AIDS — Danger grows
The World Health Organization predicts that the number of people infected with the AIDS virus would reach 100 million by 1990. According to USA Today, as many as two million people in the United States may already carry the AIDS virus, of whom 30 percent may contract the disease within five years. A total of 50,000 Canadians are thought to carry the virus, of whom 17,500 will likely contract the disease and die.
CHILDREN
One of life’s greatest mysteries is how the idiot your daughter married can end up being father of the smartest grandchildren in the whole world! (Bits & Pieces)
CHRIST — Changes lives
Though born into a Christian home, John became an orphan as a boy and ended up wandering the streets of London. In the Royal Navy he learned to navigate a ship well, but then became a deserter. John escaped to Africa and sought refuge in a home where a harem was kept. The leader of the harem enjoyed mistreating the young Englishman; she frequently made him eat off the floor, like a dog, and several times lashed him to the bed and whipped him with a lash.
John escaped to a merchant ship, where he became navigator again. But his drinking led him into serious trouble. He was beaten, thrown into the ship’s hold, then knocked off the ship. The captain harpooned him and dragged him back onto the ship, where he was again dropped in the hold — this time beaten, wounded and near death.
Laying there all alone, John came to himself — much like the Prodigal Son. There and then John turned back toward God and gave his heart to Christ. In addition to becoming a successful merchant, John Newton would eventually provide the church with some of its greatest hymns of faith, including “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds,” “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken,” and, of course, “Amazing Grace.” John Newton’s own life was an example of the greatness of God’s grace.
CHRIST — Our model
In her book Siring of Pearls, Mary Crowley tells about the official from Scotland Yard who was in charge of catching counterfeiters. Asked if he studied counterfeit bills, he said no. “I study perfect bills; that way I can spot the counterfeits.”
If we wish to know the reality of God’s love and grace, we must study the true model: Jesus Christ. While His followers may often appear to be counterfeits — flawed and weak — He will never lead us astray.
CHRISTIAN LIFE
S. Parkes Cadman was a popular preacher in New York and had a radio program in which he answered questions of callers. One day a young man asked him, “Is it possible to live the Christian life in New York on $27 a week?” To that Dr. Cadman replied, “Young man, on $27 a week it is impossible to live any other kind of life in New York.”
CHURCH — Must retain passion
Soren Kierkegaard warned of the danger of the church losing its passion for the gospel, treating it instead like “a piece of information.” Passion is replaced with descriptions of passion. The result for the church, he said, could be compared with reading a cookbook to a person who is hungry.
COMMUNICATION — Must be clear
A mother was concerned that her eldest son was using profanity, and she consulted with the pastor for advice. The preacher advised that each time the boy cursed, she slap him.
The next morning as her sons came to the table, she asked what they wanted for breakfast. The eldest said, “I want some ‘blankety-blank’ Post Toasties, and the mother promptly slapped him. As he sat dazed on the floor, mother turned to the younger son and asked what he wanted for breakfast, to which he replied, “Well, I sure don’t want any Post Toasties!”
GRIEF
Flossie Baker was a dedicated Christian woman who went to be with the Lord in December of 1985. In a message she wrote that was given to those attending her memorial service, she said:
“My dear family and friends — do not grieve for me, for I have lived up to my motto: Live, Love, Laugh! I have lived every moment of every day that the Lord has given me to the fullest. I have accomplished most of the things I wanted to do.
“I have loved every thing and everybody — the heat of summer, the beauty of the fall foliage, the coldness of winter, and the newness of spring with new life. I have loved people — the smile of a child, the warmth of a friend, the enthusiasm of youth, the comfort of being with loving family members.
“I have laughed at things I once worried about and had fun in doing all the activities of Church, school, friends and family. I hope that somewhere in my life I have been an influence on others to strive for higher ideals and to accomplish greater things to serve others ….” For the Christian who has walked with Christ, death is a cause for celebration rather than grief.
IDENTITY — Need to know
We all need to know who we are and where we came from.
“Where did I come from?” asked one little boy as he came in from school. The startled mother drew her thoughts together and decided that it was time to face the issue squarely: “Ask your father when he comes home from work.”
When Dad arrived he faced a questioning son: “I’ve been talking with my school friends and I wonder if you would tell me where I came from.” Father took a deep breath and proceeded to tell him about the birds and the bees. The boy’s eyes got larger and larger. When Dad finished, the boy jumped up and said, “Thanks, Dad. That was great! My friend, Johnny, he’s just from New Jersey!” (C. Thomas Hilton)
INTEGRITY
An unknown individual wrote to the Internal Revenue Service: “Several years ago I cheated on my income tax. I can’t sleep, so I’m sending $25. If I still can’t sleep, I’ll send the balance.”
Integrity is not something that can be taken in small doses; it is a way of life.
JUDGING — Sometimes premature
A young American at a banquet found himself seated next to a Chinese diplomat. Not knowing what to say to a Chinese, the young man asked, “Likee soupee?” The diplomat nodded and smiled. Later the diplomat, Wellington Koo, was called on to speak and delivered an eloquent address in flawless English. As he sat down to the sound of applause, he turned to the young American and said, “Likee speechee?” (Cheer)
We are better not judging other folks prematurely, lest we find out that it is we who are being judged, not them!
MATURITY — Takes time
Larry J. Henry reports that his family bought a microwave, and can now cook a hot dog in less than two minutes.
“We want instant everything,” he says. “But as nice as ‘instant’ is, it is still hard to beat a good old-fashioned home-made stew that has simmered for hours on the stove. Some things just take time.
“Christian maturity is like that. We would all like to have the kind of faith that moves mountains, and we want it right now! But for God to develop that kind of faith in us, He must let it simmer for awhile.”
MISTAKES
The family stopped at a roadside motel for the night, and early the next morning Mom was getting things organized in the car trunk. Still groggy, she stepped back into what she thought was her room, saw a sleeping man she presumed to be her husband, and yelled, “Get out of bed!”
Upon closer examination she realized that this was not her room or her husband, and as she quickly left the room she heard him exclaim, “Boy, this is some wake-up service!”
PEACE — Doesn’t come easily
Richard C. Halverson, Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, has a devotional letter for laypersons called Perspective. In it he said, “There is a way to peace, but it is very costly. Question is, are we willing to pay the price? If there is to be peace men must renounce the things that make for war. Human greed, avarice, prejudice, lust, envy must go! Are you willing to forsake your lust for power, for position? Are you willing to repudiate your prejudices of race and religion and politics?
“Will you say no to the greed that makes you want always more than you have? Will you reject the jealousy which makes it impossible for you to rejoice in another’s honor? Will you deny the envy that forces your bitter criticism of the friend who has gotten ahead of you? Will you renounce the stubborn pride that is alienating you from your wife and children?”
PRAYER — Eases stress
By law, the Tokyo city zoo in Japan must be closed for two days each month. The law was necessary because officials discovered the animals were showing signs of extreme emotional distress from being constantly exposed to the public.
C. Thomas Hilton points out that Jesus also lived in the public regularly and felt it necessary from time to time to “close the zoo” and withdraw into the wilderness for prayer.
If it was necessary for Jesus to “get away from it all” and spend time with the Father, how much more do we need that time with God?
PREACHING — Enough’s enough
Randall Broome reports a placard hanging on the office wall of a staff member in a neighboring church. It read: “Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff, and nudge me when I have said enough.” Every preacher would do well to utter this prayer on occasion!
PRIDE — Must control
John Killinger expresses appreciation for the fact that William Randolph Hearst, at his fabulous estate at San Simeon, insisted that ordinary ketchup bottles be kept on the tables all the time. Although some objected that this was not in keeping with the elegant surroundings, says Killinger, “he knew who he was and what he wanted. It did not matter who dined at the Hearst home; the ketchup bottles were always there.
“It was the sort of thing Jesus Himself might have done. If you know who you are, you can sail in and out among the big boats and never be swamped.” (“How to Live with the Hollywood Syndrome”)
RESPONSIBILITY
Wayne Gretzky — known to professional hockey fans as “the Great Gretzky” — was being interviewed some time ago. The interviewer pointed out that at age 23, Gretzky was already a multi-millionaire, had already broken most of the sport’s records, and would go down in history as one of the greatest players of all time.
Then the interviewer asked, “Well, Wayne, what can you possibly have to look forward to?” After a brief pause, Gretzky answered: “Tonight’s game.” Despite his accomplishments, he was ready to move on and do what was needed next. (David IV. Richardson, College United Methodist Church, Warren, MO)
SERVICE — Way to real success
James Cash Penney started his business with a small general merchandise store in Kemmerer, Wyoming, in 1902. A devout Christian, J.C. Penney built his business on a simple principle: the golden rule. In fact, for many years his stores were called “The Golden Rule Stores.” He believed that by treating customers and employees the way he would want to be treated, his business would grow and prosper. And he was right!
Although it doesn’t always result in a multi-million dollar empire, service always leads to success — because it is the way Christ leads.
SUMMER
A church newsletter recently carried this “Psalm of Summer”:
“Now it came to pass that spring turned to summer again. God’s people raised their voices and said,
“Recreation is my shepherd, I shall not stay at home;
“He maketh me to lie down in a sleeping bag; He leadeth me down the interstate each weekend.
“He restoreth my suntan; He leadeth me to state parks for comfort’s sake.
“Even though I stray on the Lord’s Day, I will fear no reprimand, for Thou art with me; my rod and reel, they comfort me.
“I anointeth my skin with oil; my gas tank runneth dry.
“Surely my trailer shall follow me all the weekends of summer; and I shall return to the House of the Lord this fall.
“But then it is hunting season, and that’s another Psalm.”
SUBMISSION — Of our wills
In his book Full Surrender, J. Edwin Orr (who recently went to be with the Lord) tells about a crisis he faced in his own Christian life when his submission to Christ was only partial. As he knelt with friends in Belfast, Northern Ireland, he told the Lord that he was willing to do “anything to be surrendered and filled.”
An inner Voice said to him: “What about your will?” Orr recalls that he would have been happy to confess his besetting sins once more, but this question about his will was different. Perhaps the Lord wanted him as a missionary; he was willing. Yet the inner Voice persisted. What about the romance that was just beginning in his life; was he willing to surrender it to God’s will? Orr said yes with his lips, but knew that his heart said no.
John Huffman points out, “That’s what Jesus is talking about in the renunciation of self. Are you holding on to something that is undercutting God’s will for your life? If so, you cannot be His disciple.”
TENACITY
Many men and women of accomplishment have pointed to tenacity, persistence, as one of the greatest factors in their achievements.
Scientist Louis Pasteur: “Let me tell you the secret that has led to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.”
Playwright Noel Coward: “Thousands of people have talent. I might as well congratulate you for having eyes in your head. The one and only thing that counts is: Do you have staying power?”


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ACCEPTANCE-We all need
There’s a popular song that you still hear on the radio from time to time: “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree.” It tells the story of a convict on his way home, though unsure if the family even wants him back. So he has written and asked them to “tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree” that he will see as the bus or train goes by. If he sees the ribbon, he’ll know they want him to come home; if not, he’ll go right on by.
You know the lyrics. As he approached he saw “a hundred yellow ribbons” decorating the old oak tree. He knew he was accepted.
Isn’t that what we all want: acceptance? To know we are loved and wanted? That’s what Easter is all about: despite our sin and rebellion, God loved us so much that He gave His own Son to die in our place.
AGING
Robert Orben says one of the first signs of old age is when you hear “Snap, crackle, pop” in the morning — and it isn’t your cereal!
ALCOHOL-Problems created
Alcohol is one of the nation’s major health problems, costing the U.S. about $120 billion a year. Every problem drinker costs society as much as $5,000 a year in alcohol-related medical expenses. (Light)
BIBLE-Power of
John D. Erickson of the American Bible Society told the story of Juan Chavez, one of the most wanted criminals in Mexico. Every effort to apprehend him had proved futile. Yet one day he appeared voluntarily in a Saltillo, Mexico, court house and announced his identity.
The shocked judge asked, “Who brought you in?” Chavez held up a Bible and answered, “This book has brought me back, back to pay my debt to society.”
He explained: “When I got back from one of my raids, I found this book among the loot. I was hiding in a cave at the time and since I had nothing else to do, I began reading the book. I couldn’t get away from it. This Bible has changed my life!”
BREVITY-Value of
The speaker had gone on far too long, when he began his summary, “Well, to make a long story short…”
To that, someone in the audience replied, “Too late!”
BURDEN-Could be blessing
The legend says that the birds were gathered about complaining that they had been burdened with wings. These seemingly useless appendages were heavy, bulky, and always got in the way. Besides, none of the other animals had been asked to bear them.
How surprised they were to learn that their wings were not burdens to be borne, but blessings to allow them to soar above the earth and see things none of the other animals would ever be able to see. They had misunderstood a gift to be a burden.
CHILDREN
The three children asked their mother what she would like for her birthday. “I would like three well-behaved children,” she answered.
“Oh, boy,” exclaimed one child. “Then there’ll be six of us!”
CHRIST-Died in our place
Dwight L. Moody told of the young man who did not want to serve in Napoleon Bonaparte’s army. When he was drafted, a friend volunteered to go in his place. The substitution was made, and some time later the surrogate was killed in battle.
The same young man was, through a clerical error, drafted again. “You can’t take me” he told the startled officers. “I’m dead. I died on the battlefield.”
They argued that they could see him standing right in front of them, but he insisted they look on the roll to find the record of his death. Sure enough, there on the roll was the man’s name, with another name written beside it.
The case finally went to the emperor himself. After examining the evidence, Napoleon said, “Through a surrogate, this man has not only fought, but has died in his country’s service. No man can die more than once, therefore the law has no claim on him.”
Two thousand years ago, Jesus went to a cross to bear the penalty that rightly belonged to us. He died in our place. And through Him, our names are written in the book, with His name written beside ours.
CROSS-Meaning of
John Killinger tells about working on a sermon about the cross and seeing Grunewald’s painting, Crucifixion, which hangs in Washington’s National Gallery. As he observed the painting, he noticed the body of Christ appeared to have some discoloration upon it.
“I looked closely. Grunewald had made him a leper! There he was, on the cross, with leprosy! The people around him had infected him. What a powerful illustration, I thought, of the extent of the incarnation: he has come upon us so fully that he has even taken the diseases of the flesh.” (Fundamentals of Preaching)
CROSS-Quotations
“Never does human nature seem so courageous and so wicked all at once as when we stand before the cross of Jesus! The most enthusiastic hopes, the most profound humiliation, have found their inspiration there.” (Phillips Brooks)
“The cross is the only ladder high enough to touch Heaven’s threshold.” (George Dana Boardman)
“The cross is central. It is struck into the middle of the world, into the middle of time, into the middle of destiny. The cross is struck into the heart of God.” (Frederick W. Norwood)
CROSS-Victory over death
“When the Philistines had blind Samson led out of his dungeon and into their palace and temple to make sport for them, so they might mock at him and at the God of Israel, Samson asked the lad who led him by the hand to let him feel the pillars upon which the temple stood, so that he might rest himself. Then he put one arm around one pillar and one arm around the other; and with a prayer to God, ‘O Lord God, remember me, I pray Thee, and strengthen me, I pray Thee, only this once,’ Samson bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon his tormentors.
“So it was on Calvary. With eyes blinded with love for mankind, Christ put one arm around the dark pillar of sin, and the other arm around the dark pillar of death, and then bowed himself with all his might, even unto death, and Satan’s empire fell.” (Clarence E. Macartney, The Greatest Texts of the Bible)
DECISIONS
One Danish scientist says you can tell if you really want to do something by tossing a coin. It doesn’t really settle the question for you, but as Piet Hein says, while the coin is still in the air, “You suddenly know what you’re hoping.”
EASTER-Makes salvation possible
“The New Testament makes the cross central. The Gospels are basically books about the cross. They make the cross the climax to which all else leads up …. They are concerned with God’s provision for our salvation, and they see the death of Christ as the very central thing …
“Without the death of Christ there could have been no salvation. With that death the salvation of God becomes a glorious reality.” (Leon Morris, The Cross in the New Testament)
EASTER-Meaning of
“The Easter message tells us that our enemies, sin, the curse and death, are beaten. Ultimately they can no longer start mischief. They still behave as though the game were not decided, the battle not fought; we must still reckon with them, but fundamentally we cease to fear them any more.” (Karl Barth)
ENCOURAGEMENT-We all need
The woman’s hobby was gardening, and when she had to go out of town it was necessary to leave her husband in charge of the plants. She gave him specific instructions, ending with the admonition to “please talk to them occasionally.”
Her husband, no fan of plants himself, grumbled that he would feel like a fool talking to plants.
When she returned, she found everything just fine, and asked him, “Did you talk to the plants?”
“No, I didn’t,” he answered. “I read the paper out loud in the morning and afternoon, and if they wanted to listen it was up to them.”
FEAR-Can immobilize us
Nelson Price tells about a poor widow facing eviction. She was behind in her rent and other bills, her power had been cut off, and she had received her eviction notice.
Then she heard the knock on the door. She sat trembling in silence behind locked doors and drawn curtains. The knock came again, and again she sat frozen in fear that the officials had come to take her home. Finally the knock stopped, and she was able to relax a bit.
If she had only had the courage to answer the door, she would have been greeted by her pastor, who had worked together with other friends to collect enough money to pay her rent and bills. He had come with relief, but her fear blocked the way of hearing the good news.
GOALS-Importance of
“If we do not know where we are going, we will not know when we get there.” (James D. Glasse)
GRACE-Greatness of
Gore Vidal’s Lincoln tells about the day the president’s counselors came to discuss the time after the war, which was drawing to a close. They wanted to punish the South as a vanquished enemy. When asked how he planned to deal with the South, Lincoln said, “I will treat them as if they never left.”
God’s grace is that way. It treats us as if we had never sinned.
GROWTH-Important
A recent cartoon in the journal Leadership showed a pastor and deacon looking over a sparse congregation one morning. The deacon turns to the pastor and says: “Look on the bright side. We’ve solved the parking problem around here!”
A dynamic church isn’t afraid of the problems associated with growth. We are always to be reaching out.
HOPE
Reinhold Niebuhr, the theologian, was a pessimist; Harry Emerson Fosdick, the preacher, was an optimist. One day they were discussing the future of civilization, and agreed things looked difficult. That’s when Niebuhr said to Fosdick, “If you will be a pessimist with me, decade by decade, I will be an optimist with you, century by century.”
Maxie Dunnam observes: “That’s a good Christian philosophy. Because human beings use their power for evil, we’re sometimes made pessimists about the present. But because God can change evil into blessing, we can be optimists about the future.”
LIFE-Goal of
“I still believe that standing up for the truth of God is the greatest thing in the world. This is the end of life. The end of life is not to be happy. The end of life is not to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. The end of life is to do the will of God, come what may.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
LOVE-Persistent
Love will find a way. Indifference will find an excuse.
MARRIAGE-Handling conflict
One marriage counselor had a group for deaf couples, and noticed that the deaf raise their hands higher to sign when expressing strong emotion. The stronger the feeling, the higher the hands. One woman started signing to her husband, and was clearly upset. Her husband tried to calm her by lowering his hands, but her arms went higher and higher. Eventually he yanked her hands down and signed, “Don’t talk so loud. I’m not blind, you know!”
MISSIONS-Results of
David B. Barrett, widely-respected missions scholar, has estimated that 16,000 persons a day — 6 million a year-are becoming Christians in Africa. He estimates that as many as 357 million Africans will identify themselves as Christian by the end of the century. (Let the Earth Hear His Voice)
OPTIMISM
Linus was talking to Charlie Brown in the comic strip Peanuts, and observed, “I guess it’s wrong always to be worrying about tomorrow. Maybe we should think only about today.”
Charlie Brown replied, “No, that’s giving up. I’m still hoping that yesterday will get better.”
PATIENCE
Once Phillips Brooks was pacing back and forth in his study when a friend came by and asked what was wrong.
“The problem is, I am in a hurry and God is not,” Brooks replied.
PERSISTENCE
The heights by great men reached and kept,
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
PRAYER-Power of
Pat Carter, a missionary to Mexico, saw daily prayer as a major part of the strategy for developing a ministry with professional persons in a middle-class neighborhood.
“After noting in the book of Acts that new missionary projects were begun as the result of the initiative of the Holy Spirit, I suggested we pray and wait upon the Holy Spirit until He revealed where He wanted us to begin work. They agreed. During six months we prayed, met weekly to share impressions, had a number of spiritual retreats and united in several weekend fasts.”
Over the next 18 months the tin} group baptized 36 persons and grew to a congregation of between 50-60 (World Evangelization Now)
REPENTANCE-Act now
A rabbi was walking along with some of his students when one asked, “Rabbi, when should a man repent?” The rabbi replied, “You should repent on the last day of your life.”
The student went on: “But we can not be sure which day will be our last.” To that the rabbi smiled and said, “Then the answer is simple. Repent now.”
SELF-ESTEEM
A gangster rushed into a saloon, shooting and yelling, “All you filthy skunks get outa’ here!”
All the customers fled except one gentleman, who stood at the bar calmly.
“Well?” yelled the gangster, waving his gun.
“Well,” said the man, “there certainly were a lot of them, weren’t there?”
WEALTH-Not enough
The Texas millionaire stipulated in his will that he be buried in his $90,000 Rolls-Royce.
When the time came, two laborers were shoveling the last bit of dirt onto the now-buried luxury car. One finally turned to the other and said, “Boy, that’s living!”
Not really, is it? Death comes to everyone, from the richest to the poorest, and the finest car won’t make a difference on the other side of eternity.


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