ihoudin001p1Even though he died in 1926, I still know who Harry Houdini was. The reason I know is because he was one of the most famous escape artists to ever live.

To try to confine Houdini, people would bind him in chains, bury him, and they would even sew him up in canvas bags and throw him in a river. It was said that Houdini “could escape from anything except your memory.” In the end though, not even Houdini could escape death.

Tomorrow is Easter, and it is a day that we remember the One who is greater than Houdini. It is a day of celebration as we commemorate His resurrection.

It is this triumphant act over death and the grave that gives us hope.

Have a happy Easter!

Strange Teachers–Wonderful Lessons

Chalk boardThirty some years ago, I was in a conference in Chicago where the presenter made a statement that I have never forgotten: I look at every man as my teacher, and I try to discover the lesson he has for me.

I have learned many lessons in my life. Some of these lessons have been easily learned; however, I also have a graduate degree from the School of Hard Knocks.

As I look back on my life, I am aware that I have gleaned some gems through an unconscious assimilation of life principles. Kahil Gabran spoke of this when he said: I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.

I would add to Gabran’s quote by saying: I have learned love from the gift of God’s grace and mercy. The words of Paul in Ephesians 2, shed some light on this: It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin, but God in His immense in mercy and with an incredible love, embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ (The Message).

It didn’t take me long to learn that God’s love, His grace, and His mercy, are much different than the Elvis-impersonator love of the world. There may be the alluring image of dazzling sequins, the glistening black hair, the deep resonating voice, but in the end, well, you’re just “all shook up, a-uh-huh!”

When I stumble and fall flat on my face, God doesn’t toss me overboard; instead, He has promised to never leave me nor forsake me. This is quite a contrast from the world, isn’t it?

Are there some wonderful lessons that you have learned from strange teachers? If so, I’d like to hear from you.

How Do You Spell 911

Wednesday morning I gave Mom a big hug. I told her how much I loved her, and I told her that she has been a great mother.

The sad thing about my comments is that Mom was cognizant of them for just a few brief minutes. My fleeting hug was overpowered by the forceful grip of Alzheimers. Whatever the moment is, Mom can be happy, sad, or angry–but just for a momet. Then, well then, it is another thought or the same one repeated again and again, and a moment later, again.

Even though I knew she would not remember, we reminisced. We talked about about the good times, family, and how much I look like her dad (People say her dad was a handsome man).

Mom has been a much better mother to me than I have ever been a son to her. In my personal life, I spell 911 with three letters: M-O-M. She has always been “there” for me when I needed her. She never gave up on me, and that is how I made it through a certain period of my life: I always knew Mom would love me and be “there” for me.

In my spiritual life, I spell 911 with a different set of letters: G-O-D. Thankfully, He has never given up on me. Even though there have been times that I have forgotten Him, He has always remembered me.

I see this pattern time and again in the bible. Even though Joseph’s brothers dropped him into a pit and forgot him, God remembered him and blessed him.

When Moses was telling God to forget him and send Aaron in his place, God didn’t give up on Moses, and He used Moses to lead Israel out of bondage.

God has never given up on me, but He did give up His son. He gave up Jesus to die on the cross for us: For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son to die that we might live (John 3:16).

How do you spell 911? Is it D-A-D, M-O-M, G-O-D, or S-O-N of God?

Adversity, Character, and the Quest for Power

securedownloadEven though I think anything above 90 degrees is too hot, I do enjoy the four seasons that Kansas offers her people. The recent snow is a case in point.

In a matter of hours we went from far too dry and a little too dusty to a winter wonderland. Whenever I heard someone complain about the snow, I reminded them that we needed moisture regardless of the form or fashion in which it fell.

Mother Nature used the tree, in the picture above, as a canvas on which she could paint a smiling face. This reminds of what someone said about the storms of life: “Adversity does not build character, but it does reveal it.”

Abraham Lincoln presided over a difficult and stormy period of our nation’s history, and he once said that almost “any man can stand adversity, but if you really want to test his character, give him power.”

With the sequestration standing at the threshold, I’ve been thinking about the relationship that exists between adversity, character, and the quest for power. This relationship was summarized by Lord Acton when he said: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

When I look at the political shenanigans of the Democrats and Republicans and their self-serving rhetoric, it is easy to see a congress full of characters; however, it’s much more difficult to see genuine character within the congress.