Endurance produces character, and character produces hope. (Romans 5:4 NRSV)

In Stephen Covey's book, THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE, he notes that just as junk food and lack of exercise can ruin an athlete's condition, those things that are obscene, crude and pornographic can breed an inner darkness. He quotes the words of Dag Hammarskjold, "You cannot play with the animal in you without becoming wholly animal, play with falsehood without forfeiting your right to truth, play with cruelty without losing your sensitivity of mind. He who wants to keep his garden tidy doesn't reserve a plot for weeds."

It's sort of like something that happened when they were renovating the Queen Mary. This gracious old vessel was the largest ship to cross the oceans when it was launched in 1936. Through four decades and a World War this ocean liner served its owners well. Then it was retired to Long Beach, California where it is anchored as a floating hotel and museum.

During its conversion to its present status, its three massive smoke-stacks were taken off to be scraped down and repainted. But on the dock these massive pieces of steel crumbled. Actually that is not quite true. There was nothing left to crumble. Nothing was left of the 3/4 inch steel plate from which the stacks had been formed. All that remained were more than thirty coats of paint that had been applied over the years. The steel had rusted away.

That can happen to our character, unless we allow Christ to be alive in our hearts everyday.

Dear God, like a mother who holds her baby, hold me close to you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Ron Newhouse

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