19th Amendment

It’s hard to believe that for most of American history, women could not vote. That all changed with the passage of the 19th amendment to the Constitution on this day in history – August 18, 1920. This was the culmination of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States which fought at both state and national levels to achieve the vote. It effectively overruled Minor v. Happersett, in which a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that the 14th Amendment did not give women the right to vote.

The 19th Amendment was first introduced in Congress in 1878 by Senator Aaron A. Sargent. Forty-one years later, in 1919, Congress approved the amendment and submitted it to the states for ratification. It was ratified by the requisite number of states a year later, with Tennessee’s ratification being the final vote needed to add the amendment to the Constitution. In Leser v. Garnett (1922), the Supreme Court rejected claims that the amendment was unconstitutionally adopted.

When America cried out for women’s right to vote, it would have been easy for traditionalists to say, “But this [women not being able to vote] has been established law since the foundation of our country – 144 years ago.”

Likewise, every time a pro-life person calls for a Constitutional amendment to ban abortions, we hear this – “But the right to choose is established law.” And that’s true. It’s been “established” law for 41 years, less than 100 years as long as it was “established law” that women could not vote.

In fact, if not for overturning “established law,” there would be no amendments to the Constitution. That’s what amendments do – they overturn “established law.”

Today, it’s interesting. Many of the very people who would fight the battle all over again, for the right of women to have their voices heard (all of us, I would hope), seek to deny the rights of the unborn to be heard. For them, it’s okay to kill the unborn, as long as it is “established law.”

I’m guessing the unborn would be okay with us passing an amendment so they can live, even if we are overturning “established law,” just as we did on this day in history – 97 years ago.

“Allah Is God!”

On April 18, 2007, three Christians in Turkey were killed for their beliefs. Necati Aydin was one of them. He was a 35-year-old pastor in the city of Malatya. In a country of 76 million people, Christians number 153,000. And the persecution from Muslims is severe.

It seems Necati came to his office that morning with two friends. They were ambushed by a group of Muslims, captured, and told to shout, “Allah is God!” They were ordered to recite, “There is no God except Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet.”

When Necati refused, the torture began. For an agonizing hour, they were cut, beaten, and terrorized. Finally, when they refused to say “Allah is God,” their throats were sliced.

Their dying words were, “Christ is Messiah. Christ is Messiah.”

This leads me to a question. These men gave up their lives for Christ. What have you given up for him lately?

God may not be asking you to give up your life. But could you at least give up your parking spot, your place in line, or your pew on Sunday morning? Could you at least give up a little time to feed the hungry?

The Klondike Gold Rush

The Klondike Gold Rush was a migration by 100,000 prospectors to the Klondike region of the Yukon in northwest Canada from 1896 to 1899. Gold was first discovered there on August 16, 1896, which set off the stampede for the prized metal. The initial discovery was made by three miners: Skookum Jum Mason, George Carmack, and Charlie Dawson. But most who followed came up empty.

In 1899, gold was discovered near Nome, Alaska, prompting a mass exodus from Klondike. At its peak, the area boasted a population of 30,000. But that didn’t last long, as the exodus all but wiped out the local economy.

What the prospectors did in 1899, we still do in 2017. We chase after our dreams with great focus, until another shiny object captures our interest. Then we run after that one.

God has a better plan. Jesus said the wise man sold everything he had and focused on the kingdom of God. When we abandon all else to seek Him, we find something far better than gold. We find a peace this world can neither understand nor afford.

Praying Lions

The man was an experienced mountain climber, hiker, and outdoorsman. But this day would be unlike any other in his entire life. Lost, searching for a way down, he spotted a lion nearby. Worse yet, the lion spotted him. The lion started his approach. The man had no chance to escape. So he prayed.

He said, “God, you can see I’m in trouble here. I’m lost and I’m stuck. There is a lion coming, and he looks really hungry. If you get me out of this mess, I’ll do anything you want me to do. I’ll give to the poor, I’ll be a better husband, I’ll be a good father, and I’ll even go to church this Easter. Just get me out of this mess.”

When he finished his prayer, he looked up. It was a miracle! Just as he prayed, the lion stopped. The lion sat. And then the lion prayed.

“Wow! A praying lion!” the man thought to himself. “This lion must be a Christian!”

Then he heard the lion’s prayer. “Lord, thank you for this meal you have prepared for me.”

Don’t worry. No animals (or people) were hurt in the telling of this joke. But you can get hurt, really badly. How? By waiting until you are in trouble before you pray.

Don’t Quit!

I recently read The Six Phases of a Project, which lists a step-by-step progression (or regression) of any initiative. In order, the six phases are 1) enthusiasm, 2) disillusionment, 3) panic, 4) search for the guilty, 5) punishment of the innocent, and 6) praise for the nonparticipants.

When things aren’t going well, we are encouraged to quit. Let’s consider how one man made a difference, simply by refusing to let a young boy go down this road.

Ignace Jan Paderewski was the greatest composer/pianist of his day. He was scheduled to perform in a great concert hall one evening. In the crowd was a nine-year-old boy. Before the concert began, the boy ran to the stage, sat at the piano and played Chopsticks. The crowd shouted in disapproval. Paderewski heard this from backstage, rushed out, sat by the boy, and began to play a harmony that went with his Chopsticks. And he whispered into the boy’s ear, “Keep going. Don’t quit.”

When you are ready to quit, just remember there is Someone by your side, who can make a great song from your feeble efforts. And he is whispering in your ear, “Keep going. Don’t quit.”

Alcatraz

It was 83 years ago today – August 11, 1934. The first civilian prisoners arrived at the federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay.

The United States Disciplinary Barracks on Alcatraz was acquired by the United States Department of Justice on October 22, 1933, and the island became a Federal Bureau of Prisons federal prison in August of 1934. Alcatraz was designed to hold prisoners who continuously caused trouble at other federal prisons. At 9:40 am on August 11, 1934, the first batch of 137 prisoners arrived by railroad from the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas. Most were notorious bank robbers and murderers.

During the 29 years the prison was in use, the jail had some of the most notorious criminals in American history, such as Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz), George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Bumpy Johnson, and Alvin
“Creepy” Karpis (who served longer than any other Alcatraz inmate). It also provided housing for the Bureau of Prisons staff and their families.

I can’t imagine living a life behind bars. Yet, millions of people do just that – not behind the bars of a federal prison, but the bars of their own making. Fortunately, we don’t have to live in the prison of our guilt or sin. We have been paroled. Jesus says, “Go and sin no more.”

Too Much Caffeine

If you get a tax refund of $2,000, you can do one of two things with that money. First, you can use it to make a good down payment on a new car. Or you can do what millions do every day, and buy one cup of coffee at Starbucks.

If you have $10,000, you can get five cups. But take it easy on the caffeine. I’m not a coffee drinker but I can recognize one anywhere. They are the ones bouncing off the walls. The other day, I saw a man who was so high on caffeine that he was duck hunting with a rake. Too much caffeine.

You know you’ve had too much coffee when you find yourself answering the door before the doorbell rings or you have converted your car’s radiator to brew a pot on the way to work.

You’ve had too much coffee if Juan Valdez names his donkey after you, or you can play ping-pong without a partner. Your coffee filters are monogrammed. You chew on other people’s fingernails. Your eyes stay open when you sneeze.

And you know you’ve had too much coffee when you can jump start your car without cables or you can photograph yourself ten feet away without a timer. Or maybe you ski uphill.

Perhaps it’s time to lay off the coffee and just start your day the way Jesus did.

“While it was early in the morning, Jesus went into a mountain by himself, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35).

Nagasaki

An atomic bomb known as “Fat Man” was dropped by a United States B-29 bomber this day in history, 1945. The target was Nagasaki. The number dead – 39,000.

For 12 months prior to the nuclear attack, Nagasaki had experienced five small-scale air attacks by an aggregate of 136 planes which dropped a total of 270 tons of high explosive bombs, 53 tons of incendiary bombs, and 20 tons of fragmentation bombs.

But none of these compared to the utter devastation of the atomic bomb.

Within less than a second after the detonation, the north side of the city was destroyed. At least 39,000 were dead – possibly as many as 80,000. About half died immediately, some after days and even weeks. This second atomic bomb was more powerful than the “Little Boy” bomb that had been dropped over Hiroshima.

There are many lessons to be learned from the atomic bombs that ushered a close to WWII. I will leave the political and military analysis to those qualified to address such issues. But we do know one thing. The Japanese had prior warning of both atomic drops. Even after Hiroshima, they did not surrender. It was only after the horror of Nagasaki, 72 years ago today, that they surrendered.

We are still like that today. It takes more to get our attention than it should. And most of us, like Japan, are unwilling to surrender until after the devastation of non-surrender becomes too real.

The key to peace and victorious living is to surrender to God through Jesus Christ. There is no need to wait. There is no need to suffer the carnage of sin first. Jesus already did that for us on the cross.

How to Win Carnival Games

Ethan Trex has done the world a great favor. He has studied carnival games and devised a winning strategy. Follow these simple tips and you can be the king of carnivals, a prince to preschoolers.

Let’s start with the “Balloon Dart Throw.” The scam is that the darts are dull and much lighter than normal darts. And the balloons are under inflated, which makes them harder to pop. The strategy is to not hurl the darts hard, but to loft them up, so they can come down onto their targets with the assistance of gravity.

Ever tried the “Basketball Shoot”? The rims are smaller than regulation and oval-shaped. The backboards have a harder bounce, the balls are overinflated, and the rims are higher than normal. The trick is to toss the ball underhanded; it’s all about getting a good arc on the ball.

Then there’s the “Milk Bottle Pyramid.” The bottoms are heavier. So if you aim for the middle, you’ll never win. You must go low!

Now, let’s talk about the “Game of Life.” The scam is it looks like you can win by your own strength. The trick is to recognize that you can’t win unless you depend totally on God.

Obvious Questions

A young family was touring the FBI Headquarters. They were shown pictures on the wall of the ten most wanted men. The family’s young lad asked, “Why don’t you just keep them when you take their pictures?”

Here’s another great question, asked by a little girl of her dad, who was a pastor. “What do John the Baptist and Kermit the Frog have in common?”

The pastor/dad was clueless. “I have no idea, honey. What do John the Baptist and Kermit the Frog have in common?”

“They have the same middle name!” she said.

Kids indeed ask some wonderful questions. That’s how they learn.

Questions must be a good thing, because there are a lot of them in the Bible. “What is your life?” “What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” “If a man dies, shall he live again?” “What think ye of Jesus?” “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?”

Kids are full of questions. The Bible is full of questions. Life is full of questions. But there is good news. For every problem there is a solution, and for every question, there is a God.

The best way to get in trouble is to turn somewhere else for the answers to life’s most important questions.