The Power of Two

So, I was going to amaze you with a story of mules. You know the one about one mule pulling 6000 pounds, but link him with another strong mule and they can pull, not just 12,000 pounds but 18,000 pounds?

Just before amazing you by comparing you to a mule, I decided to verify my facts on Internet, because everyone knows that Internet always tells the truth.

It seems my story about mules was probably about horses, Belgian horses. And it seems my story about Belgian horses pulling much more together was, “Bah! Humbug!” According to the Internet horsy experts, my mule story probably isn’t true, even if the mules were horses.

After that, a normal person would hang them up and say, “See you next week.” I’ve seldom been accused of being a normal person, though.

I have a theory and even though I have no mules to back it up. Here it is: In a relationship between two human beings, who work together in love and appreciation, their abilities aren’t simply added one to the other. They are multiplied.

Two Or Three Get It Done

Two Christians praying together find the power of their prayers multiplied. God visits them in a special way. “But, David,” you whimper, “I thought God was everywhere.” He is everywhere, but He’s not everywhere the same way. Continue reading

Missing Fingers!

Check out your answers to the “how to respond to spiritual dryness” question. Look to the right under “You Speak Out”

Birds punctuated the beautiful Spring morning with their songs as I meandered through the park.

Then I saw him. He walked up a trail towards me, gazing intently to the right and to the left, scouring the grass attentively. When he came abreast of me he asked, “You haven’t seen anything strange around here, have you?

Strange? Like what?

Oh, ummm. Kind of like a lost finger,” he mumbled.

A lost finger!

Yeah, it’s my left index finger,” he said holding his hand up to show me the missing digit. “He keeps detaching himself and crawling off in the night.

I tried to hide my surprise, while mentally wondering where the nearest psychiatric hospital was to be found. Suddenly, the stranger stiffened. “There he is,” he whispered.
I turned and looked and to my surprise there was an index finger crawling down the sidewalk about 30 yards further on, moving forward like an inchworm.

The man began to creep up on the offending digit. Suddenly things went crazy. A mangy dog streaked toward the finger, seemly appearing out of nowhere. The finger sensed the danger approaching and tried to crawl faster.

My nine-fingered friend cried, “No!” and ran to recoup his missing member. The dog was faster though and with one fell swoop he licked him up and “crunch, crunch, crunch.” I’ll spare you the details because it wasn’t pretty.

The fellow fell to the grass and started to weep. I moved to comfort him. “I never could get that finger to stay home,” he whimpered. “He always wanted to be on his own. Said he didn’t need the rest of me. He didn’t feel appreciated.

I’m very sorry sir,” I said. “Well, I’ve got to be going.

Sure,” he said looking up. “By the way. If you see three toes running around, they are from  my right foot. Let me know would you?

Sure thing.

Are you a missing finger?

Lots of Christians are like that missing finger! They like their independence. They don’t like to be tied down by regular times of worship and responsibilities to others so they show up when it suits them.

But is that the Church?

I’m part of the universal invisible Church,” they say. That’s great. Invisible Christians in an invisible Church. “I don’t need the visible Church to get to heaven,” they argue. “I can worship the Lord on my own. God is everywhere.

That’s true but God isn’t everywhere in the same way. He’s in the bar. He’s in the disco. He’s at your work and at your school.

But He isn’t everywhere in the same way.

“Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.” (Matt. 18:18-20, The Message)

The Lord Jesus manifests Himself in a special way in the Assembly of His people. “Invisible Christians” who are only a part of the invisible Church miss out on that. God imparts something of Himself in the Assembly that you can’t get by yourself.

Invisible Christians are a much easier mark for the devil, just like our maverick finger opened himself to attacks from wild dogs. You need the discipline of submitting yourself to the Body of believers, else you risk to become a law unto yourself, taking your thoughts as God’s thoughts. That’s dangerous. We need others to help us grow; God made it that way.

“But I don’t get anything out of my church. It’s dead.
” Do you just go for selfish reasons? Can’t you give words of encouragement to others who are discouraged? Can’t you prepare yourself and exercise prophetic gifts to build up others?  Can’t you be available to those in need? Just because the church is dead doesn’t mean that you have to be.

When God established the Church, He established believers together. Without this “together” aspect, our Christian life flickers, like the flame of a candle in a wind. The first believers learned from God’s Word together, encouraged each other in fellowship, ate together and prayer together. They were generous and responded to needs within the Assembly.

God never intended us to live the Christian life alone.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-26 (New International Version)

When you see those “fingers and toes” running around by themselves, bring them back to the Body, please. They need the Body and the Body needs them. And if you’re a solitary finger—get home quick!



“Is there anything under the sun that can satisfy a spirit made for God?” John Wesley

My Adventure On Gollum’s Turf

How do I get myself into these things?

Recently I was one of the speakers at a youth camp in the Vosges mountains region of France. I’m a strong believer that the message communicates better if you get to know the young people outside the services, so I tried to do some of their activities with them.

One that I didn’t want to do, though, was spelunking. An hour or so away, near St. Marie aux Mines, miners had chipped shafts into solid-rock mountains four hundred years ago, looking for something or other. Nothing was left but deep, dark, mines going who-knows-where, housing who-knows-what?

I’m almost 60 and there are lot of things that I don’t have to do to make my life complete—fly to the moon on a spaceship, sit in an electric chair, or poke around in spooky mines descending to the intestines of the earth.

So, why did I find myself decked out in water-proof garb and rubber boots, wearing a hard-hat with a cigarette lighter clamped to the front of it (at least that’s what it seemed like)? The world is strange and somewhere I had finally said “yes” to an invitation.

Friend, you haven’t lived until you scramble backwards down a narrow hole like a badger. When I finally came out in the large tunnel below I knew one thing: “I don’t like this.” I’m a bit claustrophobic and here I was in an old mine tunnel, standing with several slightly nervous teenagers, a counselor and an eccentric guide. (He seems to love these places).

The place was dark, kind of like you would imagine a grave. As the guide amazed us with the history of long-ago miners who dug these holes I wondered what would happen if there were an earthquake and I was trapped down there somewhere, with Gollum and the boys.

“Lord, if this thing crashes in, let it be a quick death, puh-leeese!”
One of my horror-story dreams is being buried and waking up in my casket, not dead.

As the guide neared the end of his instructions I made a decision. “When the others go on, I’m going back outside. I can’t stand feeling this much longer.” The camp counselor with our group was Christophe, an enthusiastic 25-year old. “Christophe, I’m a bit claustrophobic. I don’t think I can do this. I’m going back.”

“Why don’t you try it just a bit?” he urged. “If you can’t do it, I’ll come back with you.” So, very uncertainly, your fearless cave explorer descended towards his destiny.

A couple of hours later, after an interminable time of rappelling down walls towards the darkness, hauling myself up walls like a gray-haired Spiderman, after crawling through little tunnels and slogging around in cave water with only our cigarette-lighter hats for illumination, I emerged from the mines.

After a certain point, you’re so tired and so wrapped up with the next challenge that claustrophobia gets bored and leaves.

I enjoyed it tremendously because I did something tough, something I didn’t want to do, and I succeeded at it. This 59-year old body held up for some tough climbs, narrow crawls and scary descents.

And I learned that 59-year olds sometimes need encouragement from 25-year olds. If you’re going to expand your limits, it’s good to hang around with people who challenge you to do more.

Often what determines our limits is not what we can do, or what we can do if we trust God, but what those around us encourage us or discourage us to do.

“You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.” (Prov. 27:17, the Message)

Find people who encourage you to be more than you are in God and in life. And you be that sweet encourager for others.

I actually learned one other thing that day. Christophe encouraged me to stay by sharing his wife’s experience; she also wasn’t too crazy about it. “She was praying the whole time.”

“Prayer? Hmmm, I guess I ought to try that.”

Sometimes those who teach need to be taught themselves.


Religion is to a real relationship with the living Christ what pornography is to married love—a pale, twisted copy. It seems easier because it takes without giving to another, but it never satisfies. Go on to reality in Christ.

Mule Psychology

Today’s Coffee Stain takes you deeply into the world of mule psychology. Hope you’re up to it.

According to the story (and I read this on Internet so you can accord any degree of confiance that you want to it) there was a contest at a long-ago World’s Fair in Chicago. The contest pitted mules against each other to see which one could pull a wagon carrying the heaviest weight.

The winner pulled 8,000 pounds.

Then they hooked him up with another mule to see how much they could pull together. The logical outcome would have been 16,000 pounds, I guess, but the two hard heads pulled 32,000 pounds together.

That’s a demonstration of a principle called synergy. says that “synergy” means, “The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.”

So we see, five-ordinary players melding into a winning machine in basketball, felling teams with five strong players who don’t play together as well. A soccer team in Madrid, Spain assembled some of the greatest players in the world. They should have been an unstoppable force but after some initial success I don’t think they ever won another major championship. Poor synergie. Lots of egos.

Individually, their players sported incredible talents. Together they were just okay.

Nothing like our muley friends, huh?

Fact is, when synergy is working, 1+1 doesn’t equal two. It’s much more than that. You’re not adding strength by adding another person to the equation. You’re multiplying strength.

Divine Synergie

Think about what synergy could do for your marriage if you could pull together, each one adding his strengths to the other one’s strengths. How powerful could your church be if the members locked arms around each other’s shoulders and pushed back against the enemy, instead of fussing with other brothers and sisters?

And hang on a minute? Think about what divine synergy could do in all those situations. A husband and wife who love each other and work together for the Lord have the cooperation of at third element—the Lord Himself! What a team: my wife, me, and the Lord.
What a team! My brothers and sisters, me, and the Lord! What can we accomplish if we allow God to establish divine synergy in all our relationships–with Him and with one another?

Here’s God’s promise to those who function in proper relationship to Him,

“Leviticus 26:7-9 (The Message) I’ll make the country a place of peace—you’ll be able to go to sleep at night without fear; I’ll get rid of the wild beasts; I’ll eliminate war. You’ll chase out your enemies and defeat them: Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand and do away with them. I’ll give you my full attention: I’ll make sure you prosper, make sure you grow in numbers, and keep my covenant with you in good working order. You’ll still be eating from last year’s harvest when you have to clean out the barns to make room for the new crops.”

So, all you math majors. Figure it out for us. “Hmmm … five will chase a hundred. That’s twenty for each one. And one hundred will chase ten thousand … hold on. Where’s my calculator? That’s 100 each.” You see, it’s not a matter of addition when we’re cooking with the Lord and each other. It’s a matter of multiplication.

Okay, here’s your homework for this week. Where are some areas that you see a need for divine synergy? What are things that inhibit or prevent divine synergy? How can we work to establish divine synergy in groups that we are a part of.

I’d love to see your responses to those questions.

And there you have it folks, this week’s installment of mule psychology. Maybe I should send the article to the magazine “Mule Psychology Today.” (Which doesn’t exist for those blondes among us who were going to run out and buy it).

One burning question remains: are you as smart as a mule in this area? If not, what do you need to do?



Talleyrand is supposed to have said something like this, “We always follow people who were incapable and those who follow us are people who sink the ship.” Another version from someone else says simply, “The two most stupid people in the world are the fellow who came before me and the one who followed me. It took me a long time to straighten things out when I got here and the fellow who followed me had it screwed up again in no time.”