Power of the Saw

A man had a firewood factory that employed prisoners. He gave them a place to live, specific directions on what to do, and he paid them good wages, but they were unproductive. Eventually the man had no choice. He fired them and purchased a circular saw powered by a gas engine. In one hour, the new saw did more than all the men had done in a week.

The man talked to his new saw. “How can you turn out so much work?” he asked it. “Are you sharper than the saws my men are using?”

The saw answered, “No, I am not any sharper than the other saws. The difference is the gas engine. I have a stronger power behind me. I am productive because of the power that is working through me, not because my blade is any sharper.”

Many of us work for God in the power of the flesh. We use our best intellect, charming personality, and enthusiasm to its fullest. We are like the saw. We’re really pretty sharp. The problem isn’t our blade. It’s our power source.

Until we are plugged into the right power source, we will never produce the right results, no matter how sharp we may be. Jesus promised, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Acts 1:8). Without that power, it doesn’t matter how sharp you are.

Jumping Out of Airplanes

When Luke Aikins jumped from a plane at 25,000 feet with no parachute, he made history last Saturday. But he wasn’t the first man to make news jumping out of a plane. It happened on November 24, 1971. An unidentified man hijacked a Boeing 727 Northwest Orient Airlines plane in Portland, Oregon. Carrying a black attache case, he approached the counter of the airlines at the Portland airport. He identified himself as Dan Cooper, and purchased a one-way ticket to Seattle.

The plane took off as scheduled, at 2:50 p.m. A few minutes into the flight, he told Florence Schaffner, the flight attendant, that he had a bomb. He told her his simple demands: $200,000 in “negotiable American currency,” four parachutes (two primary and two reserves), and a fuel truck standing by in Seattle to refuel the plane upon arrival. Ms. Schaffner told the pilot, William Scott, his demands.

Scott contacted authorities, who authorized the payment of the ransom. The other 36 passengers were told the plane had a “minor mechanical difficulty,” to explain why it circled Seattle for two hours, in order for authorities to respond to Cooper’s demands.

FBI agents assembled the money – 10,000 $20 bills. The parachutes were located and brought to the airport. At 5:24 p.m. Cooper was told his demands had been met, and at 5:29 p.m. the plane landed in Seattle. Once his demands were met, Cooper released most of the crew and all the passengers. At 7:40 p.m. the plane was airborne once again.

At about 8:00 p.m. Cooper opened the aft door and jumped. The FBI began an immediate investigation. In the decades to follow, hundreds of investigators have run down thousands of tips, but to no avail. Last week, 45 years after the crime, the FBI announced they are formally ending the investigation in order to focus on “more pressing priorities.”

Nine individuals have been considered suspects through the years. But whoever “Dan Cooper” really is (or was), one thing is certain. No amount of money is worth living out a life of isolation. Jesus asked, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).

Mr. Cooper, if you are reading this (admittedly not likely), you can run from others. You can run from the law. But you can’t run from yourself – or God.

First World War Begins – 104 Year Ago Today

Four days after Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Germany and Russia declared war against each other. France ordered a general mobilization, and the first German army units crossed into Luxembourg in preparation for the German invasion of France. During the next three days, Russia, France, Belgium, and Great Britain all lined up against Austria-Hungary and Germany, and the German army invaded Belgium.

The Great War that ensued was one of unprecedented destruction and loss of life, resulting in the deaths of some twenty million soldiers and civilians. Unfortunately, the peace treaty that officially ended the conflict – the Treaty of Versailles of 1919 – forced punitive terms on Germany that destabilized Europe and laid the groundwork for World War II.

The Imperials, a Christian music group, used to sing a song that said, “There will never be peace until Christ is seated at the conference table.” The Bible says there will be wars and rumors of wars in the last days. Historians tell us there have been more wars since World War I than in all the years that preceded the great War.

Today, America is at war with ISIS, whether we call them the “JV Team,” as our president did, or whether we even call them what they are. They have declared war on us. Sure, a military response is required. Of course it is. But make no mistake. In this world there will never be peace – until Christ is seated at the conference table.