A story about people who refuse to grow up
Robert Smith, a writer with the Minneapolis Tribune, told about his daughter who was approaching her third birthday. As they were planning a birthday party for her, she began to rebel. “I’m not through being two yet!”
Dad went through the calendar with her, explaining how life works. “When we get to that day,” he said, “you will be three.”
She stood there with arms crossed and said, “I don’t care what that calendar says. I’m not through being two yet.”
So, the Smith family canceled the party and went on treating their daughter as a two-year-old.
Like this child, some people refuse to go into the future. The Israelites under Moses (Numbers 14) recoiled from the future because they were fearful, forgetful, and fretful.
The writer of Hebrews said, “By this time you ought to be teachers, but you need to go back to kindergarten and learn your ABCs all over again.” (My version of Hebrews 5:12ff.)
A story about selfish churches
Ray Stedman, esteemed pastor and author now in Heaven, once said, “The church today seems to exist to run the Sunday morning meeting. It reminds me of a fellow who was given a tour of an oil refinery. After seeing the acres of machinery, he asked his host, ‘Where is the shipping department? I’ve seen everything else.’”
The man said, “We don’t have one.” “You don’t have a shipping department? Why not?”
“Because,” the man said, “it takes all the oil we produce to run the machinery we have here.”
A story about a fellow who does not exist but gets all the blame
Have you ever heard of a Hollywood movie director named Allen Smithee? Maybe you’ve seen some of his work. Actually, you haven’t. He doesn’t exist. Here’s the story.
The May 1988 edition of Reader’s Digest told of “Hollywood’s Worst Director.” Movies to the credit of Allen Smithee include “Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home,” “Ghost Fever,” and “Death of a Gunfighter.”
In 1967, a dispute arose in the filming of “Death of a Gunfighter” between the director and the star, Richard Widmark. So when the director refused to put his name on the film, the studio made up the name “Allen Smithee.” Ironically, critics ended up giving Smithee high marks for his first film.
Since that time whenever a film is so bad that the director disowns it and wants to disassociate himself from it, it becomes an Allen Smithee production.
I’ve preached sermons written by that man.
A story about the obedience that identifies you and me
This man bought a pig and trained him to obey simple commands. One day he decided to take the little swine back to the farm to visit his siblings and friends. Within minutes, he knew he had made a mistake because in the pen with a hundred other pigs, he could not tell which was his. Then he had a bright idea. He called out, “Sit!” One little pig sat down.
Paul said, “I wrote to you that I might know the proof of you, whether you are obedient in all things.” (II Corinthians 2:9)
A mother stands outside the school playground where a hundred children are milling around. “Come on, kids. Time to go,” she calls. Two children leave the crowd and accompany her home. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and they follow me” (John 10:27).
Finally, a bouquet of quick stories and great lines….
–A visitor asked the prison guard. “What do you do about the tough guys?” “That’s no problem,” he said. “If they don’t behave, out they go!”
–The wife said to her husband: “What a coincidence — you forgot my birthday and I forgot how to cook!”
–The patient walked out of the doctor’s office with the prescription in his hand. The doctor’s scrawl was so bad, its message was illegible. He dropped it in his pocket and promptly forgot about it. However, every morning for two years thereafter, the fellow showed it to the conductor on the railroad as a free pass. Twice it got him into the movies, once into a ball park, and once into a symphony. He showed it to the cashier at work as approval from the boss for a raise and got one. One day, he mislaid it. His daughter picked it up, played it on the piano, and won a scholarship to a conservatory of music.
–Go ahead and eat it. If you don’t, it’s just postponing the inedible.
–Grandpa was telling another of his interminable stories. Grandma called out to one of the kids, “Do something! Go in there and head him off at the past.”
–Our doctor is a man of great faith. He once operated on a malpractice attorney.
–Dad told a friend, “I have two kids in college. The doctor says I’m suffering from maltuition.”
–During the 1930s when Winston Churchill’s career was stagnant, the local minister visited him at his Chartwell home and invited him to services. “It will be good having you as a pillar of our church,” he said. The future prime minister responded, “I’m not a pillar. I’m a buttress. I support the church from the outside.”
–The ancients had a saying about cities: “Magna Civitas, Magna Solitudo.” A great city, a great loneliness. True of some, not of all. Usually, it’s pretty much up to us, I suppose.
Lagniappe: One extra story which you will love.
During the Revolutionary War, the American army was fighting near Philadelphia. A soldier was court-martialed and sentenced to die. At his hometown of Ephrata in Lancaster County, he owned a pitiful record as a citizen. When news of his situation reached Ephrata, a respected town leader named Peter Miller walked to Washington’s headquarters. He interceded with the general, asking that the man be pardoned or the sentence reduced. With his usual firmness, Washington turned him down. “I am sorry that I cannot do this for your friend.”
The man said, “Friend? He is not my friend. He was my deadly enemy.”
Washington was so moved to find one obeying the Lord’s command to “love your enemies, do good to them” that he wrote out an order to pardon the man.
Mark Twain once wrote that an inmate of an insane asylum gave him this line concerning forgiveness: “Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heels that crushes it.”