We all learn to make adjustments in life, like the doctor who gave his patient just six months to live. When the fellow didn't pay his bill, the doctor gave him another six months.
CHRISTIAN LIFE -- Overcomes temptation
At the end of an evangelistic service conducted by Dwight L. Moody, a young man approached Moody and said, "Mr. Moody, I feel I would like to be a Christian. But I'm afraid that I cannot give up my undesirable companions. What shall I do?" Moody responded: "Young man, you just decide to live a Christian life, and your undesirable companions will give you up."
Gerald Kennedy commented: "It's as simple as that. The natural man looks at all the pitfalls ahead and all the temptations which await him. He shrinks from commitment to the Christian way. But when the miracle has been performed and the natural man has become a spiritual man, most of these dangers pass him by." (Gerald Kennedy, Have This Mind. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1948, p. 70)
COMMITMENT -- More required
The story is told that one passenger on the Titanic, hearing the crunch of the ship on the glacier, commented to a waiter, "I ordered ice, but this is ridiculous."
That's the way some people are concerning the Christian life. They often profess faith without fully realizing the depth of commitment required.
CONFIDENCE -- Required of believer
A young man dreamed of building a great sailing ship and traveling around the world. He apprenticed himself to a master shipbuilder and spent years learning the trade. Then he spent two years working with the finest materials to build the ship of his dreams. He sanded, painted, varnished, and polished until it was not only seaworthy but a vessel of great beauty.
When it was finished, however, he became anxious about what would happen to this masterpiece if it was battered by the elements out on the open sea. So he put the ship into the water, but determined not to take it out of the harbor.
The young man forgot the old saying, "A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for." His dream -- the true purpose behind those years of effort -- was sacrificed because of excessive worry.
In Matthew 6, Jesus counsels His followers not to be anxious about the needs of this life, but to keep their eyes on the dream -- to seek first the Kingdom of God. We can spend all our lives providing for our own security -- but that's not what our lives were created for. (James Benedict, New Enterprise Church of the Brethren)
During the Civil War, a medic drove his wagon onto the battlefield in search of wounded. He came across one man who called out that his leg had been wounded, so the medic lifted the man into the back of the wagon and headed toward the field hospital.
As the battle raged around him, the driver drove furiously, oblivious to the sounds around him. He never heard the shell that burst behind him; the wounded man in the back of the wagon was instantly beheaded in the explosion.
A few minutes later, a captain rode up to stop the wagon and ask its purpose. The driver explained that he was carrying a wounded man to the hospital. Looking at the body, the captain said, "Medic, that man doesn't need to go to the hospital. He needs to go to the morgue."
The driver, for the first time, looked back and was shocked to see the headless passenger. Then, shaking his head, the driver said, "You know, you just can't trust some people. He told me it was his leg!"
HUMAN NATURE -- Sinful
Carlyle Marney observed: "Notice the extremely naive view of human nature -- 'If the people were free they would stop exploitation,' says Walter Rauschenbush. So far, I am more impressed by Andy Brown's statement to Amos, 'If the smart ones ever quit taking advantage of the stupid ones, it would upset the whole balance of stupidity'." (The Recovery of the Person. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1963, p. 43)
LEADERSHIP -- Need for
"Solid, dependable, loyal, strong leadership is one of the most desperate needs in America and in our world today. We see the tragedy of weak men in important places -- little men in big jobs. Business, industry, government, labor, education, and the church are all starving for effective leadership. So today, perhaps more than ever before, there is such a need for leadership and teamwork to cope with the needs." (Ted W. Engstrom, The Making of a Christian Leader. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976)
PREACHING -- Glory of
"The preacher who is conscious of his dependence on the divine Word surpasses in dignity the most sublime orators who in their highest reaches have been the supreme organs and mouthpieces of people. Moses was the voice of his country; Demosthenes in the Philippics the voice of Greece; Cicero in his Cataline orations the voice of Rome; Mirabeau, of the constitution; O'Connell, of Ireland; Pitt, of England: all were the expressions of great peoples and great nations. But the Christian orator surpasses all of these, for his mission is not to be merely the voice of his country; he is the voice of God, and the echo of the Word." (Bishop Fulton J. Sheen)
Stephen Brown tells about the couple who went to New York to see "South Pacific." Upon arriving at the theatre, they learned they could not buy tickets; they were all sold out. After a few minutes of griping, they arrived at a plan. They stood outside the theatre as the production ended and picked up the torn ticket stubs of people who had seen the musical.
On the way home, they practiced singing the music, so they could show the stubs, hum the tunes, and impress their friends that they had been to see "South Pacific."
That's the way a lot of people move through life -- seeking to make others believe they have things they don't have, or are something they are not. (Brown is Pastor of Key Biscayne Presbyterian Church, Key Biscayne, FL)
Two newspaper editors had been embroiled in a bitter feud for years. When one of the editors finally died, the other saw the opportunity to get in one last lick: he published the man's obituary under "Public Improvements."
SUCCESS -- Comes through service
John Killinger tells of the wise old minister who visited a great church, and asked an usher if he might meet the person responsible for the church. The usher took him to the pastor, but the old minister said, "No, this is not the man."
Next the usher took him to meet the chairman of the church board, but again the minister said, "No, this is not the person." Perplexed, the usher then led the old minister to the wealthiest man in the church, but again the answer was the same.
Finally the old minister said to the usher, "Take me to the kitchen." The usher was puzzled, but led the man down to the kitchen. There they found a modestly dressed woman in an apron, arms plunged into soapy water up to her elbows, cleaning dirty coffee cups and saucers.
The old minister turned to the usher and said, "Here, my friend, is the real secret of your success. I have seen it in church after church. Jesus said, 'If any person will be great, let that person become the servant of all'." (Killinger is Senior Minister of First Congregational Church, Los Angeles, CA)
WILL OF GOD -- Brings joy
Prior to his election as President, William Howard Taft confessed, "Any party which would nominate me would make a great mistake." His own mother said, "I do not want my son to be President; he is not my candidate." When Taft ran for a second term, he did not expect to win -- and was relieved when he lost. He simply did not enjoy being President and felt he was not good at the job.
When he was appointed to the Supreme Court, however, and became Chief Justice in 1921, Taft worked long hours and found the greatest happiness of his life. He had found the place where he belonged.
It is easy to allow others to decide what we should be and do, but true joy comes only when we find our place in God's plan. (Paul Bailey is Pastor of Sand Lake Baptist Church, Averill Park, NY)
WORK -- Value of
"The Lord throws a halo over common toil. Even Christian people have not all learned the significance of the angels' visit to the lonely shepherds. Some of us can see the light resting upon a bishop's crosier, but we cannot see the radiance on the ordinary shepherd's staff. We can discern the hallowedness of a priest's vocation, but we see no sanctity in the calling of the grocer, or of the scavenger in the street. But the very birth-hour of Christianity irradiated the humble doings of humble people. When the angels went to the shepherds, common work was encircled with an immortal crown." (John H. Jowett)