Snippets of Truth ... or Not

>> Friday, September 30, 2011

- Never argue with an idiot. He'll drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

- The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.

- If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

- We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

- Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

- The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

- How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?

- I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

- A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

- You don't need a parachute to skydive, but you do need one to skydive again.

- The voices in my head may be fake, but they have good ideas!

- Hospitality is making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were.

- I scream the same way whether I'm about to be eaten by a shark or seaweed touches my foot.

- Some cause happiness wherever they go, others whenever they go.

 (Author Unknown)


Click on the Save Button

>> Thursday, September 29, 2011

With the advent of computers, common words with new meanings have entered our vocabulary. One with which I am very familiar is the save button. When I am writing an article or blog, I click save regularly. That’s why the t-shirt with the picture of earth … a save button … and a hand ready to click on the button caught my attention. I bought it … and am wearing it as I type.  

Our earth is in dire need of saving.  

According to the World Hunger Education Service, there were 925 million hungry people in the world in 2010. I can’t even wrap my mind around that many starving and malnourished people. On top of that, we have been besieged with flooding … hurricanes … tornadoes … earthquakes … tsunamis and out of control fires. Countries are being overthrown … economic crisis is rampant … and over one million people die by suicide worldwide each year (International Suicide Statistics).  

It’s time to click on that save button now.  

But as a Christ-follower, I see another meaning for the word save. Missionaries travel around the world to spread the good news about Jesus. Ministers stand behind pulpits on Sunday morning, declaring God’s love for a hurting world. But it takes more than that. One individual … living a life of integrity … following the precepts of Jesus … speaks volumes to the people in their world.  

Our earth is in dire need of saving … and that endeavor starts with me … and you.  

“But how can people call for help if they don't know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven't heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them?” Romans 10:14-15 (MSG) 


Straw or Hay ... What's the Difference?

>> Tuesday, September 27, 2011

As I turned the corner and pulled in the parking lot, the signs at the feed store next door caught my attention. There were two stacks of bailed something. One stack had a sign that said “Straw.” The other stack’s sign said “Hay.” And they looked just exactly alike. I climbed from my car and moved closer … trying to discern the difference.  

To my eye, they were the same.  

I worked all day, but when it came time to leave, I took one last look at the two stacks … and then took a picture. I was intrigued. When I got home I searched for the definitions of straw and hay.  

Straw is the stalks of grain after threshing … used for bedding or packing. And beneath that definition was the word – chaff. So I was off and running … looking up that word.  

Chaff is the seed coverings and other debris separated from the seed in threshing grain.  

On the other hand, hay is grass that has been mowed and cured for fodder … which led me to look up the word fodder.  

Fodder is something fed to domestic animals … especially coarse food for cattle, horses or sheep.  

And while all this was banging around in my head, I kept remembering scriptures … that talked about chaff and threshing floors … causing separation.  

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

But not the wicked!
They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.” Psalm 1:1-4 (NLT)

Or what about this one?

“He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.” Matthew 3:12 (NLT)

The worthless chaff is burned.  

Hay is useful and straw is worthless. But to the untrained eye, they look exactly the same. I can look, act, talk, dress and read my Bible like a Christ-follower. My money can be used to help the poor and I can spend my time doing good works. To the untrained eye, I look like a Christ-follower.  

But I know if I’m straw or hay … and so does Jesus.


The Little Firefighter

>> Monday, September 26, 2011

This story is from 1981 … a story of the first child to be helped by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. That Foundation made contact with the Phoenix Fire Department to fulfill Bopsy’s wish.  

In Phoenix, AZ a 26-year old mother stared down at her son who was dying of terminal leukemia. Although her heart was filled with sadness, she also had a strong feeling of determination. Like any parent, she wanted her son to grow up and fulfill all his dreams. Now that was no longer possible. She took her son’s hand and asked, “Bopsy, did you ever think about what you wanted to be when you grew up?” 

“I always wanted to be a fireman.”  

Mom smiled and said, “Let’s see if we can make your wish come true.”  

In her research, she discovered the Make-A-Wish Foundation … who contacted firefighter Bob Walp who was well known to children in Phoenix as “Fireman Bob” on the popular “Wallace and Ladmo” television program. Fireman Bob had a heart as big as Phoenix. She explained her son’s final wish and asked if it might be possible to give her seven-year old son a ride around the block on a fire engine.  

Fireman Bob said,” We can do better than that. If you’ll have your son ready at 7:00 Wednesday morning, we’ll make him an honorary fireman for the whole day He can come down to the fire station and eat with us. If you’ll give us his sizes, we’ll get a real fire uniform for him, with a real fire hat with the emblem of the Phoenix Fire Department on it, a yellow slicker like we wear and rubber boots.”  

Three days later, Fireman Bob picked up Bopsy, dressed him in his fire uniform and escorted him from his hospital bed to the waiting hook and ladder truck. Bopsy got to sit on the back of the truck and help steer it back to the fire station, where he got to use a fire hose. The day ended with his being given a firefighter badge.  

Bopsy was in heaven.  

One night all of his vital signs began to drop dramatically and the head nurse, who believed in the hospice concept that no one should die alone, began to call the family members to his bedside. Then she remembered the day Bopsy had spent as a fireman, so she called the Fire Chief and asked if it would be possible to send a fireman in uniform to the hospital to be with Bopsy as he made his transition. The Chief replied,” We can do better than that. We’ll be there in five minutes. Will you please do me a favor? When you hear the sirens screaming and see the lights flashing, will you announce over the PA system that there is not a fire? It’s just the fire department coming to see one of its finest members one more time. And will you open the window to his room?”  

About five minutes later a hook and ladder truck arrived at the hospital and extended its ladder up to Bopsy’s third floor open window. Five firefighters climbed up the ladder and into Bopsy’s room. They hugged him and held him and told him how much they loved him. Bopsy looked up at the fire chief and asked, “Chief, am I really a fireman now?”  

“Bopsy, you are, and the Head Chief, Jesus, is holding your hand.”

 After a visit, prompting some smiles from Bopsy, the firemen left, exiting through the window and down the ladder. Bopsy died later that evening.

“He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, "Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me." Mark 9:36-37 (MSG)


Pain Tolerance

>> Saturday, September 24, 2011

It hadn’t started out that way. I had gone to the dentist to get a filling. The more the dentist worked on my tooth, the more sounds he was making. Finally he said, “This tooth has metastasized from the inside. I think we are going to have to do a root canal.”  

Metastasized? Root canal? Were these words I understood?  

And so he explained the decay had started inside my tooth and spread to the outside. Therefore, a filling would not work. I needed a root canal.  

“Does a root canal hurt?”  


“How long does it hurt?”  

“Not very long.”  

“Ok, go ahead.”  

Since I have a reaction to the deadening used when working on teeth, I had received no shot. I was giving him permission to continue working on me without any anesthetic.  

I can attest to the fact that root canals do, indeed, hurt.  

Then he said, “I’ve never been able to do this before. I can ask you if I got it all.” As he probed into the depth of my root, I jerked, thereby letting him know he hadn’t gotten it all.   

I don’t recommend getting a root canal without deadening.  

But how many times do we start out with a certain end in mind and halfway into the situation, things change. And due to ignorance or fear, we continue in the same direction, even though the outcome will not be at all what we anticipated.  

The new job may sound great on paper … and in the job interview. But after you quit your current job, move to another city and ensconce yourself in your new office, you discover there are some issues you hadn’t counted on. And it’s too late to go back. So you say to yourself, “Ok, we’ll just go ahead.”  

Being charged with aiding and abetting in illegal activities hurts.  

You buy a house, the market tanks … you struggle to make the house payments. The value of the houses in your neighborhood drop … and soon you owe more than the house is worth. How long do you say, “Ok, we’ll just go ahead?”  

Being upside down in your mortgage hurts.  

And even though we don’t see the persecution of Christ-followers in the United States, there are people in other countries who are beaten and tortured for their beliefs. They lose their freedom, their families and their health.  

Being a true believer to the very end hurts.  

It’s all a matter of pain tolerance. How’s yours?

”But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.” John 15:21 (NASB)  


A Man's Wish

>> Friday, September 23, 2011

A man was sick and tired of going to work every day while his wife stayed home. He wanted her to see what he went through so he prayed, "Dear Lord, I go to work every day and put in eight hours while my wife merely stays at home. I want her to know what I go through, so please create a trade in our bodies." God, in his infinite wisdom, granted the man's wish. 

The next morning, sure enough, the man awoke as a woman. He arose, cooked breakfast for his mate, awakened the kids, set out their school clothes, fed them breakfast, packed their lunches, drove them to school, came home and picked up the dry cleaning, took it to the cleaners and stopped at the bank to draw out money to pay the power bill and telephone bill, drove to the power company and the phone company and paid the bills, went grocery shopping, came home and put away the groceries. He cleaned the cat's litter box and bathed the dog. Then it was already 1 p.m. and he hurried to make the beds, do the laundry, vacuum, dust, and sweep and mop the kitchen floor.

Ran to the school to pick up the kids and got into an argument with them on the way home. Set out cookies and milk and got the kids organized to do their homework, then set up the ironing board and watched TV while he did the ironing. At 4:30 he began peeling potatoes and washing greens for salad, breaded the pork chops and snapped fresh beans for supper.

After supper he cleaned the kitchen, ran the dishwasher, folded laundry, bathed the kids, and put them to bed. At 9 p.m. he was exhausted and, though his daily chores weren't finished, he went to bed where he was expected to make love -- which he managed to get through without complaint.

The next morning he awoke and immediately knelt by the bed and said, "Lord, I don't know what I was thinking. I was so wrong to envy my wife's being able to stay home all day. Please, oh please, let us trade back."

The Lord, in his infinite wisdom, replied, "My son, I feel you have learned your lesson and I will be happy to change things back to the way they were. You'll have to wait 9 months, though. You got pregnant last night.

(Author Unknown)


The Waiting Place

>> Thursday, September 22, 2011

I worked as a Nurse’s Aide in a nursing home. My shock and dismay over the treatment of the patients who resided there had been almost overwhelming. What mattered to them was the money. It seemed no one saw those people as human beings.

In the twelve months I had been employed there, Anna had never had a visitor. When I had a break, I would sit by her bed and hold her hand. Paralyzed by a stroke, her eyes were the only part of her body that contained a spark of life. Now she was slowly dying.

My shift was over and I headed for the door to leave … but I overheard the conversation about Anna at the nurse’s station. Plans were already being made for the new patient who would occupy that room. The new patient’s family had been called. It was only a matter of time.

Immediately I made a U-turn, catching the attention of the nursing supervisor.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“To be with Anna,” was my simple reply.

“Oh, that’s not part of your job. You can go on home,” she said brusquely.

“I don’t want her to die alone,” I said softly. “I will sit with her.”

“Just make sure you clock out first. We won’t pay you for staying,” was her terse answer.

Anna heard me enter. Her eyes locked with mine. She knew. I sat down and took her lifeless hand in mine. I leaned close to her face and said, “Anna, I know you can hear me. I just want you to know I will be here with you.”

Tears leaked out of her eyes and ran toward her ears. I wiped them away.

“Anna, do you know Jesus? Blink twice if the answer is yes.”
Instantly she closed her eyes and opened them twice.

“Then soon you will be free of this body and be running and jumping down the streets of gold. Are you ready for that?”

Two blinks … and more tears down the cheeks. Once again I gently wiped them away. I had never done this before. A part of me wanted to leave the room and forget it was happening.

But I could not leave her alone.

I sang softly … and prayed and kept my eyes locked on hers. When they closed, I felt a catch in my breath. But the rise and fall of her chest told me … not yet.

It didn’t take long. She was ready. Anna gently slipped away. I sat there in silence.

I conjured up a mental image of Anna … whole again. I had been witness to a wonderful passing. Selfishly I hoped I would never end up like Anna … an active mind trapped in a lifeless body. I prayed I would remember this moment of Anna’s release.

Still holding her hand, my reverie was interrupted by the strident voice of the nursing supervisor. “Why didn’t you tell us she died? We need to get this room stripped and disinfected. The new patient is arriving at 8:00.” I was ushered from the room as the flurry of activity began.

I wondered what they planned to do with Anna’s body. But Anna no longer cared. She was free.

So then, there is still awaiting a full and complete Sabbath-rest reserved for the people of God; for he who has once entered God's rest also has ceased from the weariness and pain of human labors … ” Hebrews 4:9-10 (AMP)


Noah's Ark

>> Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A working replica of Noah’s Ark opened in Schagen, Netherlands. A man built Noah’s Ark to the exact scale given in the Bible.  

The massive central door in the side of the ark was opened and the first crowd of curious townsfolk beheld the wonder. This replica of the biblical Ark was built by Dutch Creationist Johan Huibers as a testament to his faith in the literal truth of the Bible.  

The ark is 150 cubits long, 30 cubits high and 20 cubits wide. That’s 2/3 the length of a football field and as high as a three-story house.  

Life-sized models of giraffes, elephants, lions, crocodiles, zebras, bison and other animals greet visitors as they arrive in the main hold.  

A contractor by trade, Huibers built the ark of cedar and pine. Biblical scholars debate exactly what the wood used by Noah would have been. 

Huibers did the work mostly with his own hands, using modern tools and with occasional help from his son, Roy. Construction began in May, 2005. On the uncovered top deck … not quite ready in time for the opening … is a petting zoo, with baby lambs and chickens, goats and one camel.  

Visitors on the first day were stunned. “It’s beyond comprehension,” said Mary Louise Starosciak, who happened to be bicycling by with her husband while on vacation when the saw the ark looming over the local landscape. “I knew the story of Noah, but I had no idea the boat would have been so big!”  

There is enough space near the keel for a 50-seat film theater when kids can watch a video that tells the story of Noah and his ark. Huibers, a Christian man, said he hopes the project will renew interest in Christianity in the Netherlands, where church going has fallen dramatically in the past 50 years.

"Build yourself a ship from teakwood. Make rooms in it. Coat it with pitch inside and out. Make it 450 feet long, seventy-five feet wide, and forty-five feet high. Build a roof for it and put in a window eighteen inches from the top; put in a door on the side of the ship; and make three decks, lower, middle, and upper.” Genesis 6:14-16 (MSG)


To The Rescue

>> Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The car and motorcycle collided … and burst into flames. The 21-year old young man who had been on the motorcycle now lay unconscious under the burning car. In the scene that was shown repeatedly on television, bystanders rushed to help. The first few people could not lift the car … but more men and women hurried to place their hands on the side of the vehicle and assist in the lifting. Even though there was an imminent danger of explosion, soon there were enough good Samaritans to raise the car off the young man … enabling him to be pulled to safety.  

As I watched the rescue unfold, I thought of the people in my life that had helped assist me. No one made them do it. They saw the peril I was in and came to my aid. A brother who drove across two states to sit on my front porch and give me clear counsel … advice I never would have sought. A different brother who placed his arms around me as he stood in my living room … saying “There’s something terribly wrong in this home.” Until then I had no idea the issues were visible to anyone else.  

A pastor who understood I was going under … who asked me what my name was. And then he continued to talk to me like I was a real person … not invisible. A different pastor who helped me understand I had value … even though I was a battered and bruised specimen of a human being.  

My list could go on and on.  

I don’t know which side of this scenario describes you. Today you may be in need of aid. People truly do care and want to help. The real issue is … you have to be willing to accept their assistance. Pride can get in the way. Would you really rather stay under that burning car than suffer the indignity of being pulled out by one leg … your lifeless body sprawled on the street … for the world to see.  

None of us know when there might be a collision … either one we witness … or one which involves us. But we are all in this life together.  

Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.  

By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.  

Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’  

Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.  

The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”  

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” Luke 10:30-37 (NLT)


It Happens Every Friday

>> Monday, September 19, 2011

McClatchy Newspapers

Over the last 12 months, 1,042 soldiers, Marines, sailors and Air Force personnel have given their lives in the terrible duty that is war. Thousands more have come home on stretchers, horribly wounded and facing months or years in military hospitals. This week, I'm turning my space over to a good friend and former roommate, Army Lt. Col. Robert Bateman, who recently completed a yearlong tour of duty in Iraq and is now back at the Pentagon. Here's Lt. Col. Bateman's account of a little-known ceremony that fills the halls of the Army corridor of the Pentagon with cheers, applause and many tears every Friday morning. It first appeared on May 17 on the Weblog of media critic and pundit Eric Alterman at the Media Matters for America Website.

"It is 110 yards from the "E" ring to the "A" ring of the Pentagon. This section of the Pentagon is newly renovated; the floors shine, the hallway is broad, and the lighting is bright. At this instant the entire length of the corridor is packed with officers, a few sergeants and some civilians, all crammed tightly three and four deep against the walls. This hallway, more than any other, is the `Army' hallway. The G3 offices line one side, G2 the other, G8 is around the corner. All Army! Moderate conversations flow in a low buzz. Friends, who may not have seen each other for a few weeks, or a few years, spot each other, cross the way and renew.

Everyone shifts to ensure an open path remains down the center. The air conditioning system was not designed for this press of bodies in this area. The temperature is rising already. Nobody cares. "10:36 hours: The clapping starts at the E-Ring. That is the outermost of the five rings of the Pentagon and it is closest to the entrance to the building. This clapping is low, sustained and hearty. It is applause with a deep emotion behind it as it moves forward in a wave down the length of the hallway.

A steady rolling wave of sound it is, moving at the pace of the soldier in the wheelchair who marks the forward edge with his presence. He is the first. He is missing the greater part of one leg, and some of his wounds are still suppurating. By his age I expect that he is a private, or perhaps a private first class.

Captains, majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels meet his gaze and nod as they applaud, soldier to soldier. Three years ago when I described one of these events, those lining the hallways were somewhat different. The applause a little more wilder perhaps in private guilt for not having shared in the burden ... Yet. Now almost everyone lining the hallway is, like the man in the wheelchair, also a combat veteran. This steadies the applause, but I think deepens the sentiment. We have all been there now. The soldier's chair is pushed by, a full colonel.

Behind him, and stretching the length from Rings E to A, come more of his peers, each private, corporal, or sergeant assisted as need be by a field grade officer. 11:00 hours: Twenty-four minutes of steady applause. My hands hurt, and I laugh to myself at how stupid that sounds in my own head. My hands hurt. Please! Shut up and clap. For twenty-four minutes, soldier after soldier has come down this hallway - 20, 25, 30. Fifty-three legs come with them, and perhaps only 52 hands or arms, but down this hall came 30 solid hearts.

They pass down this corridor of officers and applause, and then meet for a private lunch, at which they are the guests of honor, hosted by the generals. Some are wheeled along. Some insist upon getting out of their chairs, to march as best they can with their chin held up, down this hallway, through this most unique audience. Some are catching handshakes and smiling like a politician at a Fourth of July parade. More than a couple of them seem amazed and are smiling shyly.

There are families with them as well: the 18-year-old war-bride pushing her 19-year-old husband's wheelchair and not quite understanding why her husband is so affected by this, the boy she grew up with, now a man, who had never shed a tear is crying; the older immigrant Latino parents who have, perhaps more than their wounded mid-20s son, an appreciation for the emotion given on their son's behalf. No man in that hallway, walking or clapping, is ashamed by the silent tears on more than a few cheeks. An Airborne Ranger wipes his eyes only to better see. A couple of the officers in this crowd have themselves been a part of this parade in the past.

These are our men, broken in body they may be, but they are our brothers, and we welcome them home. This parade has gone on, every single Friday, all year long, for more than four years.”

“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:10 (NLT)


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