INTERRUPTIONS: blessings and burdens.

In the middle of another masterpiece, Leonardo da Vinci laid down his brushes and oils to answer the knock at the door. There stood a neighbor who was having trouble with the water line at his house. He wondered if the great Leonardo—a genius who seemed to know something about everything—could take a look at it. The artist walked away from his easel, picked up his tools, and followed the distressed man home. We assume the pipes got repaired, but alas, to this day that masterpiece stands unfinished.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge is said to have had gifts rivaling Shakespeare. On one occasion in the summer of 1797 while in poor health, Coleridge awakened from sleep with a lengthy poem filling his mind, the verses already worked out and needing only to be written down. He feverishly set himself to writing each line before the poem slipped away. Then, there came a knock at the door. Later in his notes, he refers to his visitor as “a man from Porlock” and gives no clue as to why he came or what took place. He returned to the poem an hour later, only to find that while he still retained a vague recollection of the vision, the rest had vanished like the morning mist. The work is Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan.”

Interruptions. What to do with them. They are the bane of everyone trying to get his work done—and the means of Heavenly visitations when we know how to recognize them. Therein lies the dilemma: how to discern whether the interruption is an opportunity or an obstacle. Will it take us from our work or bring us to our real work?

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If Physical Appearance Is Not Important, Why Did God Make Jesus So Handsome?

I know what Samson looked like. The children’s story books in our churchlibrary depicting the Bible’s strong man as an early version of Arnold Schwarzenegger have it all wrong. You know the image—muscles on top of muscles, bulges everywhere, veins apoppin’, long hair flowing in the wind. But, alas, he did not look that way at all. Not even close. The reason we know this is that…

People wondered about the source of his strength. They watched him slaughter thousands of the hated Philistines bare-handedly and stood in awe. Where did he get such strength? Samson could not have looked like Mr. Olympia with a 46 Inch chest and 32 inch waist, and biceps the size of my thighs. Had he done so, everyone would have concluded his strength came from his great muscles in the same way that works for everyone else on the planet. That’s why we must conclude that…

Samson looked like any other average Joe. Just your ordinary citizen. Don Knotts, maybe, with a pony tail. You recall the secret to his strength lay in a Nazirite vow he had lived under since birth, requiring him never to enter a bar or a barber shop. Judges 16 narrates his foolish dalliance with the treacherous Delilah and his fall from grace. And that’s one more reason why we say…

We know what the Lord Jesus looked like. To be more precise, we know what Jesus did not look like. But first, let’s remind ourselves that it was for good reason that…

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Taking Care Of The People Closest To Us

A letter from a friend the other day let me know how little we truly know someone. Her mother had been the teacher of one of my children in elementary school, and a good one at that. We still laugh about the time when the teacher had warned the children to stay off the wet playground due to the heavy rains, and at recess time, she found that one of our sons had indeed gone outside and had re-entered the classroom with a salamander. Now, since she had expressly forbidden the class from going outside and Marty had disobeyed, she had to punish him. And yet, he was not—in his mind—being disobedient, but just doing what he did best: wondering and wandering. The punishment was for Marty to go to the library and work up a study on salamanders which he presented to the class. This was one smart lady.

“I grew up in a dysfunctional family,” writes the daughter of that teacher. “My mother never once told me she loved me or showed any kind of affection.” This is the teacher who was the kindest human on the planet, who wrote great poetry and did excellent art. I still have some of her handiwork.

“To this day,” the daughter writes, “I can’t see what everyone else saw in my mother. The day she gave her testimony in church I sat there in disbelief. I did not know the person she was talking about and wondered how she could lie to the congregation that way.”

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I Wonder If Teachers Know How Important They Are.

Run—don’t walk—to your nearest book store and get a copy of Ron Clark’s book “The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator’s Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child.” I purchased the book the other day intending it for our daughter-in-law who is home-schooling her three little ones. I enjoyed Clark’s stories so much, I’m going to buy another copy for myself!

Here is a sample, sort of a tasting buffet if you will, of Clark’s stories.

Ron Clark sometimes allowed his students to bring food into the class, if they kept it quiet and their space neat. But Tamanda had more food at her desk than aisle 9 at the Piggly Wiggly. When the science teacher did a lesson requiring food coloring, she discovered a small tube of green coloring missing. Mr. Clark asked if anyone had it, but no hands went up. Later, he noticed that Tamanda’s face was completely green! She had hidden the coloring in her desk, unaware she had spilled some on her hands. When she rested her face in her hands, the green stain had spread. “Class,” the teacher said, “are you sure none of you took the green food coloring?” No response. Finally, he could not stand it any longer. “Tamanda,” he said, “don’t you know where the food coloring is?” “No sir,” she said, implying he was crazy to think she had taken it. All the while, she sat there as green as the Hulk. “Well, Tamanda,” said Mr. Clark, “just in case you do have it in your desk, I think you have already been punished enough.” The culprit eventually learned that her face was completely green and that half the student body learned she had taken the coloring and then denied it, and they never let her forget it.

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