Thoughts of the Week Page 7
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So stuff is important. You gotta take care of your stuff. You gotta have a PLACE for your stuff. Everybody's gotta have a place for his stuff. That's what life is all about, tryin' to find a place for your stuff! That's all your house is. Your house is nothin' but a place to keep your stuff. If you didn't have so much stuff, you wouldn't need a house. You could just walk around all the time.

So that's all your house is. It's just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. You can see that when you're taking off in an airplane. You look down and see all the little piles of stuff. Everybody's got his own little pile of stuff. And they lock it up. That's right! When you leave your house you gotta lock it up. Wouldn't want somebody to come by and TAKE some of your stuff. 'Cause they always take the wrong stuff. They always take the GOOD stuff. They don't bother with that [junk] you're saving: National Geographics, commemorative plates, your prized collection of Central American underwear. Ain't nobody interested in your kid's fourth-grade arithmetic papers. They just want the GOOD stuff. The shiny stuff. The electronic stuff. (1)

1. George Carlin, A Place for Your Stuff, The Big Book of New American Humor (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1990), 193.

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Jewish rabbis tell a poignant story that drives home the point of Proverbs 18:21. As the story goes (and five versions of this appear in Greek literature). (1)

Rabbi Simeon ben Gamaliel one day asked his servant to go to buy some good food for him in the market. When the servant returned home, he presented the rabbi with a tongue.

The next day, the rabbi told the servant to go to the market to buy some bad food. Again, the servant returned with a tongue.

When the rabbi asked the servant why he returned with a tongue both times, the servant made this astute observation: "Good comes from it and bad comes from it. When the tongue is good, there is nothing better, and when it is bad, there is nothing worse."

Point well-made?

1. William R. Baker, Sticks & Stones: The Discipleship of Our Speech (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 17-18.

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One of the remarkable phenomena of our time is the persistence of the belief among those in power that we can coerce people into decent behavior if only we make punishment tough enough. We keep imagining that the problem is that young people aren't frightened enough, wrote Washington Post columnist William Raspberry in April 1995. The real problem is that our young people aren't hopeful enough.

Punishment can cause fear, but only forgiveness can create hope. Forgiveness makes it possible for sinners to change their ways, and perhaps even serve the people they have hurt.

My comment: Is Easter about forgiveness?

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Craig Bird in "Gearing Up for God," tells the story of two people living in different times. (1)

"Ancient Rome: Two strangers meet along a dusty road. Miles pass in pleasant conversation. Obscure references to religious ideas slip into the dialogue. The men sense a spiritual kinship but are wary of expressing it. After all, Christianity is a criminal offense punishable by death.

"They stop to rest. The discussion rambles from the latest war news to the price of bread and the hi-jinks of the Roman Senate. The younger of the two pushes his walking stick through the dust as he talks, tracing half an oval.

"The older man glances at the mark, then into the eyes of his new acquaintance, and quickly around to see who else might be paying attention. Then with his own staff, he draws a mirror image, connecting with the first line at one end but intersecting it at the other. "He is risen!" he exclaims. "He is risen indeed!" comes the reply.

"Modern Rome: Two American tourists meet while waiting to clear customs. One wears a $50 pullover knit shirt. The logo replicates what the ancient Christians drew in the dirt - an emblem of a fish. The other sports a baseball cap with a four-letter acronym on the crown: 4WWJD?

"Nice shirt," says one.

"Great hat," says the other."

Different folks, different strokes. Any better?

1. Craig Bird, "Gearing Up for God," cited on Beliefnet. © 2001 Communication Resources, Inc. Used with permission

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Barry Bailey asked his mother how her friend was doing. Son, she has been trying to die for years. Every time I see her or hear from her, she will say, 'I'm so glad to see you, Marguerite. I probably won't see you tomorrow because things are mighty bad. I don't know that I'll be here.' And then Bailey's mother said, If that woman ever worked as hard to live as she works to die, it's amazing how she might have enjoyed life. (1)

1. Barry Bailey, Mystery and Magic, 19 January 1992, Forth Worth, Texas

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A father and daughter were flying cross-country from New York to Los Angeles. The little girl kept looking out the window and exclaiming: "Daddy, Daddy, there's a river ... Look, Daddy, there's a farm ... and a barn. Daddy, Daddy, look at that hill down there ... and there's a beautiful pond with all sorts of ducks in it." The father was busy reading a book, and kept repeating "uh, huh, uh, huh," until he became a little irritated, then embarrassed by his daughter's excited chatter. Finally he turned to the passengers seated nearby and apologized: "Please forgive my daughter. She still thinks everything is wonderful."

Do you still think everything is wonderful? Are you living wonder-fully? Are you living awe-fully? Are you living power-fully?

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If you've been awakened, you want to awaken others, especially when the house is on fire. Don't let your church sound like Gore Vidal, who, when asked to reflect on the meaning of life by the editors of Life magazine, replied tartly: Actually, I do know the meaning of life. But I see no reason to share it. So have a nice millennium. (1)

1. David Friend and the Editors of Life, More Reflections on the Meaning of Life (Boston: Little Brown, 1992), 199.

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Subject: Thoughts for the Day
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2000 09:19:32 -0500
From: "Andrew Hemken"
To: "Pastor Shultz" <>

I thought you might be able to use some of these.

I do not know where Cheryl acquired these marvelous, thoughtful and humorous sayings, but I share them with you anyway. Enjoy!

Missive number two:

  1. In retrospect, "Let's get the goat drunk" should have been my cue to leave the party.
  3. Give me ambiguity or give me something else!
  5. Why would anyone be interested in the home game of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?"
  7. Everyone brings joy to this world - some by arriving, most by leaving.
  9. It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.
  11. Do you realize that in about 40 years, we'll have thousands of old ladies running around with tattoos?
  13. Married men live longer than single men,...But married men are a lot more willing to die!

Tip of the Day:

  1. Never fry bacon in the nude!
  2. Some weeks you really need Saturday on a Wednesday.
  3. It's not the money I want, it's the stuff.
  4. Originality is the art of concealing your sources.
  5. Justice: A decision in your favor.

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"Solomon once asked an old eagle what would happen to the world after they both died. 'One terrible winter,' replied the eagle, 'I was starving to death when I landed on a temple with a lead roof where a ceremony was in progress with men with long white beards. They saw me and someone shouted, "It's a hungry bird. Let's feed him." I was saved. Years later there was another terrible winter and I landed on a temple with a gold roof where a similar ceremony was being held ... They saw me and someone shouted, "It's a hungry bird. He wants to share our food. Kill him!" The world changes and usually for the worse ...' Come down, Lord, and change it for the better." (1)

1. Barnes, The Spirit of Man and More Barnes' People: Seven Monologues (London: Methuen Drama, 1990), 43-4.

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Sam Walton--nicknamed "Deacon" by his Bible class at church--developed these 10 steps to building a business:

1. Commit to the business.

2. Share the profits with your associates and treat them as partners.

3. Motivate your partners.

4. Communicate everything you possibly can to your partners.

5. Appreciate everything your associates do for the business.

6. Celebrate your success.

7. Listen to everyone in your company.

8. Exceed your customers' expectations.

9. Control your expenses better than your competition.

10. Swim upstream.

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It is 1979, a basketball game in the Brandeis gym. The team is doing well, and the student section begins a chant, "We're number one! We're number one!", Morrie [the professor] is sitting nearby. He is puzzled by the cheer. At one point, in the midst of "We're number one!" he rises and yells, "What's wrong with being number two?"

The students look at him. They stop chanting. He sits down, smiling and triumphant. (1)

1. Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie (New York: Doubleday, 1997), 159.

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"Think how different Scripture would be if it had been written by 17th-century Puritan settlers in America. The New England Puritans were suspicious of water and limited their liquid intake almost exclusively to fermented beverages. Water, in their life experiences, was used primarily for transport and for drowning."


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"One of the first things my father said when I started racing: Win the race as slow as you can."

Race-car driver Richard Petty, What I've learned, Esquire, August 2001, 120.

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A Turkish officer raided and looted an Armenian home. He killed the aged parents and gave the daughters to the soldiers, keeping the eldest daughter for himself. Some time later she escaped and trained as a nurse. As time passed, she found herself nursing in a ward of Turkish officers. One night, by the light of a lantern, she saw the face of this officer. He was so gravely ill that without exceptional nursing he would die. The days passed, and he recovered.

One day, the doctor stood by the bed with her and said to him, But for her devotion to you, you would be dead. He looked at her and said, We have met before, haven't we? Yes, she said, We have met before. Why didn't you kill me? he asked. She replied, I am a follower of him who said 'Love your enemies.' (1)

1. L. Gregory Jones, Embodying Forgiveness: A Theological Analysis
(Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), 265-266.

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And the Glory, Kneeling in Jerusalem(1)

The silence breaks into morning.
That One Star lights the world.
The lily springs to life and not even Solomon...
Let it begin with singing and never end!
Oh, angels, quit your lamenting!
Oh, pilgrims, upon your knees in tearful prayer,
Rise up and take your hearts and run!
We who were no people are named anew God's people,
For he who was no more is forevermore.

(1)Ann Weems, And the Glory, Kneeling in Jerusalem, (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992), 94.
(found in Homiletics on line, Used with permission.)

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Billy Graham once said:

I think everybody who loves Christ, or knows Christ, whether they are conscious of it or not, are members of the body of Christ...That's what God is doing today. He is calling people out of the world for his name, whether they come from the Muslim world or the Buddhist world or the Christian world or the non-believing world, they are members of the body of Christ because they have been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don't have and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think that they are saved and that they are going to be with us in heaven. (1)

1. Billy Graham, on Robert Schuller's Hour of Power, cited in Context:
Martin E. Marty on Religion and Culture, November 1, 1997. 4

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Gentle Folks Don't Whine

Dorothy Dix was once a famous advice columnist. The wisdom that made her column appeal to 30 million readers was a hard-won virtue. Dix got the job at a relatively young age, after her husband became very ill. Dix had to support herself and her husband for 35 years, until his death. When friends suggested that she get a divorce from her invalid spouse, she became quite angry. Her philosophy was, "I could not tell others to be strong if I myself did not have the strength to endure. My mother taught me to speak the truth, to fear God, and to remember that gentle folks don't whine." (1)

1. Morris Chalfant, "Where Was God When My Son Was Killed?"
The Preacher's Magazine, September/October/November 1992, p. 47.

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"The church is a space where people struggle together with all forces, bestial included, knowing the struggle will fail unless God shows mercy. The church is a place where every energy can be held and become transformed, made livable, made available, made fully accessible to the world." (1)

Thank God for the church and the people who keep it going!

1. Ann Belford Ulanov in The Wisdom of the Psyche (Cambridge, Mass.: Cowley Publications, 1988), 8.
Copyright Homiletics, February 9, 1992, Has He Appeared to You?, Used with permission

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Make Sure It's the Right Action

Gale-force winds and sub-zero temperatures had taken their toll: snapped electric wires were sparking and snaking dangerously about the ever-building snowdrifts. As a foot patrolman, I was assigned to a desolate intersection to provide security at the scene of a downed wire.

It was 12:40 a.m. and two degrees below zero when I relieved the initial guardian of this dangerous area. He pointed out the thin line swinging ferociously from the main electric circuit. As he entered the squad car for his return to warmth, I pulled my coat collar up to my earmuffs, tightened my scarf and placed myself in a position to protect the public.

Finally, at 4:40 a.m., a utility truck arrived. The linemen checked the wires, let out roaring bellows and continued laughing as they descended toward me. "Well, mate," one of them said, "Congratulations. You've successfully guarded a frozen kite string all night." (1)

Make sure its the right action? You bet!

1. Raymond E. Callahan (Narragansett, R.I.) in READER'S DIGEST

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Comedian Allen Rossi tells the story of a dream he had: "There I was, sitting at a Thanksgiving table, ready to dive in. I looked across the table, and I suddenly realized that I was having Thanksgiving dinner with God. Fantastic! Then God sneezed -- and I didn't know what to say."

What do you say? (If you have a suggestion, send it to me. Pastor Shultz)

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"If you don't feel strong enough, maybe you're not eating the right kind of bread. Try the Bread of Life."

A sign outside an Indiana church

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"Lord, grant me the wisdom to utter gracious and generous remarks today, for tomorrow I may have to eat them."

Mo Udall's politician's prayer

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Harleigh Rosenburg, in his book, Thoughts along the Way, asks this question, "How Expensive Are We to Others?"

To illustrate he writes about thinking of an acquaintance of years gone by, who might have been a wonderful person, yet actually had few friends. He always demanded attention for himself; he was jealous and envious; he could not bear for others to be praise unless he himself was commended; he was always being hurt by something said or unsaid; and he carried a perennial grudge against the world. He yearned to be liked and loved, but he was too expensive for Harleigh and his friends.

How expensive are you? It is a great question to contemplate. Greater than contemplation is seeking an answer in our daily lives and associations.

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David came home from third grade art class with this report. "They told us to draw ourselves," he said. "But without a mirror, I ended up drawing a total stranger."

From: Alberta M., Marion, Ind. Christian Reader, "Kids of the Kingdom.

What kind of mirror do you need? It is something to think about.

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"The story is told of a traveling vacuum cleaner salesman. His technique of sales was to get his foot in the door of a prospective home and throw a bag of manure on the entrance carpet before the resident had a chance to object.

As fate would have it, one day the salesman approached a home, knocked on the door, and as the elderly owner of the home answered the door, he threw a bag of manure on the carpet.

Before the woman could object, the salesman explained: 'Lady, this vacuum is so powerful, and I have so much confidence in its ability, that I believe this vacuum will pick up every speck of this manure or I will personally get on my hands and knees and pick up every speck by hand.'

"To which the lady replied, 'Well, come right on in, young man. We don't have any electricity.'" (1)

The salesperson was operating under several assumptions, both true and false. In what condition are my assumptions?

1. Richard P. Schowalter, Igniting a New Generation of Believers (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1995), 94.

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A novel that every British school boy is familiar with is Tom Brown's School Days. Some of you may very well have read it. In that novel you may remember a time when the new boy, Tom Brown, dropped to his knees by his bed, as he had done since childhood in the dormitory with other guys. Three or four of the boys laughed or sneered, and one, the bully of the room, hurled a boot in the direction of young Tom. In an instance, Tom took off his shoe and flung it back up the room and hit that bully. There was a cry of agony. Tom himself was miserable. The fourteen-year-old lad cried as if his heart would break.

When he first came to the school he had waited until the candle was extinguished every night before he got down on his knees. Then a little later he decided he could just as well pray in bed. Finally, he forgot the habit altogether. Yet he made a promise to his mother and, feeling keenly aware of his cowardice, he resolved the next morning, after washing and dressing, to kneel by his bed which he did in the face of the whole room. Tom couldn't say five words. He was listening to every sound in the room.

When he rose, he found that there were two others who had followed his example, and on the way down to breakfast, Tom Brown knew that he had conquered his cowardice, for Christ had conquered the world! And day after day more of the fellows in the dormitory room joined him, until the entire room with all but three or four lads were praying each day. (1)

1. Source unknown

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Sanskrit, that feeling-rich language that is the basis of most East Indian tongues, has 96 terms for love. Ancient Persian has 80. Greek has three. And we have only one ....

Certainly, this is prime evidence that feelings and relationships are the inferior functions in our society. Lack of language for any subject means lack of interest in that area.

We build wonderful Boeing 747s and atomic generators, but we build very poor marriages and relationships. We stand in severe danger that our Brave New World of mechanical marvels may be overturned by the poor quality of the feeling function that has accompanied it. (1)

1. Robert A. Johnson, Lying With the Heavenly Woman: Understanding and
Integrating the Feminine Archetypes in Men's Lives (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994), 6-7.

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