The job of a football coach is to make men do what they don't want to do, in order to
achieve what they've always wanted to be.
When Polish pianist Ignace Jan Paderewsky played before Queen Victoria, he won her
enthusiastic approval. "Mr. Paderewsky," she exclaimed, "you are a
genius." Paderewsky shook his head. "Perhaps, Your Majesty, but before that I
was a drudge," he replied, alluding to the number of hours he spent practicing every
Today in the Word, August 3, 1993.
When people are right with God, they are apt to be hard on themselves and easy on other
people. But when they are not right with God, they are easy on themselves and hard on
I spent much of my ninth summer on a bicycle. About a mile from our house the road went
down a steep hill and turned sharply at the bottom. Coasting down the hill one morning, I
felt my gathering speed to be ecstatic. To give up this ecstasy by applying brakes seemed
an absurd self-punishment. So I resolved to simultaneously retain my speed and negotiate
the corner. My ecstasy ended seconds later when I was propelled a dozen feet off the road
into the woods. I was badly scratched and bleeding, and the front wheel of my new bike was
twisted beyond use from its impact against a tree. I had been unwilling to suffer the pain
of giving up my ecstatic speed in the interest of maintaining my balance around the
corner. I learned, however, that the loss of balance is ultimately more painful than the
giving up required to maintain balance. It is a lesson I have continually had to relearn.
As must everyone, for as we negotiate the curves and corners of our lives, we must
continually give up parts of ourselves.
M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled.
Lanny Bassham, Olympic gold-medalist in small-bore rifle competition, tells what
concentration does for his marksmanship: "Our sport is controlled
non-movement. We are
shooting from 50 meters--over half a football field--at a bull's eye three- quarters the
size of a dime. If the angle of error at the point of the barrel is more than .005 of a
millimeter (that is five one-thousandths), you drop into the next circle and lose a point.
So we have to learn how to make everything stop. I stop my breathing. I stop my digestion
by not eating for 12 hours before the competition. I train by running to keep my pulse
around 60, so I have a full second between beats--I have gotten it lower, but found that
the stroke-volume increased so much that each beat really jolted me. You do all of this
and you have the technical control. But you have to have some years of experience in
reading conditions: the wind, the mirage. Then you have the other 80% of the problems--the
Sports Illustrated, August 2, 1976, pp. 31-35, quoted in
How to Profit from Bible Reading, I. L. Jensen, Moody Press, p. 80.
When John Henry Jowett was pastor at Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, he began a series of
children's meetings. At the very first meeting, four boys with penny whistles upset the
meeting by playing tunes while Jowett was speaking. An usher rounded up the boys and took
them to the vestry where they faced Jowett. "Can't you fellows play tin whistles any
better than that?" Jowett asked. "If you can't, I shall have to get Mrs. Jowett
to give you some lessons." A few weeks later, the four boys gave a concert with Mrs
Jowett accompanying them on the piano.
W. Wiersbe, The Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, p. 189.
Coleridge is the supreme example of tragedy of indiscipline. Never did so great a mind
produce so little. He left Cambridge University to join the army; he left the army because
he could not rub down a horse; he returned to Oxford and left without a degree. He began a
paper called "The Watchman" which lived for ten numbers and then died. It has
been said of him, "he lost himself in visions of work to be done, that always
remained to be done. Coleridge had every poetic gift but one--the gift of sustained and
concentrated effort." In his head and in his mind he had all kinds of books, as he
said, "completed save for transcription." But the books were never composed
outside of Coleridge's mind, because he would not face the discipline of sitting down to
write them out. No one ever reached any eminence, and no one having reached it ever
maintained it, without discipline.
Wm. Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, p. 280.
My father would not have been particularly interested in a book about fathering,
although he did like to read. One day when he was reading in the living room, my brother
and I decided we could play basketball without breaking anything. When I took a shot that
redesigned the glass table, my mother came in with a stick and said, "So help me,
I'll bust you in half." Without lifting his head from his book, my father said,
"Why would you want twice as many?"
No man is fit to command another who cannot command himself.
Out of parental concern and a desire to teach our young son responsibility, we require
him to phone home when he arrives at his friend's house a few blocks away. He began to
forget, however, as he grew more confident in his ability to get there without disaster
befalling him. The first time he forgot, I called to be sure he had arrived. We told him
the next time it happened, he would have to come home. A few days later, however, the
telephone again lay silent, and I knew if he was going to learn, he would have to be
punished. But I did not want to punish him!! I went to the telephone, regretting that his
great time would be spoiled by his lack of contact with his father. As I dialed, I prayed
for wisdom. "Treat him like I treat you," the Lord seemed to say. With that, as
the telephone rang one time, I hung up. A few seconds later the phone rang, and it was my
son. "I'm here, Dad!" "What took you so long to call?" I asked.
"We started playing and I forgot. But Dad, I heard the phone ring once and I
remembered." How often do we think of God as One who waits to punish us when we step
out of line? I wonder how often he rings just once, hoping we will phone home.
Statistics and Stuff
Percentage of American's who own running shoes but don't run: 87%
Charis Conn, Ed., What Counts:
The Complete Harper's Index.
We must face the fact that many today are notoriously careless in their living. This
attitude finds its way into the church. We have liberty, we have money, we live in
comparative luxury. As a result, discipline practically has disappeared. What would a
violin solo sound like if the strings on the musician's instrument were all hanging loose,
not stretched tight, not "disciplined"?
A.W. Tozer, Men Who Met God.