All Choked Up

preacher-at-a-funeralI have noticed that I seem to be getting more choked up at funerals than I once did. This could pose a problem, since I am often the preacher at funerals I attend!

At first I thought that perhaps I was becoming more emotional. That does occasionally happen when one gets older.

Then I had another thought. What if the reason for my watery eyes and runny nose was not the welling up of emotions, but the presence of so many fragrant flowers nearby? The preacher often sits very close to a virtual wall of flowers, and I have come to believe that this is the reason for my getting choked up.

Maybe I should keep this information a secret. It might be good to be known as the preacher who cares enough to get all choked up at funerals!

In any case, we all should “…mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15).

But if you really want to look like a caring person, sit close to the flowers!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”—Ecclesiastes 3:1,4).

 

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Dangerous Thirst

glass-of-waterIn one movie some men were shipwrecked and left drifting aimlessly on the ocean in a lifeboat. As the days passed under the scorching sun, their rations of food and fresh water ran out. One man ignored all previous warnings and gulped down some seawater. He quickly died.

Ocean water contains seven times more salt than the human body can safely ingest. Drinking it, a person dehydrates because the kidneys demand extra water to flush the overload of salt. The more salt water someone drinks, the thirstier he gets. He actually dies of thirst.

When we lust, we become like this man. We thirst desperately for something that looks like what we want. We don’t realize, however, that it is precisely the opposite of what we really need. In fact, it can kill us.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”—Matthew 5:27-28.

 

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Encouraging Gesture

Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese

Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese

Jackie Robinson was the first black person to play major league baseball. While breaking baseball’s color barrier, he faced jeering crowds in every stadium.

While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, be committed an error. His own fans began to ridicule him. He stood at second base, humiliated, while the fans jeered.

Then shortstop “Pee Wee” Reese came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie Robinson and faced the crowd. The fans grew quiet. Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career.

Always be looking for an opportunity to make an encouraging gesture to someone who desperately needs it.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”—1 Thessalonians 5:11.

 

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Third Strand

braided-hairSince I am bald, I am not exactly an expert on hair braiding. However, I saw an illustration that might be worth sharing:

A braid appears to contain only two strands of hair. But it is impossible to create a braid with only two strands. If the two could be put together at all, they would quickly unravel.

Herein lies the mystery: What looks like two strands requires a third. The third strand, though not immediately evident, keeps the strands tightly woven.

In a Christian marriage, God’s presence, like the third strand in a braid, holds husband and wife together.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain…”—Psalm 127:1.

 

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Spread Yourself Around

ashes-scatteredI read about a company that has just started offering a unique service for those who have passed away and wish for their ashes to be spread across the earth. The cremated remains of the deceased are lifted by a balloon into the upper atmosphere. There the ashes are released into the jet stream, where they may float around for weeks. Eventually the remains fall to the earth, sometimes in the form of rain or snow.

That sounds like a good way to spread yourself around!

However, we don’t have to wait until we are dead to scatter ourselves about. Jesus says that we Christians are the salt of the earth. We don’t stay in the salt shaker! We scatter ourselves around, enriching people’s lives along the way and spreading the gospel message wherever we go.

So get out there and spread yourself around!

“You are the salt of the earth…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”—Mathew 5:13-16.

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Proper Thanks

grapesYears ago, a wine company advertisement in Newsweek magazine read: “The earth gives us wonderful grapes. The grapes give us wonderful wine. The wine wins us lots of new friends. Thank you, earth.”

How easy it is to give credit and thanks to everything or everyone but the real source of all our blessings!

The fruit of the vine should remind us of the greatest blessing we have—salvation in Jesus Christ—and of the sacrifice it took for us to have such a blessing.

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”—2 Corinthians 9:15.

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Dead Skunk In the Middle of the Road

skunkFor years I have noticed that there seem to be more dead skunks on the road this time of year. I had a suspicion that it had something to do with mating season. So I looked it up and, sure enough, February and March is the mating season for skunks. It appears that their desire to mate leads many skunks to their downfall. Their haste to find a companion causes them to venture into dangerous territory, resulting in a loss of life.

Unlike skunks, there is no mating season for humans. The desires that drive us to find a companion are a factor in our lives year round.

However, these desires—if not channeled properly—can lead to spiritual death. God has plainly spelled out his requirements for purity, but many people allow their sexual appetite to lead them into danger. Their frenetic chase for fulfillment knows no boundaries, and they pay the ultimate price.

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”—Hebrews 13:4.

 

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Eluding Rescue

stolen-car-chaseIn 1981, a Minnesota radio station reported a story about a stolen car in California. Police were staging an intense search for the vehicle and the driver, even to the point of placing announcements on local radio stations to contact the thief.

On the front seat of the stolen car sat a box of crackers that, unknown to the thief, were laced with poison. The car owner had intended to use the crackers as rat bait. Now the police and the owner of the VW Bug were more interested in apprehending the thief to save his life than to recover the car.

So often when we run from God, we feel it is to escape his punishment. But what we are actually doing is eluding his rescue.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”—Matthew 23:37.

 

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Sounds Encouraging

Sandhill cranes in flight

Sandhill cranes in flight

In his book Wind and Fire, Bruce Larson points out some interesting facts about sandhill cranes:

These large birds, who fly great distances across continents, have three remarkable qualities. First, they rotate leadership. No one bird stays out in front all the time. Second, they choose leaders who can handle the turbulence. And then, all during the time one bird is leading, the rest are honking their affirmation. That’s not a bad model for the church. Certainly we need leaders who can handle turbulence and who are aware that leadership ought to be shared. But most of all, we need a church where we are all honking encouragement.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”—1 Thessalonians 5:11.

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Trading Places

super-bowl-2017My cousin paid $3,000 for Super Bowl tickets several months ago, not realizing that his planned trip to the big game would conflict with his wedding day. Now he is scrambling to find someone to take his place. If anyone is interested, go to the First Baptist Church this Sunday evening at 6:30pm. She will be the one wearing white.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine…”—Proverbs 17:22.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”—Ephesians 5:25.

 

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