A Great Author Was Born

If he were still alive, Roald Dahl would turn 100 years of age today. He was born in South Wales. His childhood was filled with tragedy. Roald’s father and sister died when he was three, and he was later brutally abused at his boarding school. After high school, he traveled widely, joining an expedition to Newfoundland and later working in Tanzania. In World War II, he joined the Royal Air Force and became a fighter pilot.

So who is this guy – Roald Dahl?

Ever hear of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Mr. Dahl wrote the screenplay. He also wrote other children’s stories, including the best-selling Someone Like You, Kiss Kiss, and James and the Giant Peach.

Roald wrote the screenplay for another movie. While it didn’t fit his normal mantra, it made him a rich man – the James Bond film, You Only Live Twice.

I’ll admit it. I never heard the name, Roald Dahl. I’m pretty sure you haven’t heard of him either. But as we reflect back to his birth, 100 years ago today, I have one thought. Some of the most significant things ever done were done by men and women whose names history does not remember. God’s best plans for each of our lives is not to be known, but to be faithful.

Leaping Frogs

Think of five frogs sitting on a log. One decides to jump off. How many are left? Five. Thinking of jumping and jumping are two different things.

Lots of people “decide” to do things, but they never do them.

Finding Forrester is a great movie. Sean Connery plays the part of a legendary writer who mentors a young man who has great potential as a writer. Connery tells Forrester to begin typing. He said, “Just type what comes to mind.”

The key to success is not planning, but doing.

A construction crew was putting a drain line in a building. A power cable was directly in the path of their work. Construction stopped while an electrician was called who declared that there was no electrical power to the cable.

The foreman asked, “Are you sure the power is dead to the cable and there is no danger?”

“Absolutely,” replied the electrician.

“Well then, you cut the line.”

After a pause, the electrician said, “I’m not that sure.”

Most of us don’t take action because we aren’t that sure. But there comes a time when you need to start typing, and a time to cut the cable.

There comes a time when you need to jump off the log. As the old prophet said, “Forget the old things. Behold, I am doing a new thing.”


I love the words of Isaac D’Israel. “It is a wretched taste to be gratified with mediocrity when the excellent lies before us.”

True, competitive excellence requires 100 percent effort all the time. People figure they are getting by when they merely get close to it. And then, excellence gets reduced to acceptable, and before long, acceptable doesn’t seem worth the sweat if you can get by with adequate. After that, mediocrity is just a breath away. Let’s consider the real consequences of mediocrity, of only getting it right most of the time.

Natalie Gabal has done the research. If 99.9 percent was considered acceptable, in one year the IRS would lose two million documents and 12 babies would be given to the wrong parents in hospitals each day. Two hundred ninety-one pacemaker operations would be performed incorrectly, 20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions would be written, and 114,500 mismatched pairs of shoes would be shipped.

I used to have a man in my church would point out every tiny mistake in the worship guide or PowerPoint on Sundays. You know what I would tell him? “Thanks!”

God wants our best. Mediocrity is not an option. Can we achieve perfection in this life? Of course not! But we can achieve excellence.

The Wisdom of a Rabbi

A troubled man went to see a wise Rabbi. “Rabbi,” he said, wringing his hands, “I am a failure. More than half the time I do not succeed in doing what I must do.”

“Oh?” said the Rabbi.

“Please say something wise, Rabbi.”

After much pondering, the Rabbi spoke as follows: “Ah, my son, I give you this wisdom. Go and look on page 930 of the New York Times Almanac for the year 1970, and you will find the peace you are looking for.”

This is what the man found on page 930. It was a story about Ty Cobb, arguably the greatest hitter in the history of baseball, with a career batting average of .367. The story emphasized that, though Cobb had the highest career batting average of any player in history, he made an out nearly two-thirds of the time.

The man returned to the Rabbi, filled with wisdom and thanksgiving. “Thank you, Rabbi,” he said. “I see your point. Though I don’t always succeed, I succeed some of the time. I will take that to heart, and rejoice in my successes, rather than dwelling on my failures.”

The next time you step into the batter’s box and take a swing at life, remember Ty Cobb. And remember the wisdom of the Rabbi.

The Power of One Man

Why don’t you do more?

“I’m just one person,” you say.

To that, I quote the old Hebrew word. “Bologna.” One person can do a lot! Let’s consider an example. One man invented the bifocals most of you are using to read this print right now. He did it at the age of 79. The same fellow was the first to harness the electricity needed for you to turn on your coffee pot this morning. He founded an Ivy League school and fathered the U.S. Mail.

And he found time to invent the lightening rod and designed the heating stove. This fellow spoke and wrote in five languages, despite just two years of formal education.

Who was this man? Most of your guessed it – Ben Franklin. One might call him a bit of an over-achiever. Do you know people like that?

Mark Twain said, “Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.”

At the risk of annoying you with the example of Mr. Franklin, I challenge you to look into your own life. You are just one person. Correction – you are one person. (Leave out the word “just.”)

But did you know the Bible says, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength”? Don’t trust me . . . ask Ben.

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 target 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. 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 that it looks like you can win by your own strength. The trick is to recognize you can’t win unless you depend totally on God. God said, back in the first book of the Bible, “I will go with you to Egypt, and I will bring you up again.”

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!


The Rushmore Report: Tony Robbins’ 2-Step Strategy to Daily Success

Each year Tony Robbins, best-selling author and speaker, takes on seven high-profile clients, which include tennis champion Serena Williams and award-winning actor Hugh Jackman. To get his one-on-one training costs $1 million, and there is a five-year waiting list. But Robbins doesn’t keep all his training a secret. At a recent meeting in Florida, he recommended two steps to personal success.

1. Daily reflection

Robbins says to set aside ten minutes each morning for personal reflection and mindful breathing. He says this is a process that keeps him focused and motivated each day. Robbins says to take the first three minutes to think about things you are grateful for. Spend the next three minutes feeling at peace and thinking about people you care about. Then spend the remaining time envisioning three things you want to accomplish.

2. Read a book on overcoming

Make time to read a physical book, or listen to an audiobook that helps you overcome. If you don’t have time to read a book, listen to an audiobook while exercising or driving. Robbins says to “prime yourself for courage, rather than hoping you show up that way, based on the triggers of your environment.”

With daily practice, Robbins says, anyone can get control of their lives and be highly successful. But it starts with doing the right things daily – establishing good habits that have worked for countless others.

Abe Didn’t Quit

Abraham Lincoln said, “The sense of obligation to continue is present in all of us. A duty to strive is the duty of us all. I felt a call to that duty.”

And Abe didn’t quit, despite all the failures he had known in life. In 1816, his family was forced out of their home. In 1818, his mother died. In 1831, he failed in business. In 1832, he ran for the state legislature and lost. That same year, he lost his job. In 1833, he borrowed money to live on, and took 17 years to pay it back. In 1835, his fiance died. In 1836, he had a nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.

In 1838, Lincoln made it to the state legislature, but lost in his race to become speaker. In 1843, Lincoln ran for Congress and lost. In 1846, he ran again, and won. He ran for re-election in 1848 and lost. In 1849, he sought a job as land officer and was rejected. In 1854, he ran for Senate and lost. Two years later, he sought the vice-presidential nomination and lost. In 1858, he ran for Senate and lost again. And in 1860, he was elected President of the United States.

Lincoln said, after one defeat, “The path was worn and slippery. My foot slipped from under me, but I said, ‘It’s only a slip, not a fall.'”

That is the key to success: not avoiding loss, defeat, and mistakes, but learning from them.

Buy Ducks

There was a chicken farmer whose land was flooded every spring. He didn’t want to give up his farm, but when the water backed up onto his land and flooded his chicken coops, it was always a struggle to get his chickens to higher ground. Some years he couldn’t move fast enough and hundreds of his chickens drowned.

After his worst spring ever, and having lost his entire flock, he came into his farmhouse and said to his wife, “I’ve had it. I can’t afford to buy another place. I can’t sell this one. I don’t know what to do.”

His wife offered the obvious. “Buy ducks.”

Author Neale Donald Walsh asserted, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

If you’re like me, you’ve been through a few floods in your life. But remember, Psalm 23 promises God will carry us through the valley, not just into it.

President Kennedy was asked how he became a war hero. “It was easy,” he said. “Somebody sunk my boat.”

Charles Kettering, of General Motors, said, “You never stub your toe standing still.”

Sometimes, life sends you a flood. And sometimes, that’s okay. You just need to learn to buy ducks.