Thought of the Week Page 13
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"I think that all right-thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that ordinary, decent people are fed up in this country with being sick and tired. I'm certainly not! But I'm sick and tired of being told that I am!"

~Monty Python

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"Forgiveness doesn't excuse their behavior. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart."

~Unknown

 

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"Mix a little foolishness with your serious plans: it's lovely to be silly at the right moment."

--Horace, Epistles

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"It is my heart-warm and world-embracing Christmas hope and aspiration that all of us, the high, the low, the rich, the poor, the admired, the despised, the loved, the hated, the civilized, the savage (every man and brother of us all throughout the whole earth) may eventually be gathered together in a heaven of everlasting rest and peace and bliss, except the inventor of the telephone."

-Mark Twain

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"How proper it is that Christmas should follow Advent. For him who looks toward
the future, the manger is situated on Golgotha, and the cross has already
been raised in Bethlehem."

DAG HAMMARSKJÖLD (1905-1961) (1)

1. Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World, Copyright © 1992 by Edythe Draper. Used with permission

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It has seemed to me fit and proper that [the gifts of God] should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens . . . to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

--Thanksgiving proclamation, 1863, Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

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The tragedy of life is not death, but what dies inside while we are living...

We must recognize that we get our basic energy not from turbines but from hope. (1)

1. Norman Cousins, as quoted by Laurel Arthur Burton's Making Chaplaincy Work: Practical Approaches (Haworth, 1991), as cited by Marty E. Marty in Context, July 15,1991, 3. Cited in Homiletics on Line. Used with permission.

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A teacher asked a small boy a question:

"If you have two apples, and I ask for one, how many will you have left?"

Without hesitation the boy replied: "Two."

This is not mistaken mathematics, but a basic mistaken attitude toward life: What's mine is mine, and sharing is an option.

But is it?

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This is an old, old story. But it deserves to be shared with each new generation.

A woman of immense wealth dreamed she went to heaven and was met by the angel Gabriel, who proceeded to give her a tour of the celestial city. First, she saw a palatial estate that belonged to her former maid. Then Gabriel showed her a mansion, where her former chauffeur lived. Finally, Gabriel gave her a sneak preview of her home - a shack in the back of the maid's palace.

Taken aback, the woman protested: But I lived in a palace on earth!

The angel Gabriel replied, I'm sorry. This is the best we could do with the material you sent up.

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Some churches will try anything to win friends and influence people. Richard John Neuhaus reports: A Canadian paper reports that an Anglican church in downtown Toronto is trying a novel approach to attract new members. St. Stephen-in-the-Fields advertises that it offers a warranty that it welcomes everyone, regardless of class, sexual orientation or marital status, and will not tell you how to dress, feel, or act.1

Now why hasn't someone thought of that before?

1First Things, August-September, 1998, 83.

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Some high school sophomores were given an assignment to write an essay outlining their definition of love. Among the responses was this one: "Life is one thing after another. Love is two things after each other." Another student wrote "Love is the feeling in your stomach of butterflies wearing roller skates." The one that took the prize, however, was this one: "Love is that feeling you feel when you feel you are going to have a feeling you have never felt before." (1)

How would you define love?

1. Homiletics Online (http://www.homileticsonline.com) Looking for Love in the Classifieds and All the Wrong Places, © 3/10/1991, Used with permission.

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Skill, Talent (1)

Morris, the loudmouth mechanic, was removing the cylinder heads from the motor of a car when he spotted a famous heart surgeon who was standing off to the side, waiting for the service manager to come take a look at his Mercedes.

Morris shouted across the garage, "Hey Doc! Is dat you? Come on ova' here a minute."

The famous surgeon, a bit surprised, walked over to where Morris the mechanic was working on the car.

Morris straightened up, wiped his hands on a rag, and asked argumentatively, "So, Mr. Fancy Doctor, look at dis here work. I ALSO open hearts, take valves out, grind 'em, put in new parts, and when I finish dis baby will purr like a kitten. So how come you get da big bucks, when you an' me is doing basically da same work?"

The surgeon leaned over and whispered to Morris the loudmouth mechanic, "Try doing it with the engine running."

1. Mikey's Funnies [mikeys-funnies-owner@YouthSpecialties.com]

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Christian? (1)

George was sitting at a stoplight this morning. The lady in front of him was going through papers on the seat of her car, and when the light changed to green, she did not obey its command. A green light is a commandment--not a suggestion.

When the light turned to red and she had still not moved, he began (with his windows up) screaming epithets and beating on the steering wheel. His expressions of distress were interrupted by a policeman, gun drawn, tapping on his window.

Against his protestations of, "You can't arrest me for hollering in my car," the policeman ordered him into the back seat of his.

After about two hours in a holding cell, the arresting officer advised him he was free to go. He said, "I knew you couldn't arrest me for what I was yelling in my own car. You haven't heard the last of this."

The officer replied, "I didn't arrest you for shouting in your car. I was directly behind you at the light. I saw you screaming and beating your steering wheel, and I said to myself, "What a jerk. But there is nothing I can do to him for throwing a fit in his own car. Then I noticed the cross hanging from your rearview mirror, the fish on the trunk lid and the "My boss is a Jewish Carpenter," and the "Jesus is Coming Soon" bumper stickers, and I thought you must have stolen the car from a Christian."

1. Source unknown.

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The philosopher W. P. Montague suggested that this question be foremost in our minds every morning: "Are the things that matter most finally at the mercy of the things that matter least?"

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After publishing Anna Karenina, (Leo) Tolstoy fell into a deep depression. He was healthy, and he had plenty of money, but he felt that life had no purpose. He noticed that the peasants on his estate wore ragged clothes, lived in leaky huts, and had no way of improving their lives, but they were happy. He came to believe that they knew the meaning of life, so he renounced all his property and became a peasant. He learned to make his own food and clothes, and lived in a hut. He started to write theology and philosophy and founded his own form of Christianity. He became a kind of prophet, and people from all over the world visited him and wrote to him, including Woodrow Wilson and Mahatma Gandhi.

"Leo Tolstoy said, 'In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.'" (1)

If you cease your work and look around you, you may not see or do what Tolstoy saw and did, however you may see enough to develop a deeper sense of empathy that will lead you to a deeper appreciation of life and other people. (LRS)

1. Garrison Keillor, "The Writer's Almanac," Minnesota Public Radio, September 9, 2003

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What Could God Do with a Complete Ass? (1)

St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars, was not noted for his repartee, but when one of his professors called him a "complete ass" and wondered what he could ever accomplish, he replied, "If Samson, armed only with the jawbone of an ass, could kill 1,000 Philistines, imagine what God could do with a complete ass." (Check out Judges 15.14-17)

1. Catholic Digest, Feb. 92, p. 100.

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"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be,
and you help them to become what they are capable of being."

--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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I want to be the white mans brother, not his brother-in-law.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (19291968)

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In their book Sacred Bull: The Inner Obstacles That Hold You Back at Work and How to Overcome Them (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1994), Albert J. Bernstein and Sydney Craft Rozen list these ten Sacred Bulls as the key assumptions we live by that are wrong for the new world. The rest of the book explicates each one of these Sacred Bulls.

  1. Denial: I dont see the problem so it isnt there.
  2. Blind Spots and Shortcuts: What I dont like cant be important.
  3. Self-Interest: Always look out for Number One.
  4. Mind Reading: People should know what I want without being told.
  5. Blame: If something goes wrong, it has to be somebodys fault.
  6. Being Nice: Avoid conflict at all cost.
  7. Perfection: If its not perfect, its nothing.
  8. Fairness: I dont need to negotiate for what I want; I just want fairness.
  9. Excuses: Theres always a good reason why I dont follow the rules everyone else works by.
  10. Being Right: Theres a right way and a wrong way; my way is right.

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Home is where life makes up its mind. It is there--with fellow family members--we hammer out our convictions on the anvil of relationships. It is there we cultivate the valuable things in life, like attitudes, memories, beliefs, and most of all, character. (1)

CHARLES R. SWINDOLL

1. Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World Copyright © 1992 by Edythe Draper Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois (Used with permission)

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Out of the mouths of babes come words we shouldnt have said in the first place.

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A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds.

English Proverb

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"Healing is possible...even when a cure is not." (1)

1. Bill Moyers on the Public Television series
Healing and the Mind (New York: Ambrose Video Publishing, Inc., 1993).

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Jewish author Isaac Singer was once asked whether he believed in free will or determinism. Singer responded: "That's a very easy question. We have to believe in free will. We have no choice."

Quoted in The Christian Century, May 17, 2003, p. 7

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"Courage is not the absence of fear,
but resistance to it. for people of faith,
it means trusting God
in the face of our vulnerabilities."

sojo.net May 23, 2003

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"Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take with forgetting."

Elizabeth Bibesco

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The Band-Aid was 75 years old in 1996 . One of its major uses, however, is not to cover wounds, or scrapes, or blisters, or burns or punctures. One of its major uses is to heal emotions, not the wounds.

Children get Band-Aids after vaccinations, or as treats, because it makes the shot hurt less emotionally. Dr. Paula Prezioso, a professor of pediatrics at New York University Medical Center, says I'm constantly amazed after giving an injection, when I put the Band-Aid on, the crying stops. (1)

1. As quoted in 75 Years of Stick-to-it-ivity, AP article, September 22, 1996.

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Thoughts on War and Peace for Memorial Day

"I intend to leave after my death a large fund for the promotion of the peace idea, but I am skeptical as to its results. The savants will write excellent volumes. There will be laureates. But wars will continue just the same until the force of circumstances renders them impossible." Alfred Bernhard Nobel (1833-1896)

"Nations have found
Cohesion in war and dispersion in peace;
Wisdom in war and deception in peace;
Training in war and betrayal in peace."

Yates Sterling (1873-1942)

"The best soldier is not warlike; the best fighter is never angry; the best conqueror takes no part in war." Lao-tse (c. 604-c. 531 b.c.)

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"An observer asked Lyman Beecher how it was that he had so many converts. Dr. Beecher answered, 'I preach on Sunday and I have 400 members who preach every day, and that is the way, with the blessing of God, that we are doing so well.'" (1)

1. William R. Key, The 'What Is' and 'How To' of Evangelism, The Foundation for Evangelism Web Site, www.evangelize.org/articles/article22.htm, July 6, 1999.

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A CONSTANT REMINDER OF WHO WE ARE (1)

Do you remember the story of David Copperfield? He became an outcast at an early age and was thrown into the streets. All around him were the vilest associations and the strongest temptations. But in all of his wanderings he carried in his mind a picture of his mother. He kept that picture before him night and day, wherever he went.

1. Source Unknown

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Lucy Overlooking Faults (1)

Linus of PEANUTS fame had his security blanket in place and his thumb in his mouth but he was still troubled.

Turning to Lucy, who was sitting next to him, he asked, "Why are you always so anxious to criticize me?"

Her response was typical Lucy: "I just think I have the knack for seeing other people's faults."

Exasperated, Linus threw his hands up and asked, "What about your own faults?"

Without hesitation, Lucy answered, "I have the knack for overlooking them."

Question: Is this good or something else?

1. Church Management, March 1992, p. 4, quoting "Our Daily Bread," 8-4-91.

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You can't please everyone, can you?

Is There Anything God Cannot Do? (1)

A third grade Sunday School teacher was making the point with her class that God was omnipotent-that He was able to do anything.

She asked the class, "Is there anything that you can think of that God cannot do?"

There was silence. Then one little boy held up his hand.

Somewhat frustrated that the point had been lost on this little boy, she asked, "Well, just what is it that God can't do?"

"Well," replied the boy, "He can't please everybody!"

1. as told by Don Emmitte

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If your going to criticize than you need to play or as J. F. Kennedy told it:

J. F. Kennedy's Favorite Baseball Story (1)

In John F. Kennedy's Administration, the pundits wrote an endless series of columns offering advice as to how he could do a better job.

That prompted him to tell a favorite story. "There was once a legendary baseball player," said Kennedy. "He never failed to hit when at bat and never dropped a ball. Grounders never dribbled between his legs. He threw with unerring accuracy. In the field and on the bases he had the speed and grace of a leopard. He never tired or missed a signal. In fact, he would have been one of the all-time greats except for one thing no one was ever able to get him to put down his beer and hot dog and come out of the press box to play."

1. Morris K. Udall with Bob Neuman and Randy Udall, TOO FUNNY TO BE PRESIDENT (Henry Holt & Co.)

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Be careful what you say!

Terrible Voice, Terrible Song (1)

A young man was sitting in the concert hall listening to a soloist perform. She really wasn't very good. When he turned to the man seated beside him, he remarked, "What a terrible voice! Do you know who she is?" "Yes," was the answer. "She's my wife." "Oh, I beg your pardon. Of course, it isn't her voice, really. It's the stuff she has to sing. I wonder who wrote that awful song?" "I did," was the answer!

1. As told by Don Emmitte

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I would pay any price to be able to say truthfully, "All will be saved." But my reason retorts, "Without their will, or with it?" If I say, "Without their will," I at once perceive a contradiction; how can the supreme voluntary act of self-surrender be involuntary? If I say, "With their will," my reason replies, "How if they will not give in?"

C. S. Lewis (18981963)

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I used to think that Gods gifts were on shelves one above the other and that the taller we grew in Christian character the more easily we could reach them. I now find that Gods gifts are on shelves one beneath the other and that it is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower.

F. B. Meyer (18471929)

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We have forgotten we are God's people, and we have fallen into the worship of American gods. Now God's word to us is to return. Church historians may someday describe our period as the American captivity of the church. It is no less real than the Babylonian Captivity in the history of Israel. Trapped in our false worship, we no longer experience the freedom that is our birthright in Jesus Christ. (1)

1. Jim Wallis, The Call to Conversion (HarperSanFrancisco, 1992), 31.

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The church must once again exhibit the prophetic spirit of critique against the false directions of the contemporary world. As T. S. Eliot put it in The Family Reunion ([London: Faber and Faber, 1939], pt. 2, sc. 2).

In a world of fugitives, 
The person taking the opposite direction
Will appear to run away
.

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An Amish man was once asked by an enthusiastic young evangelist whether he had been saved and whether he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

The gentleman replied, "Why do you ask me such a thing? I could tell you anything. Here is the name of my banker, my grocer and my farm hands. Ask THEM if I am saved."

-Kent Gilbert.

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"If there is no joy in your religion, there's
a leak in your Christianity somewhere."

Billy Sunday

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Christ did not shed his blood that we should spend our days as spiritual vultures, feeding on the carrion of other people's shortcomings. (1)

1. Edward John Carnell, review of A Theology of Culture (1959), by Paul Tillich, in Christianity Today (6 July 1959), 35. Cited in Homiletics on Line. Used with permission.,

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"As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is a mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength. Like all the Christian virtues, it is as unreasonable as it is indispensable."

G. K. Chesterton (18741936)

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A seeker after truth came to a saint for guidance. (1)
'Tell me please, wise one, how did you become holy?'
'Two words.'
'And what are they, please?'
'Right choices.'
'And how does one learn to choose correctly?'
'One word.'
'May I know it, please?'
'Growth.'
'How does one grow?'
'Two words.'
'What are those words, pray tell me?'
'Wrong choices.'"

1. As cited by William Boggs, Sin Boldly: But Trust God More Boldly Still (Nashville: Abingdon, 1990), 48.

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"I have been shocked by the number of Christian men and women who come to their deathbeds knowing nothing about the God of love and mercy. They have known instead the Judge of impossible standards, and they have been, naturally enough, afraid to meet that God." (1)

1. Eve Kavenaugh, Prayer of the Flesh, quoted in Practicing Our Faith (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1997), 172. Used by permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Here's some ancient wisdom that each generation discovers anew: Don't fret about what the world wants from you. Worry about what makes you come more alive. Because what the world really needs is people who are more alive.

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The Shakers taught that you make the back of the chair as well as the front, and the bottom of the chair as well as the top. Because, as they said, you wanted to make a chair that was fit for an angel to sit on.

Contrast that to this: My son and I were down in Orlando at Universal Studios. When the guide was showing us some of the film-set houses, he quipped, Nothing in Orlando is real that the camera doesn't see, and that's the modern way. It is the surface appearance that is important. What you are in private and on the inside is irrelevant (1)

Oh!

1. Michael Cromartie interview with Os Guinness, No Calling Without a Caller, Books & Culture, July/August 1998, 17. Cited in Homiletics on Line. Used with permission.

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I never wear a watch, because I always know it's now--and now is when you should do it."

Steve Mariucci, Head Coach, San Francisco 49ers

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"If you have no joy in your religion, theres a leak in your Christianity somewhere."

Billy Sunday (18621935)

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For most men the world is centered in self, which is misery: to have ones world centered in God is peace.

Donald Hankey (18741917)

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"Seen on a outdoor church sign:

When you were born, your mother brought you to church ...
When you were married, your wife brought you to church ...
When you die, your friends will bring you to church.
Why not try coming to church on your own sometime?

~Anonymous

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"The key to the understanding of hell is freedom: if we cannot choose between good and evil we are not free."

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"DISCIPLE" (1)

Jesus spoke of peace, and so do I.
Jesus spoke of joy, and so do I.
Jesus spoke of faith, and so do I.
Jesus spoke of judgment, and so do I.
Jesus spoke of sacrifice, and so do I.
Jesus spoke of pain, and so do I.
Jesus spoke of crucifixion, and so do I.
Jesus spoke of me, and I am silent.

1. "Disciple," Warren Lane Molton, from the July 3, 1968 issue of The Christian Century, page 872. Copyright 1968 Christian Century Foundation.

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"Most of us spend the first six days of the week sowing wild oats, then we go to church on Sunday and pray for a crop failure," --Fred Allen

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Barry Koltnow of The Orange County Register, Sunday, September 29, 2002 reports on an interview with Anthony Hopkins who is playing Hannibal Lechter for the third time. Hopkins comments on many things. One observation he made a distinct impression on me. He said:

"'I am fascinated by photos of beautiful actresses from the past. They look so magnificent with their hairdos and lip gloss. Yet at some point, that beauty all fell to pieces and they died. I find great solace in that. It proves that it happens to everyone, so why take any of this (that is acting) seriously?'" (1)

1. Sir Anthony speaks his mind, by Barry Koltnow, © The Orange County Register, (The Orange County Register, 625 N. Grand Avenue. Santa Ana, CA 92701) Sunday, September 29, 2002

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"Character is what you are in the dark."

Dwight Moody

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"A small church in rural Kentucky [prided itself on being a training ground for seminary students ministering in their first pastorate]. While interviewing pastoral candidates, a member of the search committee mentioned the former pastors who had gone on to serve in prominent capacities--one as president of a seminary and pastor of a large city church, another also as a seminary president and a third as president of two denominational conventions and an international alliance.

'How in the world did you find that many potentially great men in this little church?' the astonished candidate asked.

'Find them,' said the committee member. 'We didn't find them. We made them.'" (1)

1. Patricia Bolen, Moody, September 1994, quoted in Current Thoughts & Trends, 10 (October 1994): 23. © 2002 Communication Resources. All rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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As Gandhi stepped aboard a train one day, one of his shoes slipped off and landed on the track. He was unable to retrieve it as the train was moving. To the amazement of his companions, Gandhi calmly took off his other shoe and threw it back along the track to land close to the first.

Asked by a fellow passenger why he did so, Gandhi smiled. "The poor man who finds the shoe lying on the track," he replied, "will now have a pair he can use." (1)

1. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul (Deerfield Beach: Heath Communications, 1995), 72. © 2002, Communication Resources. All rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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Frederick Buechner on the church (1):

All the duplication of effort and waste of human resources. All the confusion about what the church is, both within the ranks and without. All the counterproductive competition. When Jesus took the bread and said, This is my body which is broken for you (1 Corinthians 11:24, KJV), it's hard to believe that, even in his wildest dreams, he foresaw the tragic and ludicrous brokenness of the church as his body. There's no reason why everyone should be Christian in the same way and every reason to leave room for differences, but if all the competing factions of Christendom were to give as much of themselves to the high calling and holy hope that unites them as they do now to the relative inconsequentialities that divide them, the church would look like the kingdom of God for a change and less like an ungodly mess.

1. Frederick Buechner, Whistling in the Dark: An ABC Theologized (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988), 33-34.

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"No one cares how much you know unless they know how much you care." (1)

1. Anonymous

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"A turtle lays thousands of eggs without anyone knowing, but when the hen lays an egg, the whole country is informed." (1)

1. Malayan proverb

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Happiness, heaven itself, is nothing but a perfect conformity, a cheerful and eternal compliance of all powers of the soul with the will of God. (2)

2. Samuel Shaw, 1699

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"Character is what you are in the dark." (1)

1. Dwight L. Moody

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Hatred bangs drums. Lust bangs the pulse. Anger bangs the fist. But complacency slides into the soul, unmurmuring, uninvited and unnoticed, with a warm and quilted aura of coziness. (1)

1. George William Rutler, The Seven Ages of Man (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991), 94.

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"Do you want to know one of the best ways to win over people and lead them to God? It consists in giving them joy and making them happy." (1)

1. St. Francis of Assisi (1226)

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"If one person calls you a horse, laugh at him; if the second person calls you a horse, think about it. If a third person calls you a horse, maybe you should go buy a saddle."

Ancient Hungarian proverb

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One day one of Mahatma Gandhi's disillusioned followers came up to him and said, "You have no integrity. Last week I heard you say one thing, and today you are saying something different. How do you justify such vacillation?"

Gandhi quietly replied, "It is simple, really, my son. I have learned something since last week."

When Gandhi learned new information, he sometimes changed his mind and altered his position. What do you do? (1)

1. 2002 Communication Resources, Inc. Cited in Homiletics on Line. Used with permission.

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"The Paradox of Our Time in History is that we spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less. We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; more medicine, but less wellness. We read too little, watch TV too much and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. These are the times of tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes. We've learned how to make a living, but not a life; we've added years to life, not life to years; we've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul." (1)

1. Anonymous, cited by David G. Myers, "Wanting More in an Age of Plenty," Christianity Today, April 24, 2000, 95. Cited in Homiletics on Line. Used with permission.

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