Archive for November, 2011

Come Before Winter

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Friendship endures when everything else fails.

Paul says, “The time of my capture has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race I have kept the faith” (II Tim. 4:7 ). He’s done his best, and now he wants Timothy to come and be with him, to stand alongside him, to come before winter (II Tim 4:9, 21).

The old saint endured because of his friends. Is there not someone you know, a face that flashes before your mind’s eye right now, who’s existing in a cold winter of loneliness? Then you could be like Timothy and Paul to that person. But don’t wait. “Come before winter.” Don’t be like Thomas Carlye, the Scottish historian, who wrote in his diary after the death of his neglected wife, “Oh, that I had you yet for five minutes by my side, that I might tell you all. “Come before winter.”

Life at 58

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Signs that you are growing older–
· Maybe it’s true that life begins at fifty. But everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out.
· You’re getting old when you don’t care where your spouse goes, just as long as you don’t have to go along.
· Middle age is when work is a lot less fun –– and fun is a lot more work.
· Middle age is when it takes longer to rest than to get tired.
· A man has reached middle age when he is cautioned to slow down by his doctor instead of by the police.
· You know you’re into middle age when you realize that caution is the only thing you care to exercise.
· You’re getting old when you’re sitting in a rocker and you can’t get it started.
· The cardiologist’s diet: if it tastes good, spit it out.
· Doctor to patient: I have good news and bad news: the good news is that you are not a hypochondriac.
· It’s hard to be nostalgic when you can’t remember anything.

· When you lean over to pick something up off the floor, you ask your self if there is anything else you need to do while you are down there.

Anyone else up there?

Friday, November 25th, 2011

A man who fell off a cliff. Fortunately he was able to grab a small limb that kept him from falling to his death. But, this was a momentary respite: at any time he could tire, let go of the branch, and surely fall to his death.

In great anguish he cried, “Help! Anyone! Help me! Please!”

Unfortunately no one was near enough to answer his cries.

Finally, in great frustration, he called, “God! If you are really up there, save me!”

To the man’s surprise a strong and clear voice responded, “I am God, son, let go of the branch and take my hand.”

After a few moments of strained silence, the poor man cried again, “Is there anyone else up there!”

Love’s Choices

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

A sixteen year old boy who lives in Westbury, Long Island, was picked up by the police several years ago for defacing a synagogue. It seems that the boy went on a Halloween tear with some friends. They sprayed obscenities on the front door of the synagogue while a service was going on.

The young man, a Roman Catholic, was caught. He was fined $150 and ordered to give one hundred hours of service to his hometown church. His parents publically deplored what their son had done. Their pain drew letters of understanding support from people near and far.

But most touching of all was a letter that had to do with court costs and expenses of legal counsel. The family incurred a deficit of $1,000 to defend their son. They were finding it hard to come up with the money. One day a letter arrived. It contained a check for $1,000. It was from a Jewish lawyer in Nanhattan.

We consciously, deliberately, choose to love or to hate; love is not something which we unconsciously wander into.

A train pulls into Aushwitz concentration camp. Even before the steam has ceased from hissing from the breaks of the engine the hapless, forlorn Jews are being unloaded. An SS Captain stands erect with two ominous police dogs at his side. A motion with his right hand to the right means life in the work camp nearby, called Birkenau. A motion with left hand means instant death in the gas chambers. The Jews knew what was up–no one could ignore the ominous smoke billowing from the stacks of the crematorium and the awful stench of flesh burning was unavoidable. Yet, no one could move. Everyone hoped to be motioned to the right—the effort of escape should at least be postponed until one saw which side he would be sent. The line moved ever so slowly to the Captain. Right, right, and then a whole series of people were sent left. A couple was perceivably nervous as the line moved closer to the captain. The couple had been newly married only a month before. What a honeymoon! The persons ahead of them were sent to the right. They felt hope! And, then, the horror of hopelessness hit them. The woman was sent to the right and the man to the left.

Suddenly a man, a prisoner, approached the Captain. He inter-jected, “Excuse me, Herr Captain, but may I take the place of the young man you are sending to the left? I am a broken, unhealthy, man. He is strong. Wouldn’t it be better if he lived and I died?” The young man was spared. The prisoner was gassed. Recently, the man and his bride, now old people, attended a ceremony where the young prisoner, a priest, was honored.

Jessica Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

As I sat in Old Testament class listening to Professor Roberts discuss the Book of Job one dreary November morning in 1981, the radiators in Stuart Hall groaned and hissed. I was barely able to tease my psyche, because you see, my heart and my mind were at home with my wife.

Almost two weeks earlier, my wife Karen and I had been contacted by Goodwill Home and Missions Adoption Agency. We were told that within a month we would receive a new baby. The child’s birth mother was due any day.

To say that we were excited is a gross understatement. As any expectant parents, we were already choosing names for our child; we had collected furniture. It was as if we had to complete nine months of preparation in two weeks.

Dr. Robert’s interminably long lecture finally ended and I wandered out of Stuart 6. Written in large red letters on the back of a manila folder taped on the back door was: TO JAMES P. STOBAUGH: CONGRATULATIONS! IT’S A GIRL! The message filled my heart with inexpressible joy. Our little girl had been born.

Karen and I deliberately chose to tie our lives to Jessica’s life. And so it is with God. Those of you who call yourselves Christian were chosen by God before time had any meaning. He chose you. If you think about it, because He knew and predestined you to be His son or daughter, all you could do is choose to respond to His love. The proper response to God’s love is faith. This is a faith that shows that you trust His Word.

Baby girl Jane Doe, a female infant with no name, no past or future, is suddenly, inextricably, permanently drawn into our lives. Jessica becomes our inheritance. She take our name and our lives are to be forever tied together. In the eyes of God and the state of New Jersey, Jessica is reborn as our daughter.

Hear the description of Jessica’s adoption as it is recorded in Middlesex County Courthouse. “And it is further ordered and adjudged that from and after the date of this adoption, the right, duties, privileges, and relations heretofore existing between Jessica Ruth Stobaugh and any other persons founded upon such relationships, shall in all respects be at an end.” In other words, all of Jessica’s past dissolved when she was adopted by us.

At the moment we adopted Jessica Ruth our parents became her grandparents, her children our grandchildren. Her pain is our pain; her victories, our victories. We willingly, joyfully enter this commitment.

How extraordinary, and incomprehensible it is that a white boy from the heart of Dixie is connected forever with a black Yankee infant.

One of the best things I ever did!


Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

When Italian glassblowers of the Middle Ages discovered a flaw in a beautiful piece of glassware, they converted that failure into a common wine flask. The flask was called in Italian a “fiasco.” That word has come to mean any type of failure. . . but failure is not final if we have a purpose beyond the fiasco. We can make a wine flask with our failures. But be careful! This is not an exercise in existential, self actualization hocus pocus where we take lemons and make lemonade. No, failure is overcome, has meaning, when we can gain the bigger picture. When we can discover God’s plan for our lives. Or, if that is too arduous a task, or if God is simply not talking right now, we need to learn to rest in His will no matter where we are and whatever may happen to us. Failures are not final if we access a partnership that we have with God through Jesus Christ. After all, if God is final then nothing else is. God will always have the last word.

A Piece of Bread

Monday, November 21st, 2011

My mom’s favorite radio pastor, deceased Charles Allen, pastor emeritus of First Methodist Church, Houston, Texas, in his book God’s Psychiatry tells how the Allied armies, in wartime, gathered up homeless children and cared for them. But at night the children were restless and afraid. A psychologist hit upon a solution. He gave each child a slice of bread to hold, and the child would go to sleep immediately knowing that he/she would have something to eat the next day. Likewise, in Psalm 23, we are given a slice of bread that we can hold through the night times of life. Faith that will carry us through.

The Ground is Solid

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Arthur John Gossip, a famous English preacher, was preparing a sermon one Wednesday afternoon when he heard that his beloved wife was killed in an accident. In spite of this great catastrophe, Gossip chose to preach the next week’s sermon.

He ended that famous sermon entitled “When Life Tumbles In,” with these words:

I don’t think that you need be afraid of life. Our hearts are very frail; and there are places where the road is very steep and very lonely. But we have a wonderful God. And as Paul puts it, what can separate us from His love? Not death, he says immediately, pushing that aside at once as the most obvious of all impossibilities.

No, not death. For, standing in the roaring of the Jordan, cold to the heart with its dreadful chill, and very conscious of the terror of its rushing. . . I too, like Hopeful in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim Progress, can call back to you . . . “Be of good cheer, my brother, for I feel the bottom, and it is sound.”

Muppets and Vampires

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Well, I think Karen and I will go to the movies this weekend. Or at least we might go to the movies–the $8.50 admission price–is prohibitive. The last movie we saw–COURAGEOUS–was the first one we had seen in 4 years. I pushed $10 toward the teller and she chuckled, “and is your wife joining you?” It cost me $19! And that was for a movie in a cramped little boxy room, no 3 D, or free popcorn or anything. $19! I can get almost 20 movies from Netflex.

Of course, after the movie, Karen was mad–not at the cost–but at me. Selfish like she can sometimes be, she exclaimed,”Ahhhhh! I could not hear the movie because you constantly asked me questions! That is it! No more movies with you!” Well it is true, I guess, I wanted to hear the darn thing and since the theater had forgotten to put up sub-titles I was relying on my wife’s hearing. She, however, put an end to that. How short sighted! I mean I would help her out if she needed me.

So we will not go to the movies this weekend. That is a shame. I really wanted to see the movie about a teenage wedding–I love sappy love stories–of a mortal and a vampire, an interracial pregnancy–half-vampire monster and half-human–and a violent birth. Wow, I am sorry I am missing that one.


No, I would opt for the Muppet movie. I love the Muppets. Why did they take them off television? My favorite movie is THE MUPPETS TREASURE ISLAND. Why don’t they make Muppet movies more often?

Because everyone wants to watch blood-sucking Vampires and humans have sex . . . egad.

Which is the reason this viewer watch the Harvard/ Yale game with subtitles.

Oh yes. Pray for my wife!

Muppets and Vampires

Friday, November 18th, 2011