John Knox never entered a pulpit until he was 40 years old and biographers conclude that much of the fire and energy of his preaching was due to the fact that the flame had been so long pent up within his breast.
See: 1 Peter 1:2
Dwight L. Moody, by his own admission, made a mistake on the eighth of October 1871—a mistake he determined never to repeat.
He had been preaching in the city of Chicago. That particular night drew his largest audience yet. His message was "What will you do then with Jesus who is called the Christ?"
By the end of the service, he was tired. He concluded his message with a presentation of the gospel and a concluding statement: "Now I give you a week to think that over. And when we come together again, you will have opportunity to respond."
A soloist began to sing. But before the final note, the music was drowned out by clanging bells and wailing sirens screaming through the streets. The great Chicago Fire was blazing. In the ashen aftermath, hundreds were dead and over a hundred thousand were homeless.
Without a doubt, some who heard Moody's message had died in the fire. He reflected remorsefully that he would have given his right arm before he would ever give an audience another week to think over the message of the gospel.
See: Psalm 32:6; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 3:15
Evangelist Paul Rader had often urged a banker in New York State to receive Christ, but the man would not make the decision. One day the preacher sensed that God wanted him to go immediately and speak to him again. So he took a train to the town where the man worked, hurried to the bank, and found his friend standing in the doorway.
"Rader," he said, "I'm glad to see you! I wrote a telegram begging you to come, but later changed my mind and didn't send it."
"That's all right," said the evangelist, "your message came through anyhow by way of heaven."
Under deep conviction of sin, the banker was impressed by Rader's earnestness and his special effort to reach him with the gospel, and within a few minutes he accepted the Lord. In his newfound joy he exclaimed, "Did you ever see the sky so blue or the grass so green!"
"Hallelujah, you're truly converted!" came Rader's response. "It's just like the song says, 'Heaven above is softer blue, earth around is sweeter green, something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen."
Suddenly the banker gave a strange gasp and fell over dead! He had been saved at the very brink of eternity. What if Paul Rader had delayed or failed to stress the banker's urgent need of turning to the Lord immediately? That man may have been lost.
See: John 3:3-7; 2 Corinthians 6:2; 1 Peter 1:23
Shortly after he opened his first plant, Thomas Edison noticed that his employees were in the habit of watching the lone factory clock. To the inventor who was an indefatigable worker, this was incomprehensible. He did not indicate his disapproval verbally. Instead he had dozens of clocks placed around the plant, no two keeping the same time. From then on clock watching led to so much confusion that nobody cared what time it was.
President Dwight Eisenhower described his mother as a smart and saintly lady. "Often in this job I've wished I could consult her. But she is in heaven. However, many times I have felt I knew what she would say."
One night in their farm home, Mrs. Eisenhower was playing a card game with her boys. "Now, don't get me wrong," said the former president, "it was not with those cards that have kings, queens, jacks, and spades on them. Mother was too straitlaced for that." President Eisenhower said the game they were playing was called Flinch.
"Anyway, Mother was the dealer, and she dealt me a very bad hand. I began to complain. Mother said, 'Boys, put down your cards. I want to say something, particularly to Dwight. You are in a game in your home with your mother and brothers who love you. But out in the world you will be dealt bad hands without love. Here is some advice for you boys. Take those bad hands without complaining and play them out. Ask God to help you, and you will win the important game called life." The president added, "I've tried to follow that wise advice always."
See: Ecclesiastes 8:14; Hebrews 12:3-13
It was back in the early '60s that Admiral Rickover wrote these few lines to those who are at the helm:
Responsibility is a unique concept. It can only reside in a single individual. You may share it with others, but your portion is not diminished. You may delegate it, but it is still with you. If responsibility is rightfully yours, no evasion or ignorance or passing the blame can shift the burden to someone else. Unless you can point your finger at the one who is responsible when something goes wrong, then you never had anyone really responsible.
Tough words, but true. Rickover never was one to concern himself with tact. Maybe his grit is needed more than we realize. Big projects and meaningful achievements get done not by dreamers but by doers, not by armchair generals who watch and frown from a distance but by brave troops in the trenches, not by fat fans in the bleachers but by lean, committed coaches and players on the field, not by those who stay neutral and play it safe but by those who get off the fence of indecision, even though their decisions are occasionally unpopular.
See: Luke 12:48; Romans 14:12; James 1:23-25
Religion and celebrity do not mix. Religion and fame might work well together, but celebrity is a different matter.
The distinction? Try this out: Celebrities do not have friends. They are surrounded by people, but are actually isolated. They have ... people who tell the noted, soon to be notorious, cleric what he or she wants to hear until each begins to believe the publicity. Such friendless clergy take themselves seriously, lose perspective, put themselves above the law, and invent self-justifying rationales.
What are friends for? ... Friends say to people who acquire power and position—and even the pastor of the humble parish has some of that—"Watch it, buddy," or "We knew you when ..." or "This time you went too far."
See: Proverbs 27:6, 17; Romans 12:3
No one knows us better than our spouse—and no one knows better the things we are in denial about.
See: Genesis 2:18; 2:24; Matthew 19:6
One thing that keeps me turning from sin is an accountability relationship with three other men. Friends for a number of years, in 1988 we decided to formalize our accountability. Our purpose is to help one another keep faithful in our walk with God.
One of the men, Doug Hignell, said, "Humble myself enough to be accountable to another person? Not me, a man who likes to be in control and paddle his own canoe!" That would have been my response 15 years ago.
Doug went on to say, "But as I began to grow in my spiritual walk, and as God brought men with spiritual depth into my life, being a lone ranger became less attractive. I began to realize that to remain teachable as I got older and to end well in my Christian walk, I needed to develop one or more relationships that would require me to keep open and vulnerable."
Doug, Stan, Chris and I have given one another full permission to invade each other's lives, to ask any questions.
The best accountability is with very close friends who know each other so well that they "sense" when something is going astray, and will say so.
See: Proverbs 18:24; 27:17; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
In Rome for the first five hundred and twenty years of the Republic there had not been a single divorce; but now under the Empire, as it has been put, divorce was a matter of caprice. As Seneca said, "Women were married to be divorced and divorced to be married." In Rome the years were identified by the names of the consuls; but it was said that fashionable ladies identified the years by the names of their husbands. Juvenal quotes an instance of a woman who had eight husbands in five years. Morality was dead.
In Greece immorality had always been quite blatant. Long ago Demosthenes had written: "We keep prostitutes for pleasure; we keep mistresses for the day-to-day needs of the body; we keep wives for the begetting of children and for faithful guardianship of our homes." So long as a man supported his wife and family there was no shame whatsoever in extramarital relationships.
See: Proverbs 5:15-20
A man wrote to Dear Abby recently. He said,
I am in love and I am having an affair with two different women. I can't marry them both. Please tell me what to do, but don't give me any of that morality stuff. Abby's answer is classic.
The only difference between humans and animals is morality. Please write to a veterinarian."
See: 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Hebrews 13:4
Dear Ann Landers:
They buried my lover today. We were "together" for 25 years. I had no part in the funeral and no grieving with anyone except a friend in whom I confided.
I am married to a man I respect but do not love. My lover felt the same way about his wife. We stayed with our mates because of our families. My grief is deep, and my loss is beyond words. My life was a secret, and now my pain must be secret also. Guilt and pain are a terrible exchange for a few stolen moments.
Whatever relationship you have with your wife or husband, work at it, stick with it and get help if you need it, but don't get involved with a married person.
Fortunately for me, our secret died with him. Now I need to forgive myself. Tell your readers to remain faithful. I wish I had.—N.Y.
See: Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 3:19; Hebrews 13:4
"We have courtesans for the sake of pleasure; we have concubines for the sake of daily cohabitation; we have wives for the purpose of having children legitimately, and of having a faithful guardian for all our household affairs." Xenophon, the Greek historian, claimed that it was the husband's aim that a wife "might see as little as possible, hear as little as possible and ask as little as possible." Socrates, in a similar vein, queried, "Is there anyone to whom you entrust more serious matters than to your wife and is there anyone to whom you talk less?"
Hughes adds, "The ancient pagan man breathed adultery. The marriage bond was virtually meaningless."
See: Exodus 20:14; Proverbs 2:11-20; 5:3-6; Hebrews 13:4
Sensationalistic sex surveys suffered further damage with the release of new research on the fidelity of American spouses. According to a new study by Tom W. Smith of the National Opinion Research Center, roughly 15% of married or previously married Americans have committed adultery. The results largely agree with a 1987 ABC News/Washington Post poll that found 89% of spouses faithful.
However, pop culture gurus Kinsey (37% of men) Joyce Brothers (50% of women) and Shere Hite (75% of women married five years) have stoked reports of rampant infidelity.
See: Romans 13:10-14; 2 Peter 2:9-15; 2 Timothy 4:2-4
Our Sept. 30 cover package on adultery ("Infidelity in the '90s") elicited responses from the parties typically involved in betrayal: cheaters, cheated-ons and cheated-withs. Not surprisingly, a majority condemned adultery as immoral. One reader wrote that it also demonstrates "dishonesty, immaturity, selfishness, insatiability and disrespect." A handful of letter writers, however, suggested that the ethics of adultery were not so clear-cut.
One "church-going" woman reported that her five-year affair with a married man was saving her marriage. "I am not sure which is the lesser of two evils," she wrote, "adultery or divorce."
See: Exodus 20:14; Job 24:15; Proverbs 5:15-23; Matthew 5:27; 1 Corinthians 6:9
Hilde Houlding, coordinator of the Calgary Family Service Bureau's counseling division, describes an affair in this way:
An affair is often an attempt to find a little bit of paradise on the side, pursuing the belief that if one just finds the right sexual partner there will be instant happiness and everything will fall into place. An affair is often able to fulfill this myth until it itself becomes a relationship that has to be worked at and looked at in a long-term light.
Seen in this way "paradise" soon becomes a prison.
See: Proverbs 5; 6:23-29
The young preacher was shocked to hear the well-known evangelist utter the words, "I have spent some of the happiest moments of my life in the arms of another man's wife. Yes, I have spent some of the happiest moments of my life in the arms of another man's wife." Then, following a pause, the evangelist added, "That woman was my mother."
"I've got to use that!" the young pastor thought to himself. A few weeks later, as he was speaking to a civic group, the phrase leapt into his mind and he exclaimed, "I have spent some of the happiest days of my life in the arms of another man's wife." Then, after another long pause, the young man muttered meekly, "But for the life of me I can't remember who she was."
See: Proverbs 5:15-20; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
Probably no story better illustrates how the sweet, stolen water of adultery turns invariably sour than the story of Camelot. In this epic tale, the relationship of King Arthur and Queen Guenevere is trespassed upon when Arthur's most renowned and trusted knight Lancelot gingerly slips his toe across the marital boundary. It started with a look—an innocent look, without premeditation or evil intent. But it was a short, slippery step from a look to lust, from infatuation to infidelity. The look eventually led to a touch. The touch sometime later led to a kiss. The kiss, to adultery. And adultery, to tragedy.
See: Proverbs 9:13-18
Returning from Sunday School one day, where the Ten Commandments had been the topic, our young son asked his father, "Daddy, what does it mean when it says, 'Thou shalt not commit agriculture'?"
There was hardly a beat between the question and my husband's smooth reply: "Son, that just means that you're not supposed to plow the other man's field," an answer satisfactory to both of them.
See: Exodus 20:14
A North Carolina jury ordered a man to pay $234,000 for stealing the love of another man's wife. The verdict was not about money, legal experts say. Instead, it's a way for a scorned spouse to send a message that cheating isn't fair or appropriate.
In August, another North Carolina jury awarded a jilted wife $1 million. North Carolina is one of the few states with alienation-of-affection laws still on the books. Most states abolished such laws when no-fault divorce laws became popular.
Said Scott Altman, law professor at the University of Southern California, "Even though fault-based divorce is abolished, most people still regard infidelity as wrong and feel terribly hurt by it. So for someone to want a remedy when they feel so aggrieved, and for a jury to be sympathetic, doesn't strike me as shocking."
See: Matthew 5:32; Mark 10:5; 1 Corinthians 7:10-11; Hebrews 13:4
I attended the PK conference in the Los Angeles Coliseum—Bishop Kenneth Ulmer spoke, and it felt like he had prepared his message for me. I was at the time getting out of a six-month affair, and I had almost lost my marriage of more than five years.
Bishop Ulmer said, "You men in extra-marital affairs, stop, and turn it all over to God." And there I was with my dad and my brothers. They all knew what was going on in my life.
Bishop Ulmer gave an invitation for men to come forward and start a new life.
I knew about the Lord when I was younger but did not have a relationship with Christ. I looked over to my dad, the rock, and saw tears rolling down his face. I asked him to go down with me.
We walked down those steps arm-in-arm, just sobbing all the way to the ground floor.
That was the start. I am currently active in a PK group, and my wife and I are on the long road to recovery. If I learned anything from my mistakes, I learned that "I can do all things through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13).
See: Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20