After a national news magazine posted an online story listing my community as one of the top-10 dying cities in the nation, local citizens were outraged. They registered their indignation, pointing out evidence to the contrary. One resident went to great lengths to disprove the harsh judgment. He recruited local citizens to show up downtown and appear in a video that showcased the vibrancy of our community. The video received international attention, and the news magazine admitted it was wrong. But the organization that had done the “research” stood by the conclusion, even though it was based on limited criteria.
Recently, I couldn’t find my credit card. I began frantically looking for it because losing a credit card is no small thing. Automatic payments and daily purchases would all be disrupted until it could be replaced. Not to mention the possibility of someone finding it and charging items to our account. What a relief it was when my wife found it on the floor under the computer table.
As a boy, I used to ride a go-cart that was steered with a rope. On one occasion, as I propelled my way down the driveway, my parents’ warning came to mind: “Always look up and down the street for cars.” But I rationalized: It’s okay not to do that just this once. Then I heard the sound of screeching tires as a car came to an abrupt stop to avoid hitting me. Thinking I could break my parents’ rule nearly cost me my life.
The smell at an overflowing garbage landfill site became a growing public concern. So workers installed high-pressured deodorant guns to counteract the smell. The cannons could spray several gallons of fragrance a minute over a distance of up to 50 yards across the mounds of putrefying garbage. However, no matter how many gallons of deodorant are sprayed to mask the odorous rubbish, the fragrance will serve only as a coverup until the source of the stench is removed.
Mark messed up. He arrived an hour late at a restaurant where he was to meet a friend from church. The friend had already left. Feeling sorry about his mistake, Mark purchased a gift certificate from the restaurant and stopped at a local card shop to search for an apology card. Among hundreds of cards, he was surprised to find only a few “sorry for my actions” cards in an obscure part of the store. He purchased one and gave it to his friend who accepted his apology.
The Old Testament book of Ezekiel tells of God’s judgment on His disobedient people. The Lord called them “a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me” (2:3) and “impudent and stubborn children” (v.4). The graphic descriptions of their sin and the violent images of their coming punishment are appalling. Yet in the darkest moments of God’s lament over His people held captive in Babylon, His love shines through in His call for them to walk again on the path of life.
The Dalton brothers were infamous outlaws during the late 1800s in the US. They started out on the right side of the law as officers. But then they followed a gradual descent into crime and became known for bank and train robberies. Their day of reckoning came when they tried to hold up two banks at once. Hearing of the robberies, the townspeople armed themselves and began to fire on the Dalton Gang. When the smoke cleared, Emmett Dalton was the sole survivor.
Several days before their New Year celebration, many Chinese families give their home a thorough cleaning. There’s a Cantonese saying that goes: “Wash away the dirt on ninyabaat” (28th day of month 12). They practice this tradition because it is believed the cleaning sweeps away the bad luck of the preceding year and makes their homes ready for good luck.
In the mid-1970s, divorce filings and final decrees appeared in the Public Records section of our local newspaper. Rev. Bill Flanagan, a pastor at our church, read those names week after week and began to picture people, not statistics. So he created a Divorce Recovery Workshop to offer help and healing in Christ to hurting people during a difficult time. When concerned church members told Bill he was condoning divorce, he softly replied that he was simply extending God’s grace to folks in need.