Make the Message Clear

15 Sep

I recently read an entire page of cake inscriptions gone wrong Here are some samples:

  • When my mother-in-law ordered a cake for my wedding anniversary, she made a point of instructing the bakery, “That’s Thompson with a ‘p’.” Later, when she went to pick up her order, she noticed that on the box they had written, “Mrs. Phompson.”
  • For my 40th birthday, my husband decided to surprise me with a birthday cake from our local bakery. “In the middle, please print ‘Happy Birthday Nita,'” he instructed them over the phone. “Then, ‘You’re not getting older’ at the top and ‘you’re getting better’ at the bottom.” When he went to pick it up, he discovered that they had decorated the cake with the words exactly as he had said them: “Happy Birthday Nita. You’re not getting older at the top, you’re getting better a the bottom.”
  • We had a “going away” party for a lady… One of the supervisors called a Wal-Mart and ordered a cake. He told them to write: “Best Wishes Suzanne” and underneath that write, “We will miss you.”  As the picture shows, it didn’t quite turn out right.

Apparently, even floral tributes are not safe.

  • My husband is a mortician. He found an odd card on some flowers sent in honor of the deceased. When the sender of the flowers called to place her order, the florist asked what she wanted written on the card. She said, “Write ‘Rest in Peace’ on both sides. And, if you can fit it in, ‘We’ll see you in eternity..” My husband read the card: “Rest in Peace on both sides. And if you can fit it in, we’ll see you in eternity.”

These cakes  and the flowers point out the risk of trusting others to deliver our heart-felt messages. They might get it wrong!

Remember as a child playing the game “Telephone,” a game where children sit in a circle and one child begins to relay a message that must go around the entire circle. The last child reveals the message ~ and sometimes, what the child is so off from the original message that everyone erupts in laughter.

When a message is important, we need to share it ourselves. We need to be sure people “get it.” Nowhere is this more important than when we share the biblical message of the Gospel.

A child explain the gospel to another young friend, in earshot of his mom. He talked with great passion about Jesus’ death and burial, but left out Jesus’ resurrection. “What about when Jesus rose from the grave?” his mom said. The boy turned around and whispered to his mom, “He’ll never believe that, Mom. I’m just going to tell him about heaven.”

That’s the problem with a lot of messages about the scripture. People (sometimes even pastors) leave parts out, believing the plain truth of the Word of God will be too difficult ~ too strange ~ for people to believe. We can’t help it if people misunderstand, but we need to be sure that the messages we share (especially about the Gospel) are not mis-stated! We can’t make people believe, but we must make the message clear.

The Apostle Paul explained the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. But he also asked the Colossian church to pray for him so his messages would be clear (Colossians 4:3-4). He had the facts straight, but he wanted the wisdom to communicate through the Holy Spirit to the hearts of men and women so they would understand.

That should be our prayer as well:  “Lord, help me make the message of the Gospel clear.”

Note: All of the cake and floral inscriptions appeared on “Cake Talk,” Snopes.com:  (1) http://www.readersdigest.ca, 1997; (2) http://www.readersdigest, ca, 1992; (3) Email to Snopes.com, Oct. 2007; (4) email to Snopes.com, 2007

– Dawn

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Exporting Morale: A Lesson from North Platte

9 Sep

The following humorous story is reportedly true, shared by a man on his way to war:

“During the Persian Gulf War, I was assigned to go to Saudi Arabia. As I was saying good-bye to my family, my three-year-old son, Christopher, was holding on to my leg and pleading with me not to leave. ‘No, Daddy, please don’t go!’ he kept repeating.

“We were beginning to make a scene when my wife, desperate to calm him, said, ‘Let Daddy go and I’ll take you to get a pizza.’

“Immediately, Christopher loosened his death grip, stepped back and in a calm voice said, ‘Bye, Daddy.'” *

Although that story is sweet and funny, war isn’t. It never is. Yet we still can find moments of light in terrible  darkness, and reasons for hope.

My husband’s mother recently sent me a video about the North Platte Canteen in Nebraska. I’d never heard about this special place.

According to a site detailing the story, the North Platte Canteen encouraged more than six million servicemen and women who traveled through Nebraska via train during World War II. Volunteers, led by Rae Wilson, prepared and served sandwiches, coffee, cookies, cakes, and other homemade goodies during quick troop stops there.

A similar canteen operated during World War I ~ an operation associated with the American Red Cross for 18 months in the Union Pacific freight house in North Platte ~ serving about 113,190 men. Many of these “Sammy Girls” served in the 1940s canteen as well.

Many other smaller canteens operated in Omaha, Norfolk, and McCook (where troop trains also paused), but the North Platte Canteen was a dramatic, patriotic outpouring of regular American citizens to give encouragement and sustenance to US troops on their way to war.

(Rae Wilson, left, organizer of the North Butte Canteen. Photo, Lincoln County Historical Museum)

Rae Wilson (age 26), wrote a letter to the North Platte Bulletin, sparking interest for her idea to give small gifts and snacks to soldiers traveling through North Platte on Christmas Day, 1941. Wilson organized a canteen committee a few days before the soldiers arrived.

In time, the volunteers provided simple entertainment (a donated piano, jukebox, and radio), a magazine table, birthday celebrations for soldiers who passed through on their birthday, platform girls (on the train station platform with baskets of food) and words of encouragement to the troops. Years later, soldiers who survived the war wrote back expressing thanks to the volunteers. Memories of their stop in North Butte encouraged them during battle, and lingered long after the war.

(Rae Wilson gives men a happy send-off. Photo from Lincoln County Historical Museum.)

What struck me in reading this story was some words by Rae Wilson said. “North Platte hasn’t any big war industries,” she said. “I guess you could say we’ve started our own ~ exporting morale.

I like that. Exporting morale. Boy, could we use more of that in the Body of Christ as we fight the battle against the unseen enemy and for our Lord. The Bible says we are to “encourage one another” (Hebrews 3:13) and to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

How can I export morale? How can I encourage those new Christian “recruits” ~ born again and  just beginning to fight? How can I bless and motivate battle-weary saints?

These are questions we all might ask.

Rae Wilson’s vision motivated people to help her bless millions. I keep thinking, “Lord, I’ll be content to sit at my desk and encourage others through writing; but is there something more you would have me do?” I think it’s a question we all need to ask.

Let me hear from you. How can we “export morale” in the church today?

* From AhaJokes.com, http://www.ahajokes.com/war024.html

For more about the North Platte Canteen, click on the “A Pictoral History” at http://npcanteen.net

– Dawn

Wearing Clean Clothes?

2 Sep

While waiting for my husband to try on some clothes at Macy’s the other day, I remembered a joke someone told me:

A man sat in the “husband chairs” as his wife tried on clothes in a fancy store.

After almost an hour of watching his wife parade outfit after outfit for his “approval,” the poor man had definitely had it!

So the next time his wife came out of the changing room, he exclaimed, “Wow, Babe. That’s a knockout! Why don’t you buy that one?”

His wife frowned. “Oh, right,” she said, “This is what I was wearing when we CAME IN!”  

LOL … and hold that thought.

Maybe I’m a little strange, but I had a spiritual revelation when I heard that joke.

I heard this little voice ask me, “Are you wearing what you had on when you came in?”

Let me explain.

I thought about the day I came to Christ ~ that wonderful garment of holiness I received when I became a Christ-follower. I remember how clean and pure I felt when I first gave my life to Him.

But I get my spiritual “clothes” so soiled sometimes. Don’t you? That’s why the writer of Hebrews urges us to “Make every effort… to be holy” (Hebrews 12:14). It takes effort!  Yes, it’s true that when we confess our sins (1 John 1:9), we are clean through the blood of the Lamb ~ but the scriptures tell us some things to “put off” and other things to “put on” (Ephesians 4:22-24). When we do, our spiritual garments stay fresh and clean.

The apostle Paul uses the words “put off” to illustrate that we need to “divest” ourselves of some things … to strip them off just as we would some dirty clothes. We need to do this daily, because the corruption in the world tends to cling to us.

What kinds of things do we “put off”? We put off anything that belongs to the corrupted old self. Things that we repent over and leave behind. Various lusts within and influences without make our spiritual garments spotty and smelly!

I read recently that harmful bacteria can linger on clothes we think are clean. In the same way, we may think we are “clean” before the Lord … but it’s good to ask Him if there is “something else” lingering in our lives ~ a “hint” of the unclean (see Ephesians 5:3), or perhaps something we need to see from God’s  perspective.

After we “put off” the unclean things, there are things that we “put on”… things that relate to the new self. It’s not a matter of us trying to “launder” our soiled clothes, but rather to strip them off and allow the Lord to give us fresh, pure garments as He transforms us from within. We are a new creation in Christ … created for true righteousness and holiness. And God’s Word lists many ways that we can put on the pure character of Christ. 

This is not an exhaustive list* by any means, but simply some suggestions for consideration:

Can you imagine how exciting and effective your life would be if you Put Off and Put On all of those things? Wow!

The important thing is that we realize we have the opportunity every day to wear clean spiritual garments, just as when we first came to Christ.

His grace, mercy and forgiveness are powerful, and our Father God is working to transform us every day into the image of Christ. And ONE DAY, we will receive a spotless garment ~ “fine linen, white and clean” (Revelation 19:14) for all eternity! Praise God!

* There are many such lists on the internet… here is one.

– Dawn

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