Monday, March 30, 2009


I recently heard of a Florida High School with an automated message system set up to send school messages home in an efficient manner. But one week something went awry. The parents of virtually every one of its 2550 students were notified their child had detention for bad behavior. Only 16 parents didn't get that kind of message. Many students pleaded their innocence, yet parents were unhappy at the news. One mother (I'm sure there were more) admitted that she yelled at her son, even though he denied any wrongdoing.

To the relief of the students, and the embarrassment of the school, it was discovered the automated system had it backwards. Instead of sending out detention messages to the 16 students who deserved it, the system sent out 2534 detentions to everyone who didn't. It was a mess and there was much anger when it became known, but things finally got straightened out. That same mother later said she felt so badly about not believing her son that she took him out for dinner.

It's easy to believe the worst. When other things in life aren't going well, more bad news is almost expected. In our busy and stressed lives, we're tempted to judge quickly and react angrily. All of us have our stories that show our need to listen before we speak or act.

The book of James, written by the half-brother of our Lord, has lots of practical wisdom for life. James 1:19 tells us, "Everyone should be 1) quick to listen, 2) slow to speak and 3) slow to become angry." Those are three good rules for communication, great advice we all should follow!

James should know, as he was probably among those of his family who wanted to take Jesus off the streets early in His ministry. Mark 3:21 tells us, "When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of Him, for they said, 'He is out of his mind'." It was only after the resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit given in Pentecost that James came to believe his brother really was the Son of God. He may well have felt foolish remembering the day he thought Jesus was so wrong.

May we all listen carefully and show restraint in our words and actions today.

Monday, March 23, 2009


You're never too old to be of some service to others. Living among a lot of Q-Tips (white hair and tennis shoes) here at Palm Creek, I know a few folks here who struggle with feelings of worth, perhaps even feeling useless at times. And older folks aren't always the only ones to feel that way.

If you've been heading down that road, consider the London Bridge. This 930 foot long granite bridge was originally built over the Thames River in 1831. When London traffic began sinking it in the 1960s, the bridge was scheduled for demolition until Robert McCullough bought it for $2.5 million and had its ten thousand bricks moved 7,000 miles to western Arizona. After being put together as the world's largest jigsaw puzzle in the newly incorporated Lake Havasu City, it once again has autos crossing it and pedestrians enjoying its quaint beauty. Something that was headed for the scrap heap found a new use in life.

It's rather like the story of Sarah from Brown Manor. With her physical limitations at the "old folks home," she found little useful to do each day. But she could still play the piano, and she often lead other women there in singing hymns and praises. One day a government auditor conducting a routine inspection heard them singing, "What Will You Do With Jesus." Hearing this hymn he'd learned in Sunday School, he was led by Holy Spirit to realize his mistake in abandoning his faith. That night he prayed to follow Jesus Christ once again. Sarah of Brown Manor would never have known her song helped him eternally, had he not told her months later.

In Genesis 18, another woman named Sarah long ago thought she was too old to be useful to God. But we know now she was mistaken. True to His promise, God gave her a child at age 90, and her son Isaac became the ancestor of our Lord Jesus. Like Sarah of the Old Testament and Sarah of Brown Manor, we're never too old for God to use us in some good way.

Sometimes it happens without our knowing it!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


It's St. Patrick's Day today. Two of his short documents are the basis for most of what we know of this patron saint of Ireland. His "Confession" was written to recount the events surrounding his call to bring the Gospel to the Irish. Patrick's "Letter to Coroticus", written to an Irish warlord whom Patrick was forced to excommunicate, is a good illustration of his persuasive abilities.

He was born "Patricius" in 387 AD to a wealthy Welsh family. He was not religious as a youth and may have renounced the Christian faith for a time. While in his teens, Patrick was kidnapped to Ireland, where he was enslaved to a warlord and worked as a shepherd six years until escaping.

He returned to Britain, studied for the priesthood and returned to Ireland to be a missionary to his former captors. It is not clear when he went back to Ireland, or how long he ministered there, but he remained in Ireland for most of his adult life, dying there in 461 AD.

Patrick was recognized by historians and the Church hierarchy as the Bishop of Ireland. Despite his treatment as a slave, he made a permanent commitment to the people Ireland, and was instrumental in developing the Irish Church. March 17 is set aside worldwide to remember what he did for the people of Ireland.

St. Patrick is a testament to the overall missionary legacy of the Church. He proved that a Christian could live out the Scriptural commandment to spread the word of God even to the peoples who had once enslaved him. His life is a testimony to the mercy and grace of God.

The Church of Jesus Christ has grown from a small band of Christ's disciples to nearly 2 billion people today. It is spread all across the globe, with believers in virtually every nation on earth. The Holy Spirit created the Holy Christian Church on Pentecost and continues to make it grow. 

May God's people ever remain faithful to their Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


It was nearing Christmas, 1941. America had just entered World War Two and the people of North Platte, Nebraska, heard their local soldier boys were coming through town on a troop train. Deciding to give them a touch of home, North Platte townspeople brought food and drink to the Union Pacific depot. But to their dismay, their boys were not on the train--all of the soldiers on it were strangers.

The people decided to go ahead as planned anyway, giving lunches to the soldiers on that train. The troops responded so positively that the townspeople decided to do it all over again when the next train came through. And the next train, and the next. Being a huge railroad repair yard, lots of trains came through there.

Throughout the entire war and for half a year after, the people of North Platte met every troop train that passed through. Despite wartime rationing, they brought the soldiers sandwiches, milk, coffee, cakes, pies, and even fried chicken. They offered lunch, smiles, and a warm welcome to each soldier. When they concluded this act of love at the end of 1945, they had served SIX MILLION TROOPS, sometimes coming in 32 trains a day.

This effort was organized by volunteers. They used no state or federal funds. The food was supplied from the pantries and pocketbooks of North Platte and surrounding Nebraska and also some Colorado towns. Author Bob Greene researched this amazing act of patriotic generosity for his book, Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen.

This book is more than a heartwarming episode in American history. It is a record of how people respond in a time of need. It's a true story of a town generously giving its heart during wartime. It is a snapshot of how Americans will welcome strangers in their midst.

No passenger trains stop in North Platte today, and the depot has been gone for thirty years. But the people there have a special place in the hearts of thousands of old soldiers who still remember a time during the Great War when they were gven a taste of home while passing through Nebraska.

Helping people doesn't require a government program. It takes caring people who see a need and fill it the best way they can. Hebrews 13:2 says, "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." 

And sometimes angels entertain the strangers!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Once upon a time there was a group of little frogs who lived in a pond next to a windmill on a farm. One day one of them wondered if it were possible to hop to the top of the windmill and see what the world looked like from up there.  "You can't do that," said his froggy friends. But he said he was going to try. Word spread and others said they mighty to try, too. Someone suggested a contest to see who could get the highest. Soon a crowd of animals gathered to watch.

The little frogs lined up, someone yelled, "GO!" and the frogs started hopping up the steps. Some jumped up the first level and tried to make it to the second level. But it was hard and the animals down below didn't think they could do it, so they started shouting, "You'll never make it." or "That's way too hard!" A few animals even laughed when some little frogs fell. A few got to the third level, but heard the crowd chanting, "Impossible!" "Losers!" "Forget it!"  and they fell down, too.  One by one they dropped out - literally. 

But one little frog kept going. He hopped up to the fourth level and then up the fifth. The animals yelled at him to quit, but he didn't give up. Finally in a mighty leap, he reached the top level on the windmill. He waved at them the top and could see for miles!  "How did he do that?" the animals grumbled.  "How'd he make it when everyone else failed?"  He was no bigger or stronger, so how could he do such a thing? 

When he came down they asked him why, but he didn't answer. He just smiled at them and hopped away. Then they realized that little frog was deaf! He won without hearing their nasty remarks. He'd just kept doing what he knew he could do, and made it to the top. Their negative words had no affect on him.

Some people seem to think it's their purpose in life to tell others what they can't do. They sit on the sidelines and shout warnings but never get in the contest. You and I need to be careful not to believe what people may say of us or others. Some mighty wonderful dreams and plans have gone unfulfilled because people paid heed to the naysayers. Great things have been done by those who ignored the crowd followed their heart.

Proverbs 18:21 says, "The tongue has the power of life and death." God's Word has the power of true life. Jesus raised a dead man, ("Lazarus, come forth!" in John 11:43) and He also gave a criminal a place in heaven (Luke 23:43). Jesus' word has great power, and we should listen to Him.

Pessimism is not a spiritual gift, but encouragement is.