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A Fly In The Eye From The Rooftop

The title of the sermon was called “God Already Knows.”  Of course we all think well of course he does because he is God.  Yet we sometimes pray like God doesn’t know anything and we have to explain everything to him.  There was a story that happened to him that week that he was almost hesitant to tell us.  He was thinking that it was kind of gross and he let us know that he may or may not include it.  The sermon went on and the point kept coming back to however big or small our problems God already knows.  To add to that it was stated that not only does he know the problem he already has the solution.  Jesus instructed in the book of Matthew to not say vain Religious prayers repeating the same things over and over.  In Matthew 6:8 he states that “Our Father knows what we have need of before we ask him.

The sermon was concluding and my pastor had been waiting for the spirit to tell him whether to include the story.  The answer that he got was yes so he proceeded.  This past week he was riding his bike with his son.  He often rides his bike as a way of exercise and the fact that he just enjoys the process.  Suddenly without warning  he felt a sharp pain in his right eye.  Right away he knew what happened.  A fly had literally flew into his right eye.  Not only was there the initial pain but the fly was trying to get out but was trapped behind his eye.  They were not far from the church so they stopped there and he flooded his eye with water from the sink sprayer.  He tried repeatedly to wash the fly out but to no avail.  He was tempted to go to the emergency room but he felt that God had the answer.  He prayed “Lord, I don’t know why this has happened but I believe that it will work out for my good.”  He quoted Romans 8:28 which states that all things work for our good if we love him.  It took a couple of hours of waiting but suddenly little pieces of the dead fly began to come out of his eye. 

Finally all of the fly was gone but there was another problem and potential fear.  First of all his eye was swelled up like someone had punched him.  Secondly there was a thought that some damage to his eye had been caused.  Again he went into prayer.  “Lord”, he said “I ask you to take this swelling down and make this eye just like it was.”  A couple of days later all of the swelling was gone and his eye was perfectly normal.  I was glad that he told us this story.  It illustrated the point that God knows and he already has the solution to our problems.  Most of us would probably had gone to the Emergency Room and tried to solve our problem that way.  We might not even think about praying and trusting God.  I don’t know what the purpose of this happening to him was.  However I can tell you that it made a big impact on the congregation when he was able to give God the glory over his recent trial.  God looks down almost as if he were on a rooftop and see’s our needs!

This eye thing was kind of a big problem.  God is interested in our big problems and our smaller ones too.  Sometimes we might think that God is too busy to care about the smaller things and that we should only pray for bigger problems.  The fact is that God is interested in our whole lives, the little as well as the big.  The roof on our house was 25 years old.  It had not given us significant trouble but it was time for a new roof.  This spring I started exploring what the price of a roof would cost.  Naturally this was not a job that would be cheap.  Besides that we needed someone who would do a good job.  I made some phone calls and mostly got answering machines.  After leaving a few messages that morning I took my son out for lunch.  We stopped at a place called Taco Bob’s and as we were done ordering and had sat down Adam from our church walked in.  We were surprised to see him and quickly let him know that we were there.  He happened to be doing work in that area that day and was glad to sit down and eat lunch with us.  I asked him if he knew anyone that he would recommend doing my roof?  I told him I had been calling around this morning.  He said he had the perfect guy for us that did great work!Image result for rooftop worker picture

I ended up hiring this guy after I had gotten another quote from a bigger company that was far more expensive.  The guy did a fine job and even replaced face boards on our house that were rotting.   I was so happy with his work that I have been telling others  I took a picture of my new roof and let people see the before and the after.  It is truly an amazing difference!  Now I know that my situation wasn’t of the fly in the eye variety but it was important to me.  God truly wants to be a part of our lives whether it is a little thing or a big thing or nothing at all.

I was talking to Adam at church the other day.  I showed him the picture and told him how great of a job his friend did!  “You know”, Adam said “I never go there.  I just happened to be working in that area on that day.”  Could it be that he was placed there for my benefit without even knowing it?  Could it be that God had the answer to my problem before I asked?  When God blesses us we are to shout it from the rooftops.  In my case I haven’t been literally climbing up on the roof to do so but seeing the new roof every day reminds me of how much he loves us!

Matthew 10:27 (NAS) “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.
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Exit Stage Right

I guess the hardest thing for a famous actor, actress or celebrities to do is get off of the stage.  This is especially true when they know it is their last appearance. I remember seeing Johnny Carson’s final show.  He had the forethought to give his audience notice in advance that this would be his last show.  It was expertly planned with a combination of the here and now and highlights from shows past. Watching the show brought laughter and tears to his audience as they enjoyed the memories of the past while also realizing that there would be no new memories.  It was a time of reflection and Johnny was at his best.  He was candid, funny, and very reflective of the 30 plus years that he was the host and star of the Tonight Show.

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Muhammad Ali was a Heavyweight Boxer the likes that nobody had seen before.  He had speed like a lightweight and he developed a style of hitting without getting hit.  It was his quick reflexes as he could pull his head back just as his opponents were trying to throw their knockout blows.  Almost all of the time they ended up only hitting air.  In 1967 Ali was banned from boxing for refusing to be inducted into the army.  His Heavyweight Title was stripped and for 3 and a half years he was not allowed to fight.  Then in 1970 he was given a license to fight in Georgia.  Ali was still good when he returned but he wasn’t the fighter he used to be.  Subsequent matches he started to get hit.  When he fought Joe Frazier for the Heavyweight crown in 1971 he was hit like never before.  No longer was he able to get out of the way every time.  Joe knocked him down in the 15th round and kept his Heavyweight championship.

Ali persevered after that fight and for 3 years he chased another chance to claim the Heavyweight Title.  Finally in 1974 he got his chance.  George Foreman was now the Heavyweight champion after defeating Frazier the year before.  Ali was a big underdog but he used his ring savvy to tire Foreman out and get his title back.  Ali had hinted before the fight that this would be the perfect way for him to leave the stage.  Ten years after winning the title to regain it against such a powerful foe.  However after he won he wouldn’t quit.

Ali fought Joe Frazier for the third time in 1975 and although he won the fight it took it’s toll on both him and Frazier. It was finally time to get out with his health in tact but Ali kept fighting even though his best days were long passed.  He was getting hit and was lucky enough to barely keep his title in some controversial decisions.  In 1978 he fought a rookie boxer named Leon Spinks who had 8 professional fights at the time.  Ali had not trained properly for the fight and Spinks won the decision and the title.  Later that year in a rematch Ali won his title back from Spinks.  Finally Ali retired and left the stage.  Ali loved the limelight and surely he missed being the center of attention.  The next year he announced that he was coming back to get his title.  The fight with Larry Holmes didn’t go well.  Ali was hit like a punching bag showing none of his old talents.  He fought one more time and lost again before he finally admitted that he was through.  It was sad watching him fight at the end when there was nothing left but the memories of what used to be.

Like Ali we are given a time in the spotlight in life. Ecclesiates chapter 3 mentions that there is a time for everything.

Ecclesiastes 3 New International Version (NIV)

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

One of the hardest to deal with is the time to die.  When Carson walked off of the stage for the last time he knew that his time in the limelight was up.  He dealt with it by planning his show and making a great memory at the end.  Unlike Ali at the end we only remember the extraordinary talent that he had without a slippage in later shows.  The same lesson can be learned from the end of life.  Although we will be missed we have the power to make it more of a joyous occasion instead of a sad episode with no hope.  As Christians we need to remember that this is not our home.  When our time is up there is no need to keep fighting.  That is why so many people die very peacefully.  They know that they are going to a place far better!

I have a friend whose mother was dying.  At Christmas time all of the family decided they would write her a letter telling her how much she meant to them.  Later my friend mentioned that the thinking was all backwards.  They should have had her write a letter to each of them.  It would be a letter like the letters somebody used for the meaning of the Bible which was Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

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Planted By The River

There are many mysteries in the Bible and one that comes to mind is found in Mark 8:21-26.

Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida

22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into[a] the village.”

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The question is Why didn’t Jesus heal the man right away or did he?  One of the answers that is interpreted is that he was healed gradually basically for his own good.  It was like going from total darkness to the bright sunlight.  Many times it is compared to salvation and how God let’s a little light in to draw sinners to the righteous path.  When they see some light he reveals more light as they seek him.

The other interpretation that I heard recently was that perhaps the man was given a vision in the spiritual realm.  We see things in the natural with our natural eyes but behind the scenes there is a spiritual world.  It’s like our computer system at work.  We are operating on what we see on our monitor.  Behind the scenes things are happening inside that computer that we don’t see.  Sometimes we concentrate so much on what we are seeing that we forget that there is the unseen world.  It’s only when things go awry with our computer that an expert has to manipulate things behind the scenes to make what we see go back to normal.

It is interesting that the man saw figures like trees but they were walking around.  We aren’t told how he lost his sight but he obviously could see at some earlier part of his life because he knew what trees looked like.  The Bible talks about trees many times and how we are like trees.

Jeremiah 17:5-8 New International Version (NIV)

This is what the Lord says:

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
    who draws strength from mere flesh
    and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
    they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
    in a salt land where no one lives.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”

Image result for picture of a tree by the water

We all know that to live trees need water and sunlight.  The sunlight part is usually the easy one.  Very rarely will a tree die from lack of the sun.  What could kill a tree is if it isn’t planted in the right place and is unable to be deep rooted/  Deep rooted trees can extracts water from the ground that it needs to live.  Ideally  a tree with deep roots that is planted by the water has everything it needs.  The verse mentions that these trees never fear the heat.  It’s leaves are always green.  Why?  Because it is drawing water from the water of life.  It also mentions that it has no worries in a year of drought.  Why?  Because the weather may be dry on the outside, but there is living water that it draws from!  It never fails to bear fruit.  Why?  Because the tree is lacking nothing.  It is operating as normal in good times and in bad because it is connected to that living water.  Like the computer example it is operating well behind the scenes.

Growing up we had a big tree in our front yard.  To this day that tree is there living a healthy life.  It is much bigger than it was back then and it was big then.  The reason I know it is even bigger is because we used to climb it as kids.  There was one branch maybe 5 or 6 feet off of the ground that we would jump up and grab and start our climb.  I know the tree is bigger because that branch is now about 12 feet off of the ground.  There is no way even now that I could i get started climbing that tree.  My sister and I would climb that tree all of the time.  Now kids are probably discouraged from climbing trees. This was before the video game rage.  Back then kid had to entertain themselves.  It never entered our minds the danger that was there.  That tree provided enormous pleasure and a lasting good memory of growing up.  One famous picture that we looked at for years was taken by my mom of the tree with both of us in it.  We were way up in the tree and that picture became a find the kids in the tree game.

That tree was definitely in the right place for us.  It was far enough away from the house where it could grow long roots to extract water deep in the ground.  Unlike our tree there are some trees that grow wild.  We have had many experiences around our house of trees that just start sprouting up.  It is important to keep these wild growing trees under control or they could cause damage to the house.  Trees can be a great benefit if they are planted in the right places for the health of the trees and the enjoyment they can provide.

I was reading about the benefit of trees.  Here are eight reasons we need well planted trees.

!.  Trees cool down neighborhoods

2. Trees fight air pollution

3. Trees and greenery may boost lifespan

4. Trees ease depression and stress

5. Tree loss hurts health

6. Trees reduce Asthma’s toll

7. Trees support better sleep

8. Trees offer heat stroke protection

When the blind man first got his sight could it be that he saw people the way God does in the spiritual realm?  Like a tree we need water to survive.  In the spiritual world that water is the Holy Spirit.  By being deeply rooted and well planted in him we get all of the nourishment we need.  Just like the trees when we are deeply rooted in the Holy Spirit there are benefits for our neighbors and people we come in contact with.  Our presence can cool down situations, fight evil ways of thinking,  help to give depression and stress relief,  give our neighbors peace of mind and help them see things in a different light.  The most important thing we can do is show them the reason for our health and hope.  We can show them how they too can be like trees planted by the water of love, strength, health, and happiness!

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Can You Top This?

Many years ago I bought the Guinness Book of World Records.   As you probably know it is a book that lists many different categories and the records in each one and the person who made them.  I remember talking to a friend as we thumbed through the book trying to figure out a record we could top and have our names in there.  The most amazing thing about the books contents were the extremes that people would attempt just to get into it.  The records were so out there that they were not worth our time and effort.  How could having my name in that book change my life in a positive way?  The commitment, time, and ability to set one of those records would almost assuredly wreck someone’s life.  Yet there is that desire we have to beat someone’s record.

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We start at a young age with the sports we play.  Until kind of recently the games were always scored and of course winning felt a lot better than losing.  I remember my first year in little league we were losing the game and in the last inning one of the kids on my team struck out.  He started crying and the coach was left to console him and tell him it was alright.  It was one of those moments when the coach was also a counselor, a friend, and a brother all rolled into one.

We learn in life that sometimes we win and sometimes we lose but we must keep trying.  We also learn to compete.  Competition is a good thing because it brings out the best in us.  As long as we are willing to take our wins modestly and our losses with respect for the person or team that beats us we have no problem.  Sometimes though the competition and desire to win takes too big of a part in our lives.  That competition can occur even over things that don’t matter.batter swinging

There used to be a show that came on when I was a kid.  It was on channel 50 out of Detroit.  In those days cable TV was just 5 or 6 extra channels, not the variety we get today.  Getting Detroit from my home in Portage was a special thing.  Anyway the show was called “Can You Top This?”  It had comedians come on and tell a joke to a live audience.  They would compete with each other with the gauge being what they called a laugh meter.  The highest score they could get was 100 and after the joke was over the meter was shown on our TV as an arrow and digital numbers going to it’s highest point according to the sound of the audience.  To show you how ridiculous the show was I remember one of the jokes that got 100 points.  It was a joke about a kid that was crying and his father was with him.  “What’s the matter”, his father asked.  The kid blurted between tears that all of the other kids called him fat.  The father comforted the kid telling him he wasn’t fat, he was pleasantly plump.  Now put on your hat and I’ll roll you home.

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Amazingly that joke took the high score for the night.  More amazing is that of all of the jokes they told on that show it was the only one I remember.  As silly as that is there are many people that are playing the can you top this game today.  We used to see it in the old neighborhood saying “Keeping up with the Jones’s.  If Jones got a new mower maybe we would get a better one.  If Jones got a new car maybe we got a newer one.  These kind of competitions were silly and many times had nothing to do with needs.

There is another type of competition that many of us get involved with.  It is the competition to always have the best story or the most exciting experience.  If you tell someone a story they instantly come up with something that tops yours.  It is like they are hardly listening to you as they are thinking about their experience that was truly a bigger thrill or a scarier tale, or a funnier experience.  We should stop that because it makes the other persons experience feel not very important and they may not tell us but it makes them angry.  Everybody wants to feel important and it is important as Christians to make others feel important.  We should listen to their story and laugh, be amazed, or whatever the story calls for.  In other words we don’t always have to win.  Let them win the story game and let them feel  important.  By desiring to listen without competing we silently say that we care and value their experiences!

 

A Helping Hand

His comedy club opened in 1969.  Rodney and a friend opened it in New York City.  It was a club where Rodney could do his act without having to travel all over.  Travel had been his life but it can be a lonely existence.  He was born Jacob Rodney Cohen and kept that name until he was 19.  His father had abandoned the family and Rodney only saw him a couple of times a year.  At the age of 19 Rodney changed his name to Jack Roy.  He had been writing jokes for stand up comedians since the age of 15 and longed to be on stage himself.  He did get jobs in the field but only at local clubs.  He never caught a break and his income as a local comedian was not paying the bills.  In fact he was deeply in debt.  With a growing family (a wife and two kids) Rodney quit the business and became a aluminium siding salesman in the 1950’s.  Later he would make the joke that when he quit show business he was the only one who knew he quit.  He was not happy even though he made enough to support his family.   He never let his dream die.  Rodney decided to give stand up comedy another try.  Now it was the early 1960’s and even though he had quit the business years ago he had not quit writing jokes.  He decided that he needed a character, an image, something people would remember.

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A name change was in order but what?  A night club owner suggested the name “Rodney Dangerfield.”  It was a name used by Jack Benny on his radio show in talking about an old cowboy.  The name would surely get attention and it was adopted.  With a new name he began working on his image.  What could people relate to?  He came up with “nothing ever goes right for me.”  With a subject to work with Rodney developed his routine in a new way.  He also had the mannerisms he used that were as funny as his jokes.  He actually had a funny look.  He made his eyes look even bigger than they were and he had the ability to fire one joke after another.  His memory was sharp and he always remembered where he was going.  All he needed was a big break and he got it in an unexpected way.

Ed Sullivan had a weekly TV show that had all kinds of acts.  As a last minute replacement Ed chose Rodney to do his act.  Rodney was the surprise hit of the show and that opened up doors Rodney never entered before.  There was demand for his act and he came up with his new line.  Instead of “Nothing ever goes right for me” he replaced it with “I get no respect.”  As his popularity increased so did his travel.  Doors opened but they were doors away from home.  Rodney enjoyed his popularity and his comedy club enjoyed great success through the years.  He realized that if Sullivan had not given him a helping hand all of his success may not have happened.

Many have been very talented and have taken their talents to Hollywood only to never get discovered.  We’ve heard stories of unlikely beginnings when the person who would later become a star was in the right place at the right time.  Mel Gibson tells the story of how he got started.  He had been in a fight the night before and had bruises and cuts on his face.  His friend needed a ride to an audition and being the good friend that he was Mel gave him a ride.  Gibson caught the eye of the director and he thought that he would be a good fit for a villainous character in his movie Mad Max.  Weeks later when Gibson reported bruise and cut free the director saw the young handsome Aussie and decided to give him the lead role.  Image result for mel gibson young

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Chris Pratt had an unusual journey to fame.  When he was 19 years old he lived  out of a van in Maui, Hawaii, and waited tables at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.  Actress Rae Dawn Chong happened to come to the restaurant to eat. She cast Pratt in a horror comedy she was directing.  That movie was never released but it opened the door for Pratt to land a role in the drama “Everwood.” In the future Chris would reach leading man status.  What a fortunate turn his life took that day at the restaurant because of a chance meeting!

Carol Burnett received $50 from an anonymous donor in an envelope.  It was for the first year of tuition at UCLA.  Carol was poor and lived with her grandmother.  Going to UCLA was out of the question until that helping hand.  Then in her second year a professor invited students to his house to perform as part of his class.  After her performance while she was stuffing cookies to take to her grandmother a couple came up to her.  Instead of reprimanding her for what she was doing they asked her what her plans were.  She wanted t go to New York and try her hand at a musical comedy but didn’t have the money.  Right on the spot he offered her a loan of $1,000.00 interest free.  He mentioned that he wanted her to pay it back within 5 years so that she would have the responsibility and that if she made good that she had to help someone else achieve their dreams.  Carol did make good as we all know and she has a scholarship at UCLA for actresses in Theater.  She also saw the couple many times through the years and was forever thankful for giving her the means to support her dream. A dream that may not have come true without their help.

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Originally Rodney founded his comedy club for his own reasons.  He wanted a place to do his act.  Through the years and as Rodney became an icon it expanded.  HBO did specials from Rodney’s club that helped young comics get exposure.  Rodney was right in the middle of it giving his help wherever he could.  The best help he could give was to give people the chance that he so desperately longed for years ago.  He gave them a platform to exhibit their talents and make people laugh.  Through his efforts many comedians became famous.  Comedians Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Jay Leno, Ray Romano, Roseanne Barr, Jerry Seinfeld, Bob Saget, Jerry Stiller, Kevin Kline and Jeff Foxworthy were featured at his club.  He gave them a chance and they were forever thankful!

Photo of Dangerfield's - New York, NY, United States. Front

Rodney joked when he went to the hospital for the last time.  He was going to have an operation involving his brain. If successful it would increase blood flow in preparation for a heart valve replacement he would need at a later date.  He was asked how long he would be there and his answer was typical Rodney. “If all goes well about a week, if not about an hour and a half.”  The next month it was revealed that Rodney had been in a coma.  His wife was told that it might be helpful to pull him out of it by having people come and tell their jokes.  Every day they had comedians that Rodney had given their start coming to that hospital room.  His wife mentioned that those sessions should have been taped because they were some of the best ever.  All of those comedians cared deeply for Rodney.  The guy who always said he got no respect was getting the respect that kings don’t get.  Unfortunately  all of their efforts weren’t enough.  Rodney never came out of the coma.

Rodney Dangerfield was a self admitted atheist.  Yet he gave opportunities to a lot of people and God’s laws apply to the just and unjust. “Give and it shall be given unto you” Luke 6:38.  As a result of the good that he did he was blessed with true friends.  The people that helped Carol Burnett and others knowingly or not were obeying these commandments:  27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.  Proverbs 3:27..and “not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”  Philippians 2:4.  

As Christians it’s God’s will that we do onto others as we would have them do onto us. That is the golden rule.  Sometimes God puts people in the right place at the right time and they get blessed, but more often than not it’s the opportunity people have to lend a helping hand that makes the difference one way or the other.  Would we be willing to make a difference in someone else’s life?  If so that positive decision to lead someone up the ladder to new heights not only would bless the receiver but us too!

Houston, We Have A Problem

“Houston, We have a problem” was originally uttered by Jack Swigert, an American astronaut, after he turned a switch on a routine procedure only to hear an explosion throughout the module.  On April 11, 1970 Apollo 13 launched.  It’s mission was to be the third time that men would land on the moon.  Interest in this particular mission waned as most thought it would be boring.  After all we’ve done this before and it was getting to be a routine after 2 successful trips.  All of that changed with one flick of a switch.

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Originally Swigert wasn’t supposed to be on the mission at all.  He was a back up until Ken Mattingly was hurriedly replaced after he was unwittingly exposed to the German Measles.  Now seemingly something awful had gone wrong and Swigert was blaming himself that somehow he didn’t do the procedure right.  Mission Control was in a scramble as their controls were showing that the command modular was losing power.  They would have to act fast as not only the original mission was in danger but the lives of the three astronauts were suddenly at risk.  After putting their heads together Miission Control was guided by one of their top officers.  He persuaded the commander that instead of trying to land on the moon they needed to bring the astronauts home safely. The decision was based on the fact that they were losing oxygen and they had a limited amount of time before it would run out.

Everything was up in the air as they were making their decision of what to do next.  Meanwhile the interest on the ground was at a high level.  What had been originally thought of as a boring mission was now on the front pages.  It was decided that the original module would be discarded and the backup ship the undamaged Aquarius would be used even though it was only supposed to navigate the moon.  They would power it up as a lifeboat to get them home. Through the whole movie problems came up.  They had to power down all unnecessary conveniences so that they could have some power left.  That included the heating and they ended up in a very very cold place.  Through it all they solved problems.  One time the original ship was losing all kinds of oxygen.  Mission control had to simulate their situation.  Ken Mattingly who did not end up with the measles was called in.  He got in the simulator ship which was an exact model of what the astronauts were in.  The mission was to make something out of their supplies that they had to plug up the hole where oxygen was escaping.  Brilliantly they were able to do it on the ground and translate the information to the astronauts so they could make a similar piece.

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All of the problems faced created an interesting and thrilling story.  When I watched the movie for the first time I tried to remember if things worked out.  Because it was based on the true story I knew they couldn’t wander too far from the truth.  I remembered one mission where they got killed at takeoff but obviously this wasn’t it. This particular mission did not stand out in my brain.  However I had a feeling that everything might turn out alright..  Of course I found myself cheering inside as problems that could have killed them all were conquered.  It was a story of guidance, love, and the spirit to survive.

Isn’t that the same spirit that we have as we live our lives on this earth?  There are going to be problems and we have to get through them.  The good news is that we can have communications with the Master of the Universe!  He knows how to get us through our problems and bring us home in victory!

At the end there was one final test.  Would the ship survive re-entry into earths atmosphere?  They always talked about the angle that the ship had to come in. The angle was a little off and it was feared that it could burn up.  That fear was kept from the astronauts because there was nothing they could do about it anyway.  They had it timed that once they lost communications they should gain it back in like 2 minutes.  If they didn’t hear from them by then the chances they wouldn’t increased.  Two minutes came and went and Mission Control was a somber place. They kept trying to communicate but no words were coming back.  There was fear all around as the time went over 3 minutes and ticking.  When everything seemed lost the static in the radio started to clear. “Houston, This is Aquarius”, Tom Hanks the actor said as he brilliantly portrayed Jim Lovell the astronaut.  Cheers rang up in Mission Control and all over the country!

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I have watched this movie many times.  It is one that when I see it is on I get involved with again.  Each time it brings tears to my eyes as I see their struggles and ultimate victory!  I don’t think I would be so apt to watch it if it ended in disaster.  Since it is such a good ending I am always rapped up in seeing it again.  That is how it is with your life and mine.  We are going to have problems while we are here but rest assured God is bigger than our problems.  We can be comforted to know that our story will have a happy ending.  We can go through our problems knowing that they will come to pass and that we will make it through our fiery tests.  Are you going through trials and tribulations right now?  Remember that this is what is making your story interesting.  The saying goes “Without a test there is no testimony!”  Be joyous in your tests knowing that everything turns out all right.  How do we know?   We know because we have been told the glorious ending of our movie!

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Thinking With Your Heart

When I was in Elementary School we had a gym teacher named Mrs. Remynse.  Each year one of the things that we needed for school was a pair of tennis shoes.  We would hang our tennis shoes on the bar that supported our seat on our desk.  It was with great pleasure that we put those  shoes on when we were told to do so before going to Mrs Remynse’s class.  I don’t remember anyone not liking gym class.  It was a time to get out of our seats and move around.  Mrs. Remynse was a short Indian lady with a strong accent.  She had many fun games for us to participate in but first we had to do our exercises.  Most of the time she had this record that she played and we did our exercises by what the record said.  I remember the record had a catchy tune with lyrics for pushups, sit ups, and other things.  This is a small part of the old lyrics.  If you are my age you might remember the song.  It is part of President Kennedy’s physical education program that he felt was so important for our youth.

“School Version”

Touch down
Every morning
Ten times!
Not just
Now and then.
Give that chicken fat
Back to the chicken,
And don’t be chicken again.
No, don’t be chicken again.

Push up
Every morning
Ten times.
Push up
Starting low.
Once more on the rise.
Nuts to the flabby guys!
Go, you chicken fat, go away!
Go, you chicken fat, go!

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Sometimes Mrs. Remynse wouldn’t play the record.  Instead she would line us up in a circle and do a game called “Do as I do.”  This game had us all take turns going into the middle of the circle.  There we were supposed to do an exercise and everyone making up the circle was supposed to do the same thing.  One kid might jump on one foot, another might do pushups, another might swing their legs awkwardly.  Whatever the middle person did we all had to do the same.  Being kids 7 or 8 years old there was always someone who hadn’t made up their mind what to do.  When entering the circle they might put their finger on their tooth as they contemplated what exercise to perform.  The kids making up the circle would invariably put their fingers on their tooth to  jokingly do exactly what the leader was doing.

From an early age we learn how to do things by copying other people.  Skills in the physical world are passed down from generation to generation.  Think about all of the things you can do now and things you don’t even think about the beginnings of.  Do you remember first learning how to tie your shoes?  Think about learning to walk or ride a bike.  Every day in life we are repeating things that we were showed how to do.  We learned that by doing exactly what someone else was doing we could acquire the exact skill that they have.  All of these new skills are brain things.  We finally succeed in doing them and we remember what we did.  We remember what our instructors (usually our parents or teacher) did as they were teaching us and try to copy them.  From our earliest memories we have continuously learned skills through demonstration. Think about learning to talk.  There is a continuous growth from words that we hear and  remember.  Then we learn what the words mean.  Finally we remember the words, their meaning, and how to form the words with our mouth.

Years ago a new bracelet came out.  A youth group leader at Calvary Reformed Church came up with the WWJD bracelet to help her group remember the phrase.  The movement spread and the bracelets became popular to wear.  With that bracelet on people might watch their actions.  Instead of just doing something because they wanted to it was now put to the question “What would Jesus do?”  It is an interesting question but it is the wrong question and here is why.  The disciples who lived with Jesus every day and observed everything that he did were told a truth by him one day.  In John 16:7 he said..Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.  You see while Jesus was on this earth in human body form he could only be in one place at a  time.  With the Holy Spirit we can all have him in our hearts. 

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The What Would Jesus Do bracelet sends the message that we are to think about what Jesus would do in a situation and make our decision accordingly.  The truth is we don’t have to think of what Jesus would do.  It is already in our hearts if we have been born again.  As a result of us accepting him as our Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit comes in and lives in our being.  He discerns what is right or wrong in our heart.  If we listen to his small voice he will lead us through the spirit.  It is no longer a brain thing.  Many times we do not go down the road that gets us into trouble.  We do not have to think about what Jesus would do in given situations.  One thing that Jesus always did however was to never do anything without an agreement in his spirit.  He was always led by the spirit in everything he did.  Like us he was in a human body.  That body had hurts and temptations just like ours does.  For instance Jesus had a struggle with going to the cross.  He knew that was the reason he was here but when it came time he struggled with completing the mission.  He overcame by relying on the spirit that was within him.  That is what we must do as Christians.  We need to get out of that thinking with our brain in spiritual things.  God may call you to do something that makes no sense in our traditional way of thinking.  The Bible asks us Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? I Corinthians 1:20.

At an early age we learned to do as I do.   Unlike the exercises we used to do as kids we are all not supposed to do the same thing.  The spirit might be telling you to do something completely different than me.  God uses what we have to offer for his glory.  When we are led by the spirit we take our hands off the the wheel and let him drive.  We do that by not thinking with our brain but thinking with our heart.  Thinking with our heart works because we are led by the spirit in all things.  It is time everywhere for Christians to walk in the spirit and obey his voice in all things.  If you want to know what Jesus would do that is it!

Heaven On My Mind

The song “Georgia On My Mind” was not written by Ray Charles although when I heard him sing it I thought so.  It was actually written by the roommate of Hoagy Carmichael named Stuart Gorrell back in 1930.  It might have been originally written about the state of Georgia or it could have been written about a woman. In his second autobiography Hoagy cleared the picture.  Although he did have a sister named Georgia the song was written because his saxophonist named Frankie Traumbauer mentioned that he should write a song about the state of Georgia.  He also suggested some lyrics “Georgia, Georgia.” Whether it was written entirely by Gorrell or in a joint effort with Hoagy the song was written.  Although both guys lived in Indiana and never visited Georgia it would forever be associated with Georgia because of a Georgian named Ray Charles.
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Georgia on My Mind
Georgia, Georgia
The whole day through
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind (Georgia on my mind)
I said Georgia
Georgia
A song of you
Comes as sweet and clear
As moonlight through the pines
Other arms reach out to me
Other eyes smile tenderly
Still in peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you
I said Georgia
Ooh Georgia, no peace I find
Just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind (Georgia on my mind)
Other arms reach out to me
Other eyes smile tenderly
Still in peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you
Whoa, Georgia
Georgia
No peace, no peace I find
Just this old, sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind
I said just an old sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind
Image result for ray charles picture
When I listen to the late Ray Charles recordings of his rendition it almost always brings tears to my eyes.  Ray was a world famous wonder with the way he could sing a song with feeling and beat.  He was also blind but truly he could see and feel in so many other ways.  Yet in all of his travels this song seems to indicate his love for his hometown and his feelings toward that heavenly place.  It isn’t a song with an abundance of spectacular descriptive words, but it is a song that when he sang it there was such a feeling of love for his great home.  There is something about a home that we all love.  It is more than just words it is something deep down in our hearts.  It’s hard to describe in words it is so powerful.  By just taking a few simple but meaningful words and singing it with such feeling Charles captured his thinking and longing for his home.
I remember a song we sang in church when I was young.  It was a hymn called “When We All Get To Heaven”, by Eliza Hewitt.  The lyrics went
  1. Sing the wondrous love of Jesus,
    Sing His mercy and His grace;
    In the mansions bright and blessed
    He’ll prepare for us a place.

    • When we all get to heaven,
      What a day of rejoicing that will be!
      When we all see Jesus,
      We’ll sing and shout the victory!
  2. While we walk the pilgrim pathway,
    Clouds will overspread the sky;
    But when trav’ling days are over,
    Not a shadow, not a sigh.
  3. Let us then be true and faithful,
    Trusting, serving every day;
    Just one glimpse of Him in glory
    Will the toils of life repay.
  4. Onward to the prize before us!
    Soon His beauty we’ll behold;
    Soon the pearly gates will open;
    We shall tread the streets of gold
I remember that everyone sang this hymn with such feeling.  The spirit in the place was so happy as young and old truly felt the love of God.  In those moments I could tell that this was a song that captured our future home and our desire to be there.
Sometimes great songs are written by people without the experience of what they are writing about.  I am reminded of the song “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.”  That song was written by Jack Haworth who saw a sign while riding on a subway in 1908 about a ball game to be played that day and by the time his ride was over a song was written.  He had never been to a ball game before.  The two artists who wrote “Georgia On My Mind” had never been to Georgia.  Yet they created the words that have become the state song.  Likewise most of us have never been to heaven.  Yet the words of the above hymn is in such anticipation of a great event.
Have you ever planned a vacation and dreamed about what a great time you will have?  You start dreaming about each and every event on the vacation and have a longing to be there.  As Christians that is how our focus should be.  We are here now but our future isn’t the here and now.   Someday we are going home.  Sometimes it is a thought and then a yearning as Ray Charles so beautifully stated in his song.
                                   “No peace, no peace I find
                                     Just an old sweet song keeps
                                     Georgia on my mind.
The beautiful thing is when we sing songs about Heaven be it slow, fast, rocky, or a hymn it is like that old sweet song.  We are keeping heaven on our minds and yearning for that wonderful trip.  Just an old sweet song keeps Heaven on my mind!
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A Tale Of Two Kickers

Garo Yepremian was born in Cypress to American parents.  He immigrated to the United States with his brother.  His brother earned a soccer scholarship from Indiana University.  Garo was not eligible for an NCAA soccer scholarship because he had played professional soccer in London previously.  After watching an NFL football game Garo decided that he was going to be a professional football kicker.  He got a tryout with the Detroit Lions in 1966 and was signed to do their kicking.  Garo was a little guy at 5’7″ and his coach told him that after he kicked a kickoff to head straight for the bench.  His coach knew that one thing their opponents would love to do is dismantle their little kicker.  Garo kicked the ball and headed for the bench.  Unfortunately he found himself on the wrong team’s bench in the midst of the enemies.

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At first Garo wasn’t comfortable with a helmet.  When he played his first game he wore one without the face mask until Ray Nitshke  a rough and tough linebacker of the Green Bay Packers tackled him and crunched his face into the ground.  After that little episode Garo wore a helmet with a single bar.  He was the last player in NFL history to play without a face mask.

In that first year with the Lions Garo wasn’t very familiar with the rules of football.  When his team was hopelessly behind one week they scored a touchdown with only a few seconds left in the game.  Garo was called in to kick the extra point.  After kicking the meaningless point through the uprights he ran around with his arms spread in celebration.  One of his teammates asked him what he was doing?  “I just kicked a touchdown!”, he explained.

Garo had a career game in his season with the Lions.  Playing against the Minnesota Vikings he kicked six field goals.  It was a record for kickers in one game and it stood for many years.

After the 1966 season Garo quit football and joined the United States Army.  When he got back to the Detroit area in 1968 the Detroit Lions decided not to offer him a contract.  He signed a contract to be the kicker for the Detroit Arrows in the Continental Football League.  After a horrible year with the Arrows (they won only one game), Garo found himself out of football again.  In the off season and the next year when he was out of football Garo sold Neckties.  He still had a desire to kick in the NFL again.

Garo Yepremian dies at 70; kicker part of undefeated Dolphins team

In 1970 Garo got the chance.  He signed a contract with the Miami Dolphins.  The next couple of years he let the league in scoring.  Garo was a kicker that was very accurate although he wasn’t a long distance kicker.  Today you see kickers who have no problem with distance from over 50 yards.  That was not Garo’s Strength.  However if the kick was inside 35 yards Garo very rarely missed.

Garo is remembered maybe even more than his kicking feats by one play that was on the world stage.  It was a field goal attempt with his team (the Dolphins) winning 14-0 against the Redskins.  It was in the Super Bowl so every eye was upon him.  His kick was blocked and Garo picked it up.  He was running across the field and was about to get tackled.  He tried to throw a pass but it slipped out of his hand.  He batted the ball right into the hands of a Washington Redskin player who ran for a touchdown.  “I honestly felt as if my life was over,” said Yepremian. “I never, ever had been disappointed like that in my life. Goodness, I felt as if it was the end. Norm Evans, the spiritual leader of the Dolphins, said, ‘don’t worry, God is with you.’ That was the best thing that ever happened to me, to have that encouragement from a friend. If the other team scored, and it would have went to overtime, that would’ve haunted me for the rest of my life.”Although it was very embarrassing and is shown whenever football bloopers are displayed it seems, the play did not cost the Dolphins their ultimate victory.  They won the Super Bowl that year by a score of 14-7.

When the media laughed at his gaffe Garo was very hurt.  He left the victory party early and went to his hotel room and took an ice bath.  He went home and stayed behind closed doors for weeks until he received a letter from his coach Don Shula.  The letter mentioned how important he was to the Dolphins and all of the games his kicks had saved.  “It was the most important letter I ever received” , Garo said remembering.  When he was with Shula signing autographs at a show he mentioned the letter to Shula.  “What letter?”, Shula asked.  It seems that Shula’s wife had written the letter and signed Don’s name to it.  Obviously she felt like he needed someone to pick him up and that letter certainly did!  Garo moved on from his famous gaffe and kicked in the NFL for 9 more years.

Jan Senerud was a ski jumper.  He was born in Finland and received a scholarship from Montana State to ski jump.  One day after he had run up and down the bleachers of the football field to stay in shape Jan and a friend were kicking a football around on the field.  Jan had played some soccer and he had a very strong right leg.  He was making field goals from great distances when the school’s basketball coached happened to pass by and observe.  Before he knew it the football coach wanted to see him kick.  After kicking for the football coach he was encouraged to come out for the football team.  In fact he wanted Jan to suit up for the teams final game.  He wasn’t eligible to play but the coach wanted him to wear the football uniform and learn the football rules and see how the game was played.

Following the ski season Stenerud joined the football team for spring practice.  That Fall he set an NCAA record at the time by kicking a 59 yard field goal.  Stenerud humbly admitted years later that a strong tail wind and high altitude helped his kick.  On the kickoff after his record breaking field goal he kicked the ball out of the end zone and over the bleachers behind it.

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After College Stenerud was signed by the Kansas City Chiefs.  At the time he was one of the first field goal specialists.  Back then the field goal kicker almost always played another position also.  In fact they would normally get the best kicker from the players they already had.  Stenerud helped the Chiefs win the Super Bowl following the 1969 season with his amazing field goals.  He was very accurate and his strong leg was able to kick from distances that nobody had seen before.  The first 9 points of the Super Bowl against the Minnesota Vikings were scored by Stenerud’s three field goals!

It was Christmas day 1971.   The big game was on later in the afternoon.  It was Garo’s Miami Dolphins against Jan’s Kansas City Chiefs.  The winner would advance in the playoffs and hopefully get to the Super Bowl.  The loser would be done for the season.  Many a Christmas dinner was cold that day because the game kept going on and on.  The Chiefs should have won.  Every time they took the lead however, the Dolphins came right back.  One play that stands out is when the Chiefs outsmarted themselves.  They had a 10-0 lead and were lined up for Jan to kick a 29 yard field goal.  However, Hank Stram the Chiefs coach had another idea.  He wanted to do a fake and have Stenerud run for the first down.  The snap was supposed to go straight to the kicker but when the center was about to snap the ball he saw that Jan was looking down like he normally did.  So he snapped the ball to the holder like any other field goal.  Completely out of sorts Len Dawson the Quarterback and also the holder took the snap and put it down for Jan to kick it.  Jan never made an excuse as to why he kicked the ball wide to the right but the confusion all around was a big momentum changer.

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The game was tied with just a few seconds left.  The Chiefs made a big pass play and lined up for Jan to kick a 31 yard field goal.  Jan was so amazing that season that the Dolphins just knew this was the end.  Amazingly Jan missed the field goal wide to the right again.  The game went into overtime and it went on an on.  Finally after  82 minutes and 40 seconds (more than 5 and a half quarters) Garo made a 37 yard field goal to win it.  Garo and the Dolphins were ecstatic while Jan and the Chiefs were devastated.  Looking back Garo mentioned how fitting it was that the tie salesman had broken the tie!  Although his teammates tried to make him feel better Jan could not be consoled.  He felt like that he alone had let all of his teammates down and all of the fans of the Chiefs.  He considered quitting the game he was so broken.

Even today after all of these years later Jan has no desire to talk about that game.  It was a time of personal tragedy for him.  Yet when Christmas comes around every year the memories of that game are brought up.  It’s funny that Garo’s gaffe in the next years Super Bowl is talked about in a fun way because it didn’t cost the Dolphins the game.  Jan’s miss in the longest game ever (at that time) is remembered (especially by Jan) like somebody had died.

Instead of quitting Jan persevered after the tragic loss.  His career totaled 19 years. After 8 more years in Kansas City he signed with the Green Bay Packers and kicked 4 years for them before ending his career with 2 years in a Minnesota Viking uniform. Jan was not like Garo in personality.  Garo showed his emotion when he kicked a game winner.  Garo was apt to extend his arms like he was flying.  Jan was cool as though he was just doing his job in the office.  Jan explained it best though.  “Just because I don’t do cartwheels when I make a game winning field goal doesn’t mean I’m not extremely pleased.”

His cool demeanor served Jan well and helped him to carry on after  he plunged to the ground that Christmas day.   It’s a good lesson to all of us too!  Whatever comes our way do not be distracted and keep going forward  Treat our disappointments as learning experiences and ask God to make something good come out of them.  When his career was over Jan was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  At the time he was the only kicker (who only kicked) voted into the Hall.  His final football numbers were 19 years, 6 pro bowls, 6 all league selections, 7 times scoring 100 or more points (in a 14 game season), and 1,699 career points.  The things that can’t be measured though are his persevering attitude, his pain in disappointments, and his contentment in his victories!

Do You Remember Me?

I had an experience the other day that was kind of embarrassing.  Someone came up to me in a store and asked me if I remembered them.  Actually I did remember the lady.  She worked in the Financial Aid Office years ago.  I also remember running into her years ago in a similar circumstance.  My problem is that I didn’t remember her name.  I did tell her of course I remembered her but I wasn’t honest about her name.  I should have asked her for her name again.  After all it had been years and years since I had seen her.  She mentioned the last time she saw me I was going to buy trophies for my sons basketball team.  I’m thinking that had to be 11 or 12 years ago when I coached them.  It would have been easy to ask for her name and yet I didn’t.  Maybe in the back of my mind I thought that it might be hurtful to her.  Yet when you don’t run into someone for years it’s natural to forget.  It isn’t like you see them every day.   So I skated around the conversation without calling her by her name because I had forgotten.

I had a similar experience yesterday but the shoe was on the other foot.  I walked into a building and there was a guy I hadn’t talked to in years.  His name was George and he was the boyfriend of my boss years ago.  Actually I see him all of the time because he has decided to ride his bike to work instead of driving.  Many times driving to or from work I will encounter him riding down the road.  Of course he hasn’t thought of me in years and naturally when I saw him I said “Hey George!”, and we shook hands.  I noticed he didn’t call me by my name but we exchanged pleasantries.  I told him I see him riding his bike often and he mentioned something about finding that the bike was going against his will too often to Sweet water’s Doughnut Shop lately.  We both got a laugh out of that but at the end of the conversation he said something really softly…I heard it as “take care Terry.”

'This is my wife of 42 years...uh...'  'Lisa.'

I kinda laughed to myself as I continued walking.  I was wondering if I heard him correctly because he said it so low.  I have tried that trick too.  If I wasn’t totally sure I might say the name that I thought it was. The trick is to say it low enough that they would think that I remembered or if it was wrong that maybe they didn’t hear me correctly,.  There was a guy that I was running into every day that worked in Human Resources.  It seemed like every day he was saying “Hi Lewis”, and I was saying “hey how is it going?”, or some other pleasantry.  I had never been introduced to this guy but somehow he knew my name and it was embarrassing.

One day I decided that I have to find out what his name is.  So I searched an old phone book of the people that worked in Human Resources and I thought I had it!  He said “How are you Lewis?”  and I said something like “I’m doing good” and I said a name I forget right now.  The name i thought was right was an unusual name too.  Quickly he corrected me which was embarrassing but the proper thing to do.  “My name is Robert”, he said.  “Oh I’m sorry”, I stated obviously embarrassed.  I think I muddled through the passing conversation using his name Robert.  Quickly I started trying to find a way to remember his name. I used to work with a guy named Robert who was a really good friend.  I made a note that when I saw this guy I would think about my long lost friend.  Now it works like a charm.  It’s either Hi Lewis, Hi Robert or Hi Robert, Hi Lewis!  Now we both feel good when we see each other!

Therein lies the key to people’s hearts.  Everyone wants to feel good.  I was reading a book about Detroit Tiger’s legend Al Kaline.  He was at an autograph show when a fan came up to him asking “Do you remember me?”  Al looked at him and gave him a second glance.  Nothing was coming and he was honest “No I don’t think so, should I?”  The fan explained that it was right after the 1968 World Series that the Tiger’s won!  They were having a victory parade downtown and Al was in one of the cars.  The fan explained that he ran right up to the car and got Al’s attention.  “Hey Al” he said.  He said that Al looked right at him!  Kaline took his eyes off of the ball he was autographing.  “That’s right the parade in 1968”, he said referring to an event 25 years ago.  “You’ve changed a little”, Al offered and they both laughed.  I’m sure that little meeting with Kaline made the guys day.  He probably went home and told his wife and kids that the great Al Kaline remembered him!  The guy next to Al at the table looked at him in amazement of his fabulous memory.  When the fan was safely out of earshot Al quietly told him “of course not.”

There are some people that are brutally honest.  They pride themselves in saying things and letting the chips fall where they may.  Maybe there is a time and place for this if it is in the right spirit and meant to be helpful, but too often their words only hurt the other person.  Too often the brutally honest ones are just brutal.  “I tell it like it is”, they may say proudly.  Yet with their words they sometimes cut a person far deeper than if they were stabbing them with a knife.  That hurt can bring pain to others too.  The phrase “Hurt people hurt people” is very true and it can be passed on or stopped by our actions.  Make people feel good that they saw you.  Leave them in a better mood than before your encounter.  This is what happy people do and we should be happy with the Spirit of God within us!

Years ago Ernie Banks was a big star for the Chicago Cubs.  One day Ernie was at a function and one of the promoters was telling him about his 8 year old son.  His wife would be bringing him over in a few minutes.  “It will be thrilling for him to meet you because  you are his favorite player!”  The promoter told Ernie that he took his son  to a Cubs doubleheader last year on the 4th of July. He mentioned that they got good seats right to the side of the Cub’s dugout and he bought his son a Cub’s hat that he wore the whole day!  “What a great time they had together that day” He recalled, “and how thrilled his son was when Ernie hit a home run!”

As promised the promoters wife brought his son over to where he was.  “I’d like you to meet Ernie Banks”, his father told his son.  Ernie looked up from what he was doing and shook hands with the youngster.  As he was shaking his hand Ernie took a second look.  “Hey, haven’t I seen you before?”, he stated in surprised elation.  “Weren’t you at a game last year?”  The kid mentioned that he was.  “Wasn’t it the 4th of July doubleheader?” “Weren’t you sitting right by the dugout with a Cubs hat on?”  The questions were coming faster than the kid could answer but he was thrilled that the great Ernie Banks recognized him!  “When I saw you do you know what I thought?”  “I thought that kid is a great Cubs fan and I’m going  to try to hit a home run just for him!”

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