Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Fish of April

There once was a lady who got hopelessly lost while driving through another state. She stopped to ask for directions at what she thought was a church. She learned she had arrived at a small monastery where she was invited to stay for dinner. It was a simple dinner—fish and chips. She was so impressed by the meal she asked if she could go into the kitchen and meet the chef. In the kitchen she was introduced to Bro. Michael and Bro. Charles. When she asked who cooked the meal they responded that they both did. Bro. Michael then told her, “Fish is my specialty. I am the fish friar.” Turning to Bro. Charles, she asked, “So that would make you…?” “Yes,” he said. “I’m the chip monk.”

Foolishness makes us laugh. April 1st is still observed by many as a day of pranks and foolishness. The most believable story about April Fool’s Day comes from the days of King Charles IX of France. Until 1564, New Year’s Day was celebrated in France on March 25, in conjunction with the start of spring. The New Year’s custom was a week of parties and gifts lasting until the first of April. But that year King Charles ordered January 1st to become the New Year’s Day in order to line up with the Gregorian Calendar. Some resisted the change and continued to celebrate the old date, which made them easy targets for pranksters to invite them to non-existent New Year’s parties at other people’s houses and villages. The object of these jokes became known as a “poisson d’Avil,” or the fish of April. The fish part came from the zodiac sign Pisces, the fish. Eventually all events on April 1st came under the banner April Fish, to celebrate the “fools” who did not change with the times.

This year April 1st falls on Sunday. Palm Sunday in fact. This is the day we sing our Hosannas and wave palm branches. It is the start of the holiest week in the Christian calendar. To some it may be foolishness; to believers it means life eternal.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Don’t be a fool. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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I Never Knew His Name

Forty-five years ago this month I stepped to the edge of the precipice and looked down into the darkness of death—my death. A speeding car came down the mountain back road that I used as a short cut to get home from church that Saturday. I moved to get out of his way and crashed into the mountain. Physics took over at that point, the mountain did not move but I did, thrusting my body and right elbow forward into the windshield. I was not wearing a seatbelt. This was a rural setting on the outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama. The black farmer’s wife who first came to my aid had just slaughtered a hog. I could see it hanging from a pole. She called for an ambulance, then brought me a towel for my injuries.

A small crowd gathered around me. I had severed an artery and two of the three major nerves which controlled my right arm and hand. A Good Samaritan, who was a traveling salesman, said we could not wait for I was bleeding too much. People helped me into his car. He did not know the area so finding the closest hospital became a challenge. By this time I could no longer see. He kept encouraging me until he said he was lost. My vision returned enough for me to see we were only two blocks away and then I sank into overwhelming darkness. His car must have been an awful mess when he delivered me to the emergency room. I awoke sometime the next day. I never knew his name.

I spent some days in the hospital. I learned that men from the church came and gave blood on that first night of surgery. My father said that when he got to my car the people were still there but that the ambulance had never arrived. I had follow-up surgery a couple of months later to regain the use of my right hand. I had been called to ministry in March three years before the accident. Now I knew firsthand about good neighbors, God’s healing provision and that death is nothing to be feared by those who believe. And I am ever grateful.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Live by faith. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Worry, Fear and Corrie Ten Boom

On March 10, the website posted the author Quote of the Day. I was captivated by the words of watchmaker, Dutch resistance fighter, Holocaust survivor and Christian writer Corrie Ten Boom. Taken from her book Clippings from My Notebook, the full quote reads: “Worry is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength—carrying two days at once. It’s moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

I attended a church luncheon in Tulsa where Corrie Ten Boom was the featured speaker. This was sometime after the movie The Hiding Place portrayed the story of her heroism in hiding Jews from the Nazis and her faith-struggle in the brutal imprisonment of the concentration camps. Her lesson that day came from a piece of needlework. When she held it up to show us she displayed the back where all of the threads were knotted and crisscrossed. She then held it above her head. She said that when she wondered about the suffering, hurt and all of the confusing turns of life, she would remember that while we may only see the tangles and the knots, from heaven God sees the complete portrait of His love and purpose. Then she revealed the beautiful picture she was still sewing. “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

Some of her other quotes include: “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God, you’ll be at rest.” “You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.” And this word about real peace: “Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.”

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Fear not. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Good Old Days

Sixteen tons and what do you get? Anyone born before 1955 can tell you the answer to that question. Tennessee Ernie Ford’s version of the song “Sixteen Tons” sold two million copies in less than two months! Americans identified with the tale of a coal miner so deep in debt that he could not afford to die. You load sixteen tons, and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt. Saint Peter, don’t you call me, ’cause I can’t go; I owe my soul to the company store. . .

When I was in college I served a church that was built for the employees of a lumber mill. It was named for the mill owner who also had built all of the workers’ little houses. The company store sold all of the groceries, dry goods and liquor the people wanted. The costs were deducted from their paychecks, and so was their rent. They could also get paycheck loans and advances. The railroad tracks divided the company town racially so there was a black church and a white church. Yet most of these same people tithed, so their church could have a fulltime pastor and part-time music/youth director. They gave to missions, paid their utilities, bought Sunday School literature for everyone, mailed out a newsletter and had wonderful potluck dinners.

Sometimes we forget that the good old days were a whole lot like today, only with less stuff and quaint technology. The preachers warned against a growing materialism that was leading us down a path of greed, selfishness and heartache. Today will be the good old days of our grandchildren. What life lessons are they learning? What examples of Christian commitment do they see? When the pressures of money, work or family seem to drown us in the depths of stress, to whom do you owe your very soul?

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Be a role model. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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