues for the tomb of Pope Julius II. After he completed his statue of Moses, he stood back and looked at his handiwork. Suddenly, in anger and dissatisfaction at his work, he struck the knee of the statue with his chisel, crying out, 'Why dost thou not speak?' To this day, there is a long narrow dent on the knee of Michelangelo's Moses. The dent is a reminder of a great artist who was dissatisfied with his work, though we still marvel at its realism.
"The dent of dissatisfaction can be a sign of human dignity. John Stuart Mill, the 19th century philosopher, wrote: 'It is better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied'." (Edward Chinn, Pastor, All Saints' Church, Philadelphia, PA)
Steve Brown tells of the student who came to Socrates, as the philosopher knelt by a stream. The student posed the question: "What is truth?"
Socrates immediately grabbed the boy and held his head under the water until he began to struggle furiously. Then Socrates pulled him up and said, "When you want knowledge the way you just wanted air ... then you shall have it."
Brown makes the application: "If you don't believe and it doesn't bother you, then forget the resolution of your doubts. You will always have them." (Brown is Pastor of Key Biscayne Presbyterian Church, Key Biscayne, FL)
A lady once said to John Wesley, "God does not need your education." His reply to her: "God can also do without your ignorance."
"Halford Luccock recalled a biography of Alexander the Great.... The writer described the panic the Greek army felt (when Alexander died). They had followed Alexander across Asia Minor. The army faced the Himalaya mountains. These form a natural barrier separating northern India from the plateau of Tibet in China.
"There they discovered they had marched clear off the map. Their only maps were Greek maps. These maps showed only a part of Asia Minor. The rest of the map was blank space.
"Marching off the map is a perennial human experience. Explorers such as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, and Captain James Cook marched off their maps when they went beyond the known world of their times. They have been driven by the will to live, to have, and to know. Astronomers hope to march off their present maps of the sky. Information beamed back to Earth from the Hubble Space Telescope will rewrite our astronomical maps.
"Remember a man named Abraham who lived 2,000 years on the other side of the birth of Christ. When Abraham left the ancient Babylonian city of Ur, he marched off the map of his familiar world and into the unknown. No wonder Abraham has become the example of faith! As Fosdick wrote, 'Life is a continuous adventure into the unknown'." (Edward Chinn, Pastor, All Saints' Church, Philadelphia, PA)
GOD -- Need for
While in Romania for a recent evangelistic crusade, evangelist Luis Palau told a television reporter, "The experiment since World War II of atheistic governments in Eastern Europe was essential because many people felt, 'We tried religion and it didn't work, so let's try atheism.' But these past forty years have proved that a nation without God can't flourish."
Palau added, "The experiment we call 'atheism' was worth it because it proved to this generation once and for all that the human soul clamors for God." (EP News Service, 6/8/90)
A Scot preacher tells a delightful tale of Lackland Campbell and his daughter, Dora. Dora left home and fell into the wrong kind of relationships. Like Rahab, she began to misuse the gift of life. Soon she did not respond to her father's letters because she found it difficult to relate to him. She was so ashamed and filled with guilt.
Maggie, Dora's aunt, wrote her a letter that finally melted her heart. At the end of the letter, Maggie writes:
"Dora, your daddy is a 'grievin' ye. Come home for your own sake. Come home for your dear daddy's sake. But, Dora, come home most of all for the dear Lord's sake!" (Maxie Dunnam, Pastor, Christ United Methodist Church, Memphis, TN)
PREACHING -- Requires preparation
Stuart Briscoe reports: "Gerald Griffith, a pastor and Bible teacher in Toronto and my good friends, one day said to me, 'Every week God gives me bread for my people.'
"I looked him straight in the eye and replied, 'That's true, but you spend a lot of time in the kitchen'." (Leadership, Winter 1990, p. 74)
PRETENSE -- Can backfire
The major was promoted to colonel and received a fancy new office. As he entered it for the first time, sitting in the nice new chair, a knock came at the door. He said, "Come in," then quickly picked up the telephone receiver as a corporal walked in.
"Just a minute," the colonel said to the corporal. "I have to finish this telephone call." Then the colonel began speaking into the mouthpiece: "Sorry about the interruption, General. Yes, sir, I will take care of that. Yes, I'll call the President after I finish talking with you, General'."
The colonel ceremoniously put the telephone down, turned to the corporal, and said, "What can I do for you?" The corporal replied, "Well, colonel, I just came in to connect your telephone." (Gary C. Redding, Pastor, North Augusta Baptist Church, North Augusta, SC)
SIN -- Excuses for
Two little boys were fighting in the bedroom. When their mother entered, one boy quickly announced, "Mom, it all started when he hit me back." (Adrian Rogers, Pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, TN)
Winston Churchill once described a fellow Member of Parliament as "one of those orators who, before they get up, do not know what they are going to say; when they are speaking, do not know what they are saying; and when they have sat down, do not know what they have said." (William Manchester, The Last Lion: Visions of Glory, p. 34.)