Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Ugly Gift

SOURCE:  "The Ugly Gift" by Russ Cadle, Perspective, March 16, 2015.  http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=32c0b17df5bdf741f3f3f75bf&id=baa9491c09&e=1570f7dbf3
KEYWORDS: gift, service, grace, works,

Bryan Chapell tells a story about learning to use a crosscut saw with his father. As Bryan and his father were sawing through a log that had a rotten core, a piece of wood sheared off that looked just like a horse's head. So Bryan took it home and then later on gave it to his dad as a present. Chapell continues:
I attached a length of two-by-four board to that log head, attached a rope tail, and stuck on some sticks to act as legs. Then I halfway hammered in a dozen or so nails down the two-by-four body of that "horse," wrapped the whole thing in butcher block paper, put a bow on it, and presented it to my father. When he took off the wrapping, he smiled and said, "Thank you, it's wonderful … what is it?"
"It's a tie rack, Dad," I said. "See, you can put your ties on those nails going clown the side of the horse's body." My father smiled again and thanked me. Then he leaned the horse against his closet wall (because the stick legs could not keep it standing upright), and for years he used it as a tie rack.
Now, when I first gave my father that rotten-log-horse-head tie rack, I really thought it was "good." In my childish mind this creation was a work of art ready for the Metropolitan Museum. But as I matured, I realized that my work was not nearly as good as I had once thought. In fact, I understood ultimately that my father had received and used my gift not because of its goodness but out of his goodness. In a similar way our heavenly Father receives our gifts not so much because they deserve his love, but because he is love.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

I Give Up

SOURCE:  "I Give Up," Perspective; March 9, 2015 http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=32c0b17df5bdf741f3f3f75bf&id=1a1f4880c2&e=1570f7dbf3
KEYWORDS:  overwhelmed, surprise, love, pursuit, lost and found,

Many years ago, executives of the Time-Life publishing organization discovered that the company’s profit margin had shrunk to an alarmingly low level. Consequently, they began an intensive effort to try to cut costs. 

Efficiency experts suggested that substantial savings could be effected in the renewal department. There were 350 people working full time sending heartbreaking pleas to readers whose subscriptions were about to expire. 

In any case, enormous quantities of these letters were being prepared manually. It was calculated that if a machine could be found to replace the manual labor, millions of dollars in overhead would be saved. In time, IBM came to the rescue with an enormous computer, delivered to Time-Life in a blaze of klieg lights and fanfare. Then the new system was installed so that these letters could be sent by machine, completely without human intervention.

The system worked flawlessly for a while, until that fateful, hot, humid, sticky day in New York City when one of the nameplates stuck in the machine. A few days later a lone sheepherder in Montana received 12,634 tear jerking letters asking him to subscribe to "Life" magazine. 

The sheepherder, who hadn't received a letter in years, took his knife, carefully slit open one of the mailbags and began reading his mail. Three weeks later, red-eyed, weary and up to his hips in 12,634 opened pieces of mail, he made out a check for $6.00, filled out a subscription coupon and sent it to the President of Time-Life personally, with the following note: 

"I give up!"