It is said of one of the famous composers that he had a rebellious son who used to come in late at night after his father and mother had gone to bed. And before going to his own room, he would go to his father's piano and slowly, as well as loudly, play a simple scale, all but the final note. Then leaving the scale uncompleted, he would retire to his room. Meanwhile the father, hearing the scale minus the final note, would writhe on his bed, his mind unable to relax because the scale was unresolved. Finally, in consternation, he would stumble down the stairs and hit the previously unstruck note. Only then would his mind surrender to sleep once again.
George MacDonald, Restoring Your Spiritual Passion.
In his book Facing Loneliness, J. Oswald Sanders writes, "The round of pleasure or the amassing of wealth are but vain attempts to escape from the persistent ache...The millionaire is usually a lonely man and the comedian is often more unhappy than his audience."
Sanders goes on to emphasize that being successful often fails to produce satisfaction. Then he refers to Henry Martyn, a distinguished scholar, as an example. Martyn, a Cambridge University student, was honored at only 20 years of age for his achievements in mathematics. In fact, he was given the highest recognition possible in that field. And yet he felt an emptiness inside. He said that instead of finding fulfillment in his achievements, he had "only grasped a shadow." After evaluating his life's goals, Martyn sailed to India as a missionary at the age of 24. When he arrived, he prayed, "Lord, let me burn out for You." In the next 7 years that preceded his death, he translated the New Testament into three difficult Eastern languages. These notable achievements were certainly not passing "shadows."
Our Daily Bread, January 21, 1994.
No illustrations yet.
On the corporate level, ethical purity is mandatory if we are to experience the full blessing of God. George Mueller of Bristol, England, a man known for his prayers of faith and his mighty influence on others, set forth seven statements of ethical commitment. How would modern Christian organizations fare under the light of these guidelines, as quoted by Catherine Marshall in Beyond Our Selves?
1. No funds would ever be solicited. No facts and figures concerning needs were to be revealed by the workers in the orphanage to anyone, except to God in prayer.
2. No debts would ever be incurred.
3. No money contributed for a specific purpose would ever be used for another purpose.
4. All accounts would be audited annually by professional auditors.
5. No ego-pandering by publication of donor's names, with the amount of their gifts, would be allowed; each donor would be thanked privately.
6. No "names" of prominent or titled persons would be sought for the board or to advertise the institution.
7. The success of the institution would be measured not by the numbers served or by the amounts of money taken in, but by God's blessing on the work, which Mueller expected to be in proportion to the time spent in prayer.
Paul Borthwick, Leading the Way, Navpress, 1989, p. 116.
Amazing that I have nothing for this area!
Race car driver Bill Vukovich won the famed Indianapolis 500 race in 1953 and 1954, a record of success few other drivers had matched. Asked the secret of his success in Indianapolis, Vukovich replied, "There's no secret. You just press the accelerator to the floor and steer left."
The poet, James Whitcomb Riley, has a poem in which he tells of the death of a worker in a shop. He pictures his fellow workmen standing around on the day of his funeral talking about him. One man, tears in his eyes after saying some complimentary things, added, "When God made him, I bet He didn't do anything else that day just set around and feel good."
Morning Glory, January 8, 1994.
Keep us, Lord, so awake in the duties of our calling that we may sleep in thy peace and wake up in thy glory.
When you're old as I am, there are all sorts of extremely pleasant things that happen to you...the pleasantest of all is that you wake up in the night and you find that you are half in and half out of your battered old carcass. It seems quite a tossup whether you go back and resume full occupancy of your mortal body, or make off toward the bright glow you see in the sky, the lights of the city of God.
Funerals of pastors are solemn affairs. At times when I attend one, however, I am struck by a strange kind of irony. After a lifetime of ministry supposedly focused on grace, we bring the poor soul to his grave with eloquent eulogies and high tributes that give the lie to it all. All the deceased's good works are magnificent and, of course, all shortcomings passed over. I am often reminded at such times of Lincoln's remark at the burial of one of his generals: "If he had known he'd get a funeral like this, he'd have died much sooner." It is our vexing temptation, isn't it, not only in death but throughout life. We think we are a gift to God himself instead of remembering that ordained ministry is a gift to us.
God buries His workmen, but not His work.
When John Todd, a nineteenth-century clergyman, was six years old, both his parents died. A kind-hearted aunt raised him until he left home to study for the ministry. Later, this aunt became seriously ill, and in distress she wrote Todd a letter. Would death mean the end of everything, or could she hope for something beyond? Here, condensed from The Autobiography of John Todd, is the letter he sent in reply: "It is now thirty-five years since I, as a boy of six, was left quite alone in the world. You sent me word you would give me a home and be a kind mother to me. I have never forgotten the day I made the long journey to your house. I can still recall my disappointment when, instead of coming for me yourself, you sent your servant, Caesar, to fetch me.
"I remember my tears and anxiety as, perched high on your horse and clinging tight to Caesar, I rode off to my new home. Night fell before we finished the journey, and I became lonely and afraid. 'Do you think she'll go to bed before we get there?' I asked Caesar. 'Oh no!' he said reassuringly, 'She'll stay up for you. When we get out o' these here woods, you'll see her candle shinin' in the window.'
"Presently we did ride out into the clearing, and there, sure enough, was your candle. I remember you were waiting at the door, that you put your arms close about me--a tired and bewildered little boy. You had a fire burning on the hearth, a hot supper waiting on the stove. After supper you took me to my new room, heard me say my prayers, and then sat beside me till I fell asleep.
"Some day soon God will send for you, to take you to a new home. Don't fear the summons, the strange journey, or the messenger of death. God can be trusted to do as much for you as you were kind enough to do for me so many years ago. At the end of the road you will find love and a welcome awaiting, and you will be safe in God's care."
A few days before his death, Dr. F. B. Meyer wrote a very dear friend these words: "I have just heard, to my great surprise, that I have but a few days to live. It may be that before this reaches you, I shall have entered the palace. Don't trouble to write. We shall meet in the morning."
Mrs. C. Cowman, "Consolation," p. 70.
C.H. Spurgeon poignantly stated it this way: "A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you, and were helped by you, will remember you. So carve you name on hearts, and not on marble."
For hardy whalers, no ocean was too wide to cross in pursuit of their mighty prizes. In 1819, more than a dozen ships where launched from Nantucket, all headed for distant Pacific hunting grounds. One, the three-masted Essex, was to suffer a calamity so dramatic that its fate inspired a classic American novel--Herman Melville's Moby Dick. For months the ship survived the hazards of rounding Cape Horn and taking its prey. But one day a mammoth sperm whale rammed the Essex head-on. Then the leviathan passed under the vessel, turned, and attacked again. The whale hit, as first mate Owen Chase recalled, "with ten-fold fury and vengeance." The crew abandoned ship, and from their whaleboats watched as the Essex slid into the sea.
Today in the Word, September 20, 1992.
One night a thief broke into the single-room apartment of French novelist Honore de Balzac. Trying to avoid waking Balzac, the intruder quietly picked the lock on the writer's desk. Suddenly the silence was broken by a sardonic laugh from the bed, where Balzac lay watching the thief. "Why do you laugh?" asked the thief. "I am laughing to think what risks you take to try to find money in a desk by night where the legal owner can never find any by day."
Today in the Word, November 6, 1993.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow
creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, Out, brief candle
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
and then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot. Full of sound and fury
Shakespeare, Macbeth V., v., 17.
Theoretically, television may be feasible, but I consider it an impossibility--a development which we should waste little time dreaming about.
Lee de Forest, 1926, inventor of the cathode ray tube.
I think there is a world market for about five computers.
Thomas J. Watson, 1943, Chairman of the Board of IBM.
We don't think the Beatles will do anything in their market. Guitar groups are on their way out.
Recording company expert, 1962.
More than at any time in history, mankind faces a crossroads--one path leading to despair and utter hopelessness, the other leading to total destruction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.
Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.
Corrie Ten Boom.
During his 1960 presidential campaign, John F. Kennedy often closed his speeches with the story of Colonel Davenport, the Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives.
One day in 1789, the sky of Hartford darkened ominously, and some of the representatives, glancing out the windows, feared the end was at hand. Quelling a clamor for immediate adjournment, Davenport rose and said, "The Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. Therefore, I wish that candles be brought."
Rather than fearing what is to come, we are to be faithful till Christ returns. Instead of fearing the dark, we're to be lights as we watch and wait.
An interesting map is on display in the British Museum in London. It's an old mariner's chart, drawn in 1525, outlining the North American coastline and adjacent waters. The cartographer made some intriguing notations on areas of the map that represented regions not yet explored. He wrote: "Here be giants," "Here be fiery scorpions," and "Here be dragons." Eventually, the map came into the possession of Sir John Franklin, a British explorer in the early 1800s. Scratching out the fearful inscriptions, he wrote these words across the map: "Here is God."
Fortuneteller, gazing into crystal ball, to frog: You are going to meet a beautiful young woman. From the moment she sets eyes on you she will have an insatiable desire to know all about you. She will be compelled to get close to you--you'll fascinate her." Frog: "Where am I? At a singles club?" Fortuneteller: "Biology class."