Editor: Richard (Dick) Innes
Published by: ACTS International
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Vol. 17 – No. 1015 March 07, 2015
Thought for the week: "Don't taunt the alligator until after you've crossed the creek." – Dan Rather
One evening several college students spread limburger cheese on the upper lip of a sleeping fraternity brother. Upon awakening, the young man sniffed, looked around, and said, "This room stinks!" He then walked into the hall and said, "This hall stinks!" Leaving the dormitory he exclaimed, "The whole world stinks!"
"You can be baptized in the church, raised in the church, confirmed in the church, serve in the church, marry in the church, die in the church, and have your funeral in the church, and still wake up in hell if you are merely in the church and not in Christ."
Mark Driscoll (Pastor of Mars Hill Church, Seattle, WA).
NOTE: If you are not sure of your life after this life, click on http://tinyurl.com/real-christian for the article, "How to Be Sure You're a Real Christian."
Imagine all the obstacles a person might have to overcome if he were to walk from New York City to San Francisco. One man who accomplished this rare achievement mentioned a rather surprising difficulty when asked to tell of his biggest hurdle. He said that the toughest part of the trip wasn't traversing the steep slopes of the mountains or crossing hot, dry, barren stretches of desert. Instead, he said, "The thing that came the closest to defeating me was the sand in my shoes."
R – E – S – P – E – C – T. Aretha Franklin reminded us how it's spelled, but a lot of us need coaching on how to show it. In both personal and political relationships the failure to treat each other with respect is generating incivility, contempt and violence.
There's an important distinction between respecting a person in the sense that we admire and hold that person in especially high esteem and treating others with respect. While respecting others is desirable, respectfulness is morally mandatory. Thus, people of character treat everyone with respect, even those who are not personally respectworthy.
The way we behave toward others is an expression of our values and character. Thus, we should treat others with respect, not because they have a right, but because we have a moral duty to do unto others the way we want them to do unto us. Again, it's not because they deserve it, but because doing less would diminish our own character.
That's the message in an old story about a politician who found himself being drawn into mudslinging and name-calling. Once he realized he was lowering himself to his opponent's level, he stopped and said, "Sir, I will treat you as a gentleman, not because you are one, but because I am one."
It can take a lot of self-control to be respectful to people who are nasty, dishonorable, or disrespectful to us. Still, our inner sense of integrity should help us resist temptations to "fight fire with fire." As Lily Tomlin said, "The problem with the rat race is that, even if you win, you're still a rat."
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."1
Maxwell Maltz tells the story of a man who'd been severely injured while attempting to rescue his parents from a fire. His heroic efforts proved to be in vain, though. His mom and dad died in the burning house.
During his rescue attempt the fire badly scorched his face and disfigured it. He was so ashamed of his appearance that he refused to allow anyone--including his wife--to see his face.
For help, his wife went to Maltz, a plastic surgeon. "Not to worry," he assured her, "I can restore his face."
Despite the good news, the wife still felt disheartened. Her husband had always refused any medical treatment. Assuming he wouldn't change his mind, she said to Maltz, "I want you to disfigure my face so I can be like him! If I can share in his pain, then maybe he will let me back into his life."
Maltz tried to mask his horror at the request. He refused to perform the operation, but was so moved by this woman's love for her husband that he went to visit her husband. Through closed door, he yelled, "I'm a plastic surgeon. I want you to know that I can restore your face."
"Please, won't you come out? At least let me see your face. At least talk to me."
Still speaking through a door, Maltz told the man of his wife's request. "She wants me to mutilate her face in order to make her face like yours. She hopes that you will then let her back into your life. That's how much she loves you."
Ever so slowly the doorknob turned.2
True, it must be extremely painful to be disfigured and feel that no one will ever accept you. May God help all of us, including me, to love and accept those who suffer so.
At the same time it is important that each of us realizes how totally repulsive our sinfulness is to God because he is a God of absolute holiness. In spite of this he loves and accepts us unconditionally. God also hates our sin because it is totally destructive of those whom he loves—us. But because of his great love for us, God gave his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay the penalty for all our sin so we can be totally "healed from sin's deathly disfigurement," and be freely forgiven and saved from sin's deadly consequences--eternal separation from God, the author of all love and life.
If you have never accepted God's love and forgiveness, I urge you to do that today. For help read "How to Find and Know God" at: http://tinyurl.com/8glq9.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You that, in spite of the ugliness of my sinfulness, You love and accept me totally and unconditionally. Help me to truly appreciate what You have done for me and live a life that will bring honor to Your name. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus's name, amen."
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