If you put a buzzard in a pen that is 6 feet by 8 feet and is entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of 10 to 12 feet. Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.
The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkable nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about
helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation
from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.
A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless
it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find
some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.
In many ways, we are like the buzzard, the bat, and the bumblebee. We struggle about with all our problems and frustrations, never realizing
that all we have to do is look up! That's the answer, the escape route and the solution to any problem.... just look up! -------------------------------------------
Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, But faith looks up! Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, and trust in our Creator, who loves us.
I picked up Max Lucado's book, "Let the Journey Begin," at a library booksale recently and thought the following worth passing on: (ellipses are in the original)
Most of my life I've been a closet slob. I was slow to see the logic of neatness. Why make up a bed if you are going to sleep in it again tonight? Does it make sense to wash dishes after only one meal? Isn't it easier to leave your clothes on the floor at the foot of the bed so they'll be there when you get up and put them on? . . .
Then I got married . . .
I enrolled in a twelve-step program for slobs. ("My name is Max, I hate to vacuum.") A physical therapist helped me rediscover the muscles used for hanging shirts and placing toilet paper on the holder. My nose was reintroduced to the fragrance of Pine Sol . . .
Then came the moment of truth. Denalyn went out of town for a week. Initially I reverted to the old man. I figured I'd be a slob for six days and clean on the seventh. But something strange happened, a curious discomfort. I couldn't relax with dirty dishes in the sink.
What had happend to me?
Simple. I'd been exposed to a higher standard.
Isn't that what has happened with us? . . .
Before Christ our lives were out of control, sloppy, and indulgent. We didn't even know we were slobs until we met him . . .
Suddenly we find ourselves wanting to do good. Go back to the old mess? Are you kidding?
(Romans 6:17-18 - You were made free from sin, and now you are slaves to goodness.")
Me: Max Lucado never struck me as one who might have had to battle being a slob! It's a great piece, spiritually true, too.
I received the following from a friend and then tracked down the writer, Larry Burton.
At a Touchdown Club meeting many years before his death, Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant told the following story:
had just been named the new head coach at Alabama and was off in my old
car down in South Alabama recruiting a prospect who was supposed to
have been a pretty good player and I was havin' trouble finding the
place. Getting hungry I spied an old cinder block building with a small
sign out front that simply said "Restaurant."
"I pull up, go in and every head in the place turns to stare at me.
Seems I'm the only white fella in the place. But the food smelled good
so I skip a table and go up to a cement bar and sit. A big ole man in a
tee shirt and cap comes over and says, "What do you need?" I told him I
needed lunch and what did they have today? He says, "You probably won't
like it here, today we're having chitlins, collared greens and black
eyed peas with cornbread. I'll bet you don't even know what chitlins
are, do you?" I looked him square in the eye and said, "I'm from
Arkansas, I've probably eaten a mile of them. Sounds like I'm in the
right place." They all smiled as he left to serve me up a big plate.
When he comes back he says, "You ain't from around here then?"
First Important Lesson - Cleaning Lady… During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"
Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50's, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. “Absolutely,” said the professor, "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello."
I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.
I was stirred by the following email from a friend. The verses below reportedly were written on the walls of Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta, India.
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; . . . Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; . . . Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; . . . Succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; . . . Be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; . . . Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous, . . . Be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; . . . Do good anyway. Give the world your best and it may never be enough; . . . Give the world your best anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway
Kathryn Jean Lopez interviewed Michael Novak (author of two recent books), who came forth with the thought for the day:
NOVAK: A wise teacher once told our class: Keep a worn journal by the bed, and write in it every night — five minutes, no more — jotting down the most memorable image (or even insight) of the day. Four minutes if you must. But do it. You will be surprised how this will teach you to notice many vivid images each day, and many insights. Only choose one at night, though, “to snatch from the flames.”
I enjoyed Jason Gay's reflections on eating too much at a big meal -- not knowing when to stop. I could identify. This was to set up his argument that sports schedules should be lean and mean to keep fans hungry for more. Since satiety is the enemy, Jason advocates the best-of-five series over the best-of seven series. But he begins (quite entertainingly) talking about eating::
We're a nation of presumed gluttons—allegedly desperate for more, more, more. But how much do we really need?
Not long ago, I ordered a salad for dinner (I know: how thrilling! Want to buy the movie rights?)
When it arrived, I thought someone had made a mistake: The kitchen had prepared a Caesar fit for the Purdue University football banquet.
This was not a dish, or a bowl, but a trough that would not fit in the overhead compartment of an airplane. The waiter practically had to carry it with a harness, and when he plopped it on the table, as if it were fresh roadkill, he gave a look of unspoken disgust, as if to say, "Knock yourself out, elastic waistband!"
Of course, I soon found myself doing the thing that many of us do when faced with an oversized plate, which is to embrace the challenge, and eat beyond reasonable limits. I made a series of mental contracts—stop here, okay here, okay here—that were quickly broken, until all that was left was one lonely crouton, soggy in dressing. Then I ate that, too. I was filled with parmesan and self-loathing.
"The meal is not over when I'm full," the comedian Louis CK once said.
"The meal is over when I hate myself."
The thing is, we don't want so much. We need balance and portion control. We don't have to have the biggest car, or house, or TV, or Caesar salad.
And we don't need so much from sports, either. . . . [more . . .]
G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), the witty, brilliant, acutely logical author, journalist, essayist, debater, and poet once penned lines that I find helpful to recall from time to time. From Orthodoxy,ch. 2 - "The Maniac":
"Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion... To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits."
Lucas Parry, worship and missions leader at New Life Community Church in Asheville, NC, makes excellent points in his recent post:
Ideas are like sprints. Ideas come quickly and can disappear equally
as fast. Anyone can run a sprint for a second. Danger can cause people
to sprint. Urgency, deadlines, panic…all causes for sprinting.
Execution is a marathon. Marathons take time and effort. Marathons
takes pacing and diligence. Marathons call for strategy, training, and
endurance. No one just goes out and runs a marathon.
Successful creatives learn how to take their sprints, and turn them
into marathons. Taking ideas and executing them allow organizations to
achieve great things. If all we do is run sprints, we will never have
the endurance that is necessary to be successful. Likewise, if all we
can do is run marathons, and never develop our sprint skills, when times
get tough and the race is close at the end, we will not have the
ability to find that extra gear and distance ourselves from the pack.
Ideas are necessary. They are fun. They drive a lot of what we do as
creatives. But without execution, ideas are not worth anything.
Execution creates distance between good and great people and
Me: Very challenging, and not a little convicting!
President Obama: “The yearning for peace is universal.”
Cliff May: Unfortunately, it is
not and has never been. Genghis Khan did not yearn for peace. Napoleon
did not yearn for peace. Hitler did not yearn for peace. People who
call themselves “jihadis” — by definition — do not yearn for peace
except the peace that follows the defeat of all infidels who are — by
definition — their enemies.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, commenting on Philippians
1:10 ("that you may approve what is excellent," or "that you
may have a sense of what is vital"):
The difficulty in life is to know on what we ought to
concentrate. The whole art of life, I sometimes think, is the art of knowing
what to leave out, what to ignore, what to put on one side. How prone we are to
dissipate our energies and to waste our time by forgetting what is vital and
giving ourselves to second and third rate issues. Now, says Paul, here you are
in the Christian life, you are concerned about difficulties, about oppositions
and about the contradictions of life. What you need is just this: the power to
concentrate on that which is vital, to leave out everything else, and to keep
steadily to the one thing that matters.
- The Life of Joy: Philippians, vol. 1, pp. 54-55.
Our Asbury student Scott Cozart told the following parable in chapel this morning.
father wanted to teach his four sons the lesson of not judging
something or someone too quickly, and so he called his four sons
together and said "I have a task for you. I want you, my eldest son to
go out into our fields and take a
look at the pear tree and come back
and tell me what your evaluation is of its condition."
eldest went out and saw the pear tree. But it was winter, and the son
saw the tree on a harsh winter day and reported back and said to his
Hugh Hewitt [pictured at the left], for those who do not know him, is an extraordinary man, a lawyer, author, columnist and talk-show host. Victor Davis Hanson, one of the wisest of men, a historian and classicist, sat down with Hewitt for an extraordinary two hour interview, the transcript of which can be found here. Their discussion covers the state of the world, the elections, the culture, and a whole lot more. Take the time to read it. You will be well rewarded. If you prefer, you can listen to the podcast of hour one, and the podcast of hour two. If I can find the time, I may later come back and provide some excerpts. Again, the transcript of the interview can be found here.
Recently I experienced an unusual weariness; indeed, a kind of mental strain. I had begun to find it difficult to concentrate heavily on anything without feeling pressure on my head. This experience reminded me of the astute observation G.K. Chesterton makes in his book Orthodoxy:
"Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion... To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.
Let no one draw the false conclusion that GKC has no use for reason. Not so. But he is making the point that reason has limitations and the healthy mind needs a balancing dose of imagination, poetry, mystery, and mysticism as well. GKC is one of a group of writers who have been extraordinarily influential in my life.
Dan Edelen, a blogger I just came across through an Evangelical Outpost link, has posted a meaty, thoughtful column that could provide grist for a discussion group for weeks. This year marks Dan's 30th year as a Christian. Fittingly, he lays out 100 lessons he has learned, a list he calls "basic truths God taught me that inform my every day." He begins:
In no particular order…
Love God. Love people. It’s that simple.
Anytime we interact with another person, we should ask the Lord, In what ways can I help this person grow closer to You?
Christians who take time to observe the world around them see God and gain wisdom.
The most worthy lessons of the Kingdom take the entirety of one’s life to fully learn.
You are never more alone than in an unfriendly church
Read on for the next 95. I think many of the other 95 truths are even more powerful and poignant than the first five (excepting #1, of course, which sums up everything).
The following came as an e-mail from a friend. It's not clear to me whom I should credit, so if you read this and recognize it, you can let me know. I thought it worth passing along.
God, grant me the Serenity to accept the
people I cannot change, the Courage to change the one I can, and the Wisdom
to know it's me.
1. God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts. 2.
Dear God, I have a problem, it's me. 3. Growing old is inevitable, growing UP
is optional. 4. There is no key to happiness. The door is always open. 5.
Silence is often misinterpreted but never misquoted. 6. Do the math. Count
your blessings. 7. Faith is the ability to not panic. 8. Laugh every day,
it's like inner jogging. 9. If you worry, you didn't pray. If you pray, don't
worry. 10. As a child of God, prayer is kind of like calling home
everyday. 11. Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of
shape. 12. The most important things in your house are the people. 13.
When we get tangled up in our problems, be still. God wants us to be still so
He can untangle the knot. 14. A grudge is a heavy thing to carry. 15. He
who dies with the most toys is still dead.