Lessons From A Baboon

by Tom Wacaster

I recently read an interesting article about the antics of a baboon.  Someone living in Bagoda Mountains of Africa observed an old baboon running through a row of corn and literally cleaning every single ear off each of the stalks. The baboon would grab an ear of corn and tuck it under his arm, then another, putting it under the same arm.  He must have been pretty stupid, because when he would raise his arm to put the second ear of corn under it, the first would always drop to the ground.  He would go all the way down the row, however, putting one ear after another under the same arm and dropping the previous one.  When he reached the end of the row he would have only one ear of corn.  The baboon would then sit down with a worried expression on his face, wondering where the rest of the corn had gone.  This dumb animal was so anxious to have all that he could see that he ended up loosing all that he had.  Someone has pointed out that "God never promised to give us everything we want; he just promised to supply our need. We must be able to forego today's wants in view of tomorrow's needs."  Living an a land of plenty, we have grown accustomed to getting what we want RIGHT NOW!  Many a life has suffered disappointment because they, like the old baboon, sought to horde the things of life in an effort to possess more.  Jesus reminds us that a man's life does not consist in the abundance of the things which he may possess.

It Has To Do With Character

by Tom Wacaster
  
Your greatest opportunity and responsibility is not so much the making of a living has it is the making of a life.  Whatever else one may accomplish in life, you have failed if you do not make your's an honorable, useful, trustworthy life.  Horace Greely is reported to have exclaimed, "Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, riches take wings, those who cheer today will curse tomorrow. Only one thing endures. Character."  In commenting on Mr.Greely's statement, the late Dr. Newell Dwight Hillis wrote, "These weighty words bid us all remember that Life's one task is the making of manhood.  Our world is a College, events are teachers, happiness is the graduating point, and character is the diploma which
God gives man." 
               
It would be grand to live in a world in which all men recognize the importance of character and then make an honest pursuit of the same, beginning with our leaders and flowing down to the common man on the street.  Unfortunately this honorable trait called "character" has fallen upon hard times.  Apathy with respect to such things as integrity, honesty, and character has infected a rather large percentage of the nation.  When we add to this the abysmal ignorance with regard to its essential contribution to a stable society,  we begin to understand why the call for honesty and integrity on the part of those who would lead us into the next century falls largely on deaf ears.  If polls come anywhere near reflecting this nation's attitude toward the importance of character in her leaders, then it is much later than we think.  A CNN poll some years ago revealed that 70% of Americans do not think that character should be an issue in political elections.  
               
I submit to you that character IS important. It is important for our very existence, yea our survival.  If history teaches us anything it is this: absence of character among any people spells disaster and ruin. When a people throw off moral character and integrity there is nothing left to hold them together.  Try to imagine a society in which lies were accepted, where promises meant nothing, and where dishonest and unethical business dealings were the norm.  No man, not even the liar and the thief, would want to live in such a place.  The problem of crime and violence in our society are not economic.  It is a problem of an absence of character and moral integrity.  Washington continues to crank out anti-crime bills, each one tougher than the previous, and yet our crime rate (with the exception of an occasional drop) continues to escalate.  
               
A number of years ago producer Norman Lear made this observation: "At no time in my life has our culture been so estranged from spiritual values. Our problems lie beyond the reach of politics alone."  Perhaps it is time for every single American to pay closer attention to the words of the Psalmist:  "Blessed is the nation whose God is Jehovah, The people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance" (Psalms  33:12).  Let us dust off our Bibles and read again the words of Solomon:  "Righteousness exalteth a nation; But sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14:34).  It has been said that no institution can rise any higher than its leaders.  The same is true with regard to nations.  If our leaders are not willing to exercise moral restraint, how can we expect any less from the citizens?  It would seem, as per the poll previously mentioned, that we no longer expect our leaders to demonstrate genuine character, and worse yet, we don't care.  
               
Perhaps the most frightening aspect about our present lack of concern with regard to character on the part of our leaders is the fact that such is actually a reflection of what we expect of ourselves.   Charles Colson, close associate of President Richard Nixon, pinpointed the problem a number of years ago when he wrote that the most terrifying thing that can happen to a society is the death of conscience in its young people.  The new century lies just around the corner.  The future depends largely upon the present.  Where we want to be in the year 2000 (or beyond) will be determined by the choices we make today.  And, yes, much more than we think, or perhaps care to admit,  "it has to do with character."

An Achievement, Though Not A Major One

by Tom Wacaster

A recent commercial showed a man pulling a bus with his teeth. A strap attached to the bumper was clinched in his mouth and used to pull a bus along a tarmac.  Dad would have said this was "an achievement, though not a major one."  In fact, those words might very well describe a large number of folks with such "unusual" talents. There was one man who had a life's ambition of setting the world record for spinning fifteen basketballs simultaneously.  Or how about the one who could, and did, drive a nail into his nostrils as a human "peg board."  In the overall scope of things I don't think that spinning basketballs or driving nails into the skull would rate very high when it comes to significant  achievements.  What it comes down to is priorities.  In Walt Disney's, "The Lion King," the theme song has these words:

"From the time we arrive on the planet,
And blinking step into the sun.
There is more to see than can ever be seen,
More to do than can ever be done."

None of us can ever hope to do everything, so we have to carefully choose what we will do.  Too much of our time is taken up with bobbles and bells that may entertain for the moment but in the final analysis provide no lasting value. Hence, we are admonished by our Lord to "seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33).  We admit that truth, but practical application sometimes is lacking.  Undoubtedly we would acknowledge that a worthwhile and responsible work is to be preferred to getting into the Guinness World Book of Records.  So likewise we would admit the importance of a well ordered life over one of disorder and rebellion.  Now consider this. Why is it that priorities come crashing to the earth when it comes to Christian responsibilities like prayer, study, and attendance?   Why do otherwise responsible adults allow the insignificant things of life to crowd out their service to God?  Is television really that much more important than Bible study? Is one more hour of sleep that much more important than an hour in Bible class with other Christians on Sunday morning? Is keeping company with guests more pressing than keeping our appointment at the Lord's table? Is that ball game, or fishing trip more valuable, more lasting, more significant than visiting the sick, or helping the needy?  Yet when we allow those insignificant and temporal things to interfere with our Christian responsibilities we have misplaced our priorities.  To be sure many of those things that get in the way of serving our God are important and significant when compared to other things that are temporal. But when compared with eternity, much of what the world might consider a noble achievement simply does not measure up.  It is only a matter of time until time will not matter. When we stand before God, with time behind us and eternity staring us in the face, the only thing that will really matter will be whether or not we have obeyed the Gospel and remained faithful to our calling.  Those two factors will not only have been an achievement, they will have been major achievements.