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September 18th- The Fickleness Of The Crowd

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)

 

Abraham Lincoln. Hero. Emancipator. Legend. He is widely considered the greatest President of them all for navigating the most turbulent time in American history. But, his high status in the public esteem wasn't always so assured.

 

Lincoln

Even as the Civil War was coming to an end, Lincoln was not idolized, especially among his peers. Jim Bishop explains.

“Horace Greeley, an editorial flirt, had been Lincoln's friend and was now his enemy. A year ago, he had parted politically from Lincoln when, in the New York Tribune, he had begged for peace at almost any price. Now he opposed Lincoln politically and personally.

 

After lunch, in New York, he went to the office of his managing editor, Sidney Howard Gray, and handed to him a sheaf of papers written in longhand. It was an editorial for tomorrow's paper and would be off the composing room floor at 2 A.M. Gray, accustomed to Greeley's attacks on the President, read it after the boss left and found it to be so 'brutal, bitter, sarcastic and personal' that, though he had it set in type, he hid the galley.

 

The President was aware, on this day..., that, in America, he was now a minority political leader. The entire South, temporarily disenfranchised, opposed him. The Democratic party of the North opposed him. The radicals in his own Republican party opposed him. Most of the influential newspapers opposed him.

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September 16th- Ten Wacky Laws

“I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.” -Psalm 140:12

 

According to Reader's Digest, each of the following were (or still are) real laws.

 

law

-It's a crime to go to church in Georgia without a loaded rifle. (This would sure provide motivation to preach a good sermon.)

 

-It's a crime to enter Urbana, Illinois, if you are a monster. (Children everywhere should move to Urbana.)

 

-It's a crime to carry bees in your hat in Lawrence, Kansas. (However, your pocket is okay?)

 

-It's a crime to let a cat run loose in Sterling, Colorado, without a taillight. (I guess even cats have to obey traffic laws.)

 

-It's a crime to give your sweetheart in Idaho a box of candy weighing less than 50 pounds. (Now that's true love.)

 

-It's a crime to sing the song “It Ain't Goin' to Rain No Mo'” in Oneida, Tex. (Apparently, the farmers don't find it amusing.)

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September 5th- Do You Understand!

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

 

Generally, when the kids' bedtime hits, I'm done. Another long day of stress and responsibility is coming to an end, and I just want to tuck them in and enjoy an hour or so of mindless existence. However, one night, when my youngest son, Drew, was about three, bedtime didn't go well.

 

bee

The two boys share a room, and after turning off the lights, Drew wasn't ready to go to bed. A night owl by nature, he was chatting and singing and tapping and dancing and flipping and crocheting and welding and anything else one could imagine other than going to sleep.

 

Being super dad, I took a deep breathe, walked into the room, and patiently reminded him that it was time to go to sleep. Moments after I left, he began playing The Flight of the Bumblebee on the wall with his feet. (I'm embellishing this for humorous effect...how am I doing?) Anger welled up and my face got red, but I calmed myself and slowly returned to the room.

 

“Drew,” I said firmly, but kindly, “It is time to go to bed. No more noise. You are keeping your brother awake. Put your head down, and keep it down.” He put his head down.

 

Things were quiet...for about five minutes. Then, I heard “Figaro, Figaro, Figaro,” or something of the sort, echoing from his room.

That was it. My temper flared.

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September 12th- The Weary Old Man

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)

 

Don and Phyllis lived two doors down.

 

They were very retired, and mostly stayed to themselves. Occasionally, you would see them taking a stroll through town or making their way down to the local restaurant for dinner.

 

Roofing Nails

Don was a character. He was the type of retiree who would come right into your yard and address something, anything, that needed to be done—without asking. One day, I saw him out mowing our mutual neighbor's lawn. (They had been a little lax in addressing it.)

 

Phyllis was the quiet, overly-submissive kind. Yet whatever she had given up, she had done it long ago, and didn't appear to mind. However, there was one other significant thing about Phyllis that I need to mention; she had cancer.

 

That is what first brought me into their home. I was the pastor in that rural Indiana town, and a friend took me over to be introduced and to check on Phyllis As I asked about how she was doing, Don talked and Phyllis acquiesced. But the general impression was that the cancer treatments were working. I told them I would be praying for them, and took my leave.

 

From then on, whenever I saw Don, he always mentioned how good our church had been to them. (What had I done? Almost nothing.)

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September 3rd- What To Do With A Bad Apple

“(Love) Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.” (1 Corinthians 13:7, The Message)

 

His name was Charlie, and if he was an apple, they would have called him rotten.

 

I was seventeen-years-old, working my first full summer as a camp counselor. My partner, Dan, was a few years older, but also working his first summer. Yet despite our inexperience, we made quite a team, if I do say so myself; just the right mix of fun and rules.

 

bad apple

So the weeks were humming along wonderfully...until Charlie arrived.

Over the first several weeks on the job, I had learned an important lesson. You can never judge the kids based on Sunday. Sunday they were shy and timid, a little scared. But, on Monday morning, watch out, for some of them turned into Gremlins. (That was a reference to a Steven Spielberg movie from the 1980's, in case you were too young to catch it.) Charlie was one of those Gremlins.

 

On Sunday, he was quiet and cute. His disheveled blond hair and undersized-frame were endearing in a kid brother kind of way. But no one would have ever guessed the mischief and anger that lay inside of that little boy.

 

Come Monday, all hell broke loose. He wouldn't listen to anything. He wouldn't obey anyone. And he fought. And he cursed. And this was when he was being good.

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