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A few months before I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small Tennessee town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later.
As I grew up, I never questioned his place in our family. Mom taught me to love the Word of God. Dad taught me to obey it. But the stranger was our storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventures, mysteries and comedies were daily conversations. He could hold our whole family spellbound for hours each evening.
He was like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, Bill and me to our first major league baseball game. He was always encouraging us to see the movies, and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars. The stranger was an incessant talker. Dad didn’t seem to mind but sometimes Mom would quietly get up—while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places—and go to her room and read her Bible and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave. My Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions. But this stranger never felt an obligation to honor them.
Profanity was not allowed in our house—not from us, our friends, or adults. Our longtime visitor, however, used occasional four-letter words that burned my ears and made Dad squirm. To my knowledge, the stranger was never confronted. Dad didn’t permit alcohol in his home. But the stranger enlightened us to other ways of life. He often offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages. He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished.
He talked freely about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I know now that my early concepts of the man/woman relationship were influenced by the stranger.
I believe it was only by the grace of God the stranger did not influence us even more. Time after time he opposed my parents’ values. Yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave. More than thirty years have passed since the stranger moved in with the young family on Morningside Drive.
But if I were to walk into my parents’ home today, I would still see him sitting over in a corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures. His name? We always called him TV.
W Pat Cunningham
A POSITIVE STILLNESS
"The greater mystery, surpassing all words, summons us to silence. It must, of course, be a silence with content, not just the absence of speech and action. We should expect the liturgy to give us a positive stillness that will restore us. Such stillness will not be just a pause, in which a thousand thoughts and desires assault us, but a time of recollection, giving us an inward peace, allowing us to draw breath and rediscover the one thing necessary, which we have forgotten."
[The Spirit of the Liturgy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000), 209.]
MANY MEN OF SCIENCE, TOO FEW MEN OF GOD
In 1948, at an Armistice Celebration, (Armistice was the declaration of peace at the end of World War I) it was declared on November 11 at 11.00 am. So 11, 11 at 11. They did that symbolically because they felt that they were at the eleventh hour. They actually felt if the war continued, the whole world would be destroyed by it. Over 20 million people were killed in World War I. It was the bloodiest, most destructive war in history up until that time. So they declared an Armistice. Even till today some celebrate that.
Omar Bradley, one of the Generals in World War II went to World War I and he remembered it as a young man. He served in the army in the US, became a General. He actually led one of the largest armies in history during World War II. He spoke at an Armistice Day in Boston, Massachusetts in 1948. He said,
"With the monstrous weapons man already has, humanity is in danger of being trapped in this world by its moral adolescents. Our knowledge of science has clearly outstripped our capacity to control it. We have many men of science; too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. Man is stumbling blindly through a spiritual darkness while toying with the precarious secrets of life and death. The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.
This is our twentieth century's claim to distinction and to progress."
In the middle of 20th century, he makes this commentary and I think that history has borne his testimony to be true. After he made this speech, we had the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the whole group of other wars in the world. We do not know how to make peace.
If we are going to move into the twenty first century in confidence, if we want to give hope to our children and next generation, it must come through our commitment to our being in Christ and seeing character developed in ourselves, so that His light can shine in this very dark world.
Robert Fulghum in It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It, tells a story involving his daughter, Molly. One day, as Fulghum was ready to leave for work, Molly handed him two brown paper sacks. In one was his lunch. What was in the other was a mystery. When Fulghum asked Molly what was in the mystery bag, she said, "Just some stuff—take it with you." At lunch time, Fulghum tore open the mystery bag, Dumping the contents onto his desk. The contents
consisted of: two hair ribbons, three small stones, a plastic dinosaur, a pencil stub, a tiny seashell, two animal crackers, a marble, a used
lipstick, a small doll, two chocolate kisses, and thirteen pennies.
Later in the day, when Fulghum was cleaning off his desk before going home, he wiped the contents of Molly’s bag into the waste basket. As he said, "There wasn’t anything in there I needed." That evening Molly asked where her bag was. He told her he had left it at his office, and asked, "why?" Molly said, "Those are my things in the sack, Daddy, the ones I really like—I thought you might like to play with them, but now I want them back.
You didn’t lose the bag did you, Daddy?"
"Those are my things in the sack, Daddy, the ones I really like." To Fulghum the hair ribbons, small stones, pencil stub, a used lipstick and all the rest did not seem like much. To Molly, they were her most priceless treasures. The things she loved the most. But Fulghum did not have the sight to see their true value.
Long ago some shepherds left their fields and made their way to a stable. When they looked into the manger they saw a very ordinary baby wrapped in swaddling cloths. Whether the baby was sleeping, ...
The Monarch Mystery.
The ability to find home evokes legends of Rover or Fido who, when owners have moved from one coast to the other, have made a 3,000-mile trek to find their owners in a location to which they’ve never been before. At least the dogs make it back home.
But not the monarch butterfly. These insects somehow know how to migrate thousands of miles every autumn, from the Eastern United States to a handful of sites in Mexico. There, they rest over the winter for the return trip home. But here’s the amazing part: No individual butterfly ever goes to Mexico and back, yet thousands converge on the same few sites year after year. These insects know where to go. But none of them has ever been there before. Let’s explain.
"Monarchs are not guided by memory, since no single butterfly ever makes the round trip. Three or four generations separate those that spend one winter in Mexico from those that go there the next." A monarch butterfly born in August in New York state, for instance, will fly all the way to Mexico, spend the winter there, and leave in March. Then it will fly north, laying eggs on milkweed along the Gulf Coast in Texas and Florida before dying.
The butterflies born of those eggs will continue northward, breeding and laying more eggs along the way. By August another monarch, four generations or so removed from the monarch that left New York for Mexico the previous summer, will emerge from its chrysalis and do the same thing. It will head south, aiming for a place it’s never been, an acre or two of forest on the steep slopes of a particular mountain range.
"Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." - Matthew 24:12-13
On the night of March 29, 1848, Niagara Falls completely and mysteriously stopped flowing. The estimated 500,000 gallons of water that customarily rushed over the falls stalled to a trickle. James Francis Macklem, a village justice of the peace in the Niagara area, wrote that he had witnessed the subsidence of the waters and the phenomenon of the Niagara running dry "caused great excitement in the neighborhood at the time."
To some, the mystery of this sudden "turning off" of the river seemed to be an ominous portent, and nightfall found most of the churches packed with people praying or talking in frightened voices about the end of the world. Fear grew into the proportions of panic.
The cause of this unusual event began along the shores of Lake Erie near Buffalo. For several days, the wind had been blowing to the east over Lake Erie, driving much of its ice flow down river. Then the winds suddenly shifted to the west, driving the lake water west and causing the lake’s ice to break up and dam the river. The Niagara River ceased to flow for almost 30 hours until the ice shifted and the dam broke up.
When we become cold towards Christ and not let the Holy Spirit flow through our lives it can become disastrous. Has your love for Christ grown cold? Today in prayer, confess any sin to Christ and remember the love you had for Him when you first became a Christian. Walk with Him and do not let your love grow cold.
In January of 1997 a mystery was solved that had baffled people for nearly a decade. Someone was giving away millions of dollars! The recipients didn’t know why the gifts came or how to ask for more. But still the money drizzled in, to universities, hospitals and service groups around the globe, paid in cashier’s checks and accompanied by word that the giver wished to remain anonymous.
The giver, it turns out, was Charles Feeney, a 66 year-old businessman from New Jersey. Forbes magazine had listed Feeney, the owner of a duty-free shop conglomerate, as one of the 400 richest Americans. But then it was discovered that Feeney’s wealth was only 1% of what Forbes thought it was. How could they be so far off in their projections? For years, Feeney had quietly been giving it away. Over $4 billion in all. Feeney is known as a “shabby:” dresser who flies coach, wears a $5 watch and doesn’t even own a house or a car.
The richest 1% of Americans give only 2% of their annual gross income to charity. And yet Charles Feeney managed to give away 99% of all he had without anyone knowing. (All above info on Charles Feeney from www.time.com)
What would possibly lead him to do that? Since he won’t give interviews, all we can figure is that he has a perspective on this life that few people have.
THE ENERGY OF PRAISE
A study was done by psychologist Dr. Henry H. Goddard, on energy levels in children.
He used an instrument he called the "ergograph." How he ever got some children to stand still long enough to connect them to the machine is a mystery. But he did, and his findings are fascinating.
He found that when tired children are given a word of praise or encouragement, the ergograph shows an immediate upward surge of new energy. When the children are criticized and discouraged, the ergograph shows their physical energy take a sudden nose-dive.
Those results could be probably be duplicated i...
“God’s Algebra!” Romans 8:9-17 Key verse(s) 16:“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
One of the unchangeable and mysterious laws of mathematics is that whenever you multiply a positive number by a negative number you will always get a negative number. I remember my 7th grade teacher, Mr. Kramer, drilling that into our heads. There was no way of adequately explaining why a negative times a positive will always equal a negative. And, for a math underachiever such as myself, it simply was a matter of memorizing the theorem and forgetting the understanding part of it. From a purely logical perspective, it always seemed to me that whichever number was the larger ought to be the determining factor in any equation. It just made sense. The big guy was going to defeat the little guy in a wrestling match. The larger hawk would always overpower the smaller sparrow. If you mixed a little bit of gravel with a lot of sand you would still have more sand than gravel. I always had a hard time understanding the concept of something small overpowering something very large.
This seemed logical to me for the most part. Even daily life as it played itself out around me testified to the fact that the equation embraced faulty logic. For example, when you were having a good day and things were going along pretty well and you stumbled into calamity for some reason, if the amount of good you had happened to collect did not exceed the magnitude of the calamity, the bad would always put the hammerlock on the good sending you down to the mat every time. It was a question of balance. If your alarm didn’t go off in the morning and you were late for class, that could be overcome in general if you simply negated it by hitting a home run at recess and added a couple of good test scores to the mix throughout the course of the day. That seemed pretty logical to 13-year-old kid who was simply trying to make the best of life at the moment and was determined to finish each day with more good on his plate than bad.
Sometimes being a Christian and having to deal with the bad and negative things in our lives also has this same underpinning of illogical calculation. Life can real deal out some pretty heavy blows sometimes. Even worse, when we are already down for the count, there are even those days when bad piles on bad. If we use the logic of the 13-year-old boy just trying to make it through the day, days like this become unbearable. There simply isn’t enough good within our grasp to deal with all the bad. That’s when despair steps in to put its heavy boot on the back of our neck to keep us down for good.
Thank God for they mystery of His Holy Spirit. When He is inserted into the equation of life, what Mr. Kramer taught me in 7th grade mathematics starts to become even more illogical, however in a reverse sort of way. Whereas algebra dictates that a negative times a positive always equals a negative, God’s textbook, the Bible, dictates that a negative times a positive always equals a positive. When life becomes overpowering it doesn’t matter how much of it is negative. When we put the Holy Spirit of God into the equation the outcome is always the same; we get the help we need to cope and to restore our faith. This is a mystery that flies in the face of earthly logic but it is trustworthy. Sorrow and Affliction x the Holy Spirit = Patience. But God’s algebra doesn’t stop there. Patience x Experience = Faith. It doesn’t seem logical at the outset, but no matter how big sorrow and affliction are, they never come out the winner in this equation.
A poem by Pastor Clinton Meininger from his book "Springs of Living Waters"tells us of the mysteries of life. He says:
"All around me, Lord of life,
My world is tumbling in.
There’s nothing sure and nothing safe
From gossip, greed and sin:
And yet, I know Thy pardon, Lord,
and thy forgiving power;
And through the storms of life each day
Thy truth sustains each hour.
Oh, help me climb above the storms’
That beat men down each day,
And glimpse a bit of haven on earth
Along life’s burdened way.
Help me to know Thy nearness, Lord.
I cannot walk alone!
So let me feel Thy guiding hand
Through every path unknown.
I do not want to know the goal
Of what tomorrow bring;
One step, one hour, one gleam of light
To make my spirit sing.
And I shall walk through mist or rain
Through storm or summer’s day,
If I but know You’re by my side
Along life’s changing way."