Got a Minute? On Golf and Gifts

Hi, friends in exile, got a minute?

A Baptist Pastor went golfing with his Catholic-priest friend. On the first green, the Catholic priest crossed himself and muttered a silent prayer and putted his ball into the hole in one stroke. Hole after hole, he did the same thing. He one-putted on every green for nine holes. Finally, when the Baptist pastor was walking to the clubhouse with the Catholic priest for a break before the back nine, he could contain himself no longer. He asked the priest, “If I said a prayer like you do every time before I putt, do you think it would help?” The priest said, “No, I don’t.” “Why not?” asked his Baptist friend. Answered the priest gently, “Because you don’t know how to putt.” Some issues are not theological.

Paul calls the Church “the body of Christ” and writes about spiritual gifts in Romans, chapter 12. He says that every follower of Jesus is gifted but not in the same way. To express the fullness of the visible presence of Jesus in the world (His “Body”), every member is needed, and not just on the golf course.

Smiley Mudd

Got a Minute? “The Fairest Flower in All the Land”

Hi, friends in exile, got a minute?

Proverbs, chapter 31, extols the blessing of a virtuous wife. I understand what the writer meant. I was attracted to my lovely wife some 47+ years ago because she was friendly, she was cute, and she laughed at my bad jokes and one-liners (a Hallmark movie giggle). She is still “the fairest flower in all the land”—among many other fair flowers, I might add. As she has grown more and more in the grace of God, she has cultivated an inner beauty that is compelling. I play second fiddle in her life, but only to God. She has put my needs and wants above her own more times than I can count. She is diligent in her pursuit of truth, reading through the Bible every year and praying consistently through a long list of family members, friends, and church family. She has a servant-spirit, a giving-spirit, a gift of hospitality that puts me to shame on a regular basis.

What an example of how to succeed as a wife and mother! You may think she has bad taste in men, but nobody’s perfect. 😊

Smiley Mudd

Got a Minute? Leslie Strobel and a Compelling Life

Hi, friends in exile, got a minute?

Lee Strobel is the author of such books as The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, and The Case for a Creator. In his first book, The Case for Christ, Strobel tells how he went from hardened anti-believer to true believer in Jesus Christ. One day, his wife walked in and announced that she had become a Christian. He rolled his eyes, and as he recalled, “braced for the worst, feeling like the victim of a bait-and-switch scam.” He thought she would go from the carefree woman he married into … a sexually repressed reincarnation of Mother Teresa.

“Instead, [he] was pleasantly surprised—even fascinated—by the fundamental changes in her character, her integrity, and her personal confidence.” He admits, “Eventually I wanted to get to the bottom of what was prompting these subtle but significant shifts in my wife’s attitudes, so I launched an all-out investigation into the facts surrounding the case for Christianity.”[1] The Apostle Peter says that genuine Christian character has the power to draw people to Christ (see 1 Peter 3).

Smiley Mudd


[1] Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Zondervan, 1998), p.14.

Got a Minute? Who Belongs to Whom?

Hi, friends in exile, got a minute?

The Gospel Herald once published this pointed story: “When little Wilhelmina was crowned queen of Holland, the happy child was too young to realize the gravity and importance of the occasion.She was overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of the festivities. As thousands cheered when they saw her, she wondered what it involved on her part. ‘Mama,’ she asked, ‘does this mean that all these people belong to me?’ Smiling, her mother shook her head and replied, ‘No, dear child, it means you belong to all these people!’”[1]

As a follower of Jesus, I have learned that greatness in the kingdom of God is not determined by power but by service. In other words, we find greatness in what has been called “downward mobility.” We develop the servant-life which Jesus modeled. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man [Himself] did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45, NIV).

Smiley Mudd


[1] I.S., an illustration database.

Got a Minute? Misreading Christian Marriage

Hi, friends in exile, got a minute?

In First Peter, the Apostle gives standard instructions to wives and husbands. The wives are supposed to submit to the family leadership of their husbands, and husbands are to know their wives well and treat them with respect “as fellow-heirs of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7, FJV). The usual modern objection to this teaching is that it does not affirm the wife as a fiercely independent woman in her own right, and it plays into the “patriarchy.”

This is a modern error in reading the entire story of the Christian revelation. For Jesus’ followers, the servant-life is the Christian life. The night before Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world, He gathered with His closest followers. They celebrated the Passover. At a key juncture, Jesus grabbed a towel and began to wash each of His disciples’ feet, a job usually reserved for the lowest house slave. He said, “I did this as an example to you.” As a later writer puts it: “Keep on serving one another through love” (Galatians 5:13, FJV), not competing for power.

Smiley Mudd

Got a Minute? An Argument from Omission

Hi, friends in exile, got a minute?

Over twenty years ago, Professor Paul Vitz of the State University of New York spent a career reviewing school textbooks, examining their presentation of values. After reviewing 40 social studies textbooks for grade 1-4, he said, “There was not one text reference to marriage as the foundation of the family. Indeed, neither the word ‘marriage’ nor ‘wedding’ occurred once in the 40 books! Further, it is relevant that neither the words ‘husband’ nor ‘wife occurred once in any of these books” aimed at children approximately ages 6-10.[1] I might add, the terms “man” and “woman” are now being called into question, by many of those (now) young adults who are in their 20s and 30s.

The foundation for the family for the followers of Jesus was laid in creation: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, NIV). Jesus affirmed this plan for marriage, which is meant to provide stability for the home and security for children.

Smiley Mudd


[1] Better Families bulletin from March of 1998.

Got a Minute? “Even When I’m with My Boo …”

Hi, friends in exile, got a minute?

My lovely wife and I watched an episode of The Voice the other evening. Two of the contestants sang a duet originally recorded by Nelly with Kelly Rowland. The song is called “Dilemma.” It’s about a woman, her man and son who move into a house down the street from Nelly. She begins to flirt with him. She says, “No matter what I do, all I think about is you/ Even when I’m with my boo, boy, you know I’m crazy over you.” He doesn’t want to fight over the woman, so he just bides his time waiting for an opportunity. The “boo,” well, he will just have to get over it when she bags him for the neighbor.

The “dilemma”? “Even when I’m with my boo, boy, you know I’m crazy over you.” A simple question here: can you trust such a feeling to last … say, until another boy down the street catches her eye? And what about that son who has to live with parents who are flying by the seat of their pants? God’s plan is better: get married, stay married, and like it!

Smiley Mudd

Got a Minute? Just Laying Bricks or Building a Great Cathedral?

Hi, friends in exile, got a minute?

Gordon MacDonald once wrote, “Among the legends is the tale of a medieval sidewalk superintendent who asked three stone masons on a construction project what they were doing. The first replied that he was laying bricks. The second described his work as that of building a wall. But it was the third laborer who demonstrated genuine esteem for his work when he said, ‘I am raising a great cathedral.’

“Pose that same question to any two fathers concerning their role in the family, and you are liable to get the same kind of contrast. The first may say, ‘I am supporting a family.’ But the second may see things differently and say, ‘I am raising children.’ The former looks at his job as putting bread on the table. But the latter sees things in God’s perspective: he is participating in the shaping of lives.”[1]

 Ephesians 6:4 gives this charge to parents: “Stop making your children angry but instead bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (FJV). In other words, see the bigger picture.

Smiley Mudd


[1] From The Effective Father, via Biblical Illustrator.

Got a Minute? Does Authority Get Any Worse?

Hi, friends in exile, got a minute?

When Peter wrote his short letters to ancient Christians, he sat under the ominous shadow of the crazed ruler who would one day crucify Peter upside down as a Christian leader.

Nero gained power in Rome through the murderous and adulterous plotting of his mother Agrippina. When he was first declared emperor, she still ruled from behind the scenes. He slept with many men and women, partied constantly, and would often prowl Rome at night harassing women, abusing boys, and occasionally killing passersby just for the perverted thrill of it. He finally had his mother Agrippina murdered when he was in his early 20s and she was 43. Four years after Rome burned (which he blamed on Christians), he was overthrown and committed suicide. The ancient historian Suetonius wrote, “The world would have been a happier place had Nero’s father not married that sort of wife.”[1]

Yet Peter called for submission to authority as a Christian duty. Honor the position, even if not the person, seems to be the right idea.

Smiley Mudd


[1] Malcolm Forbes, What Happened to Their Kids? (Simon and Schuster, 1990), p. 17.

Got a Minute? “What If …?”

Hi, friends in exile, got a minute?

Pastor Tony Cartledge told this story about one of his ancestors. “The year was 1770 … when a New Light missionary named Daniel Marshall left … South Carolina, and crossed … into Georgia,” where “it [was] illegal to preach any doctrine contrary to the Church of England,” but Marshall was determined. After some home visits, “he gathered a crowd and began a ‘brush arbor’ service near Kiokee Creek. At some point during the service, Marshall was arrested by a local constable, who charged him with the crime of preaching.”

Marshall began to share the Christian message with the constable and his posse. They listened and were converted to Christian faith. The constable’s name was probably Samuel Cartledge, Tony’s distant relative. Samuel eventually became a pastor, serving for 63 years. While on a preaching tour at age 93, he died when a horse threw him against a fence post. Asks Tony, “What if Daniel Marshall had regarded his stern captor as an enemy … too stubborn to receive the gospel?”[1]

Smiley Mudd


[1] Baptists Today, June 29, 1993, p. 15.