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Coke – The Real Thing

It happened on this day in history. On May 8, 1886, Coke was born. Pharmacist John Pemberton sold a carbonated beverage called “Coca-Cola” as a patent medicine.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Today, Coke is sold in over 200 countries. On average, 10,000 Cokes are consumed every second of every day. The name was conjured up by Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, who was also a writer. He created the logo that is still used today.

The original Coke had cocaine in it – about nine milligrams per glass. Cocaine was removed in 1903. Over 57 billion servings of Coke products are sold each day, making Coke the most widely distributed product on the planet.

There’s more. Only two countries ban Coke: Cuba and North Korea. And Coke products generate over $1 billion in sales each year.

I loved the old ad from the 1970s. “It’s the real thing.” Indeed, there is nothing else like Coke.

The can is an illustration for us. Jesus is “the real thing.” Think of the can like this. The red represents the blood of Jesus. The white represents forgiveness. The can is recyclable, just like us. and when the can is full, it cannot be bent. Similarly, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we do not easily bend.

Coke is “the real thing.” But Jesus is more than “the real thing.” He is the only “real thing” that really matters. Drink up all the Coke you can. But remember there is One who said, “Drink of the water I give you, and you will never thirst again.”

The Tongue

On a windswept hill in an English country churchyard stands a drab, gray slate tombstone. Bleak and unpretentious, it leans slightly to one side, beaten slick and thin by the blast of time. The quaint stone bears an epitaph not easily seen unless you stoop over and look closely.

The faint etchings read: “Beneath this stone, a lump of clay, lies Arabella Young, who, on the 24th of May, began to hold her tongue.”

The tongue. What a study in contrasts! To the physician it’s merely a complex array of muscles and nerves that enable our bodies to chew, taste, and swallow. How helpful! Equally significant, it is the major organ of communication that enables us to articulate sounds so we can understand each other. How essential!

The tongue is as volatile as it is vital.

Washington Irving said, “A sharp tongue is the only edge tool that grows keener with use.”

And James said, “The tongue is a fire, a restless evil and full of deadly poison.”

I have had to apologize for my words many times. But I have never had to apologize for my silence.

The Rushmore Report: Five NFL Players You Didn’t Know Were Christians

In America, football has become a religion. While more people attend church on Sundays than watch NFL games on TV, the NFL is gaining – fast. But Christianity and the NFL are not mutually exclusive. There are plenty of NFL players who work on Sundays – and are very active in their faith. Here are just a few football players who have embraced Christianity, and aren’t ashamed to talk about it.

1. Drew Brees

The man is a saint – twice. First, Brees plays quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. But more importantly, he lives out an active faith in Christ. He accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior on his 17th birthday, after having knee surgery. He credits his faith for helping him through multiple episodes of adversity in his life.

2. Aaron Rodgers

Widely recognized as the best player in the NFL, the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers grew up in a Christian home. This is how he lives out his faith as a football player: “Let your actions talk about your beliefs. Start a relationship with others, then finally when there is a chance for questions, tell them about God.”

3. Russell Wilson

A featured speaker in churches nationwide, Wilson credits his faith for the stability he has come to experience in his personal life. He explains, “I don’t have highs and lows because I play for Him.” Wilson has shared his faith with teammates, and the Seattle Seahawks now have one of the strongest chapel ministries in the league.

4. Mark Sanchez

The back-up quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys has experienced a lot of adversity in the NFL, bouncing from team to team. He expresses his faith by the way he treats others. He says, “How can you show your love for God? He doesn’t need anything you’ve got. You love Him by loving others.”

5. Robert Griffin III

Having earned Rookie of the Year honors with the Washington Redskins, it once looked as though RG3 would become the face of the NFL. Then injuries began to mount. Through trades and down times, he has remained faithful to God. He says, “My relationship with God has been my most important influence. I praise God for everything. Purposefully, you live every day for Him, and when He gives you the opportunity to speak up for Him or to do something in His name, you do it.”

The Evolution of the Automobile

On this day in 1901 the state of New York did something that every other state has done since. They became the first state to require drivers to purchase license plates. That was a sign of growth.

On this day in 2009 GM did something no one could have seen coming just a few years before. They killed the Pontiac. The first Pontiac was produced in 1931. The brand became known for its sedans and occasional sports cars. The GTO, Firebird, and Trans Am were cultural icons, bringing both speed and sex appeal. The demise of the Pontiac was a sign of despair.

But in 2008, GM ceded its role as the world’s top auto maker to Toyota. They soon asked for government assistance to remain afloat, eventually filing for bankruptcy. As part of its reorganization plan, GM discontinued the Pontiac division altogether.

A parable on life, the history of the automobile reminds us of the inevitable change of life. One day the American-made automobile was competing with the horse and carriage. Fast forward. Now the American-made automobile – Pontiac in this case – can struggle for its mere existence.

There are 7,500 promises in the Bible. “Tomorrow” is not one of them. Life is brief and unpredictable. Just like the automobile.

Mrs. Jones

Nancy Jones lived a rather non-descript life. And so, on her tombstone were written these words: “Here lie the bones of Nancy Jones; for her, life held no terrors. She lived an old maid, she died an old maid; no hits, no runs, no errors.” It appears Mrs. Jones was a fine lady, but she didn’t grasp life at its fullest.

If you should die today, what would they say about your life? Les Moore is buried at Boot Hill Cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona. On his grave are written these words: “Here lies Lester Moore. Four slugs from a twenty-four. No Les. No more.”

I love funny epitaphs. “Herein lies a man named Zeke. Second fastest draw in Cripple Creek.”

“Here lies the body of Margaret Bent. She kicked up her heels and away she went.”

“To follow you, I am not content, for I do not know which way you went.”

But let’s return to Nancy Jones. “No hits, no runs, no errors.”

The fact is, if you swing the bat of life, you will make a few outs. But if you live your life where it’s safe, in the stands, you’ll never score any runs. Jesus didn’t die just to give you life. He died to give you abundant life.

The Rushmore Report: Ailing Glen Campbell Says ‘Adios’

Glen Campbell announced plans to release his final studio album, six years after the country singer was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. “Adios” will cap off the singer’s more than five-decade long career and will include songs Campbell has always wanted to share but never got around to recording. So it is fitting that the 80-year-old star would offer his final good-bye his way – through the music Americans have enjoyed for generations.

Campbell recorded “Adios” in Nashville following the 2012 “Goodbye Tour” which he embarked on after he was first diagnosed with this dreaded disease.

“Glen’s ability to play, sing, and remember songs began to rapidly decline after his diagnosis in 2011,” the singer’s wife Kim Campbell said in a press release. “A feeling of urgency grew to get him into the studio one last time to capture what magic was left. It was now or never.”

The 12-track album will include songs from Campbell’s longtime collaborator Jimmy Webb and a new version of his famous song “Postcard from Paris” with Campbell’s children Cal, Shannon, and Ashley singing the line, “I wish you were here.”

“What you’re hearing when listening to ‘Adios’ is the beautiful and loving culmination of friends and family doing their very best for the man who inspired, raised, and entertained them for decades – giving him the chance to say one last goodbye to his fans, and put one last amazing collection of songs onto the record store shelves,” Kim said.

Campbell’s health has deteriorated greatly since his 2011 diagnosis. His wife revealed in March that the singer can no longer play guitar and struggles to sing.

Kim continued, “Faith has always been the central part of our relationship. I’m so pleased that as Glen has entered the later stages of this illness, it’s evident that he has retained his awareness of God. That really comforts me to know that he has that sense of God’s presence in his life, that he’s not alone.”

Appearances

In 1884 a young man died, and after the funeral his grieving parents decided to establish a memorial in his honor. With that in mind they met with Charles Eliot, president of Harvard University. Eliot received the unpretentious couple into his office and asked what he could do. After they expressed their desire to fund a memorial, Eliot impatiently said, “Perhaps you have in mind a scholarship.”

“We were thinking of something more substantial than that – perhaps a building,” the woman replied.

In a patronizing tone, Eliot brushed aside the idea as being too expensive, and the couple departed. The next year, Eliot learned that this plain pair had gone elsewhere and established a $26 million memorial named Leland Stanford Junior University, better known today as Stanford!

James, the brother of our Lord, warned us to not judge others by their outward appearances. God looks at the heart. We must try to do the same. Here’s the test of your character. How do you treat others who have no way (as far as you know) to repay you?

Crackers and Cheese

The story is told of a man who saved all his money so he could go on a three-month boat trip to England, over 100 years ago. He brought a huge supply of crackers and cheese with him, so he’d have something to eat. Because he has spent his last dollar on the ticket for the ship, he did not have any money left over to buy meals on board.

After two months his crackers and cheese had changed, both in color and taste. The man couldn’t take it any longer. He was desperate for just one warm meal, as the other passengers were enjoying every day. When he went to the captain to beg for one good meal, the captain asked him to look at the backside of his ticket.

When he pulled out his ticket and looked on the back side, he found these words: “Meals included.”

Jesus said, “I have come to give you life and life more abundantly.” The good news of the gospel is that our passageway to heaven has already been paid full in advance. But the even better news is this: “Meals included.”

God wants us to enjoy the trip as well as the destination.

Longest

The word for today is “longest.” Do you know the longest movie ever? If you’re a guy, that would be just about any romantic comedy. But in real time, the answer is Berlin Alexanderplatz, at 14 hours, 56 minutes. War and Peace, based on the book by the same name, was a mere seven hours, 22 minutes.

What was the longest song? Limiting our discussion to Top Ten hits, it would be American Pie, by Don McClean, at eight minutes. This song also gets the prize for strangest lyrics. I’m still not sure what to make of the Holy Ghost taking the last train for the coast.

The longest football game was the playoff adventure between the Dolphins and Chiefs in 1972. The longest baseball game was the 26-inning affair between Brooklyn and Boston in 1920.

But my favorite is the world’s longest banana split, constructed in Selinsgrove, PA on April 30, 1988. Consisting of 33,000 bananas, 2,500 gallons of ice cream, and 600 pounds of nuts, the all-you-can-eat dessert stretched 4.5 miles.

But here’s something even longer than that: the distance between you and God apart from the gift of his Son. But because he came a really long way, all the way from heaven, we can spend a really long time with him in heaven.

Reagan Shot – 36 Years Ago Today

It was a day I shall never forget. I was a junior in college when I got the call. “The President has just been shot.” I raced across Houston to my mom’s house, where we followed the news together.

On March 30, 1981, John Hinckley shot President Ronald Reagan in the chest as he left a Washington hotel. The attempted assassination occurred just 69 days into his presidency. While leaving a speaking engagement at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., President Reagan and three others were shot and wounded. The most seriously wounded victim, James Brady, died decades later of complications related to his injuries. Brady’s death was subsequently ruled a homicide.

That fateful day in 1981 reminds us that life is short and can be taken at any second. What’s the lesson? Live every day as if it might be your last – because, one day it will be.