The Final Smile

There is a popular television show in Indonesia called, “Minta Tolong!” which basically means “I need help!” Every week a hidden camera crew sends out a down-trodden person into the streets to ask for help from strangers. In a recent episode an actress playing a destitute beggar went from person to person, asking for a blanket for her child. She was holding a ratty newspaper and offered to trade it if they would give her a blanket. Person after person said no. She would plead with them, “Please, my child is cold and doesn’t have a blanket. Don’t you have an extra one at your house?” They would brush her off and she would then go on to the next person. After numerous rejections one kind soul finally said yes, giving the beggar lady a sling she was using for her own child. The beggar then gave her newspaper to the kind lady, and inside it was a very large sum of money. The crew came out and interviewed the kind hearted soul, who was overcome with emotion and didn’t want to accept the money at first. She finally did at the interviewer’s insistence as tears streamed down her shocked face.

How many of the people who said no would have said yes if they knew that inside that dirty newspaper was a loot of cash?

Undercover Boss

What was the last novel, TV show or movie that made you cry? John Eldredge says that we should pay attention to when art touches us so deeply that the tears peak out. That’s a big theme in his insightful book, Epic (Thomas Nelson, 2007), how we are wired for story. “There is a heart …

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Fret Not

When our daughter Naomi was a toddler, and it was time for a family outing, I would often let her play on the front porch until it was time to go. The family would pile into the car and buckle up, while I went back and forth to gather up our stuff from inside the …

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The Hurried Samaritan

I blew past someone in the need the other day on the way to a church meeting. They were on the side of the road with car trouble just ahead of me, obviously in distress, and I was running late. Sorry, no time to help. I didn’t think twice about leaving them stranded and un-helped, …

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A Killy Bride

When our daughter Ana was four and still living in a delightful princess world, she loved to play dress up. One day she ransacked her dress up box and came out of her room wearing raccoon slippers, a white bride’s veil and holding a plastic police riot baton. I said, “Oh, Ana, what a beautiful bride …

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Drudgery Schmudgery

When I was 22 and newly married, I worked as an essay grader for a standardized test that the State of Texas inflicted upon fourth graders. My job was to evaluate, on a scale from one to five, how well 10-year-old students across the state could describe a picture of an old time country store that …

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Forward Culture Shock

Culture is strong stuff. It’s always bearing down on us, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We usually don’t realize its shaping effect on our lives until we visit another culture. There we experience “culture shock,” because the way they do things is not the way we do things. If we lived in …

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The Reward of His Sufferings

In the year 1700, a wealthy family in Germany gave birth to Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf. Though raised in a Christian stream of pietism, little Ludwig adopted the standards of the noble class he grew up with, becoming a spoiled nobleman unconcerned by the plight of his poor countrymen who served his estate. But once when he was 16 and visiting an art museum, he saw a painting of the

Who is This King that Demands my Life?

  Leonidas at Thermopylae     By Paul Richardson   DO YOU SEE THIS PAINTING? I SPENT COUNTLESS HOURS staring at it when I was a little boy. My dad kept a book about ancient Greece and Rome. From the time I was four or five years old, I would often pull it off the shelf, take it to …

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Improv as a Way of Life

IMPROV IS CREATIVITY ENERGIZED BY CONSTRAINT   By Paul Richardson   Winston Churchill was chided for ending a sentence with a preposition. His answer? “That is the sort of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.” Oh my goodness! Now there’s a brain that moves like a Ferrari from 0-60 in 1.2 seconds. How on earth …

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