Wednesday, August 27, 2008
When God leads you to the edge of the cliff, trust Him fully and let go, only 1 of 2 things will happen, either He'll catch you when you fall, or He'll teach you how to fly!
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Early in the last century an old missionary couple who had been working in Africa for many years returned to America to retire. With no pension and broken in health, they were discouraged, and somewhat fearful of the future.
They happened to be booked on the same ship as Teddy Roosevelt, who was returning from a big-game hunting expedition. They watched the passengers trying to glimpse the great man, the crew fussing over him. At the dock in New York a band was waiting to greet the president…but the missionary couple slipped off the ship unnoticed.
That night the man's spirit broke. He said to his wife, "I can't take this; God is not treating us fairly." His wife suggested he go in the bedroom and tell the Lord.
A short time later he came out with a face completely changed. His wife asked, "Dear, what happened?"
"The Lord settled it with me," he said. "I told him how bitter I was that the president should receive this tremendous homecoming, when no one met us as we returned home. And when I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put His hand on my shoulder and simply said, 'But you're not home yet!'" *
And now I can share what went before the story to my friend.
It is not practical to go into the details here, also what I have been through might not be directly relevant to you. What is common with all who suffer is this - We experience some kind of loss. What I have discovered and here again, it could be different from person to person is that through suffering we might find the Lord in ways that just isn't possible any other way.
You come out of this with a deeply personal relationship with him that you struggle to find to words to explain. When you are still in there, it is like fire. When you come out of it, you realize it is worth it.
We suffer, become depressed because we are not home yet and especially so when we thought we are already home. Let me explain briefly from a story I have received several times. (i.e., the story you just read above)
* From "My Time With God" by Donald McCullough.
Friday, August 15, 2008
The Bridge Builder
An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim near,
"You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide -
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?"
The builder lifted his old gray head;
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
"There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."
Will Allen Dromgoole
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
If the title "Carl's story" is completely unfamiliar to you then you should read and be reminded of it.
Carl was a quiet man. He didn't talk much. He would always greet you with a big smile and a firm handshake. Even after living in our neighborhood for over 50 years, no one could really say they knew him very well.
Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning. The lone sight of him walking down the street often worried us. He had a slight limp from a bullet wound received in WWII. Watching him, we worried that although he had survived WWII, he may not make it through our changing uptown neighborhood with its ever-increasing random violence, gangs, and drug activity.
When he saw the flyer at our local church asking for volunteers for caring for the gardens behind the minister's residence, he responded in his characteristically unassuming manner. Without fanfare, he just signed up. He was well into his 87th year when the very thing we had always feared finally happened.
He was just finishing his watering for the day when three gang members approached him. Ignoring their attempt to intimidate him, he simply asked, 'Would you like a drink from the hose?'
The tallest and toughest-looking of the three said, 'Yeah, sure,' with a malevolent little smile. As Carl offered the hose to him, the other two grabbed Carl's arm, throwing him down. As the hose snaked crazily over the ground, dousing everything in its way, Carl's assailants stole his retirement watch and his wallet, and then fled.
Carl tried to get himself up, but he had been thrown down on his bad leg. He lay there trying to gather himself as the minister came running to help him. Although the minister had witnessed the attack from his window, he couldn't get there fast enough to stop it. 'Carl, are you okay? Are you hurt?' the minister kept asking as he helped Carl to his feet. Carl just passed a hand over his brow and sighed, shaking his head. 'Just some punk kids. I hope they'll wise-up someday.'
His wet clothes clung to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose. He adjusted the nozzle again and started to water. Confused and a little concerned, the minister asked, 'Carl, what are you doing?' 'I've got to finish my watering. It's been very dry lately,' came the calm reply. Satisfying himself that Carl really was all right, the minister could only marvel. Carl was a man from a different time and place.
A few weeks later the three returned. Just as before their threat was unchallenged. Carl again offered them a drink from his hose. This time they didn't rob him. They wrenched the hose from his hand and drenched him head to foot in the icy water. When they had finished their humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the street, throwing catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at the hilarity of what they had just done. Carl just watched them. Then he turned toward the warmth giving sun, picked up his hose, and went on with his watering.
The summer was quickly fading into fall Carl was doing some tilling when he was startled by the sudden approach of someone behind him. He stumbled and fell into some evergreen branches. As he struggled to regain his footing, he turned to see the tall leader of his summer tormentors reaching down for him. He braced himself for the expected attack. 'Don't worry old man, I'm not gonna hurt you this time.' The young man spoke softly, still offering the tattooed and scarred hand to Carl. As he helped Carl get up, the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket and handed it to Carl. 'What's this?' Carl asked.
'It's your stuff,' the man explained. 'It's your stuff back. Even the money in your wallet.' 'I don't understand,' Carl said. 'Why would you help me now?' The man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease. 'I learned something from you,' he said. 'I ran with that gang and hurt people like you we picked you because you were old and we knew we could do it But every time we came and did something to you, instead of yelling and fighting back, you tried to give us a drink.
You didn't hate us for hating you. You kept showing love against our hate.' He stopped for a moment. 'I couldn't sleep after we stole your stuff, so here it is back.' He paused for another awkward moment, not knowing what more there was to say. 'That bag's my way of saying thanks for straightening me out, I guess.' And with that, he walked off down the street.
Carl looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened it. He took out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist. Opening his wallet, he checked for his wedding photo. He gazed for a moment at the young bride that still smiled back at him from all those years ago.
He died one cold day after Christmas that winter. Many people attended his funeral in spite of the weather.
In particular the minister noticed a tall young man that he didn't know sitting quietly in a distant corner of the church. The minister spoke of Carl's garden as a lesson in life. In a voice made thick with unshed tears, he said, 'Do your best and make your garden as beautiful as you can. We will never forget Carl and his garden.'
The following spring another flyer went up. It read: 'Person needed to care for Carl's garden.' The flyer went unnoticed by the busy parishioners until one day when a knock was heard at the minister's office door. Opening the door, the minister saw a pair of scarred and tattooed hands holding the flyer. 'I believe this is my job, if you'll have me,' the young man said. The minister recognized him as the same young man who had returned the stolen watch and wallet to Carl.
He knew that Carl's kindness had turned this man's life around. As the minister handed him the keys to the garden shed, he said, 'Yes, go take care of Carl's garden and honor him.'
The man went to work and, over the next several years, he tended the flowers and vegetables just as Carl had done. During that time, he went to college, got married, and became a prominent member of the community. But he never forgot his promise to Carl's memory and kept the garden as beautiful as he thought Carl would have kept it. One day he approached the new minister and told him that he couldn't care for the garden any longer. He explained with a shy and happy smile, 'My wife just had a baby boy last night, and she's bringing him home on Saturday.' 'Well, congratulations!' said the minister, as he was handed the garden shed keys. 'That's wonderful! What's the baby's name?' 'Carl,' he replied.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
1 Corinthians 13
1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Love never fails. —1 Corinthians 13:8
As the Olympic Games open in Beijing, my thoughts go back to Eric Liddell, a former champion immortalized for his surprising gold medal victory in the 400 meters during the 1924 Games in Paris. A year after his triumph, Liddell went to China, where he spent the last 20 years of his life as a missionary teacher and rural pastor. There he ran the greatest race of his life against opponents we all know—difficult circumstances, war, uncertainty, and disease.
Crowded into a Japanese internment camp with 1,500 other people, Eric lived out the words he had paraphrased from 1 Corinthians 13:6-8— “Love is never glad when others go wrong. Love finds no pleasure in injustice, but rejoices in the truth. Love is always slow to expose, it knows how to be silent. Love is always eager to believe the best about a person. Love is full of hope, full of patient endurance; love never fails.”
Eric served the others in camp, whether carrying water for the elderly or refereeing games for the teens. When he died of a brain tumor in February 1945, one internee described him as a man “who lived better than he preached.”
In life’s most difficult race, Eric Liddell crossed the finish line victorious through love. — David C. McCasland
1 Corinthian 13 is very special to me. It represents at least of couple of firsts. I first read it from a free copy of the Living Bible New Testament when I was eleven. It was also among the earliest flash movies I produced for the website.
I first cam across the story of Eric Liddell in the famous movie, "The Chariots of Fire". Ever since, I have often heard its theme music. Each time it is played, I will picture Eric and the other running at the edge of the beach as it was depicted in the movie.
I went to look up for additional resources on Eric Liddell and discovered that there is an Eric Liddell Centre. I would encourage you to visit.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
"All I Have Left is What I Gave Away"
The author wishes to remain anonymous Edited by Shmuel Greenbaum. Printed with Permission of http://www.PartnersInKindness.org
This is a lesson from one of my nursing home residents:
Mrs. C. was an artist and a cigarette smoker. She came to live at the nursing home after a match that she thought was out resulted in a fire that burned down her apartment. She lost everything that was in her home.
After she settled in to the nursing home she spoke of her loss. "All I have left," she said, "is what I gave away."
She was philosophical about it, for as a young child her father taught her a saying she used and shared with us: "What is, is and what isn't, isn't." That helped her move on in life.
As her friends heard of what happened, they brought pieces of her artwork that she had give them before the fire back to her, to decorate her new room. It became her new home until she passed away a few years later.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
A friend from China, a member of the underground church, sent me the above. He wasn't the first one to point it out to me, but he was the one who left a strong impression on me. See below.
当然，李光耀和他的国民更应该感谢上帝 - 同样是华人，有了主的救赎，才能获得幸福，就如同生活在香港，澳门的中国人一样。