Flexibility

Are you open to change? People who make a difference can be stretched, pulled, pushed, and changed. You heard it from me: traditionalism is an old dragon, bad about squeezing the very life out of its victims. So never stop fighting it. Let’s be careful to identify the right opponent. It isn’t tradition per se; it’s traditionalism. I’m not trying to be petty, only accurate.

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Modeling God’s Message

Hosea started a scandal in the parsonage. Why? Hold onto your hat—he married a prostitute. Talk about gossip! His name became a byword for “fool.” Respect for him dropped to zero. His reputation was suddenly null and void. “Small wonder he is listed first among the minor prophets,” some sneer . . . “He must have been some kind of a nut.”

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The Broken Wing

It is quite probable that someone reading my words this moment is fighting an inner battle with a ghost from the past. The skeleton in one of yesterday’s closets is beginning to rattle louder and louder. Putting adhesive tape around the closet and moving the bureau in front of the door does little to muffle the clattering bones. You wonder, possibly, “Who knows?” You think, probably, “I’ve had it . . . can’t win . . . party’s over.”

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Famine

The word hangs like an awful omen in our heads. Mentally, we picture a brutal, grotesque image. Cows’ hips protrude. Babies’ eyes are hollow. Bloated stomachs growl angrily. Skin stretches across faces tight as a trampoline. The outline of the skull slowly emerges. Joints swell. Grim, despairing stares replace smiles. Hope is gone . . . life is reduced to a harsh existence as famine takes its toll.

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Destination Unknown

Do you know where you are going? The place? Dublin, Ireland. The time? Toward the end of the nineteenth century. The event? A series of blistering attacks on Christianity, especially the “alleged resurrection” of Jesus of Nazareth. The person? Thomas Henry Huxley. You remember Huxley. Devoted disciple of Darwin. Famous biologist, teacher, and author. Defender of the theory of evolution.

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Feeling Apprehensive

THE SCENE IS FAMILIAR: a hospital lobby with all the expected surroundings . . . soft sofas and folded newspapers . . . matching carpets and drapes illumined by eerie lighting . . . a uniformed lady at the desk, weary from answering the same questions . . . strange smells . . . and lots of people. Everywhere there are people. A steady stream pours in and out, the faces marked by hurry and worry.

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Going . . . and Not Knowing

THERE IS A STRANGE STATEMENT IN Scripture that flashes like a bright neon sign. Paul made it while he was saying good-bye to a group of friends standing near him. It was a sad moment heavy with emotion. Most of the men were choking back tears, realizing they would never see him again. Looking around, the aging apostle, with his weather-beaten hand pointing south toward the stormy skies above the Mediterranean Sea, voiced these words:

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The Gift of Admiration

YEARS AGO, when I pastored in California, an usher met me as I was leaving the church. He had been involved in counting the morning offering. He smiled as he walked up to me, stuck out his hand, and said, “I’ve got something for you. It came in the offering.” He handed me a note from a child who had been in our service. It read: TO PASTER CHUCK SWINDOL, I don’t think you know me but I shur know you. You are a very good speeker for Jesus Christ.

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Receiving Knowledge

SLICE IT ANY WAY YOU WISH, ignorance is not bliss. Dress it in whatever garb you please, ignorance is not attractive. Neither is it the mark of humility nor the path to spirituality. It certainly is not the companion of wisdom. On the contrary, it is the breeding ground for fear, prejudice, and superstition . . . the feeding trough for unthinking animals . . . the training field for slaves.

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Anchor of Reality

All those going through a storm need to be engaged in the process. No one is promised a magical escape clause. Passivity is faith’s enemy. It isn’t an acceptable option to fold our arms and wait for the storm to pass.

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