Rick Davis came across the story of Sir Thomas Overbury, who was locked in the Tower of London because his poetry outraged his political opponents. For 100 days, his captors fed him a diet of nitric acid, arsenic, hemlock, ground diamonds, and mercury. When he survived even that diet, his befuddled foes dubbed him "the Iron Poet."
The forces of evil threw the very worst they had against Jesus Christ -- even crucifixion. Yet three days later He arose victorious, overcoming every enemy and bringing new hope to humanity. (Rick Davis, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Midlothian, TX)
"Two strangers met on a downtown street. One man was Chinese; the other man was Jewish. Without warning, the Jewish man punched the Chinese man on the jaw and knocked him down. Rubbing his jaw, the Chinese man asked, 'What did you do that for?'
"The Jewish man replied, 'That was for Pearl Harbor!' The astonished man replied, 'Pearl Harbor? I didn't have anything to do with Pearl Harbor. It was the Japanese who did that. I'm Chinese.' The Jewish man listened indifferently, then said, 'Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese -- they're all the same to me.'
"The Chinese man got up from the sidewalk and dusted himself off. Suddenly, he gave the Jewish man a right uppercut and knocked him down. 'What's that for?' he yelled. The Chinese man answered, 'That was for the Titanic' The Jewish man was shocked and said, 'Titanic? I didn't have anything to do with the sinking of the Titanic. In fact, that happened in 1921, before I was born.'
"This time it was the Chinese man's turn to be indifferent as he replied, 'Goldberg, Steinberg, iceberg -- they're all the same to me'." (Edward Chinn, Pastor, All Saints Church, Philadelphia, PA)
DIVORCE - Can be forgiven
Billy Graham has observed, "I am opposed to divorce and regard the increase in divorces today as one of the most alarming problems in society. However, I know that the Lord can forgive and heal.... The church is made up of sinners. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he gave a long list of evils and then added: 'And such were some of you' (1 Corinthians 6:11). They had been forgiven and become a part of the Church, the Body of Christ."
JUDGMENT - Can be faulty
When Fred Astaire was trying to break into show business in 1932, a Hollywood talent agent made this note on his screen test: "Can't act. Can't sing. Can dance a little."
It is easy to make quick -- and faulty -- judgments about persons and situations. It usually pays to take the time to get it right.
MISSIONS - Resources limited
According to the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, the world can be divided into three segments. World A is composed of 1.3 billion persons who have never heard the gospel; they have no access to any Christian witness. World B is composed of 2.3 billion persons who have some access to the gospel but are unconverted. World C is composed of 1.7 billion persons who are, at least by their own definition, considered Christian.
It is instructive to see how our commitment to missions is reflected in our use of resources. The World C (or ostensibly Christian) persons hold 62% of the world's wealth, and they use 97% of that wealth on their own personal needs and desires. The remaining 3% of their assets are divided: one-third to secular charities, two-thirds to Christian causes of any kind.
Of this total 2% of our wealth spent on Christian causes, 99.9% is spent in our own World C to provide churches and other ministry institutions, mostly for ourselves. A total of .09% is spent on World B, and .01% is spent on the 1.3 billion persons in World C who are completely unreached.
PERSEVERANCE - Value of
Two boys climbed on a freight-loading platform. On the platform was a large bucket of cream with a lid on it. The train would deliver this milk can to a nearby city. The boys looked around and saw no one, so they quickly lifted the lid, dropped two frogs in the bucket, and ran away just before the bucket was loaded onto the train.
The first frog said to the other, "This is terrible! The lid is too heavy to lift, and the bottom of the bucket is too far to push against. There's no hope!" So that frog gave up and drowned.
The second frog said to himself, "I can't lift the cover and I can't climb the sides, but I sure know how to swim." So he began to swim all around the bucket. All that paddling in the bucket of cream churned it into a lump of butter, and the frog hopped onto the lump. When the train arrived at its destination and the lid was lifted off, the frog jumped away to safety. He offered a vivid lesson, the value of perseverance! (Edward Chinn, Pastor, All Saints Church, Philadelphia, PA)
STRENGTHS - Know your own
Charles Schultz, who produces the acclaimed comic strip "Peanuts," once observed: "I don't know how good I am at drawing. But I think I'm as good at drawing comic strips as anyone."
Often the key to success is being able to identify and build on your own strengths and talents.
VALUE - Depends on use
One of the items in Ripley's "Believe It or Not" columns pictured a plain bar of iron worth $5. The same bar of iron made into horseshoes would be worth $50. If made into needles, it would be worth $5,000, and if made into balance springs for fine Swiss watches, it would be worth $500,000.
As Wayne Rouse points out, "The raw material is not as important as how it's developed. Each of us has gifts and abilities that only have value and worth once we develop them." (Wayne Rouse, Pastor, Astoria Church of the Brethren, Astoria, IL)
WORRY - No need to
"Earl Nightingale recalled reading about a dense fog. The fog blanketed seven city blocks to a depth of 100 feet. The seven blocks of fog could be put into a single water glass. All the moisture, the water droplets, in this dense fog could be held in a single water tumbler.
"Worry is like seven blocks of fog. Worry is a fog that can cloud our vision. If our worries were reduced to their real size, they could all be placed in a water glass.
"Experts have made estimates of our worries: 40% of our worries will never happen. 30% of our worries are past; all the worry in the world cannot change them. 12% of our worries are needless worries about health; 10% of our worries are petty, miscellaneous worries. This leaves 8% for things that legitimately deserve our concern and thought. 92% of the things you worry about will never happen. Sort out the remaining 8% of your worries." (Edward Chinn, Pastor, All Saints, Church, Philadelphia, PA)
WORRY - Quotations
"Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system. I have never known a man who died from overwork, but many who died from doubt." (Dr. Charles Mayo)
"Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due." (W. R. Inge)