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Volume 5 Number 18       May 24, 2000       Norman Bales, Editor


Just Visiting

Here in the United States we're getting ready to celebrate Memorial Day. If you're one of our international readers, "Memorial Day" may mean very little to you. The holiday started out as a remembrance for those who died in wars, but it has become a time to remember all of our loved ones who have died. Families typically visit cemeteries to place flowers and wreaths on the graves of their departed loved ones.

It's not really a time of great sadness. It can be a time of personal renewal. Each year, we are reminded of the powerful influences that our parents had on our lives. We recall the important lessons they taught us. Instead of retreating into nostalgia, we take a brief look back at some of the important marker events in our lives. Those memories have a way of renewing our zeal. As Peter neared the end of his time on earth, he encouraged those who remained to employ the memory tool as a device to undergird their commitment. He said,

So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. - 2 Peter 1:12-14

But memory is only valuable if it serves to engage us in meaningful involvement - involvement with the world's pain, the mission of the church, the needs of our families. Memory can be nothing more than a convenient means of disengaging ourselves from difficult situations. While reflecting on the happiness of the past may legitimately provide us with occasional pleasures, the more important use of remembering is to use it as a springboard for action. Before that can take place, however, there must be a desire for involvement, a willingness to take the bull by the horns, risk criticism and failure for a noble cause. Ann addresses our need to do that very thing in this week's feature article.

Norman and Ann

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by Ann Bales

Getting involved in any worthwhile enterprise can be scary. Whether you decide to involve yourself in extra work projects, school activities, sports programs or church activities, you're going to have to pay a price. It will cost you time, energy and effort. Most of the time our actions go unnoticed by others. It's great when someone observes your effort and strokes you with a warm fuzzy. But in reality, most people never notice, or even care, that you knocked yourself out to make things better. As a matter of fact, there will be times when you may approach a meaningful project and all you'll get back in return is some Monday morning quarterback who sits back and says, "You should have done it differently."

With that many strikes against it, you wonder why anyone ever decides to become involved in anything. It's a whole lot less trouble to put the ball in somebody else's court, just go home after work and prop your feet up in front of the television set. It seems like I'm involved up to my ear lobes with so many things. I co-edit and do the tech work for our weekly newsletter. Involvement in various church activities takes up a lot of time. I visit with Norman on a regular basis and in emergencies as they arise. Then there is counseling, lesson preparation and proofing materials. Add to that keeping a house, meal preparation, taking care of a husband who needs clean clothes and TLC. I also have four grown children and their families who still want their Mom to serve as counselor and medical advisor by long distance telephone and internet. Sometimes I feel like dumping the whole thing on the first passing stranger, but on balance I'm quite certain that involvement is worth the price I have to pay.

To begin with, I have to stop and think what my whole environment might be like if everyone elected to be a spectator rather than a participant. Halford Luccock once observed, "some of the most appalling miseries of human history, some of the cruelest wrongs, have gone on because people who watched them decided to 'keep cool'." No, I don't have a martyr complex and I'm quite certain the world will continue to function quite well long after I cease to be a part of it, but I am naive enough to believe that my little bit does make a difference. Someone has said, "it's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." If enough of us light candles, together we can produce quite a bit of light.

But let's suppose that my involvement doesn't make a lasting difference. Let's say that my suggestions are turned down, my actions considered wrong and my efforts unappreciated. I still have the satisfaction of knowing I gave it my best shot. I was true to my own convictions. Another quote that applies here is, "You must learn to view your involvement like an ice cream sundae. Your action is like the sundae. Appreciation is like a cherry on top." You have to learn how to enjoy the sundae even when you don't get the cherry.

Finally, involvement is worth the price you nave to pay, because ultimately it will contribute to one's sense of self-esteem. William Glasser once said, "Equal in importance to the need for love is the need that we are worthwhile both to ourselves and others." How do we come to understand that we are worthwhile? Dr. Robert Rigdon, retired professor of psychology at Western Carolina University states, "We are dependent on others to fulfill our need of self-respect, but we are not helpless. If we do the right things in the right ways, others will respect us, thus fulfilling our need." (Happiness Explained p. 106) I choose involvement because I like to feel good about myself and when I've done my best to contribute to a legitimate need, then I can sleep well at night and feel worthwhile.

Many people will never understand the rewards of involvement because they fear the price. Someone told me that if you find a tiny shark and put it in an aquarium it will remain a size that's proportionate to the aquarium. We all know that sharks were designed for the ocean, not aquariums. A six-inch shark never becomes what he might have become if he were in the proper environment that would challenge him to do so. An uninvolved person is like that six-inch shark. Let's break out of the "uninvolved" mindset and become what we were designed to be.

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by Various Authors

"If you care about people, you risk being hurt and disappointed." Edward Thomason

"Christians are often prone to great generalities and sloppiness in detail." Charles Simpson

This story was told - during world War II. The General called in his men. "An urgent need. This bridge must be built. Get busy, now. Make the plans and build it!" A few days later his soldiers returned and reported back to the general. "Sir, the bridge has been built and is now in operation. However, sir, we're still working on the plans!"

"You never stump your toe while standing still." Edward Thomason

"I must do something" will solve more problems than "Something must be done."

"If you think of 'cool' as being indifferent and unconcerned, then you cannot be "cool and be a Christian. If you think of 'cool' in the sense of being 'self-controlled,' then by all means 'keep cool.'" John Gipson

"No man is an island, entire of it self; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main." John Donne

"To say yes, you have to sweat and roll up your sleeves and plunge both hands into life up to the elbows. It is easy to say no, even if saying no means death." Jean Anouilh

"There is certainly no greater happiness than to be able to look back on a life usefully and virtuously employed, to trace our own progress in existence, by such tokens as excite neither shame nor sorrow." Samuel Johnson

"The notion of looking on at life has always been hateful to me. What am I if I am not a participant? In order to be, I must participate." Saint-Exupery

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by Tom Chapin

Tom works with the Sixth & Izard Church of Christ in Little Rock, Arkansas. Each week he writes a column for their bulletin titled "Observations." We found this column very thought provoking and feel you might also. "For the good of the body. If that is the answer, what is the question?" You may read some of Tom's "questions" (and hopefully they will challenge you to think of some of your own)


If you have questions about marriage and family relationships, you can "ASK THE COUNSELOR." Address your questions to Mikal Frazier. Her address is

Norman's e-mail address:

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