Posted tagged ‘faith’

How to Keep the Proverbial Fat lady Offstage

August 4, 2016

by Dr. Steven J. Callis


            You have heard it, and likely have said it yourself:  it ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings.  The original use of the phrase has been attributed to sports journalist Ralph Carpenter in 1976, referring to a surprising comeback by the Texas Tech men’s basketball team to tie the game.  Someone said to Carpenter that it appeared the game was going to be close after all, to which he replied, “Right.  The opera isn’t over until the fat lady sings.”

            The reference, of course, is to the stereotypical image of an overweight opera soprano singing the finale, and is actually traced back to a specific opera and its soprano soloist, Amalie Materna.  The colloquial phrase is not meant to offensively profile such singers, rather it has come to mean that one cannot necessarily know the outcome of a given circumstance until is actually happens.  Until that moment, there is still hope that a bad situation can turn itself around.

            My eldest brother is 68 years of age.  Over recent years he has experienced several difficult health issues, including hip replacement and neck surgery.  However, this retired psychologist and university professor is not quite ready to surrender to the physical and emotional challenges that tend to accompany aging.  Last week on a trip to Florida he completed his training and is now a certified scuba diver; not too shabby for a mid-America resident where scuba diving is not a typical sport for that geographical area.

            We are a family that likes to laugh and joke.  I told him I did not even know he could swim!  One of his sons commented that this was no mid-life moment, but an end-life moment.  My brother remarked of himself that if the saying is true that “you’re only as old as you feel,” he must have reached triple figures.

            Whether referring to age of life, the score in a game, a pending medical test result, or any other difficult place in your life, refuse to lose hope and, instead, cling to your faith.  Do not allow the proverbial fat lady to come out on stage for the finale until it really is her turn to sing; or if you prefer Yogi Berra’s similar proverb, remember that “It ain’t over till it’s over.” 

            The ability to cling to that hope, by the way, is ultimately linked to your belief system, which is the true source of your hope.  Dr. David Busic recently wrote, “Christian hope is not the power of positive thinking.  It is not based on circumstances, good or bad.  It is not new and better ideas, utopian philosophies, or reformed politics.  Christian hope is objectively focused on the person of Jesus Christ who has been revealed to us as the ‘grace of God,’ ‘the salvation of all people,’ and our ‘blessed hope.’  Hope in anything else will not give us what we are looking for…”

            Nearly two centuries ago Edward Mote put it this way: “On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.”  May you find your hope to be sufficient today.


Git outta here!

August 19, 2014
I saw a homemade video last week from a woman who was trying to get rid of her cat.  The ad was about 4 minutes in length, and she was offering her cat FREE to a good home.  She explained about how the cat’s shots were up to date, how much food she had on hand that she would include in the deal, cat toys, etc.  She mentioned how friendly and playful and affectionate the cat is. Her reason for giving the cat away (she mentioned several times that this was a FREE cat with no strings attached), is that she works and travels so much that she is hardly ever home, and that this is not fair to the at.

All the while during the video, the cat would not leave her alone.  It constantly jumped up in her face, pawed at her face and clothes, and I suppose was trying to play with her.  She became more and more agitated throughout the clip, shoving the cat away (stop!), tossing the cat off the couch (leave me alone!), shaking her finger with instructions to the cat, getting in its face and scolding it – and at one point she must have forgotten she was filming a she swatted the cat and growled, “I’m so tired of you! Get away from me!”  Then she continued,  “he really is a sweet cat and loves people…”

But that is nothing compared to those Russian guys who were trying to figure out how to get rid of their 2 dogs.  Their solution?  They launched both dogs via satellite into the earth’s orbit back in 1960.  I guess they took care of that!

Seriously, don’t you wish it was that simple to get rid of nagging habits or sins that hang around and keep you agitated?  Yes, I know that God’s forgiveness is as simple as praying with a sincere and repentant heart.  But the ol’ devil has a way of creating some lingering after effects, such as doubt, guilt, shame, and temptation to repeat our offenses.  We KNOW God has taken care of it, but Satan keeps reminding us of how pathetic and weak we are.

Let’s be encouraged today in Paul’s words to the Romans: Therefore, there is NOW no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of Life has made us free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do…God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be met fully in us, who live not according to the sinful nature but according tot he Spirit. Thank you Lord Jesus!

“C” Words We Try to Avoid

May 9, 2014

by Steven J. Callis

I attended the memorial service of a lifelong friend last week. What he thought to be severe sinus, then a wisdom tooth problem, then TMJ, turned out to be cancer in the neck and throat. He would have preferred dental surgery over chemo and radiation, for sure. The battle lasted less than a year.

Cancer is a cruel enemy. It likes to be in charge. It demands its own way. It gives no thought to setting its own time schedule and ignoring one’s priorities. It is painful and debilitating. It refuses to succumb even to the pleas of the wealthy and healthy and powerful and beautiful. It cares nothing for age, gender, ethnicity, education, or politics. It is a friend to no one.

Commitment is another “C” word many people like to avoid. It, too, is very demanding. It insists on being number one. It expects to be permanent; to be written in stone. It has no room for slackers and half-hearts. Like cancer, it will not be compromised by age, gender, ethnicity, education, or politics. It will not give in to the rich and powerful. From the least to the greatest of those who choose it, commitment demands absolute loyalty.

My friend is an example of what these words can do to a person. He did not choose cancer, it chose him. In its normal fashion, cancer turned his world upside down and did a number on him physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It is a disease that cannot seem to help itself. Yet, its havoc-wreaking attack did not cause complete devastation. That was its goal, but it failed.

For in the midst of this intense battle, priorities of life were examined and commitments were evaluated. Despite all the bad it caused, the battle led my friend to a place where his faith in Christ and his love for others were solidified. Oh, he had faith, and he had friends and family, but these changes in his life circumstances made his focus more about others and less about self. His Cancer became a Catalyst for Complete Commitment.

We would expect a bleak prognosis such as untreatable cancer to send its victim into a frightening, dangerous, downward spiral of emotions and energy. Not so for my friend and others who become motivated to settle their debates and unanswered questions. His newfound commitments gave him a peace, a positive outlook, and a heart for those around him.

Cancer is not the key to that equation. Commitment is the key. It is a “C” word that will be your friend and take you to the better places of life when you give yourself to it. That is especially true when your highest commitment is to your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Eyes 2 See

January 22, 2014

It’s kinda funny, in a way, the things we see.  A friend recently posted a picture of an interesting building and quizzed his readers, “Do you know where I’m at?”  The responses were varied, and some were quite humorous.  Amazingly, several responders correctly identified the location.

But my very first reaction to the question, “Do you know where I’m at?” was, “English 101!”  There were a couple of other comments about that grammatical structure of the question.  My actual post to the question was, “No, but keep looking around.  You’ll recognize something familiar eventually!”

Another somewhat comical answer was, “Behind a dirty window!”  There appeared to be some kind of haze in the picture, and may well have been taken from indoors.

Well, some of us saw the question.  Others saw the quality of the photo.  Still others, the majority, saw the building in the photo, and made their guess accordingly.  Yes, it’s kinda funny, sometimes, what we see.

The challenging story in the Bible of the man named Job comes to a close with his awesome declaration:  My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. (42:5)

A personal experience with the Living God changes our perspective; our worldview, our understanding of faith and religion, our acceptance of others, and a true picture of ourselves.  It is one thing to be religious, but quite another to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.  In Him, we go from hearing to seeing; from knowing about Him to knowing and experiencing Him.

Paul Baloche penned these lyrics which shout out my daily desire: Open the eyes of my heart Lord, open the eyes of my heart; I want to see You, I want to see You!

Aggression CAN Be Good

January 14, 2014

I conducted a quick, simple test a couple of days ago by entering the single word “aggressive” in my web browser.  With only two exceptions, the results pointed to something negative, such as how to handle an aggressive animal.  Many of the suggested articles either changed my search to “assertive” or compared the two terms.  I ran the same test for images, and without exception, the pictures were of mean or mad looking animals and people.  This certainly follows our society’s idea about aggression – assertion is okay, aggression is bad.

I have enjoyed watching the bowl games this year, and now we’re ready for the NFL playoffs.  I can just hear the coach before the game talking to his players, “Okay men, let’s go out there and be assertive!”  No, he wants his players to be aggressive on the football field; play to win.  And I believe Jesus has called us to an aggressive faith when He commanded us to go into all the world and make disciples.

The fisherman will have little success if he sits casually in his boat waiting for his trophy to leap into the bucket.  Instead, he uses many kinds of lures, fish finders, depth finders, rods and reels, time, and energy.  He is aggressive in his quest for a trophy catch.

Why not challenge ourselves to be aggressive in 2014.  Live an aggressive faith.  Practice aggressive outreach.  Be an aggressive witness for Christ.  It is not God’s will that anyone perish, but that all come to repentance; yet, how much longer will He wait?  Will we be desperate, deliberate, and aggressive for Christ?

Stabilizing Faith

January 24, 2013

The Role Faith Plays

by Steven J. Callis


It has been said that people grow wiser with age.  On the other hand, I have also heard that the wealth of my knowledge decreases in direct proportion with the aging of my children – I felt smarter when they thought their dad knew everything!  Is it possible that both of these statements possess a ring of truth?

Wisdom is often equated with knowledge, but that is a misnomer.  Knowledge has to do with acquiring information, while wisdom is related more to the application of acquired information.

As an elementary student, I had little difficulty knowing that 2 + 3 = 5.  To help me apply that knowledge, there were “story problems.”  If Billy’s dad gave him 2 apples, and he gave Billy’s sister 3 apples, how many apples did Billy’s dad give away?  At this point, I did not care how many apples Billy’s dad gave; I wanted to know why Billy got the short end of the deal!

You may be relieved to know that, eventually, I got over it and learned how to apply that knowledge to every day life situations (but I still have a soft spot in my heart for Billy).  Something else I have discovered is that maturity has not lessened my knowledge, but it has increased my awareness of how much I do not know or understand.

Somewhat early in my life I readily accepted the fact that a small pebble thrown into a pond would sink, and that a large ship sailing on the ocean would float.  Later in life, however, logic caused me to question how something that weighed 1 ounce would not float, but something weighing 100,000 tons could sail across the ocean on the surface of the water.

The stabilizing factor that has been present throughout the years of tension between knowledge and wisdom is faith.  My first airplane ride was at the age of 3 or 4.  I don’t remember much about that short flight, accept that it was a twin propeller engine, and it made my ears hurt.  Flying in an aircraft as an adult, however, is an experience that increases my blood pressure and anxiety level.  Based on my own personal knowledge and understanding, there is no way a 187,000 pound aircraft can remain suspended in midair for an extended period of time without falling.

Experience and faith, however, teach me that it can, it has, it does, and it will.  With maturity I have come to accept that what I do not understand far exceeds that which I do understand.  For that reason, faith looms large in the picture of my life.

There is an entire chapter in the Bible about people who did extraordinary things, and faith was their motivation.  The apostle Paul wrote these words, “…for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him until that Day.”  Life is not finally about what we know or what we understand, but where we place our trust.  I choose to trust in God.

I Caught Them All

September 13, 2012

I Caught Them All
by Steven J. Callis

It’s a proud moment for every dad. All three of my children came to the moment in their own respective time, and it was very special each time it happened. I’ve watched other dads enjoy the same kind of moment. What I have discovered over my years of observance is that success is very important to the man standing waist deep in water awaiting that proud moment when his son or daughter gives caution to the wind and leaps with gusto from the side of the pool into his open arms. Success!
I’m not so certain my kids jumped with gusto – probably more with fear and trembling, anxious to end this terrifying ordeal – but they did jump. Interestingly, at home they were like jumping beans! “Kids, stop jumping on the bed.” “Son, don’t jump off the couch, you could get hurt.” “Hey, you kids stop bouncing around in the backseat of the car.”
Then the moment arrives, rules go out the window, and Dad has changed his mind about jumping. But now that he has decided that it’s okay to jump, the kids don’t want to anymore! And it seems that the more dad urges, the more attention is drawn from the bystanders (and byswimmers), which makes the event even more intimidating.
So, why is this moment so important? What difference does it make in the larger scheme of life if junior can or cannot jump off the side of the swimming pool? For me, the significance is in the promise, stated right there in front of God and everybody: “I’ll catch you!” They want to believe me, they really do, but what happens if I don’t make the catch? At this point in their lives, they have not become fully convinced that dad can do absolutely anything. That confidence comes a little later, and seems to be outgrown much too quickly!
What was I saying? I wanted them to know they could count on me to be there when they hit the water. I wanted them to understand that I would do everything in my power to keep them from danger once their feet left the cement. I am glad to say that all three of my kids jumped, and I went three for three in the kid-catching event. Of course, once successful, they needed to jump another 20 or 100 times that day, and I was always there to catch them until they assured me they could do it on their own.
That lesson was not primarily about jumping into a swimming pool. It was a simple lesson that I desired to convey to them about all of life. “You can count on me to be there; I’ll do everything I can to keep you from danger. And sometimes in life, you are going to have to jump. It may be frightening or intimidating, but there are times that staying on the side of the pool is not an option.”
Not only is it my desire and intention to be there for my children, but also to teach them that there is Another One who watches over them with Fatherly care, protection, and provision. Jesus himself declared, “Don’t be anxious about anything. Your heavenly Father will take care of you.” All we have to do is believe and trust Him.