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RACE It is a most lamentable thing to see how most people spend their time and their energy for trifles, while God is cast aside. He who is all seems to them as nothing, and that which is nothing seems to them as good as all. It is lamentable indeed, knowing that God has set mankind in such a race where heaven or hell is their certain end, that they should sit down and loiter, or run after the childish toys of the world, forgetting the prize they should run for. Were it but possible for one of us to see this business as the all-seeing God does, and see what most men and women in the world are interested in and what they are doing every day, it would be the saddest sight imaginable. Oh, how we should marvel at their madness and lament their self-delusion! If God had never told them what they were sent into the world to do, or what was before them in another world, then there would have been some excuse. But it is His sealed word, and they profess to believe it. Richard Baxter.
RAIN Back in 1839 James Espy claimed that rain could easily be produced by heating the air. But his plan to saturate parched farmland by building great log fires across vast stretches of the American West never materialized -- for which Espy\'s contemporaries were probably grateful! Later in the 19th century a new theory emerged: loud noises would bring rain. This theory was put to the test in Texas, where Robert Dyrenforth piled up enough munitions for a small war. He blasted away at the skies, but as one observer wrote, \"[Dyrenforth] attacked from the front and rear, by the right and left flank. But the sky remained clear as the complexion of a Saxon maid.\" Today in the Word, July 23, 1992.
RANDOM It takes just seven ordinary, imperfect shuffles to mix a deck of cards thoroughly, researchers have found. Fewer are not enough, and more do not significantly improve the mixing. The mathematical proof, discovered after elaborate computer calculations, was complicated because of the immense number of ways the cards in a deck can be arranged; any of 52 could be first in the deck, any of 51 second, and so on. Multiplied out, the number of possible permutations is exactly 80,658,175,170,943,878,571,660,636,856,403,766,975,289,505,440,883,277,824,000,000,000,000. Persi Diaconis, a Harvard University mathematician who is co- author of the study with Dave Bayer, a mathematician and computer scientist at Columbia University, says, \"Most people shuffle cards three or four times. Five times is considered excessive. Reader\'s Digest, 1990.
RAPTURE All over the Northeast, half a million Adventists -- disciples of New York evangelist William Miller -- awaited the end of the world on April 3, 1843. Journalists had a field day. Reportedly some disciples were on mountaintops, hoping for a head start to heaven. Others were in graveyards, planning to ascend in union with their departed loved ones. Some high society ladies clustered together outside town to avoid entering God\'s holy kingdom amid the common herd. When April 4 dawned as usual, the Millerites were disillusioned, but they took heart. Their leader had predicted a range of dates for the end -- dates that have also come and gone. Today in the Word, April 28, 1993. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- There\'s a man in yonder glory I have loved for many years, He has cleared my guilty conscience and has banished all my fears. He is coming in a moment in the twinkling of an eye, And no time will be allotted for you to utter one good-bye. No time to kiss the husband or embrace the loving wife, If they are but united in the bonds of holy life. Are you ready, Christian, ready, for shout and trump and voice? Will His coming make you tremble or cause you to rejoice? Are you walking, talking with Him daily, taking Him your care, Do you live so close to heaven that a breath would waft you there? Quoted in Fairest of All, Herbert Lockyer, Eerdmans, 1936, p. 71. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The word \"maranatha\" is a Syriac expression that means: \"our Lord comes.\" It was used as a greeting in the early church. When believers gathered or parted, they didn\'t say \"hello\" or \"goodbye\" but \"Maranatha!\" If we had the same upward look today, it would revolutionize the church. O that God\'s people had a deepening awareness of the imminent return of the Savior! While on a South Pole expedition, British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton left a few men on Elephant Island, promising that he would return. Later, when he tried to go back, huge icebergs blocked the way. But suddenly, as if by a miracle, an avenue opened in the ice and Shackleton was able to get through. His men, ready and waiting, quickly scrambled aboard. No sooner had the ship cleared the island than the ice crashed together behind them. Contemplating their narrow escape, the explorer said to his men, \"It was fortunate you were all packed and ready to go!\" They replied, \"We never gave up hope. Whenever the sea was clear of ice, we rolled up our sleeping bags and reminded each other, \'The boss may come today.\'\" The hymn writer Horatius Bonar exhorted us \"to be ready for the last moment by being ready at every moment...so attending to every duty that, let Him come when He may, He finds the house in perfect order, awaiting His return.\" The trump may sound anytime. How important for us as Christians to be \"packed and ready to go!\" As you leave home today, don\'t say goodbye -- say \"Maranatha!\" Our Daily Bread. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Titus 2:13 - The believer\'s hope is an: 1. Encouraging hope. John 14:3 Spoken to discouraged disciples. Discouraged by Christ\'s departure, encouraged by His return. 2. Comforting hope. 1 Thess 4:13-18 3. Motivating hope. 1 Cor 15:50-58 Knowing that resurrection body will be obtained through death or translation, that labor isn\'t fruitless, be steadfast in commitment to Christ and diligent in service for Christ. (v. 58) 4. Purifying hope. 1 John 3:2-3 K. Laney, Marching Orders, p. 57. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The effect it should have on us. Be careful 1 John 3:1-2 Purity Be considerate Phil 4:1-5 Be comforted 1 Thess 4:13-18 x@3 Be cheered Phil. 3:21 Transformation of our bodies, we\'ll be changed. Be concerned for the lost. E.J. Underhill, Fourth Memorial, October 2, 1983. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- At the height of WWII, Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was imprisoned for taking a stand against Hitler. Yet he continued to urge fellow believers to resist Nazi tyranny. A group of Christians, believing that Hitler was the Antichrist, asked Bonhoeffer, \"Why do you expose yourself to all this danger? Jesus will return any day, and all your work and suffering will be for nothing.\" Bonhoeffer replied, \"If Jesus returns tomorrow, then tomorrow I\'ll rest from my labor. But today I have work to do. I must continue the struggle until it\'s finished.\" Daily Bread, November 10, 1991. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- After church, where she had been taught about the Second Coming, a little girl was quizzing her mother. \"Mommy, do you believe Jesus will come back?\" \"Yes.\" \"Today?\" \"yes.\" \"In a few minutes?\" \"Yes, dear.\" \"Mommy, would you comb my hair?\" Don Hussong. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A rural housewife, Fay Inchfawn, who lived a generation ago, wrote these lines on her need and expectancy of God\'s presence which speak to us of the more sophisticated frustrations of our modern day: Sometimes, when everything goes wrong; When days are short and nights are long, When wash day brings so dull a sky, That not a single thing will dry. And when the kitchen chimney smokes, And when there\'s none so \"old\" as folks; When friends deplore my faded youth, And when the baby cuts a tooth While John, the baby last but one, Clings round my skirts till day is done; And fat, good-natured Jane is glum And butcher\'s man forgets to come. Sometimes I say, on days like these I get a sudden gleam of bliss. Not on some sunny day of ease He\'ll come...but on a day like this. Source Unknown. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
RATIONALIZE Allowing my mind to find reasons to excuse what my spirit knows is wrong. Romans 2:21. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Once we assuage our conscience by calling something a \"necessary evil,\" it begins to look more and more necessary and less and less evil. Sidney J. Harris. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
REACTION Georges Gurdijieff, on natural man: Each man has a definite repertoire of roles which he plays in ordinary circumstances. But put him into even only slightly different circumstances and he is unable to find a suitable role. For a short time, he becomes himself. P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich). -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is. If there are rats in a cellar, you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats; it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way, the suddenness of the provocation does not make me ill-tempered; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. C.S. Lewis. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
REALISM In time, and as one comes to benefit from experience, one learns that things will turn out neither as well as one hoped nor as badly as one feared. Jerone S. Bruner, Bits and Pieces, November, 1989, p. 17.
REALITY Shortly after I got my driver\'s license I was driving too close to the middle of a narrow road and I sideswiped another car. The crash tore the front fender, two doors, and the rear fender from my dad\'s car. After I found out everyone was okay, I stood in the ditch and prayed, \"Dear God, I pray this didn\'t happen.\" I opened my eyes and saw that the car was still wrecked, so I closed my eyes, squinted real hard, and prayed again, \"Dear God, it didn\'t happen.\" Then I opened my eyes, but it happened anyway. Jay Kesler, Raising Responsible Kids, Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991, p. 75. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Reality is the leading cause of stress among those who are in touch with reality. C. Everett Koop, U.S. surgeon general, U.S. News and World Report, January 9, 1989. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A golfer who had been playing badly went to a psychiatrist who told him to relax by playing a round of golf without a ball. \"Do everything you would normally do, but use an imaginary ball,\" advised the psychiatrist.\" The golfer tried it the next day. He stepped up on the first tee, imagined he got a 260-yard drive, made a fine approach shot to the green, then putted for a par. The round went splendidly and as he approached the 18th hole, he met another golfer playing the same way--no ball. The other golfer had seen the same psychiatrist. They decided to play the last hole together and bet $10 on the outcome. The first golfer swung at his imaginary ball and announced that it had gone 280 yards right down the middle of the fairway. The second golfer matched his drive. The first fellow then took out his 5-iron and after swinging at his imaginary ball, he exclaimed, \"Look at that shot! It went right over the pin and the reverse spin on it brought it right back into the hole! I win.\" \"No you don\'t,\" said the second golfer. \"You hit my ball.\" Bits and Pieces, February, 1990, p. 16. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To become a Christian is to accept an extra dimension to life. From the Christian\'s point of view the notable thing about the unbeliever\'s world is how much smaller it is. The unbeliever is imprisoned in a decaying universe. Imagine you took a child to the theater to see some tragedy like, say, Hamlet, at the end of which the stage is littered with corpses. And suppose you had difficulty comforting the child afterward, so distressed was he at the spectacle of the deaths. \"But the man who played Hamlet is not really dead,\" you explain. \"He is an actor. He also lives a life outside the theater. He has a wife and family and, far from being dead, he is probably now at home with them enjoying a late supper.\": If there is one word the Christian secretly wants to use to describe the unbeliever\'s outlook, it is literal . . . like the child who takes the play for reality. Harry Blamires. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
REBELLION Reserving for myself the right to make final decision. Isaiah 65:2. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- After it was disclosed that President Bush has banned broccoli aboard Air Force One, the nation was embroiled in \"broccoli discussion.\" As broccoli growers dispatched 10 tons of the vegetable free to Washington, the President reiterated his distaste with gusto: \"I do not like broccoli and I haven\'t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I\'m president of the United States and I\'m not going to eat any more broccoli. Now look, this is the last statement I\'m going to have on broccoli. There are truckloads of broccoli at this very minute descending on Washington. My family is divided. For the broccoli vote out there: Barbara loves broccoli. She has tried to make me eat it. She eats it all the time herself. So she can go out and meet the caravan of broccoli that\'s coming in.\" Resources, #2, May/June, 1990. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
REBUKE John Wesley and a preacher-friend of plain habits were once invited to dinner where the host\'s daughter, noted for her beauty, had been profoundly impressed by Wesley\'s preaching. during a pause in the meal, Wesley\'s friend took the young woman\'s hand and called attention to the sparkling rings she wore. \"What do you think of this, sir, for a Methodist hand?\" The girl turned crimson. Wesley likewise was embarrassed, for his aversion to jewelry was only too well known. But with a benevolent smile, he simply said, \"The hand is very beautiful.\" Wesley\'s remark both cooled the too-hot water poured by his friend, and made the foot-washing gentle. The young woman appeared at the evening service without her jewels, and became a strong Christian. Source Unknown. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Criticism is always difficult to accept, but if we receive it with humility and a desire to improve our character it can be very helpful. Only a fool does not profit when he is rebuked for his mistakes. Several years ago I read a helpful article on this subject. It stated that when we are criticized we ought to ask ourselves whether the criticism contains any truth. If it does, we should learn from it, even when it is not given with the right motivation and in the right spirit. The article then offered these four suggestions: (1) Commit the matter instantly to God, asking Him to remove all resentment or counter-criticism on your part and teach you the needed lessons. (2) Remember that we are all great sinners and that the one who has criticized us does not begin to know the worst about us. (3) If you have made a mistake or committed a sin, humbly and frankly confess it to God and to anyone you may have injured. (4) Be willing to learn afresh that you are not infallible and that you need God\'s grace and wisdom every moment of the day to keep on the straight path. When we are criticized, let\'s accept what is true and act upon it, thereby becoming a stronger person. He who profits from rebuke is wise. Source Unknown. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
RECIPROCITY Chuck Swindoll tells the story of a young boy who lived with his grandfather high in the Swiss Alps. Often, just to hear the echo of his voice, the boy would go outside, cup his hands around his mouth, and shout, \"HELLO!\" Up from the canyons the reply reverberated, \"HELLO...HELLO...hello...hello...\" Then he would call out, \"I LOVE YOU...I LOVE YOU...I love you...I love you...\" One day the boy seriously misbehaved and his grandfather disciplined him severely. Reacting violently, the child shook his fist and screamed. \"I HATE YOU!\" To his surprise, the rocks and boulders across the mountainside responded \"I HATE YOU...I HATE YOU...I hate you...\" Today in the Word, April 6, 1992. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Many years ago two boys were working their way through Stanford University. Their funds got desperately low, and the idea came to them to engage Padarewski for a piano recital. They would use the funds to help pay their board and tuition. The great pianist\'s manager asked for a guarantee of $2,000. The guarantee was a lot of money in those days, but the boys agreed and proceeded to promote the concert. They worked hard, only to find that they had grossed only $1,600. After the concert the two boys told the great artist the bad news. They gave him the entire $1,600, along with a promissory note for $400, explaining that they would earn the amount at the earliest possible moment and send the money to him. It looked like the end of their college careers. \"No, boys,\" replied Padarewski, \"that won\'t do.\" Then, tearing the note in two, he returned the money to them as well. \"Now,\" he told the, \"take out of this $1,600 all of your expenses, and keep for each of you 10 percent of the balance for your work. Let me have the rest.\" The years rolled by -- World War I came and went. Padarewski, now premier of Poland, was striving to feed thousands of starving people in his native land. There was only one man in the world who could help him, Herbert Hoover, who was in charge of the U.S. Food and Relief Bureau. Hoover responded and soon thousands of tons of food were sent to Poland. After the starving people were fed, Padarewski journeyed to Paris to thank Hoover for the relief sent him. \"That\'s all right, Mr. Padarewski,\" was Hoover\'s reply. \"Besides, you don\'t remember it, but you helped me once when I was a student at college, and I was in trouble.\" Bits & Pieces, August 22, 1991. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
RECOGNITION One day the great Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo happened to overhear a group of people admiring his Pieta, a statue of Christ on His mother\'s knees after His death on the cross. One man attributed the work to another sculptor, much to the chagrin of Michelangelo, who took particular pride in the Pieta. Returning to the sculpture after dark that evening, Michelangelo carved his name on it so that no similar mistake would occur in the future. Today in the Word, August 11, 1992. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Alfred the Great was the ninth-century king who saved England from conquest by the Danish. At one point during his wars with the Danes, Alfred was forced to seek refuge in the hut of a poor Saxon family. Not recognizing her visitor, the woman of the house said she had to leave and asked Alfred to watch some cakes she was baking. But the king had other things on his mind and did not notice that the cakes were burning. Upon her return, the lady unknowingly gave her sovereign a hearty scolding! Today in the Word, April 9, 1992. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
RECOMMENDATION Have you ever been in a position where someone asks you for a reference to get a job and you find yourself in an awkward position? You don\'t want to lie, but you really can\'t tell the truth because it will hurt. Robert Thornton, professor of economics at Lehigh University, once composed the ideal letter to fit the situation: I am pleased to say that this candidate is a former colleague of mine. In my opinion you will be fortunate to get this person to work for you. I recommend him with no qualifications whatsoever. No person would be better for the job. I urge you to waste no time in making this candidate an offer of employment. All in all, and without reservation, I cannot say enough good things about him, nor can I recommend him too highly. Bits & Pieces, April 2, 1992.
RECONCILIATION One New Year\'s Eve at London\'s Garrick Club, British dramatist Frederick Lonsdale was asked by Symour Hicks to reconcile with a fellow member. The two had quarreled in the past and never restored their friendship. \"You must,\" Hicks said to Lonsdale. \"It is very unkind to be unfriendly at such a time. Go over now and wish him a happy New Year.\" So Lonsdale crossed the room and spoke to his enemy. \"I wish you a happy New Year,\" he said, \"but only one.\" Today in the Word, July 5, 1993. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Shortly after the turn of the century, Japan invaded, conquered, and occupied Korea. Of all of their oppressors, Japan was the most ruthless. They overwhelmed the Koreans with a brutality that would sicken the strongest of stomachs. Their crimes against women and children were inhuman. Many Koreans live today with the physical and emotional scars from the Japanese occupation. One group singled out for concentrated oppression was the Christians. When the Japanese army overpowered Korea one of the first things they did was board up the evangelical churches and eject most foreign missionaries. It has always fascinated me how people fail to learn from history. Conquering nations have consistently felt that shutting up churches would shut down Christianity. It didn\'t work in Rome when the church was established, and it hasn\'t worked since. Yet somehow the Japanese thought they would have a different success record. The conquerors started by refusing to allow churches to meet and jailing many of the key Christian spokesmen. The oppression intensified as the Japanese military increased its profile in the South Pacific. The \"Land of the Rising Sum\" spread its influence through a reign of savage brutality. Anguish filled the hearts of the oppressed -- and kindled hatred deep in their souls. One pastor persistently entreated his local Japanese police chief for permission to meet for services. His nagging was finally accommodated, and the police chief offered to unlock his church ... for one meeting. It didn\'t take long for word to travel. Committed Christians starving for an opportunity for unhindered worship quickly made their plans. Long before dawn on that promised Sunday, Korean families throughout a wide area made their way to the church. They passed the staring eyes of their Japanese captors, but nothing was going to steal their joy. As they closed the doors behind them they shut out the cares of oppression and shut in a burning spirit anxious to glorify their Lord. The Korean church has always had a reputation as a singing church. Their voices of praise could not be concealed inside the little wooden frame sanctuary. Song after song rang through the open windows into the bright Sunday morning. For a handful of peasants listening nearby, the last two songs this congregation sang seemed suspended in time. It was during a stanza of \"Nearer My God to Thee\" that the Japanese police chief waiting outside gave the orders. The people toward the back of the church could hear them when they barricaded the doors, but no one realized that they had doused the church with kerosene until they smelled the smoke. The dried wooden skin of the small church quickly ignited. Fumes filled the structure as tongues of flame began to lick the baseboard on the interior walls. There was an immediate rush for the windows. But momentary hope recoiled in horror as the men climbing out the windows came crashing back in -- their bodies ripped by a hail of bullets. The good pastor knew it was the end. With a calm that comes from confidence, he led his congregation in a hymn whose words served as a fitting farewell to earth and a loving salutation to heaven. The first few words were all the prompting the terrified worshipers needed. With smoke burning their eyes, they instantly joined as one to sing their hope and leave their legacy. Their song became a serenade to the horrified and helpless witnesses outside. Their words also tugged at the hearts of the cruel men who oversaw this flaming execution of the innocent. Alas! and did my Savior bleed? and did my Sovereign die? Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I? Just before the roof collapsed they sang the last verse, their words an eternal testimony to their faith. But drops of grief can ne\'er repay the debt of love I owe: Here, Lord, I give myself away \'Tis all that I can do! At the cross, at the cross Where I first saw the light, And the burden of my heart rolled away -- It was there by faith I received my sight, And now I am happy all the day. The strains of music and wails of children were lost in a roar of flames. The elements that once formed bone and flesh mixed with the smoke and dissipated into the air. The bodies that once housed life fused with the charred rubble of a building that once housed a church. But the souls who left singing finished their chorus in the throne room of God. Clearing the incinerated remains was the easy part. Erasing the hate would take decades. For some of the relatives of the victims, this carnage was too much. Evil had stooped to a new low, and there seemed to be no way to curb their bitter loathing of the Japanese. In the decades that followed, that bitterness was passed on to a new generation. The Japanese, although conquered, remained a hated enemy. The monument the Koreans built at the location of the fire not only memorialized the people who died, but stood as a mute reminder of their pain. Inner rest? How could rest coexist with a bitterness deep as marrow in the bones? Suffering, of course, is a part of life. People hurt people. Almost all of us have experienced it at some time. Maybe you felt it when you came home to find that your spouse had abandoned you, or when your integrity was destroyed by a series of well-timed lies, or when your company was bled dry by a partner. It kills you inside. Bitterness clamps down on your soul like iron shackles. The Korean people who found it too hard to forgive could not enjoy the \"peace that passes all understanding.\" Hatred choked their joy. It wasn\'t until 1972 that any hope came. A group of Japanese pastors traveling through Korea came upon the memorial. When they read the details of the tragedy and the names of the spiritual brothers and sisters who had perished, they were overcome with shame. Their country had sinned, and even though none of them were personally involved (some were not even born at the time of the tragedy), they still felt a national guilt that could not be excused. They returned to Japan committed to right a wrong. There was an immediate outpouring of love from their fellow believers. They raised ten million yen ($25,000). The money was transferred through proper channels and a beautiful white church building was erected on the sight of the tragedy. When the dedication service for the new building was held, a delegation from Japan joined the relatives and special guests. Although their generosity was acknowledged and their attempts at making peace appreciated, the memories were still there. Hatred preserves pain. It keeps the wounds open and the hurts fresh. The Koreans\' bitterness had festered for decades. Christian brothers or not, these Japanese were descendants of a ruthless enemy. The speeches were made, the details of the tragedy recalled, and the names of the dead honored. It was time to bring the service to a close. Someone in charge of the agenda thought it would be appropriate to conclude with the same two songs that were sung the day the church was burned. The song leader began the words to \"Nearer My God to Thee.\" But something remarkable happened as the voices mingled on the familiar melody. As the memories of the past mixed with the truth of the song, resistance started to melt. The inspiration that gave hope to a doomed collection of churchgoers in a past generation gave hope once more. The song leader closed the service with the hymn \"At the Cross.\" The normally stoic Japanese could not contain themselves. The tears that began to fill their eyes during the song suddenly gushed from deep inside. They turned to their Korean spiritual relatives and begged them to forgive. The guarded, calloused hearts of the Koreans were not quick to surrender. But the love of the Japanese believers --not intimidated by decades of hatred -- tore at the Koreans\' emotions. At the cross, at the cross Where I first saw the light, And the burden of my heart rolled away ... One Korean turned toward a Japanese brother. Then another. And then the floodgates holding back a wave of emotion let go. The Koreans met their new Japanese friends in the middle. They clung to each other and wept. Japanese tears of repentance and Korean tears of forgiveness intermingled to bathe the site of an old nightmare. Heaven had sent the gift of reconciliation to a little white church in Korea. Tim Kimmel, Little House on the Freeway, p. 56-61. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A childhood accident caused poet Elizabeth Barrett to lead a life of semi-invalidism before she married Robert Browning in 1846. There\'s more to the story. In her youth, Elizabeth had been watched over by her tyrannical father. When she and Robert were married, their wedding was held in secret because of her father\'s disapproval. After the wedding the Brownings sailed for Italy, where they lived for the rest of their lives. But even though her parents had disowned her, Elizabeth never gave up on the relationship. Almost weekly she wrote them letters. Not once did they reply. After 10 years, she received a large box in the mail. Inside, Elizabeth found all of her letters; not one had been opened! Today those letters are among the most beautiful in classical English literature. Had her parents only read a few of them, their relationship with Elizabeth might have been restored. Daily Walk, May 30, 1992. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- For the sake of each of us he laid down his life--worth no less than the universe. He demands of us in return our lives for the sake of each other. St. Clement of Alexandria. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Civil War was carnage. Then Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy died. And Ulysses Grant of the Union died. Their widows, Varina Davis and Julia Grant, settled near each other. They became closest of friends. Source Unknown. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
RECRUITMENT Leadership, Vol X, #3 (Summer, 1989), p. 23 How you enlist a person will determine how that person serves. Therefore eliminate three things: 1) Public announcements saying we need workers, 2) last minute appointments, 3) Pressure tactics. Establish a personnel committee: 1) The Plan: Match people with jobs. 2) The Purpose: One job/ministry per individual, and throw everything he/she has into that one job. 3) The Procedure: One on one. Enlistment is always done one on one. Set up an appointment to approach an individual, and go over: a) the challenge of the job, \"Your job is the most important one in this whole church.\" People respond to a challenge. Remember, Jesus sent many people home. b) The cultivation of the job, \"We expect much of you (implies that there are written standards) and you can expect much of us.\" c) The commitment to the job, \"Don\'t tell us yes until you\'ve told God yes. Don\'t tell us no until you\'ve told God no.\" Don\'t ask people to do you a favor and accept. They do it for the Lord Jesus. Howard Hendricks, The Monday Morning Mission.
REDEMPTION A story told by Paul Lee Tan illustrates the meaning of redemption. He said that when A.J. Gordon was pastor of a church in Boston, he met a young boy in front of the sanctuary carrying a rusty cage in which several birds fluttered nervously. Gordon inquired, \"Son, where did you get those birds?\" The boy replied, \"I trapped them out in the field.\" \"What are you going to do with them?\" \"I\'m going to play with them, and then I guess I\'ll just feed them to an old cat we have at home.\" When Gordon offered to buy them, the lad exclaimed, \"Mister, you don\'t want them, they\'re just little old wild birds and can\'t sing very well.\" Gordon replied, \"I\'ll give you $2 for the cage and the birds.\" \"Okay, it\'s a deal, but you\'re making a bad bargain.\" The exchange was made and the boy went away whistling, happy with his shiny coins. Gordon walked around to the back of the church property, opened the door of the small wire coop, and let the struggling creatures soar into the blue. The next Sunday he took the empty cage into the pulpit and used it to illustrate his sermon about Christ\'s coming to seek and to save the lost -- paying for them with His own precious blood. \"That boy told me the birds were not songsters,\" said Gordon, \"but when I released them and they winged their way heavenward, it seemed to me they were singing, \'Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!\" You and I have been held captive to sin, but Christ has purchased our pardon and set us at liberty. When a person has this life-changing experience, he will want to sing, \"Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!\" Our Daily Bread. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Boy Who Lost His Boat Tom carried his new boat to the edge of the river. He carefully placed it in the water and slowly let out the string. How smoothly the boat sailed! Tom sat in the warm sunshine, admiring the little boat that he had built. Suddenly a strong current caught the boat. Tom tried to pull it back to shore, but the string broke. The little boat raced downstream. Tom ran along the sandy shore as fast as he could. But his little boat soon slipped out of sight. All afternoon he searched for the boat. Finally, when it was too dark to look any longer, Tom sadly went home. A few days later, on the way home from school, Tom spotted a boat just like his in a store window. When he got closer, he could see -- sure enough -- it was his! Tom hurried to the store manager: \"Sir, that\'s my boat in your window! I made it!\" \"Sorry, son, but someone else brought it in this morning. If you want it, you\'ll have to buy it for one dollar.\" Tom ran home and counted all his money. Exactly one dollar! When he reached the store, he rushed to the counter. \"Here\'s the money for my boat.\" As he left the store, Tom hugged his boat and said, \"Now you\'re twice mine. First, I made you and now I bought you.\" Good News Publishers, Westchester, IL. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A favorite story of the little boy who built a sailboat. He built the sail and had it all fixed up, tarred and painted. He took it to the lake and pushed it in hoping it would sail. Sure enough a wisp of breeze filled the little sail and it billowed and went rippling along the waves. Suddenly before the little boy knew it, the boat was out of his reach, even though he waded in fast and tried to grab it. As he watched it float away, he hoped maybe the breeze would shift and it would come sailing back to him. Instead he watched it go farther and farther until it was gone. When he went home crying, his mother asked, \"What\'s wrong, didn\'t it work?\" And he said, \"It worked too well.\" Some time later, the little boy was downtown and walked past a second hand store. There in the window he saw the boat. It was unmistakably his, so he went in and said to the proprietor, \"That\'s my boat.\" He walked to the window, picked it up and started to leave with it. The owner of the shop said, \"Wait a minute, Sonny. That\'s my boat. I bought it from someone.\" The boy said, \"No, it\'s my boat. I made it. See.\" And he showed him the little scratches and the marks where he hammered and filed. The man said, \"I\'m sorry, Sonny. If you want it, you have to buy it.\" The poor little guy didn\'t have any money, but he worked hard and saved his pennies. Finally, one day he had enough money. He went in and bought the little boat. As he left the store holding the boat close to him, he was heard saying, \"You\'re my boat. You\'re twice my boat. First you\'re my boat \'cause I made you and second you\'re my boat \'cause I bought you!\" If you ever think that you aren\'t worth much and if you think you\'re cheap, just remember what God thinks of you. He thinks you\'re His. Twice His. First you\'re His because He made you. And second you\'re His because He bought you on the cross. He paid a price to redeem you. So let go of your stress to God\'s care, and let go of your sins to God\'s cross. Source Unknown. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The redeemed are dependent of God for all. All that we have-- wisdom, the pardon of sin, deliverance, acceptance in God\'s favor, grace, holiness, true comfort and happiness, eternal life and glory--we have from God by a Mediator; and this Mediator is God. God not only gives us the Mediator, and accepts His mediation, and of His power and grace bestows the things purchased by the Mediator, but He is the Mediator. Our blessings are what we have by purchase; and the purchase is made of God; the blessings are purchased of Him; and not only so, but God is the purchaser. Yes, God is both the purchaser and the price; for Christ, who is God, purchased these blessings by offering Himself as the price of our salvation. Jonathan Edwards, Closer Walk, July, 1988, p. 15. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A gathering of friends at an English estate nearly turned to tragedy when one of the children strayed into deep water. The gardener heard the cries for help, plunged in, and rescued the drowning child. That youngster\'s name was Winston Churchill. His grateful parents asked the gardener what they could do to reward him. He hesitated, then said, \"I wish my son could go to college someday and become a doctor.\" \"We\'ll see to it,\" Churchill\'s parents promised. Years later, while Sir Winston was prime minister of England, he was stricken with pneumonia. The country\'s best physician was summoned. His name was Dr. Alexander Fleming, the man who discovered and developed penicillin. He was also the son of that gardener who had saved young Winston from drowning. Later Churchill remarked, \"Rarely has one man owed his life twice to the same person.\" Ron Hutchcraft, Wake Up Calls, Moody, 1990, p. 22. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
REFINE Elena Bonner, wife of Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, says that as he wrote his memoirs she typed, edited, and nursed the work, doing everything she could to make sure it survived seizure by the government. Sakharov worked on his memoirs in Gorky, rewriting sections because they kept vanishing. Then one day he met Elena at the train station and with trembling lips told her, \"They stole it.\" She says he looked like a man who had just learned of the death of a close friend. But after a few days, Sakharov returned to his work. According to his wife, each time he rewrote his memoirs there was something new--something better. Today in the Word, Moody Bible Institute, January, 1991, p. 34.
REFORMATION Living without Christ is like driving a car with its front end out of line. You can stay on the road IF you grip the steering wheel with both hands and hang on tightly. Any lapse of attention, however, and you head straight for the ditch. Society in general--educators, political leaders, parents-- exhorts us to drive straight and curb our destructive tendencies. But it is a ceaseless struggle. Coming to Christ is a little like getting a front-end alignment. The pull toward the ditch is corrected from the inside. Not to say there won\'t be bumps and potholes ahead that will still try to jar us off the road. Temptations and challenges will always test our alertness to steer a straight course. We can hardly afford to fall asleep at the wheel. But the basic skew in the moral mechanism has been repaired. Robert Schmidgall.
REGENERATION The new birth or regeneration is an inner recreating of fallen human nature by the Holy Spirit. It changes the disposition from lawless, godless self-seeking into one of trust and love, of repentance for past rebelliousness and unbelief, and loving compliance with God\'s law henceforth. It enlightens the blinded mind to discern spiritual realities and liberates and energizes the enslaved will for free obedience to God. The use of the figure of new birth to describe this change emphasizes two facts about it. The first is its decisiveness. The regenerate man has forever ceased to be the man he was; his old life is over and a new life has begun; he is a new creature in Christ, buried with him out of reach of condemnation and raised with him into a new life of righteousness. The second fact emphasized is that regeneration is due to the free, and to us, mysterious, exercise of divine power. Infants do not induce or cooperate in their own procreation and birth; no more can those who are dead in trespasses and sins prompt the quickening operation of God\'s Spirit within them. James Packer, Your Father Loves You, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- If I had a car with the engine that was ready for the grave, I\'d have a new engine put in. I\'d take the car into a mechanic who would put it in for me. If when I got that car back, it ran just as poorly, I\'d begin to wonder if the old really had been replaced or just cleaned up. It is not different with our new lives in Christ. Henry Eerdmans, Christian Personal Ethics, 1957, p. 383ff. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Rebirth or regeneration is monergistic, not synergistic. It is done by God and by God alone. A dead man cannot cooperate with his resurrection. Lazarus did not cooperate in his resurrection. Regeneration is a sovereign act of God in which man plays no role. After God brings us to life, of course, we certainly are involved in \"cooperating\" with Him. We are to believe, trust, obey, and work for him. But unless God acts first, we will never be reborn in the first place. We must also realize it is not as if dead people have faith, and because of their faith God agrees to regenerate them. Rather, it is because God has regenerated us and given us new life that we have faith. R.C. Sproul, Tabletalk, 1989. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Once there was a brier growing in a ditch and there came along a gardener with his spade. As he dug around it and lifted it up the brier said to itself, \"What is he doing? Doesn\'t he know I am a worthless brier?\" But the gardener took it into his garden and planted it amid his flowers, while the brier said, \"What a mistake he has made planting me among these beautiful roses.\" Then the gardener came once more and made a slit in the brier with his sharp knife. He grafted it with a rose and when summer came lovely roses were blooming on that old brier. Then the gardener said, \"Your beauty is not due to what came out but to what I put in.\" Source Unknown. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
REGRET Sarah was rich. She had inherited twenty million dollars. Plus she had an additional income of one thousand dollars a day. That\'s a lot of money any day, but it was immense in the late 1800s. Sarah was well known. She was the belle of New Haven, Connecticut. No social event was complete without her presence. No one hosted a party without inviting her. Sarah was powerful. Her name and money would open almost any door in America. Colleges wanted her donations. Politicians clamored for her support. Organizations sought her endorsement. Sarah was rich. Well known. Powerful. And miserable. Her only daughter had died at five weeks of age. Then her husband had passed away. She was left alone with her name, her money, her memories, ... and her guilt. It was her guilt that caused her to move west. A passion for penance drove her to San Jose, California. Her yesterdays imprisoned her todays, and she yearned for freedom. She bought an eight-room farmhouse plus one hundred sixty adjoining acres. She hired sixteen carpenters and put them to work. For the next thirty-eight years, craftsmen labored every day, twenty-four hours a day, to build a mansion. Observers were intrigued by the project. Sarah\'s instructions were more than eccentric ... they were eerie. The design had a macabre touch. Each window was to have thirteen panes, each wall thirteen panels, each closet thirteen hooks, and each chandelier thirteen globes. The floor plan was ghoulish. Corridors snaked randomly, some leading nowhere. One door opened to a blank wall, another to a fifty-foot drop. One set of stairs led to a ceiling that had no door. Trap doors. Secret passageways. Tunnels. This was no retirement home for Sarah\'s future; it was a castle for her past. The making of this mysterious mansion only ended when Sarah died. The completed estate sprawled over six acres and had six kitchens, thirteen bathrooms, forty stairways, forty-seven fireplaces, fifty-two skylights, four hundred sixty-seven doors, ten thousand windows, one hundred sixty rooms, and a bell tower. Why did Sarah want such a castle? Didn\'t she live alone? \"Well, sort of,\" those acquainted with her story might answer. \"There were the visitors...\" And the visitors came each night. Legend has it that every evening at midnight, a servant would pass through the secret labyrinth that led to the bell tower. He would ring the bell...to summon the spirits. Sarah would then enter the \"blue room,\" a room reserved for her and her nocturnal guests. Together they would linger until 2:00 a.m., when the bell would be rung again. Sarah would return to her quarters; the ghosts would return to their graves. Who comprised this legion of phantoms? Indians and soldiers killed on the U.S. frontier. They had all been killed by bullets from the most popular rifle in America -- the Winchester. What had brought millions of dollars to Sarah Winchester had brought death to them. So she spent her remaining years in a castle of regret, providing a home for the dead. You can see this poltergeist place in San Jose, if you wish. You can tour its halls and see its remains. But to see what unresolved guilt can do to a human being, you don\'t have to go to the Winchester mansion. Lives imprisoned by yesterday\'s guilt are in your own city. Hearts haunted by failure are in your own neighborhood. People plagued by pitfalls are just down the street .. or just down the hall. There is, wrote Paul, a \"worldly sorrow\" that \"brings death.\" A guilt that kills. A sorrow that\'s fatal. A venomous regret that\'s deadly. How many Sarah Winchesters do you know? How far do you have to go to find a soul haunted by ghosts of the past? Maybe not very far. Maybe Sarah\'s story is your story. Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm, Word Publishing, 1991, pp. 193-195. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ten Things You Will Never Regret: 1. Showing kindness to an aged person. 2. Destroying a letter written in anger. 3. Offering an apology that will save a friendship. 4. Stopping a scandal that was ruining a reputation. 5. Helping a boy or girl find themselves. 6. Taking time to show consideration to parents, friends, brothers and sisters. 7. Refraining from gossip when others around you delight in it. 8. Refusing to do a thing which is wrong, although others do it. 9. Living according to your convictions. 10. Accepting the judgment of God on any question. Pulpit Helps, May, 1991. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- In 1904 William Borden, heir to the Borden Dairy Estate,graduated from a Chicago high school a millionaire. His parents gave him a trip around the world. Traveling through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe gave Borden a burden for the world\'s hurting people. Writing home, he said, \"I\'m going to give myl ife to prepare for the mission field.\" When he made this decision, he wrote in the back of his Bible two words: No Reserves. Turning down high paying job offers after graduation from Yale University, he entered two more words in his Bible: No Retreats. Completing studies at Princeton Seminary, Borden sailed for China to work with Muslims, stopping first at Egypt for some preparation. While there he was stricken with cerebral meningitis and died within a month. A waste, you say! Not in God\'s plan. In his Bible underneath the words No Reserves and No Retreats, he had written the words No Regrets. Daily Bread, December 31, 1988. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It is better to sleep on what you plan to do than to be kept awake by what you\'ve done. Source Unknown. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Adults most common regret: I never took enough risks. Next: I wasn\'t assertive enough and I lacked self-discipline. Rickard T. Kuiner, Homemade, March 1989. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- We all have regrets, according to Dr. Richard Kinnier of Arizona State Univ. The most common regret was not being a better student, not studying more. Other common regrets include not being more assertive, not having more self-discipline, not taking more risks, not spending quality time with families. One surprise showed up: money appears to be insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Dr. Merrill Douglass, Homemade, April, 1990. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- When I stand at the judgment seat of Christ And He shows me His plan for me; The plan of my life as it might have been Had He had His way, and I see How I blocked Him here and I checked Him there And I would not yield my will, Shall I see grief in my Savior\'s eyes; Grief though He loves me still? Oh, He\'d have me rich, and I stand there poor, Stripped of all but His grace, While my memory runs like a hunted thing Down the paths I can\'t retrace. Then my desolate heart will well-nigh break With tears that I cannot shed. I\'ll cover my face with my empty hands And bow my uncrowned head. No. Lord of the years that are left to me I yield them to Thy hand. Take me, make me, mold me To the pattern Thou hast planned. Source Unknown. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------