All in a Day

September 29. It’s just one day. But it is a day that will soon be gone. So make the most of today that you can. Today is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God.

A lot can happen in a day – this day. Let me illustrate.

September 29, 1399

King Richard II became the first English monarch to abdicate his throne.

September 29. 1829

The Metropolitan Police of London, later known simply as the Met, was founded.

September 29, 1951

The first live sporting event seen coast-to-coast in the United States was broadcast by NBC. The event was a college football game between Duke and the University of Pittsburgh.

September 29, 1954

The convention that established the European Organization for Nuclear Research was signed. It would be known as CERN.

September 29, 1984

The Chicago Tylenol murders began when the first of seven individuals died in metropolitan Chicago.

September 29, 2017

This is the day the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it!


Hearing Problems

An elderly gentleman had serious hearing problems for a number of years. He went to the doctor and the doctor was able to have him fitted for a set of hearing aids that allowed the man to hear at 100 percent capacity.

The gentleman went back in a month to the doctor and the doctor said, “Your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again.”

The man replied, “Oh, I haven’t told my family I can hear yet. I just sit around and listen to the conversations and act like I can’t hear a thing. So far, I’ve changed my will three times!”

The real test of character is that we say to others the same thing we say about others. What you say when you don’t think anyone is hearing you says a lot about your integrity.

Listening is always a good idea. The book of James tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. It’s amazing how much we can learn when we simply quit talking and listen to what everyone else is saying. Just ask the elderly gentleman.

Direct Diagnosis

Judy rushed in to see her doctor, looking very much worried and all strung out. She rattled off, “Doctor, take a look at me. When I woke up this morning, I looked at myself in the mirror and saw my hair all wiry and frazzled up, my skin was all wrinkled and pasty, my eyes were bloodshot and bugging out, and I had this corpse-like look on my face! What’s wrong with me, Doctor?”

The physician looked her over for a couple of minutes, then calmly said, “Well, I can at least give you some good news. There’s nothing wrong with your eyesight.”

That reminds me of the man who saw his doctor one day and got bad news. “You are really sick,” said his doctor.

“I want a second opinion,” said the patient.

“Ok,” said the doctor, “you’re also fat.”

Here’s the point. First, sometimes the truth hurts. Second, don’t ask questions for which you don’t want answers. That is true in all aspects of life. Most of us don’t ask enough questions, and when we do, if we don’t like the answers, we ignore them.

The Bible tells the story of a man looking in a mirror, then walking away the same as he was in the first place. We are reminded of the foolishness of such a response.

To be successful in life we need to ask the right questions, listen to the diagnosis, and then act on what we learn. And it’s always good to get a second opinion.

The Story of Al Capone

On this date in history, 1931, Al Capone was convicted of income tax evasion. But it didn’t come easily or quickly. This is his story.

Al Capone was born in the borough of Brooklyn in New York City to Italian immigrants. Capone was a Five Points Gang member who became a bouncer in organized crime premises such as brothels. In his early 20s, he moved to Chicago and became bodyguard and trusted factotum for Johnny Torrio, head of a criminal syndicate that illegally supplied alcohol and that was politically protected through the Unione Siciliana. A conflict with the North Side Gang was instrumental in Capone’s rise and fall. Torrio went into retirement after North Side gunmen almost killed him, thereby bringing about Capone’s succession. Capone expanded the bootlegging business through increasingly violent means, but his mutually profitable relationships with mayor William Hale Thompson and the city’s police meant Capone seemed safe from law enforcement. Apparently reveling in the attention, such as cheers when he appeared at ball games, Capone made donations to various charities and was viewed by many to be a “modern day Robin Hood.” However, the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre of gang rivals from the North Side Gang damaged Chicago’s image, leading influential citizens to demand governmental action.

The federal authorities became intent on jailing Capone and prosecuted him for tax evasion in 1931. The case was highly politicized and both prosecutors and judge later received preferment. During prior and ultimately abortive negotiations to pay the government any back taxes he owed, Capone had made admissions of his income; the judge deemed these statements usable as evidence at the trial, and also refused to let Capone plead guilty for a lighter sentence. The effect of such decisions by the judge was added to by the incompetence of Capone’s defense attorneys. Capone was convicted and sentenced to a then record breaking 11 years in federal prison. Replacing his old defense team with experts in tax law, his grounds for appeal were strengthened by a Supreme Court ruling, but Capone again found that his status as a symbol of criminality meant that judges decided against him. Already showing signs of syphilitic dementia by early in his sentence, he became increasingly debilitated before being released after eight years. On January 25, 1947, Capone died of cardiac arrest after suffering a stroke. Capone’s conviction had negligible effect on the prevalence of organized crime in Chicago.

The Perfect Mate

A young lady visited a computer dating service and requested, “I’m looking for a spouse. Can you please help me to find a suitable one?”

The matchmaker said, “What exactly are you looking for?”

“Well, let me see. Needs to be good looking, polite, humorous, sporty, knowledgeable, good at singing and dancing. Willing to accompany me the whole day at home during my leisure hour if I don’t go out. Be able to tell me interesting stories when I need a companion for conversation and be silent when I want to rest.”

The matchmaker entered the information into the computer and, in a matter of moments, handed the results to the woman.

The results read, “Buy a television.”

There is only one perfect mate in the universe, and I married her. For the rest of you, be aware that you won’t find a perfect spouse, but you can try to be one. That’s what love is all about – giving, not taking.

Or you can just buy a television.

British Pilot Breaks Sound Barrier on Land

It happened 20 years ago today – on October 13, 1997. Andy Green, a Royal Air Force fighter pilot, broke the sound barrier on land. The Thrust SuperSonic car’s jet-powered engine propelled Green across the Black Rock Desert in Nevada to the speed of 764.168 miles per hour, 1.007 percent above the speed of sound. He made a second run an hour later to establish the record officially.

Green’s achievement came almost exactly fifty years after American pilot Chuck Yeager’s historic supersonic flight in 1947. Green, who graduated with first-class honors in mathematics from Worcester College, Oxford, in 1983, is an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

What Andy Green did in 1997, man has been trying to do since creation. He likes to go fast. Not prone to slow down, we live microwaved lives.

But God has a better plan. “Be still and know that I am God,” he says. It is in slowing down that we get to know God – and ourselves. Speed is fun. But sometimes slow is better.

Happy to Be a Guy

A friend recently sent me something called “Happy to Be a Guy.” It is a pithy article that lists dozens of reasons a man should be happy to be a man. I will condense the list a bit. Enjoy 18 reasons “I’m Happy to Be a Guy.”

  1. I can do phone conversations in less than 30 seconds.
  2. A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase.
  3. I can open my own jars.
  4. I can go to a public bathroom without a support group.
  5. I don’t have to learn how to spell a new last name.
  6. I can leave the hotel bed unmade.
  7. I can kill my own food.
  8. Wedding plans take care of themselves.
  9. Three pairs of shoes are plenty.
  10. Car mechanics tell me the truth.
  11. Same work . . . more pay.
  12. I can sit with my buddies and not say a word.
  13. Gray hair and wrinkles only add character.
  14. Wedding dress – $2,000. Tux rental – $150.
  15. I don’t mooch off others’ desserts.
  16. I can drop by to see an old friend without bringing a gift.
  17. Belches are tolerated.
  18. Christmas shopping can be accomplished for 25 relatives, on December 24, in 45 minutes.

First Manned Apollo Mission Launches

On October 11, 1968, NASA launched its first successful manned Apollo mission, with astronauts Wally Schirra, Donn R. Eisele, and Walter Cunningham aboard.

Apollo 7 was a human spacecraft mission carried out by the United States. In addition to being the first such mission to carry man to space, it was the first U.S. spaceflight to carry astronauts since the flight of Gemini XII in November, 1966.

The mission was an 11-day Earth-orbital test flight to check out the redesigned Block II Apollo Command/Service Module with a crew on board. It was the first launch of a Saturn IB vehicle to put a crew into space, the first three-person American space mission, and the first live TV broadcast from an American spacecraft. It was successfully launched from what was then known as Cape Kennedy Air Force Station, Florida. Despite tension between the crew and ground controllers, the mission was a complete technical success, giving NASA the confidence to launch Apollo 8 around the Moon two months later. However, the flight would prove to be the last NASA space flight for all of its three crew members when it splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean on October 22, 1968. It was also the final manned launch from Cape Kennedy Air Force Station.

Heart Transplant

A man who was having trouble went to the doctor to see what his options were. The doctor recommended a heart transplant. The man reluctantly agreed, and asked if there were any hearts immediately available, considering that money was no object.

“I do have three hearts,” said the doctor. “The first is from an 18-year-old kid, non-smoker, athletic, swimmer, with a great diet. He hit his head on the swimming pool and died. It’s $100,000.”

The man asked about the second heart.

“It’s from a marathon runner, 24 years old. Great condition, very strong. He got hit by a bus. It’s $150,000.”

“And what about the third heart?” asked the patient.

“The third heart is from a heavy drinker, cigar smoker, and steak-lover. Man was grossly overweight. This heart is $500,000.”

The patient asked, “Hey, why is that heart so expensive? He lived a terrible life!”

The doctor explained. “It’s true the man lived a hard life. But he was a lawyer, so his heart has never been used.”

Okay, that’s a bad joke! But here’s the point. It doesn’t matter how we live our lives unless we live them from the heart. If we make all our choices and plan all our futures only from the brain, we will miss the best part of life. Jesus said it is what comes from the heart that really matters (Mark 7).

So learn the lesson now. An unused heart is a terrible thing to waste.

Black Sox Scandal

As we near the World Series, it’s a good time to look back on the most controversial World Series in history. It is called the Black Sox Scandal. It ended 98 years ago today, when the Chicago White Sox lost Game 8 – and the series – on October 9, 1919.

The Black Sox Scandal involved betting. Eight members of the White Sox were accused of intentionally losing the Series against the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for money paid by gamblers. The rest of the team was not in on the fix. Each of the players, including all-time great Shoeless Joe Jackson, received a permanent ban from baseball and consideration into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

While some of the details are disputable, and while Jackson’s involvement is especially questionable, this was a blight on the sport that still resonates to this day.

Actions have consequences. That which was done 98 years ago is still thought of today. A trip to baseball’s Hall of Fame will give you the story. It’s part of baseball lore.

Actions have consequences. Joe Jackson never lived down the controversy, despite having a phenomenal World Series, statistically. There was a permanent rift in the clubhouse, as many of the players, including Hall of Fame second baseman Eddie Collins, were adamantly opposed to gambling.

Actions have consequences. Relationships that were severed were never put back together. Reputations that were ruined were never restored. And the White Sox would not win another World Series until they swept the Houston Astros in 2005.

What’s true in baseball is true in life.

Actions have consequences.