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)
OBEDIENCE
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.”
SELF-RESPECT
“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)
SNAPPY COMEBACK
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)


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ACHIEVEMENT — Is relative
Mrs. Albert Einstein was being taken on a tour of the great Palomar observatory. Pointing to the massive telescope, the director asserted, “With this, we will unlock the secrets of the universe!”
Unimpressed, Mrs. Einstein observed, “My husband does that on the back of envelopes.”
DEATH – Inevitable for all
An old legend tells of a Baghdad merchant who sent his servant to the market to purchase food. After a few minutes, the servant was back — pale and trembling. “Down in the marketplace,” exclaimed the servant, “I was pushed by a woman in the crowd. I turned around and saw the woman was Death. She raised her arm to strike me. Please, Master, lend me your fastest horse so that I can get away. I will ride to Samarra where I can hide. Death will not find me there.”
The merchant lent his fastest horse to the servant, who rode away swiftly. The merchant went to the marketplace himself, and there he also saw Death standing in the crowd.
“Why did you frighten my servant this morning?” he inquired. “Why did you make a threatening gesture?”
“That was not a threatening gesture,” replied Death. “It was simply a reaction of surprise. I was astonished to see him here in Baghdad. I have an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”
As Edward Chinn observes, “We all have an appointment in Samarra…. We will all die one day, but God can prevent death from casting its shadow over the years we have left.” (Edward Chinn, All Saints’ Church, Philadelphia, PA)
EASTER – Meaning of
“If Easter means anything to modern man it means that eternal truth is eternal. You may nail it to the tree, wrap it up in grave clothes, and seal it in a tomb; but ‘truth crushed to earth shall rise again.’ Truth does not perish; it cannot be destroyed. It may be distorted; it has been silenced temporarily; it has been compelled to carry its cross to Calvary’s brow … but with an inevitable certainty after every Black Friday dawns truth’s Easter Morn.” (Donald Harvey Tippet)
FLATTERY-Can be misplaced
The student told the professor, “That was a wonderful lecture. You should have it published!”
“Actually,” the professor responded, “I am planning to have all my lectures published posthumously.”
“Great!” asserted the student. “The sooner the better!”
GOD – Power of
Hudson Baggett, editor of The Alabama Baptist, describes an experience from seminary days when he served as a grader for the preaching professor.
A particular sermon outline had received a ‘D’ and the recipient was agitated. “When I preached this sermon last Sunday,” the student exclaimed, “nineteen people came forward.”
Baggett responded, “That just goes to show what the power of God can do.”
GRANDMOTHERS
A third-grade girl wrote a report on what a grandmother is. Here’s a portion of her essay:
“A grandmother is a lady who has no children of her own. She likes other people’s little girls. A grandfather is a man grandmother. He goes for walks with the boys, and then talks about fishing, tractors and things like that…. Grandmothers don’t have to do anything but be there. They’re old so they shouldn’t play hard or run. It is enough if they take us to the market where the pretend horses are and have lots of dimes ready, or if they take us for walks and slow down passing things like pretty leaves or caterpillars. They never say, ‘Hurry Up.’
“Usually they are fat, but not too fat to tie your shoes. They wear glasses and funny underwear. They can take their teeth and gums off. They don’t have to be smart, but they can answer questions like why dogs hate cats and how come God isn’t married. When they read to us, they don’t skip words or mind if it is the same story over again and again. Everybody should try to have one, especially if you don’t have a television, because grandmothers are the only grownups who got time.” (adapted from Thomas St. Bulletin, Altus, OK)
MISSIONS – Remarkable impact
Amazing church growth is taking place around the world, often as an outgrowth of mission efforts begun decades ago. Thomas Wang, editor of AD 2000 and Beyond, reports the following developments:
3,500 new churches are born every week around the globe. Despite difficulties in China, some 28,000 persons convert to Christianity every day in that country, according to some researchers, joining an estimated 25-50 million Chinese Christians. Another 20,000 Africans are converting to Christianity each day.
Though at the beginning of this century there were no Protestants in Korea — and many considered the nation unreachable — today South Korea is 30 percent Christian. Indonesia, an officially Muslim country, may now be as much as 25 percent Christian. (National & International Religion Report, January 28, 1991)
PLANNING – Need for
Steve Brown tells about an incident (fictional we’re sure!) in the Atlanta airport. The air traffic controller said, “Pam Am flight 407, you are cleared to land on runway B.” Just seconds later, the same controller said to another pilot, “American flight 36, you are cleared to land on runway B.”
A frantic message was immediately heard in the control tower: “Tower, this is Pan Am flight 407. You just cleared me to land on runway B and now you cleared American flight 36 to land on the same runway.”
After a long pause, the controller’s voice was heard again. “Well, uh, ya’ll be careful now.”
PRAYER – No excuse for inaction
The kindergarten Sunday School class was learning about how God cares for us in times of trouble. The teacher asked the class to draw pictures of things that make them afraid. After they finished drawing, each child explained to the others what he or she had drawn.
Five-year-old Scott had created in vivid crayon a looming funnel cloud, a car, and a man. He described how the man could not get his car started and a tornado was coming toward him.
“The man really needs to pray, doesn’t he?” asked the teacher.
“No,” Scott disagreed. “He needs to run!”
We need balance in our lives. There is a time for prayer and a time for deeds. (Mark D. Stucky, Mennonite Church, Elkhart, IN)
RESURRECTION
“What reason have atheists for saying that we cannot rise again? Which is the more difficult, to be born, or to rise again? That which has never been born, should be, or that which has been, should be again? Is it more difficult to come into being than to return to it?” (Blaise Pascal)
SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT – Need for
Ernest Campbell tells about the woman who went to a pet store to purchase a parrot to keep her company. She took her new pet home but returned the next day to report, “That parrot hasn’t said a word yet!”
“Does it have a mirror?” asked the storekeeper. “Parrots like to be able to look at themselves in the mirror.” So she bought the mirror and returned home.
The next day she was back, announcing that the bird still wasn’t speaking. “What about a ladder?” the storekeeper said. “Parrots enjoy walking up and down a ladder.” So she bought a ladder and returned home.
Sure enough, the next day she was back with the same story — still no talk. “Does the parrot have a swing? Birds enjoy relaxing on a swing.” She bought the swing and went home.
The next day she returned to the store to announce the bird had died. “I’m terribly sorry to hear that,” said the storekeeper. “Did the bird ever say anything before it died?”
“Yes,” said the lady. “It said, ‘Don’t they sell any food down there’?”
As Campbell observes, we readily buy mirrors by which to primp, ladders by which we try to climb higher, swings by which we seek pleasure. But where is the food for our souls? (Campbell is on the faculty of Union Theological Seminary, New York, NY)
TIMING – Essential
“When Christ returns, how awful to know that all of it was true, and that it is too late to do anything about it.” (C. S. Lewis)
TRUTH
“Christian truth is redemptive truth because it requires not simply knowledge about something but knowledge of someone. It is personal.” (Harold Cooke Phillips)
“Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it; ignorance may deride it; malice may distort it; but there it is.” (Winston Churchill)
“God offers every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please — you can never have both.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)


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