MEANING - People seek
Average weekly attendance at worship services in our nation has risen to 43% of the population. A recent Gallup poll reported this to be a 20-year high. The Princeton Religious Research Center, an affiliate of the Gallup organization, lately found that 95% of American teenagers believe in God or a universal spirit. Why this resurgence of religion? In part, it shows that people want to put some larger frame of reference around the significant moments of human life.
Elton Trueblood wrote: "The difference in human life depends, for the most part, not on what men do, but upon the meaning and purpose of their acts. All are born, all die, all lose their loved ones, nearly all marry and nearly all work, but the significance of these acts may vary enormously.... The major question is not, 'What act do I perform?' but 'In what frame do I put it?" (submitted by Edward Chinn, Pastor, All Saints Church, Philadelphia, PA)
A young sentry was on guard duty for the first time. His orders were not to admit any car unless it had a special identification seal. The first unmarked car the sentry encountered contained a general, who became frustrated with the young sentry and told the driver to go on through.
The sentry politely replied, "Excuse me, sir, but I'm new at this. Who do I shoot first, you or the driver?"
PRAYER - Cuts through despair
Elie Wiesel tells of a strange trial he observed during his imprisonment at Auschwitz. One winter evening, three rabbis -- "all erudite and pious men" -- indicted God for allowing His children to be massacred in the camps.
"After the trial, at which God had been found guilty as charged, one of the rabbis looked at the watch which he had somehow managed to reserve in the kingdom of night and said, 'Ah, it is time for prayers.' And with that the three rabbis, all erudite and pious men, bowed their heads and prayed."
PRAYER - Requires time
R. A. Torrey called John Welch, the son-in-law of John Knox, "one of the most remarkable men in Scotland's history. Welch regularly spent seven or eight hours a day alone in prayer. Torrey observed: "Jesus Christ had stamped the impress of His character on John Welch. When had Jesus Christ done it? In those seven or eight hours of daily communion with Himself. I do not suppose that God has called many of us, if any of us, to put seven or eight hours a day into prayer, but I am confident God has called most of us, if not every one of us, to put more time into prayer than we now do. That is one of the great secrets of holiness; indeed the only way in which we can become really holy and continue holy."
PROBLEMS - More important when ours
Bob bought an old wreck of a house and used the materials to remodel his own house. He tried to be careful in his selection of materials, and when he was done thought he'd done a pretty good building job.
One night soon afterward a thunderstorm came through. Bob's wife came in to the den and told him, "Bob, there's a leak in the kitchen ceiling. What should I do?" He quickly replied, "Just get a pan and put it there to catch the water. The storm's outside and I'll worry about it tomorrow." And he went back to reading the paper.
About an hour later she went back into the kitchen and found a wide rip in the ceiling and streams of water running onto the floor. She returned to Bob and said, "Well, the storm is on the inside now."
Many problems don't seem so significant when they are on the outside, involving other people. But when they're on the inside -- involving us -- they take on a whole new level of importance! (submitted by Monty Neal, Pastor, First Church of God, Bristow, OK)
REVENGE - Desire for
A classified ad read: "For sale - Wedding dress. Never been worn. Will trade for .38 pistol."
"I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside me." (Abraham Lincon)
The then New York Giants were playing an exhibition game at West Point. Leo Durocher was coaching at first base, and one noisy cadet kept shouting at him, trying to upset him. Finally he hollered, "Hey, Leo, how did a little squirt like you get into the major leagues?"
Without missing a beat, Leo shouted back, "My congressman appointed me."
TRIALS - Purpose of
During the Great Depression, the man had endured all sorts of heartbreaks -- he had lost his job and his fortune, then his wife and home. At last, his only real possession was his faith, and he clung to that tenaciously.
One day he stopped to watch some men doing stone work on a church. One craftsman was chiseling an unusual-shaped piece of rock. "What are you going to do with that?" he asked the worker.
"Do you see that small opening way up there near the spire? Well, I am shaping this down here so that it will fit up there."
As he walked away from the scene, the man's eyes filled with tears as he realized God had spoken to him about the trials through which he was passing. God was shaping him down here so that he would fit up there! (H. G. Bosch, Bread for Each Day; submitted by Wayne Rouse)
TRUTH - Not adaptable
In his book Up from Slavery, Booker T. Washington explained that in the period following the Civil War, many people became teachers thinking it would be an easy way to make a living. One such fellow went from village to village, teaching for awhile and receiving pay for it.
As he entered one town, the people asked if he taught that the earth is round or flat. He replied that he was prepared to teach either way, based on the preference of a majority of his patrons! (submitted by Don Aycock, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Gillis, Lake Charles, LA)
Truth is not determined by survey, despite our modern attempts to make it so -- even within the church. Ultimate truth is found in God alone.
WITNESS - Need for
A recent commercial for Mercedes-Benz shows a spokesman for the car company being interviewed about safety innovations. The car executive points out that some important safety devices designed by Mercedes-Benz are now found in many cars; he observes, "There are some things that are too important not to share."
How much more true that is for the precious truth of the Gospel. It is too important not to share, (submitted by Eric Ritz, Calvary United Methodist Church, Easton, PA)