Tennessee Titans center Kevin Long, who played under Coach Bobby Bowden at Florida State University, said his college coach inspired the team with parables. Long recounted a favorite story:
[Bowden] was playing college baseball, and he had never hit a home run. Finally he hit one down the right-field line, into the corner. He rounds first and looks to the third base coach. He turned at second, was halfway to third and the coach was still waving him on. He got to home, he hit the plate. He had his first home run, he was so excited and everybody was slapping him five. Then the pitcher took the ball, threw to the first baseman, and the umpire called him out.
[Coach Bowden] said, "If you don't take care of first base, it doesn't matter what you do. If you don't honor the Lord first, it doesn't matter what else you do."
The Tennessean by Rubel Shelley
Not long ago, the world watched as three gray whales, icebound off Point Barrow, Alaska, floated battered and bloody, gasping for breath at a hole in the ice. Their only hope: somehow to be transported five miles past the ice pack to open sea. Rescuers began cutting a string of breathing holes about twenty yards apart in the six-inch-thick ice.
For eight days they coaxed the whales from one hole to the next, mile after mile. Along the way, one of the trio vanished and was presumed dead. But finally, with the help of Russian icebreakers, the whales Putu and Siku swam to freedom.
In a way, worship is a string of breathing holes the Lord provides his people. Battered and bruised in a world frozen over with greed, selfishness, and hatred, we rise for air in church, a place to breathe again, to be loved and encouraged, until that day when the Lord forever shatters the ice cap.
Craig Brian Larson, Arlington Heights, Illinois. Leadership
Faking Out God
Research psychologists have found there are at least three situations when we are not ourselves. First, the average person puts on airs when he visits the lobby of a fancy hotel. Next, the typical Jane Doe will try to hide her emotions and bamboozle the salesman when she enters the new-car showroom. And finally, as we take our seat in church or synagogue, we try to fake out the Almighty that we've really been good all week.
Dr. Perry Buffington, licensed psychologist, author, columnist; "Playing Charades," Universal Press Syndicate (9-26-99)