Acting Decisively, Part One

I like Joshua’s style in Joshua 24:14–15. Like a good leader, he laid out the facts. He exhorted those about him to get off the fence and get their spiritual act together. He encouraged personal authenticity and strong commitment . . . but not once did he pull rank and fall back on intimidation to get his way. He risked being ignored and rejected when he left the final decision up to them.

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Radical Adjustments, Part One

Extreme dilemmas are usually solved by radical adjustments. It used to be called “fighting fire with fire.” Minor alterations won’t do. If the situation is getting completely out of hand, a slight modification won’t cut it. It’s get-with-it time. If the tumor is the size of a grapefruit, taking a handful of vitamins three times a week isn’t the answer.

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The Giant That Slew David

During my days in New England, I heard of a teacher who quizzed a group of college-bound high school juniors and seniors on the Bible. The quiz preceded a Bible-as-literature course he planned to teach at the Newton (Massachusetts) High School, generally considered one of the best public schools in the nation. Among the most astounding findings he got from the students were:

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Courage

Someone once wrote, “Sow a thought, reap an act. Sow an act, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap your character. Sow your character, reap your destiny.” Standing tall when tested takes courage—constant, relentless, never-give-up courage! You can be sure that the old flesh will fight for its arousal and satisfaction. All it takes is a little rationalization—just a little.

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The Case against Vanilla

I cannot imagine anything more boring and less desirable than being poured into the mold of predictability as I grow older. Few things interest me less than the routine, the norm, the expected, the status quo. Call it the rebel in me, but I simply cannot bear plain vanilla when life offers so many other colorful and stimulating flavors. A fresh run at life by an untried route will get my vote every time—in spite of the risk.

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Failures

Snake River Canyon coiled up, rattled its tail, and sank its fangs into its would-be captor. On a sultry Sunday afternoon its l,700-foot jaws yawned wide as it swallowed a strange-tasting capsule prescribed for it by Dr. Robert C. Truax, the scientist-designer of Sky Cycle X-2. Starring in the show was a guy some people tagged Captain Marvel, who looked more like Billy Batson unable to remember the magic word.

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Surprises

The feelings are familiar. Mouth open. Eyes like saucers. Chill up the spine. Heart pounding in the throat. Momentary disbelief. We frown and attempt to piece the story together without a script or narrator. Sometimes alone, occasionally with others . . . then boom! “The flash of a mighty surprise” boggles the mind, leaving us somewhere between stunned and dumb with wonder. “Am I dreaming or is a miracle happening?” So it is with surprises.

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Facing Failures

ANY THIRD GRADER COULD have told you the vaunted sky cycle leap across the Snake River Canyon on that sultry Sunday afternoon was a triple-A flop—a classic fizzle. The sky cycle, created by Dr. Robert C. Truax, gave up in mid-air; the driver floated to safety beneath a nylon cloud. But he didn’t sit long-faced in a dark corner. As bystanders shouted “Rip off!” he was thinking about write-offs.

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Finding Courage

I RECALL THE FIRST TIME I watched the children’s classic movie The Wizard of Oz. I was spellbound by the music and the enchanting way in which the simple themes of family, valuing home, and celebrating individual differences were on display. But perhaps the most hilarious character of all was the lion—the bumbling, wimp of a cat, who cowered in fear at the smallest threat. What he needed was courage!

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Stay in the Kitchen

NOT LONG AGO I was reading through Psalm 78 when my eye fell upon verse nine. I was intrigued by the strange stroke of the psalmist’s pen. See if you get the same vibes: The warriors of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned their backs and fled on the day of battle. Like foxes hunted by hounds, they ran. The only weapon they used to restrain the enemy was a cloud of dust they stirred up as they retreated en masse, in a hurry, while “armed with bows.”

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