hen Edgar Guest, the American poet and writer, was a young man, his first child died. Writes Guest:
"There came a tragic night when our first baby was taken from us. I was lonely and defeated. There didn't seem to be anything in life ahead of me that mattered very much.
"I had to go to my neighbor's drugstore the next morning for something, and he motioned for me to step behind the counter with him. I followed him into his little office at the back of the store. He put both hands on my shoulders and said, 'Eddie, I can't really express what I want to say, the sympathy I have in my heart for you. All I can say is that I'm sorry, and I want you to know that if you need anything at all, come to me. What is mine is yours.' "
Years later Guest reminisced upon that incident. He said, "Just a neighbor across the way — a passing acquaintance. Jim Potter [the druggist] may long since have forgotten that moment when he gave me his hand and his sympathy, but I shall never forget it — never in all my life. To me it stands out like the silhouette of a lonely tree against a crimson sunset."
When we show others compassion, it will never be forgotten.
— Jack R. Van Ens Arvada, Colorado
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oseph Ton was pastor of Second Baptist Church, Oradea, Rumania, until he was exiled by the Rumanian government in 1981. In Pastoral Renewal, he writes of his experience:
"Years ago I ran away from my country to study theology at Oxford. In 1972, when I was ready to go back to Rumania, I discussed my plans with some fellow students. They pointed out that I might be arrested at the border. One student asked, 'Joseph, what chances do you have of successfully implementing your plans?' "
He asked God about it, and God brought to mind Matthew 10:16 — "I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves" — and seemed to say, "Tell me, what chance does a sheep surrounded by wolves have of surviving five minutes, let alone of converting the wolves? Joseph, that's how I send you: totally defenseless and without a reasonable hope of success. If you are willing to go like that, go. If you are not willing to be in that position, don't go."
Ton writes: "After our return, as I preached unin-hibitedly, harassment and arrests came. One day during interrogation an officer threatened to kill me. Then I said, 'Sir, your supreme weapon is killing. My supreme weapon is dying. Sir, you know my sermons are all over the country on tapes now. If you kill me, I will be sprinkling them with my blood. Whoever listens to them after that will say, "I'd better listen. This man sealed it with his blood." They will speak ten times louder than before. So, go on and kill me. I win the supreme victory then.' "
The officer sent him home. "That gave me pause. For years I was a Christian who was cautious because I wanted to survive. I had accepted all the restrictions the authorities put on me because I wanted to live. Now I wanted to die, and they wouldn't oblige. Now I could do whatever I wanted in Rumania. For years I wanted to save my life, and I was losing it. Now that I wanted to lose it, I was winning it."
red Astaire was without dispute one of the top singers, dancers, and actors of all time. In Top Hat, Swing Time, Holiday Inn, and other famous movies, he danced and crooned his way into people's hearts worldwide.
But in 1932, when Astaire was starting out, a Hollywood talent judge wrote on his screen test: "Can't act. Can't sing. Can dance a little."
As Christians, we may fail badly. What kind of a Christian would do that? we think. How can I ever serve Christ again?
But we develop in the Christian life when we leave
those failures behind and daily use our God-given
gifts for him. In time, those failures will be forgotten
footnotes. —Steve Schoepf
* Storden, Minnesota
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hey tell us the 911 emergency system is the state of the art. All you need do is dial those numbers, and you will almost instantly be connected to a dispatcher. In front of the dispatcher will be a read-out that lists your telephone number, your address, and the name by which that telephone number is listed at that address. Also listening in are the police, the fire department, and the paramedics.
Someone might not be able to say what the problem is. Or perhaps a woman's husband has just suffered a heart attack, and she is so out of control that all she can do is scream hysterically into the telephone. But the dispatcher doesn't need her to say anything. He knows where the call is coming from. Help is already on the way. There come times in our lives when in our desperation and pain we dial 911 prayers. Sometimes we're hysterical. Sometimes we don't know the words to speak. But God hears. He knows our name and he knows our circumstance. Help is on the way; God has already begun to bring the remedy.
— Leith Anderson Eden Prairie, Minnesota
n January 1985, a large suitcase, unmarked and unclaimed, was discovered at the customs office at Los Angeles International Airport. When U.S. Customs agents opened the suitcase, they found the curled-up body of an unidentified young woman.
She had been dead for a few days, according to the county coroner. As the investigation continued, it was learned that the woman was the wife of a young Iranian living in the U.S. Unable to obtain a visa to enter the U.S. and join her husband, she took matters into her own hands and attempted to smuggle herself into America via an airplane's cargo bay. While her plan seemed to her simple though risky, officials were hard pressed to understand how such an attempt could ever succeed. Even if she survived the journey in the cargo bay, she would remain an illegal alien, having entered through improper channels.
Some people believe they'll enter the kingdom of God on their own since they've been reasonably good citizens or church at-tenders. But entry plans of our own design prove not only foolish but fatal.
— Robert T. Wenz Clifton Park, New York
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arl Barth, the famous theologian, was on a streetcar one day in Basel, Switzerland, where he lectured. A tourist to the city climbed on and sat down next to Barth. The two men started chatting with each other.
"Are you new to the city?" Barth inquired. "Yes," said the tourist.
"Is there anything you would particularly like to see in this city?" asked Barth.
"Yes," he said. "I'd love to meet the famous theologian Karl Barth. Do you know him?"
Barth replied, "Well as a matter of fact, I do. I give him a shave every morning."
The tourist got off the streetcar quite delighted. He went back to his hotel saying to himself, "I met Karl Barth's barber today."
Each Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit, a person in whom Christ actually dwells. But how often we sit next to other believers, eat with them, sing with them, yet fail to see we've been in the presence of Christ himself.
— John Ross Surrey, England
n this poem written some fifteen centuries ago, Augustine tried to capture the mystery of the Incarnation: Maker of the sun, He is made under the sun. In the Father he remains, From his mother he goes forth. Creator of heaven and earth, He was born on earth under heaven. Unspeakably wise, He is wisely speechless. Filling the world, He lies in a manger. Ruler of the stars, He nurses at his mother's bosom. He is both great in the nature of God, and small in the form of a servant.
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n the 1987 NCAA Regional Finals, LSU was leading Indiana by eight points with only a few minutes left in the game. As is often the case with a team in the lead, LSU began playing a different ball game. The television announcer pointed out that the LSU players were beginning to watch the clock rather than wholeheartedly play the game. As a result of this shift in focus, Indiana closed the gap, won the game by one point, and eventually went on to become NCAA champions.
While Jesus called us to be aware of "the signs of the times," he clearly called us to expend our energies in faithful, active service. As we await Jesus' promised return, we are not so much to watch the clock as to be diligent servants during the time we have available.
— J. David Bianchin Lawrenceville, Illinois
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