Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Humble Greatness

“The concert impresario, Sol Hurok, liked to say that Marian Anderson hadn't simply grown great, she'd grown great simply. He says: "A few years ago a reporter interviewed Marian and asked her to name the greatest moment in her life. I was in her dressing room at the time and was curious to hear the answer. I knew she had many big moments to choose from. There was the night Toscanini told her that hers was the finest voice of the century. There was the private concert she gave at the White House for the Roosevelts and the King and Queen of England. She had received the $10,000 Bok Award as the person who had done the most for her hometown, Philadelphia. To top it all, there was that Easter Sunday in Washington when she stood beneath the Lincoln statue and sang for a crowd of 75,000, which included Cabinet members, Supreme Court Justices, and most members of Congress. Which of those big moments did she choose? "None of them," said Hurok. "Miss Anderson told the reporter that the greatest moment of her life was the day she went home and told her mother she wouldn't have to take in washing anymore”” (Alan Loy McGinnis, The Friendship Factor, p. 30).
It is difficult to resist the lure of self-importance when others are heaping praise upon us. It is very easy for fame and fortune to go to our heads.  Rare is the individual who remains humble when the accolades begin to pile up.  The admonition of Peter remains just as important today as it was when it was first written.  He reminds believers to “...clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time…” (1 Peter 5:5–6).
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, its thinking of yourself less” (C.S. Lewis).

God loves you!


Monday, September 15, 2014

Target Practice

          Matthew Emmons was a key member of the U.S. shooting team which competed at the 2004 Summer Olympics held in Athens, Greece.  Having already won the gold medal in the Men's 50m Rifle Prone event, he turned his attention to the 50m Three Position Rifle event with high hopes for another medal.  But it wasn’t to be.  “With one bullet left to shoot, all Matt Emmons needed was a score of 7.2 to win his second gold medal of the Olympic Games. On his first nine shots in the finals, Emmons' lowest score was a 9.3. He took careful aim, fired ... bull's eye.  Only Emmons' shot pierced the wrong target — known as a crossfire — resulting in a score of 0.  Instead of gold, Emmons, 23, of Browns Hill, N.J., was left trying to explain the rare mistake that left him in eighth place” (Steve Rivera, Gannett News Service, USA Today, 8-23-04).  A momentary loss of focus made the difference between a gold medal and eighth place because a bullseye on the wrong target doesn’t count.
          Focus is important in any successful endeavor, including being a disciple of Jesus.  “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1–2).  Is it any wonder that Satan does his best to distract us?  If he can tempt us to take our eyes off of the right target and focus on anything else, he has gained the advantage.  Remember: a bullseye on the wrong target doesn’t count!
          “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in.  Aim at earth and you get neither” (C.S. Lewis).

God loves you!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Civil War

The Civil War has the distinction of being the deadliest conflict in U.S. history.  Due to the lack of detailed records, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact death toll but historians have commonly claimed that around 620,000 lost their lives.  Recent studies suggest that the number could range significantly higher.  But regardless of the number one uses, the loss of human life was staggering.  To put it in perspective, the combined U.S. casualties from World War 1, World War 2, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War total just short of 620,000.  U.S. military deaths for the entire Vietnam War are listed at 58,209.  The deaths attributed to just one battle in the Civil War (Gettysburg) are estimated to be 51,000.  The purpose of these comparisons is not to discount the human cost of the later conflicts, but to help us wrap our minds around the terrible consequences of the Civil War.
Civil wars tend to be bloodier than other kinds of conflict.  One would think that brothers would be kinder to brothers and sisters would be more tolerant with sisters, but such is not always the case.  When we reach the point where we can shoot at each other, it seems that restrain disappears.  Family squabbles are often the most volatile and dangerous.  Perhaps that is why the Scriptures are so adamant about maintaining peace, unity, and tolerance within the family of God.  Jesus calls upon us to love one another, not fight with each other (John 15:12; cf. also v. 17).  We we fail to love each other, it becomes easier to attack and destroy each other (Galatians 5:14–15).
Civil war is always deadly.  That is why we must always work hard at preserving peaceful unity (Ephesians 4:3).  Let’s drop the weapons that we use against each other and join forces to fight our common enemy (1 Peter 5:8).  Satan is the only winner when we fight among ourselves.

God loves you!