Important People in Your Life

People 1.jpeg

The following quiz about important people is often attributed to Charles Schulz, creator of the ‘Peanuts’ comic strip. That attribution is denied by Snopes.com, a widely used internet reliability resource. Nevertheless, its point is worthy of consideration. So here it is, slightly amended:

  1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
  2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
  3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.
  4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
  5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
  6. Name the last decade’s World Series winners.

How did you do? If you’re like me, you didn’t do so well. The point of this little exercise is that very few people remember the headliners of yesterday. These are not second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields.

But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Except in rare cases, accolades, certificates and trophies are buried with their owners. I look around my office at many such items that will very likely find their permanent home someday in a dumpster.

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

  1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
  2. Name three friends who helped you through a difficult time.
  3. Name five people who taught you something worthwhile.
  4. Think of a few people who made you feel appreciated and special.
  5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
  6. Name the pastor who most significantly influenced your life.

For many people, this second quiz is easier than the first. That’s true simply because the people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones who possess impressive credentials, high net worth, or prestigious awards. They simply are the people who care the most.

Scripture has many injunctions to honor important people, including those in authority (Rom. 13:7), your leaders in the Lord’s work (1 Thess. 5:12), your father and your mother (Deut. 5:16).

Take some time to honor the important people in your life!

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Rio Olympics 2016

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A very important person in Terry’s and my life, our beautiful granddaughter, turns 21 today. Happy Birthday, dear Kayla! Mimi and I love you very much and pray for you every day!

Also this weekend the Games of the XXXI (31st) Olympiad, more commonly known as the 2016 Summer Olympics, will conclude. This major international multiple-sport event began August 5 and will end August 21. It has virtually dominated major TV coverage for 17 days.

The decision to hold this event in Rio de Janeiro was made by the International Olympic Committee in 2009. More than 11,000 athletes from 206 countries have competed in 28 different sports at 33 venues in the host city and at five more locations in Brazil.

Numerous controversies preceded the Games, including the instability of the Brazilian government, pollution in Guanabara Bay and health concerns caused by the Zika virus. Use of illegal drugs by Russian athletes added to the list of challenges faced by the host city and country.

Nevertheless, Rio Olympics 2016 has provided many hours of viewing pleasure for people around the world. Almost every event included manifestations of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Just a few of my many memorable highlights include:

  • USA men swimmers, with Michael Phelps’ record of 28 medals, including 23 gold!
  • USA women swimmers, particularly Simone Manuel. The first African American woman to win a gold medal in swimming, she said: ““All I can say is all glory to God …!”
  • USA women gymnasts, led by Simone Biles’ championship performances. Her height is 4’9″!
  • Numerous track events, including Jamaican Usain Bolt’s gold medal in the 100 m. race. He’s a bit too cocky for my blood but does make the sign of the cross before every race. He’s 6’5″!
  • Two 70+ year old female coaches, South Africa’s Tannie Ans and Hungarian-Romanian Márta Karolyi, USA gymnastics team coordinator who lives in Huntsville, Tex. Both have coached athletes with incredible life stories who won gold medals!

Many other highlights occurred, too numerous to mention. You most likely have your own list.

Olympic contests remind me of St. Paul’s words: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Cor. 9:24-25)

Young Olympians with incredible athletic skill today will someday become elderly former Olympians with bodies that refuse to do what they once were able to do. The last half of that sentence already describes many people, whether or not they ever were great athletes.

By God’s grace, young and old alike can look forward to a crown that will last forever! Thanks for the short term memories, Rio Olympics 2016!

Worth Remembering

ProposalLast week Terry shared with me a story she had received via email. An elderly man whose wife had recently died attended his 75th high school reunion. Soon after arriving he saw across the room an old high school girlfriend whose husband had also passed away. He immediately went across the room, engaged in conversation with her and asked her to dance.

The couple spent the entire evening on the dance floor. As the reunion party ended the man asked his old flame if she would marry him. She quickly replied “Yes!” The two 93 year-olds kissed excitedly, exchanged phone numbers and parted company for the night.

The next morning the man, whose memory wasn’t what it used to be, remembered having a great evening. But he couldn’t recall for certain whether he had actually asked his high school sweetheart to marry him. So he picked up the phone and called her to find out.

When she answered the phone, he asked: “Did I ask you to marry me last night?” Her ecstatic reply was: “Thank you so much for calling! I remembered receiving a marriage proposal but I couldn’t remember from whom it came!”

Next Monday will be the 51st anniversary of the night I asked my dear Terry to marry me. I recall it clearly. For 51 years I’ve had no trouble remembering the significance of August 15, 1965!

Neither of us has been out of high school 75 years. Yet both of us sometimes have minor lapses of memory, finding it occasionally difficult to recall what so far have been matters of minor significance. Perhaps you can identify with that reality.

Some things are never forgotten. Births, baptisms, confirmations, parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, teachers, pastors, educational experiences, marriages, children, vocational callings, grandchildren, deaths of family members and personal friends—many of these are likely on your lists of people, events and experiences worth remembering.

One more thing worth remembering: “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut. 31:8)

Thank God for experiences and people of significance in your life! And thank God for his grace! That’s a blessing absolutely worth remembering!

Diversity and Direction in America

President's Podium

Only someone living in a cave could plead ignorance about the diversity that exists in our country and the decision ahead about the direction in which we’ll be going. The Republican and Democratic conventions held last month made it quite clear that our two political parties hold significantly different opinions on many matters of importance and diametrically opposite positions on others.

Issues at hand include abortion, national security, terrorism in the world, racial tensions in America, the national debt, the Affordable Care Act, gun control, support for military veterans and Supreme Court appointments. You could add to that list. So could I.

Just over three months from now America will choose a new leader. Wouldn’t it be great if at least one nominee for president would actually approach all or even most of these matters the way many of us would like? While that’s not likely to happen, many voters have already decided which candidate would be the best leader for America’s future. Others are still pondering.

Many Americans are frustrated and disenchanted with the options. Quite a few believe more qualified candidates should have arisen. Be that as it may, the choice is before us.

It may help to remember, though not always easy to accept, that those in positions of governing authority “have been placed there by God.” (Rom. 13:1) Could that be true of an ungodly leader? How about even a despotic leader? Surprisingly, God has occasionally demonstrated that reality, as in the case of Old Testament pagan kings used by God for the benefit of his people.

Yet God acts through humans. Our next president will be elected by American voters through the 538 members of the Electoral College, not directly appointed or anointed by God. Exercise your constitutional right to vote. Not to vote for any candidate is to yield the election to those who do.

For now, join me in prayer that even though many Americans may not be thrilled about our choices for president, God will nevertheless use this election to accomplish his will for our lives.

Deo volente!