Wednesday, April 29, 2009

THE LAST LICK, by Dr. Thomas Lane Butts, Pastor Emeritus

A little girl came in from the playground at school one day sobbing as if her heart would break. The teacher went immediately to the child and asked if she were hurt. She said she was not hurt. "Then why in the world are you crying?" asked the teacher. Between sobs the little girl said, "Susan hit me and the bell rang before I could hit her back."

The need to "get even" with people who have hurt us is strong. We want to have the "last word" in an argument and the "last lick" in a fight. Nothing is more fragile than our pride. But anybody can get in the "last word", or the "last lick" and keep the battle going. Only the strongest and the most mature can absorb the "last lick" and end the battle.

If there is anything that the world and our community needs, it is people who are filled with enough love and grace to allow someone else to have the last word or the last lick. Having the strength not to strike back causes momentary pain, but after the initial blow to pride, that pain is transformed to strange strength. Conversely, those who have the last word feel very good initially about their conquest, but after the initial flush of pride, last words begin to turn to ashes in one’s mouth.

One of the notable achievements of Jesus, for which he is remembered as one of uncommon strength, was how he let the cruel world have the last lick. Even the Roman soldiers on the execution team that killed him looked up as he died and began to wonder who had really won. Today, there is no doubt as to who won. But what if Jesus had insisted on the last lick or the last word?

It takes maturity to deal with conflicts in such a way as to bring lasting victory and lasting peace. In addition to all the theological understanding of Jesus, he is also a noble and notable model for us in dealing with physical or verbal conflict.

Test the strength of your character today - let someone else have the "last word". If necessary, let someone else get in the "last lick."

by Dr. Thomas Lane Butts, Pastor Emeritus, Monroeville First United Methodist Church

Monday, April 20, 2009


"As we begin to Focus upon God, the things of the Spirit will take shape before our inner eyes." (A.W. Tozer, 1897-1963)

1 John
This epistle is a discourse upon the principles of Christianity, in doctrine and practice. The design appears to be to refute and guard against erroneous and unholy tenets, principles, and practices, especially such as would lower the Godhead of Christ, and the Reality and Power of His sufferings and death as an Atoning Sacrifice; and against the assertion that Believers being saved by Grace are not required to obey the Commandments.

This epistle also stirs up all who profess to know God, to have Communion with Him, and to Believe in Him, and that they Walk in Holiness, not in sin, showing that a mere outward profession is nothing without the Evidence of a Holy Life and Conduct.

It also helps forward and excites real Christians to Communion with God and the Lord Jesus Christ, to Constancy in the True Faith and the Purity of Life. (Preface to 1 John, Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible)

"Give us Love, sweetest of all Gifts, which knows no enemy. Give us in our hearts pure Love, born of Your Love to us, that we may Love others as You Love us. O most Loving Father of Jesus Christ, from whom flows All Love, let our hearts, frozen in sin, cold to You and cold to others, be warmed by this Divine Fire. So help and bless us in Your Son. Amen." (St. Anselm, 1033-1109)

"These Things Are True of You" (1996, Tommy Walker)
Unshakable, immovable, Faithful and True; Full of Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty:
These things are True of You.
Fearless, Courageous, Righteousness shines Through in All You do;
Yet You're so humble, You laid down Your Life:
These things are True of You.
And as I turn my face to You, Oh Lord, I ask and pray, By the Power of Your Love and Grace,
Make these things True of me, too.
Make these things True of me, too.
"Eternal and Most Glorious God, You have stamped the soul of humanity with Your Image, received it into Your revenue, and made it part of Your Treasure; do not allow us so to undervalue ourselves, so to impoverish You, as to give away these souls for nothing, and all the world is nothing if the soul must be given for it. Do this, O God, for His sake who Knows our natural infirmities, for He had them, and Knows the weight of our sins, for He paid a dear Price for them; Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ." (John Donne, 1572-1631)

"What does Love look like? It has hands to Help others. It has feet to Hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to See misery and want. It has ears to Hear the sighs and sorrow of others. That is what Love looks like." (Saint Augustine of Hippo, 354-430)