Randall Broome, pastor of Oconee Baptist Church in Commerce, GA, recalls his days as a high school football player. Among the rules that were strictly imposed was the waterbreak rule.
"In practice, the coaches drilled the team relentlessly for an hour-and-a-half before a break. Then we all lined up at a spigot, which was guarded by one of the team captains. Each player was allotted five seconds to drink. That was enough time for three big gulps of water. That was not nearly enough to quench our thirsts, but it was all we got.
"God also gives a waterbreak, but what a contrast it is to the one our coaches gave us. God says, 'I will give him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely' (Rev. 21:6). And Jesus said. 'If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink' (John 7:37). God invites you to drink and be fully satisfied."
ANSWERS -- Not always easy
It's so easy to know all the answers when you don't understand the question.
BRAIN -- Complex
Parade magazine reports that the human brain is amazingly complex. It has at least 100 billion cells, and each cell may have as many as 1,000 connections with other cells. That makes 100 trillion connections. Your single brain, thus, has more connections than all the computers now operating in the world. What a wonderful example of God's handiwork!
"We have never had so many high-priced clothes hung on so many low-priced people as we do today. Behind all our trouble is cheap character. My father was a poor man. He had few of this world's goods and when he visited the county seat town of my boyhood days he was no haberdasher's model. But he was an honest and respected man whose word was his bond and whose name was sufficient collateral to get money if he needed it. But today he would be considered 'square' because he never made his way through this world by shrewdness and trickery." (Vance Havner, Playing Marbles With Diamonds)
The Confederate general Jeb Stuart, when writing his letters to General Robert E. Lee, signed the correspondence, "Yours to count on."
That's what Christ asks of us: that we be men and women He can count on, no matter what.
COOPERATION -- Value of
Sam Anand is a soybean breeder working at the University of Missouri Delta Center in Portageville, Mo. The great fear of soybean farmers is that the nematode cyst will destroy the soybeans.
Sam grew more than 300,000 plants to screen the 10,000 varieties, and out of all those plants only one survived the screening. It may not look beautiful, but it is beautiful music to the ears of soybean growers.
Where did that one nematode cyst-resistant plant come from? It came from Russia, and they had received it from the Chinese. Since 1907 the Soviet Union has been exchanging soybeans with us, and this was no small exchange. In Southeast Missouri alone the loss last year was $6 million.
So U.S. soybean farmers will benefit from something which the Chinese shared with the Russians and the Russians with us. (David W. Richardson, College United Methodist Church, Warrenton, MO)
DECISION -- Can't avoid
John A. Huffman, Jr., tells the story of the time Mortimer Adler, the distinguished scholar, suddenly left a discussion group at a tea quite disgusted, slamming the door after him. One person tried to relieve the tension by saying, "Well, he is gone." To that, the hostess replied, "No, he isn't. That's a closet."
Myron S. Augsburger says we share the same plight when we attempt to run from God's presence. We are confined to ourselves. Someday we will have to turn around and open the door, coming out of the closet into the presence of a living God.
EVANGELISM -- U.S. needs
According to the Win Am Growth Report, out of a population of 240 million persons in the United States, 96 million (40%) are unchurched and 73 million (31%) are affiliated with a church in name only. That's 169 million people -- only 5 countries in the world (China, India, the Soviet Union, Indonesia and Brazil) are larger than that.
EVIL -- Problem of
"Why, out of an unspiritual universe, should spiritual facts have arisen? Why is decency the decent thing, if God is a dream? Where did the beauty of a Beethoven sonata come from? Why should Captain Oates have walked out into the blizzard to die, like a hero, for his friends? The unbeliever's scheme of things will allow no answer except that all the loveliness of life, all the fine and noble and heroic things, are -- as Bertrand Russell has put it candidly -- 'the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms,' and all the order of the universe the product of blind chance.
"That, to me, sounds as sensible as to say that you could take a bag full of single letters of the alphabet and throw a few handfuls of them up into the air anyhow and they would fall down in the form of a Shakespeare sonnet or the prologue of St. John. The thing is absurd! Let me put it like this. I, as a believer in God, have to face -- as the unbeliever does not -- the mystery of the existence of evil. I admit that. But here is the other side of it: the unbeliever has to face -- as I, who believe in God, do not -- the mystery of the existence of good. And his problem is definitely more insoluble than mine." (James S. Stewart, "The Burden of the Mystery," The Strong Name)
FAITH -- Conquers
Two turtles were crossing a busy freeway. The first turtle stayed at his course, believing that despite all the obstacles he had to overcome, despite not knowing what was coming next, he would make it to the other side.
The second turtle became frightened halfway across the road and retreated into his shell, saying, "I knew all along I wouldn't make it. I never should have started this journey." And his prophecy was self-fulfilling.
God calls on us to stay the course, to keep the faith even when times are difficult. God calls us to stay out of our shells, so that we might experience victory. (Dennis Redstone)
GRACE -- Contrast with sin
Charles Swindoll tells of a friend who wanted to purchase a gem for his wife. He visited a jeweler who knew just how to display his merchandise. He stopped under a bright light, slid a piece of black velvet onto the glass counter, took the gems from the case and laid them one by one on the velvet. Without that black backdrop, he couldn't have seen the cut, the hues, or the beauty of each gem.
"I learned something from his search for that jewel: we cannot appreciate the beauty and the luster and the brilliance of the gospel of Christ, with all of its hope and grace, if we've never seen the backdrop of sin as it really is." (insights, Spring-Summer 1986)
GUIDANCE -- Need God's
A man was crossing a rough mountain in Wales one stormy night. As the moon shone dimly through the clouds, he thought he could trace his way without his lantern, so he put the lantern under his cloak to protect his hands from the biting wind. Suddenly a gust of wind blew open his coat, and as the light shone forth it revealed the edge of a large quarry into which, with another step, he would have fallen and been dashed to pieces. Never again did he hide his lantern inside his cloak.
There are people who try to go through life with the lamp of God's truth hidden away, out of sight. Many times they do not realize their mistake until it is too late. (Walter O. Wilson, "Living Witnesses")
PRAYER -- Requires faith
William Hendricks tells of the 3-year-old who spent his day with his grandmother while his parents were at work. He invented an imaginary playmate, which made his grandmother quite upset. "If you speak of Herman one more time, I'm going to bat you," she told him as they sat down to lunch. A religious woman, she bowed her head to pray, and when she got through her grandson asked, "Grandma, who are you talking to?"
Although we can't see God with our eyes, we pray to Him because we have sensed Him in our hearts and felt His touch on our lives.
In January 1984, Senator Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts announced that he would retire from the U.S. Senate and not seek re-election. Tsongas was a rising political star -- he was a strong favorite to be re-elected, and had even been mentioned as a potential future candidate for the Presidency or Vice-Presidency of the United States.
A few weeks before his announcement, Tsongas had learned he had a form of lymphatic cancer which could not be cured but could be treated. In all likelihood, it would not greatly affect his physical abilities or life expectancy. The illness did not force Tsongas out of the Senate, but it did force him to face the reality of his own mortality. He would not be able to do everything he might want to do. So what were the things he really wanted to do in the time he had?
He decided that what he wanted most in life, what he would not give up if he could not have everything, was being with his family and watching his children grow up. He would rather do that than shape the nation's laws or get his name in the history books.
Shortly after his decision was announced, a friend wrote a note to congratulate Tsongas on having his priorities straight. He wrote: "Nobody on his death bed ever said, 'I wish I had spent more time on my business'." (Gary Redding)
The first computer at the University of Pennsylvania in 1946 was impressive in its size. It occupied a space as large as a boxcar and weighed 30 tons. It had 40 units, each housed in a 9 ft. high black metal cabinet. It had 18,000 vacuum tubes which created so much heat that industrial fans were needed to keep its circuitry from melting. Its first assignment involved a million cards for a top-secret numerical simulation of the still-untested hydrogen bomb.
In the 40 years since, technology has produced a superior performance from only a quarter-inch silicon chip. From 30 tons to a quarter-inch in 40 years! But where is our progress morally, spiritually, in compassion? (David W. Richardson)
SACRIFICE -- Essential to greatness
"Washington could have saved his self, his Virginia planter self, in ease and comfort, but so he would have lost his real self, Father of the Nation. The Master could have saved His self, His carpenter of Nazareth self, but so He would have list His real self, Savior of the World. We can save ourselves, our infinitesimal and futile selves, in un-sacrificial ease. But what we have really done is to throw away the greatness of our lives. (Harry Emerson Fosdick, The Meaning of Service)
SERVICE -- Christ in us
Stephen Brown indicates that when IBM hires a new manager, one of the first things they do is train someone to take that manager's place. That way there's always a back-up. When the terrible plane crash occurred in Dallas, several key IBM executives were on board. IBM could have been devastated, except that they had already trained people to step into those roles.
That's what Jesus did. He trained His disciples -- and us -- to occupy His place on earth and carry on His work. And He does it by living in us.
SUBMISSION -- Produces reward
During the Vietnam War, the Communist soldiers were told to avoid surrender at all cost. They were told that the Americans would torture them, beat them, starve them to death. Some of them surrendered anyway, and were taken to camps where many were treated better by their "enemies" than by their own comrades. After the war, many of them elected to come to the United States. They have become U.S. citizens and are living in a land of freedom and abundance. For them, surrender was the best thing they could have done. (Larry J. Henry)
So it is with our submission to Christ: it is in turning our lives over to His control that we find life in all its greatness and abundance.
"Temptation is the tempter looking through the keyhole into the room where you are living; sin is your drawing back the bolt and making it possible for him to enter." (J. Wilbur Chapman)
VALUE -- Need eye for
In February 1986, at a gem-and-mineral bazaar in Tucson, Arizona, an amateur rock hound sold an egg-sized, violet-and-blue stone to Texas gemologist Roy Whetstine for $10 -- the original asking price was $15, but Whetstine talked him down.
After months of rigorous appraisal, Whetstine made an announcement about his $10 rock: it was a 1,905-carat star sapphire with an estimated, uncut value of $2.28 million. His good fortune was not just good luck. He points out, "I was used to handling rocks and saying, 'Yeah, that's a keeper' or 'That's no good'."
The difference between a rock hound and a gemologist, between the amateur's $10 rock and Whetstine's $2.28 million find, is an eye and feel for value. The difference between heaven and hell, eternal regret or eternal reward, is an eye for the truly valuable things in life. Like Esau, who despised his birth-right, many pass over the treasure of the Kingdom of God, not perceiving its worth. (Craig Brian Larson)