by Charles R. Swindoll Scriptures: Deuteronomy 8:11-14; Matthew 24:12; Revelation 2:4-5 It happened in a large, seventy-five-year-old stone house on the west side of Houston. A massive stairway led up to several bedrooms. The den down below was done in rough-hewn boards with soft leather chairs and a couple of matching sofas. The wet bar had been converted into a small library, including a shelf of tape recordings and a multiple-speaker sound system. The ideal place to spend a weekend . . . unfortunately, my wife and I were there just for the evening. The smell of char-broiled T-bones drifted through the rooms. The ladies
Songless Saints by Charles R. Swindoll 1 Chronicles 16:7-36; Psalm 30:9; 100:2; 149:1-5; Luke 19:40 I was on a scriptural safari. Prowling through the Ephesian letter, I was tracking an elusive, totally unrelated verse when God’s sharp sword flashed, suddenly slicing me to the core. . . . speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:19) Everyone knows Ephesians 5:18, where we are told to “be filled with the Spirit” . . . but have you ever noticed that verse 18 ends with a comma, not a period? The next verse describes the
Cracks in the Wall by Charles R. Swindoll Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13; Colossians 2:8-23 The longer I live the less I know for sure. That sounds like 50% heresy . . . but it’s 100% honesty. In my younger years I had a lot more answers than I do now. Things were absolutely black and white, right or wrong, yes or no, in or out, but a lot of that is beginning to change. The more I travel and read and wrestle and think the less simplistic things seem. I now find myself uncomfortable with sweeping generalities . . . with neat little categories and well-defined classifications. Take people, for example.
Self-Praise by Charles R. Swindoll Proverbs 21:4; Luke 18:9-14; John 12:42-43; Galatians 6:12-14 “Self-praise,” says an ancient adage, “smells bad.” In other words, it stinks up the works. Regardless of how we prepare it, garnish it with little extras, slice and serve it up on our finest silver piece, the odor remains. No amount of seasoning can eliminate the offensive smell. Unlike a good wife, age only makes it worse. It is much like the poisoned rat in the wall—if it isn’t removed the stench becomes increasingly unbearable. Leave it untouched and within a span of time it will taint and defile everything that comes
God’s Control by Charles R. Swindoll Isaiah 45:5-9; 46:8-11; Daniel 5:18-21 The bitter news of Dawson Trotman’s drowning swept like cold wind across Schroon Lake to the shoreline. Eyewitnesses tell of the profound anxiety, the tears, the helpless disbelief in the faces of those who now looked out across the deep blue water. Everyone’s face except one—Lila Trotman. Dawson’s widow. As she suddenly walked upon the scene a close friend shouted, “Oh, Lila . . . he’s gone. Dawson’s gone!” To that she replied in calm assurance the words of Psalm 115:3: But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases. All of the anguish,
Stumbling by Charles R. Swindoll Psalm 37:23-24; Hebrews 4:12-16 Nothing damages our dignity like stumbling! I have seen people, dressed to the hilt, stumble and fall flat on their faces as they were walking to church. I have witnessed serious and gifted soloists, stepping up to the pulpit with music in hand, stumble and fall as the sheets of music sailed like maple leaves in an October breeze. I’ve watched a sure and winning touchdown by a fleet split-end—nobody within fifteen yards—foiled by a stumble. I’ve looked on as brides and grooms stumbled in unison . . . as bandsmen stumbled in formation . . . as shoppers stumbled in stores . . .
Famine by Charles R. Swindoll Nehemiah 8:1-12; Mark 12:41-44; Acts 13:44-48 The word hangs like an awful omen in our heads. Mentally, we picture a brutal, grotesque image. Cows’ hips protrude. Babies’ eyes are hollow. Bloated stomachs growl angrily. Skin stretches across faces tight as a trampoline. The outline of the skull slowly emerges. Joints swell. Grim, despairing stares replace smiles. Hope is gone . . . life is reduced to a harsh existence as famine takes its toll. Those who have seen it cannot forget it. Those who haven’t cannot imagine it. We are told it is coming. “It’s only a matter of time,” declare the experts.
Trophies by Charles R. Swindoll Ruth 2:1-12; Titus 2:7-8; Hebrews 11:1-40 He was brilliant. Clearly a child prodigy . . . the pride of Salzburg . . . a performer par excellence. At age five he wrote an advanced concerto for the harpsichord. Before he turned ten he had composed and published several violin sonatas and was playing from memory the best of Bach and Handel. Soon after his twelfth birthday he composed and conducted his own opera . . . and was awarded an honorary appointment as concertmaster with the Salzburg Symphony Orchestra. Before his brief life ended, he had written numerous operettas, cantatas, hymns, and oratorios, as well as forty-eight symphonies, forty-seven
Keeping Your Word by Charles R. Swindoll 1 Chronicles 17:16-27; 2 Chronicles 6:12-15; Psalm 145:13 March 11, 1942, was a dark, desperate day at Corregidor. The Pacific theater of war was threatening and bleak. One island after another had been buffeted into submission. The enemy was now marching into the Philippines as confident and methodical as the star band in the Rose Bowl parade. Surrender was inevitable. The brilliant and bold soldier, Douglas MacArthur, had only three words for his comrades as he stepped into the escape boat destined for Australia: I SHALL RETURN. Upon arriving nine days later in the port of Adelaide, the
Surprises by Charles R. Swindoll Genesis 17:15–17; 18:9–14; Joshua 6:1–22; 1 Corinthians 15:52–58 The feelings are familiar. Mouth open. Eyes like saucers. Chill up the spine. Heart pounding in the throat. Momentary disbelief. We frown and attempt to piece the story together without a script or narrator. Sometimes alone, occasionally with others . . . then boom! “The flash of a mighty surprise” boggles the mind, leaving us somewhere between stunned and dumb with wonder. “Am I dreaming or is a miracle happening?” So it is with surprises. O. Henry did it with his endings. World War II, with its beginning. Surprises start parties and they stop partnerships.