Friday, July 27, 2012

Cousin Ricky - He Said
Twenty-six years ago I drove my wife to the emergency room. For the next eight hours we played backgammon while waiting for her condition to improve. It didn’t. The pain became unbearable so they gave her drugs. This helped some but not enough. My parents were in Atlantic City, gambling. Hers in Charlotte. So there we were, a young couple facing our first life or death moment without friends or family nearby.
I forget what I wore that day. A surf shirt, probably. I do recall wearing a white headband with the word “Coach” printed in blue marker. I guess I was a good coach because later that evening we won (she delivered) a baby boy, our first, and they let us take him home.
Birthdays are a big deal in our family. Not as big as Christmas, but close. And nobody in my extended family does a better job of celebrating birthdays than my cousin Ricky.
A typical “Cousin Ricky” birthday box includes a specially mixed CD with songs from the year you were born, DVD movies tailored to your tastes, toys from the Dollar store and candy. Lots and lots of candy. Sometimes the candy has melted by the time the box arrives, but that’s okay. Chocolate in any condition and shape is good.
In the past I’ve received a plastic whistle with a compass in order to ward of bears and keep me from getting lost on the trails above Black Mountain, tons of old Westerns, several copies of the movie Jaws (in case the player eats one), CDs with music from Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Beach Boys, Beatles, etc… and candy. Lots and lots of candy.
The writer of Ecclesiastes advises us to enjoy all our years – not just those early ones when people were making a fuss over us. Too often we adults discount birthdays and other days and pretend they’re not a big deal. But they are. Every day is huge. If you don’t think so, try living without one.
I wish every family had a Cousin Ricky. I wish I cared about people as much as Ricky. None of us knows how many years we’ll have together but it seems to me, setting aside one day out of 365 to acknowledge the life of someone we love is a small testimony to their worth.
The next time a friend or family member has a birthday, give him or her a song from their good old days and a box of candy. The shipping will probably cost more than the gift but that’s okay. It’s the thought that counts.
And thoughts of love are priceless.

However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. - Ecclesiastes 11:8

Friday, July 13, 2012

Keep on speaking... Michael Salman – He Said

Michael Salman Family courtesy of Fox News Radio and Todd Starnes
…keep on speaking...  Acts 18:9 NIV
Many have called Dwight Lyman Moody the greatest evangelist of the 19th century. He preached countless times before crowds of upwards to 30,000 and founded schools, the Moody Bible Institute, and Moody Publishers.
One evening, during the final service of a weeklong revival, an usher handed Moody a note. For several nights hecklers had disrupted the service. Moody countered their attacks by quoting scripture and making the case that mankind could not save itself – that only a perfect savior could rescue people from the curse of sin.
Thinking the note was an important announcement, Moody hushed the crowd and unfolded the piece of paper. “This is most unusual. I have just been handed a memo that contains the single word, ‘Fool.’ I've often received letters where the author forgot to sign his name, but this is the first time I've ever received a note where he forgot to write the letter!"
Speaking of foolish documents, on July 6, Fox News Radio reported that a Phoenix man was sentenced to sixty days in jail after he refused to stop hosting Bible studies in the privacy of his home. “It came down to zoning and proper permitting,” said Vicki Hill, the chief assistant city prosecutor. “Any time you are holding a gathering of people continuously as he does -- we have concerns about people being able to exit the facility properly in case there is a fire.” (Apparently the fires of hell are exempted from such ordinances.)
When faced with persecution in the city of Corinth and the threat of imprisonment, the Apostle Paul received a vision from God. “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” God has not given most of us such assurances. And for much of his ministry Paul suffered greatly while planting “home churches” in Asia. But I wonder. If Christ returned tomorrow would He find us speaking up for Him or talking down to those who oppose home churches and God's Good News?
Our natural reaction to attacks on religious freedoms is to fight back. But Oswald Chambers reminds us that, “The church ceases to be spiritual when it becomes self-seeking, only interested in the development of its own organization.” I do not mean to suggest we should abandon our defense of religious liberty in America, but it seems to me if we follow the model of Christ and lessons of Paul, we will embrace our circumstances and fight - not for our rights - but for the life of every lost soul.
Sixty days in jail with a people desperate for a savior seems like a foolish punishment for holding a Bible study.
And a small price to pay to advance God’s love.