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February 23, 2010 - Leave a Response

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Functioning Together As One…Jimmy Durante

January 18, 2010 - Leave a Response

There’s a wonderful story about Jimmy Durante, one of the great entertainers of a generation ago. He was asked to be a part of a show for World War II veterans. He told them his schedule was very busy and he could afford only a few minutes, but if they wouldn’t mind his doing one short monologue and immediately leaving for his next appointment, he would come. Of course, the show’s director agreed happily. But when Jimmy got on stage, something interesting happened. He went through the short monologue and then stayed. The applause grew louder and louder and he kept staying. Pretty soon, he had been on stage fifteen, twenty, then thirty minutes. Finally he took a last bow and left the stage. Backstage someone stopped him and said, “I thought you had to go after a few minutes. What happened?”

Jimmy answered, “I did have to go, but I can show you the reason I stayed. You can see for yourself if you’ll look down on the front row.” In the front row were two men, each of whom had lost an arm in the war. One had lost his right arm and the other had lost his left. Together, they were able to clap, and that’s exactly what they were doing, loudly and cheerfully.”

Stay in the race…

January 4, 2010 - Leave a Response

Mary Hollingsworth in her book writes about the noted director of biblical epics, Cecil B. DeMille. When they began working on the movie Ben Hur, DeMille talked to Charlton Heston–the star of the movie–about the all-important chariot race at the end. He decided Heston should actually learn to drive the chariot himself, rather than just using a stunt double. Heston agreed to take chariot-driving lessons to make the movie as authentic as possible.

Learning to drive a chariot with horses four abreast, however, was no small matter. After extensive work and days of practice, Heston returned to the movie set and reported to DeMille.

“I think I can drive the chariot all right, Cecil,” said Heston, “but I’m not at all sure I can actually win the race.”

Smiling slightly, DeMille said, “Heston, you just stay in the race, and I’ll make sure you win.”

Mr. DeMille’s words are God’s words to us. “You just stay in the race, and I’ll make sure you win.”  That’s the kind of God we serve!  So whatever you are going through today my encouragement is for you to stay in the race. Don’t quit! Don’t give up!  God has made you a winner.

The Cab Ride I’ll Never Forget

December 20, 2009 - Leave a Response

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. One time I arrived in the middle of the night for a pick up at a building that was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself.

So I walked to the door and knocked. “Just a minute,” answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

“Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness.

“It’s nothing,” I told her. “I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated.”

“Oh, you’re such a good boy,” she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, “Could you drive through downtown?”

“It’s not the shortest way,” I answered quickly.

“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.”

I looked in the rear view mirror. Her eyes were glistening.

“I don’t have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor says I don’t have very long.”

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you like me to take?” I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired. Let’s go now.”

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

“How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.

“Nothing,” I said.

“You have to make a living,” she answered.

“There are other passengers.”

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

“You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.”

I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life. We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware—beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

by Kent Nerburn

‘Whose boy are you?’

November 2, 2009 - Leave a Response

A seminary professor was vacationing with his wife in Gatlinburg, TN.  One morning, they were eating breakfast at little restaurant, hoping to enjoy a quiet, family meal. While they were waiting for their food, they noticed a
distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting with the guests. The professor leaned over and whispered to his wife, “I hope he doesn’t come over here.” But sure enough, the man did come over to
their table.  “Where are you folks from?” he asked in a friendly voice.

“Oklahoma,” they answered.

“Great to have you here in Tennessee.” the stranger said. “What do you do for a living?”

“I teach at a seminary,” he replied.

“Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I’ve got a really great story for you.” And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with the couple.

The professor groaned and thought to himself, “Great… Just what I need… another preacher story!”

The man started, “See that mountain over there? (pointing out the restaurant window).  Not far from the base of that mountain, there was a boy born to an unwed mother.  He had a hard time growing up, because every place he went,
he was always asked the same question, ‘Whose boy are you?’

“Whether he was at school, in the grocery store or drug store, people would ask the same question, ‘Whose boy are you?’  He would hide at recess and lunch time from other students.  He would avoid going in to stores because
that question hurt him so bad.

“When he was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to his church.  He would always go in late and slip out early to avoid hearing the question, ‘Whose boy are you?’. But one day, the new preacher said the benediction so fast he got caught and had to walk out with the crowd.

“Just about the time he got to the back door, the new preacher, not knowing anything about him, put his hand on his shoulder and asked him, ‘Son, whose boy are you?’

“The whole church got deathly quiet.  He could feel every eye in the church looking at him.  Now everyone would finally know the answer to the question, ‘Whose boy are you’.  This new preacher, though, sensed the situation around him and using discernment that only the Holy Spirit could give, said the following to that scared little boy…

“‘Wait a minute!’ he said. ‘I know who you are. I see the family resemblance now. You are a child of God.’  With that he patted the boy on his shoulder and said, ‘Boy, you’ve got a great inheritance. Go and claim it.’

With that, the boy smiled for the first time in a long time and walked out the door a changed person.  He was never the same again.  Whenever anybody asked him, ‘Whose boy are you?’ he’d just tell them, ‘I’m a Child of God’.”

The distinguished gentleman got up from the table and said, “Isn’t that a great story?”  The professor responded that it really was a great story!  As the man turned to leave, he said, “You know, if that new preacher hadn’t told me that I was one of God’s children, I probably never would have amounted to anything!”  And he walked away.

The seminary professor and his wife were stunned.  He called the waitress over and asked her, “Do you know who that man was that just left that was sitting at our table?”

The waitress grinned and said, “Of course.  Everybody here knows him. That’s Ben Hooper.  He’s the former governor of Tennessee!”

Someone in your life today needs a reminder that they’re one of God’s children!