Archive for August, 2009

Consider the Butterfly

August 31, 2009

Did you know that…the color in a butterfly’s wings does not come from pigment. The color is produced prism-like by light reflected by their transparent wing scales. Stranger yet, no moth or butterfly eats solid food (though some butterflies drink nectar); some can not even take in moisture. The life span of most butterflies is very short, usually just enough to lay their eggs. Many butterflies migrate from one region to another, either individually or in swarms. The greatest migration in North America occurs when companies of Monarch butterflies travel from Canada southward to Central America. When they finally roost at their destination, so many crowd the forest that entire trees appear to be covered with bright orange moving leaves! It is a great mystery how the descendants of these Monarchs later find their way back north to their summering place. Stranger yet, their great-great-grandchildren later find their way back south to the tree of their great-great-grandparents.

Their Creator designed them with truly amazing abilities! The world’s fastest butterfly is the Monarch with a record of 17 miles per hour. The brain capabilities of these small insects is mind-boggling. In a space often no bigger than a speck, their Creator designed a sophisticated brain that enables them to see, smell, taste, fly and navigate with such great precision that they can travel enormous distances and find the very tree where their great-great-great-grandmother laid an egg. Their highly-miniaturized brains put our computers and aircraft avionics to shame. Who could make a self-propelled, self-guided airplane as small as a butterfly that could do the same things, totally independently? Traveling so many miles, landing many times, making so many accurate, in-flight navigation corrections, and doing it all with so little fuel—and then reproduce itself at the end? No one but God could make such a marvelous creature as a butterfly.

Contributed by: Ed Vasicek

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How Long Things Last

August 29, 2009

Experts estimate that if a normal cassette tape is played about 100 times a year, sound quality will deteriorate somewhat after about 10 years. But the tape itself will play on.

A lightning bolt lasts 45 to 55 microseconds.

The average running shoe worn by the average runner on an average surface will last 350 to 500 miles.

A hard pencil can write up to 30,000 words or draw a line more than 30 miles long.

Most ball-point pens will draw a line 4,000 to 7,500 feet long.

Leather combat boots have a wartime life span of six months, a peacetime life span of eight months.

The projected life span of a baby born in the U.S. today is about 77 years, nearly double what it was at the end of the 18th century. The longest authenticated life span of a human being is 113 years, 214 days. Studies show married people live longer than those who remain single.

A group of subatomic particles known as unstable hadrons exists for only one one-hundred-sextillionth of a second (10 to the negative 23 seconds)—less time than it takes light to travel a single inch.

A 100-watt incandescent bulb will last about 750 hours; a 25-watt bulb, 2,500 hours. The number of times a light bulb is turned on and off has little to do with its life-span.

A one-dollar bill lasts approximately 18 months in circulation.

Practice footballs used by professionals last two to three days—a playing life of perhaps five hours. Home teams are required to provide 24 new balls each game, and these last only about six minutes of playing time.

Contributed by: Troy Borst

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You Must Be Born-Again

August 28, 2009

It’s as impossible to imitate or copy Kingdom life without Kingdom birth as it is for a fish to live out of water and breathe air like a human being. It is not a matter of trying harder—or attending “fish church.” That poor fish can try and try till it is blue in the gills and it will die trying. To live in our environment will require that it be “born again” as a human being.

Contributed by: Johann Neethling

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Service Competes with Devotion

August 27, 2009

Beware of anything that competes with loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Him.

(Oswald Chambers)

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Addicted to Crises?

August 26, 2009

Some of us get so used to the adrenaline rush of handling crises that we become dependent on it for a sense of excitement and energy. How does urgency feel? Stressful? Pressured? Tense? Exhausting? Sure. But let’s be honest. It’s also sometimes exhilarating. We feel useful. We feel successful. We feel validated. And we get good at it. Whenever there’s trouble, we ride into town, pull out the six shooter, do the varmit in, blow the smoke off the gun barrel, and ride into the sunset like a hero. It brings instant results and instant gratification.

We get a temporary high from solving urgent and important crises. Then when the importance isn’t there, the urgency fix is so powerful we are drawn to do anything urgent, just to stay in motion. People expect us to be busy, overworked. It’s become a status symbol in our society—if we’re busy, we’re important; if we’re not busy, we’re almost embarrassed to admit it. Busyness is where we get our security. It’s validating, popular and pleasing.

It’s also a good excuse for not dealing with the first things in our lives. “I’d love to spend quality time with you, but I have to work. There’s this deadline. It’s urgent. Of course you understand.” “I just don’t have time to exercise. I know it’s important, but there are so many pressing things right now. Maybe when things slow down a little.”

(Stephen Covey, First Things First, pp. 33, 35)

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Give Thanks for the Fleas

August 25, 2009

In her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom relates an incident that taught her to be thankful for things we normally would not be thankful for. She and her sister, Betsy, prisoners of the Nazis, had just been transferred to the worst prison camp they had seen yet, Ravensbruck. Upon entering the barracks, they found them extremely overcrowded and infested with fleas. Their Scripture reading from their smuggled Bible that morning in 1 Thessalonians had reminded them to rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances. Betsy told Corrie to stop and thank the Lord for every detail of their new living quarters. Corrie at first flatly refused to give thanks for the fleas, but Betsy persisted. Corrie finally agreed to somehow thank God for even the fleas.

During the months spent at that camp, they were surprised to find how openly they could hold Bible study and prayer meetings in their barrack without guard interference. Several months later they learned that the guards would not enter the barracks because of the fleas.

Contributed by: Michael Cassara

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When There is Hope

August 24, 2009

Joyce Hollyday tells the story of a school teacher who was assigned to visit children in a large city hospital who received a routine call requesting that she visit a particular child. The teacher took the boy’s name and room number, and was told by the teacher on the other end of the line, “We’re studying nouns and adverbs in this class now. I’d be grateful if you could help him with his homework, so he doesn’t fall behind the others.”

It wasn’t until the visiting teacher got outside the boy’s room that she realized that it was located in the hospital’s burn unit. No one had prepared her to find a young boy horribly burned and in great pain. The teacher felt that she couldn’t just turn around and walk out. And so she stammered awkwardly, “I’m the hospital teacher, and your teacher sent me to help you with nouns and adverbs.” This boy was in so much pain that he barely responded. The young teacher stumbled through his English lesson, ashamed at putting him through such a senseless exercise.

The next morning a nurse on the burn unit asked her, “What did you do to that boy?” Before the teacher could finish her outburst of apologies, the nurse interrupted her: “You don’t understand. We’ve been very worried about him. But ever since you were here yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back; he’s responding to treatment. It’s as if he has decided to live.”

The boy later explained that he had completely given up hope until he saw the teacher. It all changed when he came to a simple realization. With joyful tears, the boy said: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a boy who was dying, would they?”

This wonderful story invites us to celebrate the gift of life even when all we seem to see around us is pain and disappointment and brokenness. It shows us that on the other side of pain, there is resurrection. It reminds us of what is possible whenever there is hope.

(Donald William Dotterer, Living The Easter Faith, CSS Publishing Company, 1994)

Contributed by: Scott Bradford

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Don’t Go It Alone

August 22, 2009

Have you ever heard of Lieutenant Hirro Onada? He was the last Japanese soldier to surrender after World War II. He was left on the island Lubang in the Philippines in 1944—along with three other soldiers. They were left with the command to “carry on the mission even if Japan surrenders.”

Eventually the others were killed or surrendered. But Onada continued his war alone. Through the years, he ignored messages from loudspeakers announcing Japan’s surrender. Leaflets were dropped in the jungle begging him to surrender so he could return to Japan. During his 29-year private war, he killed at least 30 Philippine nationals. More than half a million dollars were spent trying to locate him and convince him to surrender. Finally, on March 10, 1974, Onada surrendered his rusty sword after receiving a personal command from his former superior officer. His lonely war was finally over. When he returned to Japan as a prematurely aged man of 52, he made this comment: “Nothing pleasant during those 29 years in the jungle.” (Newsweek, 1974)

People can spend long years fighting lonely battles when they are determined to “go it alone.” People spend years battling secret sins and weaknesses and addictions—when they could end the battle IF they would let other people help them. We need each other for perspective, accountability, advice, encouragement, and all of the other things that Christian friendship adds to our lives.

Contributed by: K. Edward Skidmore

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Living Without Power

August 21, 2009

The story is told of an elderly woman named Norena, who lived in southern Florida. When a hurricane hit that area, her home was one of many that was severely damaged. Norena received an insurance settlement, and the repair work began. However, when the money ran out, so did the contractor, leaving an unfinished home with no electricity. Norena lived in her dark, unfinished home—without power—for fifteen years.

The astonishing part of this story is that the hurricane was not Katrina but Andrew—a hurricane which struck in 1992. She had no heat in her home when the winter chills settled over southern Florida. She had no air conditioning when the mercury climbed into the 90s and the humidity clung to 100 percent. She did not have one hot shower. Without money to finish the repairs, Norena just got by with a small lamp and a single burner. Her neighbors did not seem to notice the absence of power in her home.

Acting on a tip, one day, the mayor of the Miami-Dade area got involved. It only took a few hours of work by an electrical contractor to return power to Norena’s house. CBS News reported that Norena planned to let the water get really hot, and then take her first “bubble bath” in a decade and a half. “It’s hard to describe having (the electricity)…to switch on,” Norena told reporters, “It’s overwhelming.”

How many Christian believers have been living their entire lives without ever knowing what it is like to have the overwhelming Power of the Holy Spirit operating within them? To be quite frank, I believe that some of us have had that Power turned off for so long, that we would not even recognize it if it came back to us!

(From a sermon by George Dillahunty, “The Power Transfer!” 7/28/08.

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Worship: Missing the Main Event

August 20, 2009

Lowell Ogden tells the story of a little boy who lived out in the country around the turn of the century. He had never seen a traveling circus, and one was coming to his town on Saturday. The lad asked his father for permission to go and his dad said that he could, providing his chores were done early. Saturday morning came. Chores finished, the little boy asked his father for some money so he could go to the circus. His dad reached down in his overalls and pulled out a dollar bill, the most money the boy had ever seen at one time.

Off the little wide-eyed fellow went. As he approached the town, he saw people lining the streets. Peering through the line at one point, he got his first glimpse of the parade. There were animals in cages and marching bands. Finally, a clown was seen bringing up the rear of the parade. The little boy was so excited that when the clown passed, he reached in his pocket and handed him the precious dollar bill. Thinking he had seen the circus when he had only seen the parade, the little boy turned around and went home.

How sad it is that some people come to church like this little boy who went to the circus? They may come with the intent to worship God, but all they see is the parade—the parade of hymn singing, prayers, communion and preaching. They peer through their pews at all the activity and then turn to go home. They think they have been to God’s house, but yet they missed the main event—a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.

Contributed by: Donald Hart

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