Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Prairie chickens and eagles

There is a story from Native American folklore about an Indian brave who came upon an eagle's egg that had fallen unbroken from its nest. Unable to find the nest, the brave put the egg in the nest of a prairie chicken. It was hatched and raised by the brooding mother hen.

The fledgling eagle could not see himself. He could only see the prairie chickens around him, so he scratched and pecked the way they did. He grew up thinking of himself as an earthbound prairie chicken and acting like one.

One day an eagle flew overhead. Something inside him wanted to leap into the air and fly away like the proud and magnificent eagle overhead but, he thought of himself as a prairie chicken. He could not soar like an eagle.

Often people are shackled by their false beliefs about themselves.

Don't you know you are an eagle?

Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Parrot and the Pincer

A man decided to visit his friend. He had never been to his home. He didn't see his friend's car or any sounds of life, but he decided to knock on the front door anyway. He knocked and heard a voice come from inside saying, "Come in." The door was unlocked. He entered. Immediately, he was attacked by a vicious Doberman Pincer.

The man was being pinned against the wall with the dog at his throat. He called out to his friend but there was no response. Just then he looked up and saw a parrot perched near the ceiling. The bird said, "Come in."

The man was furious. He verbally attacked the parrot saying, "You stupid bird. Is 'come in' all that you can say?"

The parrot said, "Sick him."

Sometimes it's smarter to swallow your anger and keep your big mouth shut.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Nutcracker

One of my favorite memories was taking our young sons to see a ballet called "The Nutcracker." Our boys didn't particularly want to go. They were jocks. They would have rather gone to a ballgame. But, this was important to their mother. She wanted them to be exposed to some culture along the way.

The boys sat as quietly and respectfully as they could. They tried to look interested. When the intermission came they stood up and thanked their mother for bringing them. "This was very nice, Momma," they said. "We enjoyed it."

Their mother replied, "Oh, son, this is only the intermission. It's only half over."

They screamed, "Oh, no! We can't stand this! We've got to get out of here!"

Believe it or not, some of the things that are happening to you now that you consider unbearable will one day be a memory that brings a smile.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Where people end up

I serve on a board that examines candidates for ministry. A few years ago a man came before us who wanted to be a pastor. We asked him, "What are your hopes for your future ministry?"

He said, "My grandfather was a switchmaster for a railroad. His job was to take a piece of metal twelve miles long and mechanically move it six inches in one direction or another. He had to know where each train was supposed to go. It wasn't a huge job, but it was important because if he made a mistake, the train ended up in the wrong place."

Then the candidate for ministry added, "I do not have great ministerial gifts, but I'd like to take the gifts I have been given and use them faithfully. I believe that if I do that it will make a difference in where people end up."

We approved him.

You do not need to be the most gifted person around to make a huge difference.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Henry Drummond in his well-known book, Natural Law in the Spiritual World, tells of a fish that lives in the subterranean lakes of Mammoth Cave. These caves are so deep below the surface that no ray of natural light ever gets into them. In other words, the fish has existed in absolute darkness for centuries.

The most interesting thing about the fish is that it has eyes. Yet, it cannot see. Through the years the optic nerve atrophied until vision was no longer possible.

I know people like that. They have eyes and they can physically see, but they do not have the capacity to vision.

Conversely, I have known people who were physically blind but who had tremendous sensitivity and vision about emotional and spiritual realities. Some of the greatest poets that have ever lived were physically blind.

The most famous person to have ever lived used to say of people, "You have eyes to see but you can't see."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Playing Hooky

A little boy decided to play hooky from school. His parents had to work, so he pretended to leave for school and as soon as his parents were gone, he sneaked back into the house. Maybe you remember the movie, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," well; this was Johnny Smith's day off.

Things went pretty well until someone from the principal's office called to check on Johnny. "Is Johnny sick today?" the school representative asked.

"Yes, Johnny is very sick today," came the reply.
The school official, recognizing the youthful voice, asked, "Who is this speaking?"

Johnny answered, "What do you mean, 'Who is this?' This is my daddy speaking!"

Have you ever gotten caught in a lie? It's pretty embarrassing, isn't it? It's better to tell the truth even if it gets you in trouble. Nothing is worth the loss of your integrity.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Medal of Honor

There is a moving World War II story about a conscientious objector who received the Congressional Medal of Honor. It seems that the soldier, who served as a medic in the Pacific theatre, saved dozens of his wounded comrades who were pinned down by enemy fire. He risked his life over and over in spite of being wounded himself.

Afterwards, his company commander asked the basis of his heroism. The conscientious objector answered, "My religious convictions do not permit me to kill, but they do permit me to die."

Sometimes we view non-violent people as cowards when nothing could be further from the truth. Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, both pacifists, were certainly not sissies. Jesus and Buddha were not wimps. Sometimes it takes more strength to risk harm without giving injury than it does to strike back.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Half of the Sandwich

Several years ago, I read about a New York City executive who was moving from appointment to appointment all day. He didn't have time to stop for lunch, so he purchased a sandwich from one of the coin operated vending machines. He put his sandwich on a table and went to purchase a soda from another machine.

When he came back to his seat there was a bag lady - one of those people who carry all their earthly possessions in a big bag - sitting there eating his sandwich. He was incensed - furious. He decided to sit down opposite her and glare. Evidently the woman felt uneasy because she handed him half of the sandwich. This made him even angrier.

The woman finished her part of the sandwich, picked up her bag and left. As she walked away he saw his sandwich sitting on a table untouched.

Sometimes things are not what they appear to be. That's one of the reasons we need to be kinder, gentler, and more merciful.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


In 1665, the Dutch inventor of the pendulum clock discovered an odd sympathy between the pendulums of two clocks hung together. He discovered that when clocks were hung in close proximity, their pendulums would swing in precisely opposite directions in perfect rhythm. He suggested possible explanations, but he was never able to prove them.

Recently, scientists at Georgia Tech proved that pendulums actually sense an imperceptible movement in the beam on which the clocks are hung, and that movement eventually causes the other clock to swing with opposite synchronicity.

Similarly, I believe people are created to live in rhythm with one another. We are more influenced by the people around us than we realize. We impact them and they impact us. We are not independent agents. We are part of a community.

Monday, November 21, 2011

He who dies with the most toys wins

Malcolm Forbes was one of the wealthiest people to have lived in our time. The billionaire publisher was the one who came up with the oft-quoted phrase, "He who dies with the most toys wins." Forbes had plenty of toys: boats, planes, and castles. He had all the symbols of status that our world has to offer. He had what many of us desperately want: prosperity, power and privilege.

I didn't know Malcolm Forbes so I won't offer an evaluation of him, but I've known a lot of very wealthy people. I'll bet you that if you knew the real life situation of the wealthiest people around - their pressures and their struggles - you wouldn't be interested in changing places with them.

The truth is that those who die with the most toys are just dead.

The One I follow said it this way, "A person's life does not consist of the abundance of things possessed."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Memorizing Massive Amounts

Did you know that if you have average intelligence you have sufficient brain power to memorize the entire Encyclopedia Britannica? That's right; you can memorize massive amounts of material. Here are seven steps:
  1. First, you've got to be interested in the material.
  2. Second, you need to understand what you're learning.
  3. Third, you need to associate the thing you wish to know with something meaningful that you already know.
  4. Fourth, you've got to put it in a logical sequence.
  5. Fifth, make a hand-eye connection. Write down what you want to remember in the way you want to remember it.
  6. Sixth, concentrate on the information. See it in your mind's eye in outline form.
  7. Seventh, repeat it over and over and over and over again.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wrong Number

Did you hear about the fellow who came to work with both ears badly burned? Someone asked him what happened. Here's how he explained his calamity. He said, "I was ironing my shirt when the phone rang. Instead of picking up the phone, I accidentally put the iron to my ear." He added, "The terrible thing is that it was a wrong number."

His friend questioned him further, "What happened to the other ear?"

The response was, "Wouldn’t you know it? That idiot called back!"

I know people just like that. No matter what happens, they blame their errors on somebody else. They specialize in blaming.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Church Bloopers

Here are some bloopers that have ended up in church worship bulletins:
  •  "Immediately after the service there will be a parents meeting at both the north and the south sides of the Sanctuary. Children will be baptized at both ends."
  • "This being Easter, we will ask Helen Smith to come forward and lay an egg on the altar."
  •  "Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church."
  • "After the first hymn turn to someone and say hell."
  • "Do you want to know what hell is like? Come hear our choir."
  • "Don’t let worry kill you. Let the church help."


Friday, November 4, 2011

Prosperity, Power, and Privilege

How can a person know when they are a success? For most people success is measured by three "Ps": prosperity, power, and privilege. But these are inadequate measuring tools.

Here is an insight: why not leave it for the next generation to decide whether you've been a success or a failure? After all, if you are still around, you are still in the race.
Sometimes people who look like successes end up proving to be failures. And sometimes people who never see the fruit of their lives end up being the means by which others achieve great things in the next generation.

My whole life I have been standing on the shoulders of others who went before me and made my success possible. On the surface it looks like I've been more successful than they were, but it's not really true.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Memorable Funeral

I will never forget a funeral I attended as a teenager. I went with my Uncle Charlie, who conducted the service. At the graveside ,the grieving widower began to weep, moan, and sigh. He said, "Don't leave me Mary. You can’t leave me, Mary. I can't live without you, Mary." Then he jumped on top of the casket and his moans and sighs became screams.

The whole thing freaked me out. I went home feeling so sorry for that poor old man whose wife died.

A week later I got a phone call from my Uncle Charlie. He said, "do you remember the old man who wailed and jumped on top of his wife's casket pleading for her not to leave him? Well, he got married today."

Write it down: Not every expression of grief is authentic.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Who was that masked man?"

One day I stopped by my house between a funeral and a graveside internment. I never have liked to follow the policemen in those funeral processions. I left immediately after the service and dropped by my house. I checked the mail, got something to eat and drink, and then decided to go to the cemetery. I figured I had plenty of time. As I came near to the cemetery I saw that a line of cars had already moved in and gathered around a body. I was late.

I sped my pace, parked my car, and ran to the graveside, naturally in a reverent way. I walked to the head of the casket, steadied myself, and looked out on the crowd. I didn’t know anyone. It suddenly occurred to me that I was at the wrong funeral.

I lowered my head and made my way to the car as quickly and reverently as I could. As I left I could hear people say, "Who was that masked man?"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Have you ever heard the term "Wrong-Way Corrigan?"

Have you ever heard the term "Wrong-Way Corrigan?" I have heard it all my life. This phrase goes back to a true story from 1938. Douglas Corrigan took off in his plane from Brooklyn, New York, to Long Beach, California. A little over twenty-three hours later he touched down in Dublin, Ireland. Upon getting out of the plane, he asked the airport officials, "Is this Los Angeles?"

For years people made fun of Douglas. "Wrong-Way Corrigan," they called him. But in 1963 – 25 years later - he finally admitted that he violated his flight plan on purpose. He had tried to get permission to cross the Atlantic Ocean in his plane. The authorities refused his request. So he went ahead and crossed the pond any way - accidentally on purpose.

Let's tell the truth: Some of our errors and bad judgments, whether consciously or not, are committed on purpose.