The Fellow Who Started Fast and Fell On His Nose

When I was a little tyke I heard a story that I loved—the race between the tortoise and the hare (that’s a turtle and a rabbit if you’re not too literary).

I think they even did a Bugs Bunny cartoon about it.

The rabbit explodes off the starting line leaving the poor old turtle struggling along in a dust cloud.

Old Bugs gets so far ahead that he knows he’s got plenty of time to finish so he decides a little siesta is in order.While he’s putting up zzzzzzzzzzzz’s the turtle rumbles slowly by and wins the race. The rabbit awakes just in time to realize his mistake, but even though he streaks to the finish line, the steady turtle still beats him.

I never liked turtles.

My favorite football team played a game like that recently. Way ahead at the half, they must have decided to take the second half off, because the other team played like my team wasn’t there and eked out a win. My heart was broken.

Speedy King

I even saw a speedy king in the Bible who won his race but was staggering at the end.

Few other kings in the Bible started out like Hezekiah. He also finished with a report card that few others could match. Continue reading

Perils of Modern Technology

Check out our new podcast: The Power of Thank You (look to the right of this page)
Modern technology amazes me. Earphones for instance.

I have some pastors that I love to listen to, so I load their messages from the Internet to my computer to my MP3 player. That way, I can listen and learn as I talk my walks through the village and surrounding vineyards.

Sometimes I forget that everyone can’t hear what I’m listening to in my little world and I laugh out loud at something the speaker says. The neighbors probably think I’m ready for the lunatic ward. They may be right.

There’s one bad thing about my MP3 though. Two actually. It’s those crazy earplugs; they kept falling out of my ears. I think they were made for midgets because no matter how hard I pushed them into my ears, one of them would eventually wiggle out and fall. I’d wedge it back in and the other would fall.

What a pain!

I tried several solutions. The easy one would have been to buy earphones that fit but have you seen the price on those things? So I fixed them in place with scotch tape, but that was a hassle and I felt stupid walking around with my earphones taped in (laughing out loud at stuff that others couldn’t hear).

I thought maybe I could lick them to get them to stick but I don’t like the taste of earwax.

So, I finally broke down and purchased some that were kept in place by ear hangers, or whatever you call those things. That was a well spent ten bucks (seven euros actually) and now I walk and listen in peace.

Well, almost.

Why is it that they make wires for the earphones thirty feet long? Those things resemble worms. You first job before walking is to untangle them. Then if you have to stick them in your pocket while you’re in the Post Office or the bakery they crawl around and tangle themselves again—on purpose, I’m nearly sure. Just to irritate me.

I don’t know why I mess with the crazy things. Actually I do know why. I love to listen to those speakers. It’s better than music, better than the radio. So, I just untangle wires and keep walking. At least the earphones aren’t falling out anymore.

Life seems to be like that. To get where you’re going you’ve got to lick a lot of earphones and untangle a lot of cords.

In the Bible, Paul had a lot of problems with his “earphones.”

“We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!” (2 Cor.  4:9-11, The Message)

You may be in the same boat today. Things tangled themselves so much that you goals for the Lord no longer seem worth the effort. Hang in there and keep on. The end of the thing is worth whatever it takes to get there.

“We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!” (2 Cor.  4:9-11, The Message)

In the meantime, does anyone have a good solution for tangled wires?


Hummm …
‘Four   of us slept in the one bed.  When it got  cold,  mother threw on another brother.’  Hope ON HIS SIX BROTHERS   ‘That’s   how I learned to dance.  Waiting for the   bathroom.’  (Thanks to Robert Arber for passing it on)

Little Girl Revenge

When my daughter was about four, she had some lively battles with her two big brothers aged five and six. She was little but a ferocious fighter when she was mad at them.

She usually held her own for awhile but as age and weight kicked in on the other side, she would begin to lose the struggle. Little girls have an ace in the hole, though, especially the youngest. It’s a trump card that always works.


And little girls are always right (even if they may have had a small part in beginning the battle).

Weakness can be strength if we realize that we’re not capable of winning without help. And we do have help, you know.

Peter shows us how weak people prevail against stronger people and institutions. Ladies, you can’t convince your husband to believe in Christ by your words? Then convince him with the power of a holy life, pure and full of respect, for him and for the Lord (1 Peter 3:1-6)

And those who are persecuted unjustly, must live so that it will be obvious to everyone that the lies told against them are unfounded (1 Peter 3:13-16).

How about the employee/slave who has a thick-headed boss? Act with humility and a right attitude, remembering that everything you do and say reflects on the Lord (1 Peter 2:18-23).

When we find ourselves as the underdog, the Spirit of Christ in us is a powerful weapon. Instead of constantly claiming our rights, talking behind peoples’ back, and pitching tantrums, put your problem in God’s hand and continue to live with humility and faith, serving others in the Name of Christ.

Gandi and Martin Luther King used a non-violent method, that was anything but weak. They taught their followers to respond with courage and a right attitude instead of with insults and blows. Violence makes rebels into killers just like it does for their oppressors.

Faith in God brings powerful results, more powerful than war would bring because the weak person can never win against the stronger by all-out war. We’ve got to be patient in doing right, though. And live in faith that God is working, even though we don’t see it yet.

I’m not talking about doing nothing! There is a time to stand up for what is right. But we choose to live before the Lord and to do things His way. He’s the one who has the right to take vengeance, not us. He’s the one who decides that vengeance is necessary. When we become our own righter of wrongs we use methods that make us like the person who did the wrong in the first place.

Weak people aren’t necessarily weak. We know it but are we putting this into practice in our lives?

“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” 1 Peter 4:19


Hmmm …

Many a man, in love with a dimple makes the mistake of marrying the whole girl.  Stephen Leacock

Why “Excellence” Burns Me

Sometimes “excellence” burns me.
It’s become such a watchword that instead of encouraging it can intimidate, or create a false inspiration that results in no change of actions–just a lot of enthusiastic talk.

In a small place, “excellence” can sound like a taunt , “What are you doing? What have you done? Excellence, hah! Look at you–you’re nothing.”

Peers celebrate those with big results; People praise those churches which “explode,” who “mark their generation.”
I don’t’ discount anything anyone does for God, it’s just that a lot of excellent people never get praised.

Who lauds the little lady who agonizes in her place of prayer so that others will come to Jesus? Evangelical Christians revere the name of Charles Finney because of his powerful revivals which changed the face of America. One of the keys to the success of his meetings, though, was a simple man that Finney called “Father Nash.”

This prayer warrior would precede Finney into a place where meetings were to be held and fast and prayer until spiritual breakthroughs came. He preached very little but oh, how he could pray.

He achieved excellence in an unseen place.

When you read the history of a generation, you read of George Washington, not Abner Everyman. The little fellow who lived by the creek on the edge of town gets left out of most histories and after two or three generations he’s forgotten, even by his own family. Is it possible that his life was excellent?

And the rest of us? Is everyone who doesn’t accomplish great things, noticed by a lot of people, mediocre?

A friend of mine shared a story about a Korean carpenter who worked in a Bible school in Korea. He put his whole heart into building each thing that the president of the school asked him to, and the result was some first-class woodwork all around the school.

Once the president of the school asked him to do a job, but nothing special, because the work would be replaced by something permanent shortly. This one would serve only a little while.

When the president saw the finished “rough” work he could hardly believe it. He had asked for a quick and simple job but the carpenter had done a masterful job. “Rough, quick, and just ‘good enough’” weren’t in this man’s vocabulary. He couldn’t do it without doing his best.

How does real excellence grow in us?

“You stoop down to make me great
said an inspired writer in Psalms 18:35b” or as the New American Standard version has it, “And Your gentleness makes me great.” NASB.

Excellence has nothing to do with how well known you are, how rich you are, what high position you hold, etc. Excellence has everything to do with how well you do what God has put you on earth to do, as you work in the strength he gives you. Some people are excellent and the world sees it. Some people are excellent and only their children, neighbors, and brothers and sisters at church know it.

It’s a shame to wander down here for eighty years and never do the thing that God put you on earth for, or if you do it, just half-way do it. God can give you the ability to be excellent.

How do you become excellent?

start with God. Gain your strength from Him. His gentleness makes us great. Remember, “You stoop down to make me great …”

do what you were put here to do. Find His plan and don’t try to be someone else. God needs pastors in towns of 300 as well as in towns of three million. Some excellent pastors will never be recognized down here.

When I was in the States, I attended a pastor’s meeting which honored those who gave to missions. One of those who spoke was a young fellow who pastored in a small town, lost somewhere in the beginning of west Texas.

He inspired the handful of people in his care to give an incredible amount of money to missions, incredible at least for the size of that congregation. Lots of churches gave much, much more than this little church but for their size, this plucky group outdid them all. They were excellent and this time lots of people saw it.

ask God to help you discipline yourself because there is no excellence without discipline.

grow. Do what it takes to get better. Excellence involves striving to be better than you are. Pray, read, go to conference, takes courses, pick the brains of experts–learn!

persevere. The hardest thing is to keep going when no one notices. Decide that God put you here for this reason and you’re going to do that whether anyone cheers or not.

get a vision of what can be. Keep it before you and it will inspire you to keep going, when the applause isn’t ringing in your ears.

subscribe to God’s value system. People measure excellence in different ways—position, beautiful cars, houses, influence. You were put here to do one thing—to accomplish God’s will for your life.

God created some for big places, some for small places but none for unimportant places—it’s all important for Him!

Your excellence may not always applauded or covered with adulation—but it sure changes the world!




When I got out of college, I worked awhile for a small-town newspaper, the Nashville (AR) News. On a bi-weekly paper you learn to do a little bit of everything so sometimes I got to help proofread articles.

That was okay when it was our correspondent from south Nashville. In those days that would have been an ageing lady who was a bit funny, in a strange way. Along with her community gossip she sometimes had some observations that were out of the ordinary, so proofreading her copy could be interesting.

But once a week the county agricultural agent had a column. Borrrriiinggg! Don’t get me wrong, agriculture can be interesting but this guy was on a mission. He was trying to convince local farmers and ranchers to plant a certain sort of grass called “fescue” in their fields.

One article on fescue might have been enlightening but he kept at it, week after week. “Fescue, fescue, fescue!” I saw his pick-up truck one day and he had a bumper sticker that said … dah, dah, dah, tee, dah! … “Plant fescue.”

I can imagine him sitting on the living room couch one night, staring dreamily into space. “You know what would be wonderful,” he murmurs to his wife. “No,” she answers romantically. “It would be soooo marvellous if everyone planted fescue.”

He might have to eat fescue himself after that.

One night, though, I was visiting a farm family near the little church I also pastored at the time. The lady of the house came to our church but her husband didn’t. I tried to talk about his world, though I wasn’t an expert. The conversation turned to grass so I decided to pop the question.

“Have you ever planted fescue?” I ventured as if I knew what I was talking about, halfway expecting him to look at me like I had fallen out of a tree.

He didn’t even blink. “No, I think winter wheat is better.” Whoa! It worked—all because of our county agent. I was grateful.

Flash forward 33 years. The other day I was looking for some grass seed to reseed a burnt, bald backyard. As I surveyed the different varieties suddenly my eye spied one that surprised me—fescue!

I thought it was only for pastures but evidently you can plant it in yards too. I looked around a bit longer, but eventually came back. “Plant fescue!” flashed in my mind. Why not? After 33 years the county agent finally had a convert.

So I planted fescue in the bald spot. If I don’t like the way it looks when it grows up, I can always buy a cow.

What amazed me afterwards was that a message (a boring message at that) planted in my head over 30 years ago had suddenly sprung to life.

There’s some hope there. How many times have we talked to someone about the Lord, and there seemed to be no response? Maybe the message isn’t dead. It’s just germinating. Did you plant a good message in your kids? It’s still in there somewhere.

God must feel that way about us at times. He drops His Word in our heart but we are a bit dense. He keeps looking for little plants to sprout up in our lives. He rains on his seed and sends the warm sunshine. Then one day the class dunces start to get it.

And we see God’s promises in our difficult situation. We grab hold of them and believe them but it seems like nothing is happening. Then one day…

“Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.”

(Isa. 55:10, 11 The Message)

If I can get some rain on it, I think I’ll have a good crop of fescue. There are some other areas in my life where I’m looking for “grass” to grow too. I’m holding on.