I was trying to find something to write about a few years ago and was completely stumped. Hoping to distract myself into a state of concentration, I picked up a penny and turned it over and over.
I asked myself what messages that small coin might give me.The following is the lessons I learned:
is round. I am not sure what the significance of that is except that we
tend to make our coins round in this country. I could make more of it,
but I am focusing on the obvious.
I do need to be more well rounded in my life.
reminds us that we as a people, for the most part, trust in God - or
like to tell people that we do. This, the smallest of coins, calls me
to the greatest of faith.
As Kipling said of his nation, puffed up with power:
"If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe--
Such boasting as the Gentiles use
Or lesser breeds without the law--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!"
It tells us that we as a people value liberty.
At the heart of our national love of liberty is a free enterprise system.
sad, that we are tempted to sacrifice liberty for expediency and
safety. Inconvenience for the greater good is expected. To accept long
lines for the well being of all is a virtue. However, we must be
vigilant to guard our freedom and remember the words of Patrick Henry,
proclaimed in my own hometown of Richmond,
"I know not what course the others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death."
Men and women have been willing to die for it and have died for it. let us never take it lightly.
As you build your own businesses, you are also fighting for freedom.
penny reminds us of the nobility of character of a man like Abraham
Lincoln who failed many times on his road to success, but kept getting
up again until he, the most unlikely of candidates came to the place of
leadership where he would steer this nation through one of its greatest
Whitman called him, "Oh Captain, my Captain ... fallen cold and dead."
legacy tells us that greatness can come from humble beginnings and that
great trials, both internal torment and circumstantial heartache can
fashion great people.
And Lincoln on the coin reminds me to never take myself too seriously. He could laugh and make others laugh.
"A Merry Heart Doeth Good Like a Medicine." - Proverbs 15:13
could be more humble and insignificant than a tiny penny? yet it is
intricate and beautiful and pennies accumulate. Some people do not
value small things, but have you ever been just a penny short?
"Do not despise the day of small beginnings." (Zechariah 4:10)
Everything magnificent starts off small.
In certain markets, a once cent fluctuation can make a huge difference in the economy.
On the back of the penny is spelled out, "One Cent." That means it is one part of one hundred cents that add up to a dollar.
is a part of something else. You are a part of something greater than
yourself. We are made for community and collaboration. It is American
and it is universal.
Every cent counts. Believe me, they count them at the bank.
If you keep your penny, you will never be broke - not flat broke anyway.
Ben Franklin said, "A penny saved is a penny earned."
Lincoln Memorial is on the back and I remember the words of a speech I
learned as youngster that are inscribed there: The Gettysburg Address.
My great grandfather was there at Gettysburg where so many died, that
"government of the people, by the people, and for the people" would not
perish from the earth.
Out nation was founded, as Lincoln said, "dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
took a civil war to solidify that idea and prepare the way for it to be
institutionalized at the next level where slavery simply could not be
There is slavery in the world today and we cannot tolerate it.
are indignities and cruelties perpetrated on men, women, and children
made in the image of God. My little penny tells me that I must care and
I must do what I can to stop it and help make the world a better place
for all humanity.
My great grandfather was fighting on the
wrong side of that tragic war, but Lincoln's legacy and the resilience
of the American ideal healed the nation and we are one people once more
with one currency and one great dream.
Lincoln was prepared to
forgive the South and treat her people generously. While those who came
to power after his death were not as open handed as him, they did bring
the nation together again.
This penny reminds me that there are
stronger things than our many differences, that America is greater than
her partisan politics, and that we can heal if we focus on what we
share in common.
We are diverse and in that diversity is our
strength because it forces us to focus on what is truly at the core of
our nation's identity. We unify, not around peripheral concerns, but
around core values. The message on the penny brings us back to what the
great American experiment in representative government and
self-determination was and is all about.
That penny represents opportunity and everyone has an opportunity for success. You can play the game and win.
And we will need some of your pennies for the common good. You know that; April 15 is much to recent.
"E Pluribus Unum," it declares, out of many, one.
These are the words from our national seal of which it has been said,
center section of their shield has six symbols for "the Countries from
which these States have been peopled:" the rose (England), thistle
(Scotland), harp (Ireland), fleur-de-lis (France), lion (Holland), and
an imperial two-headed eagle (Germany)."
We come from so many
backgrounds, cultures, languages, nations, and families. We are also
representative of many regions of this country with varying customs,
dialects, and histories. Yet, we are one people, one nation under God.
penny was once made of copper and now of a mixture of metals that mean
nothing to me except that I find the penny to be the most beautiful and
appealing of coins because of its bronze color.
It is still one cent, no matter what it is made of.
Emblazoned across the top of the second side of the coin, we read, "Untitled States of America."
We are states with powers that are sovereign in their spheres.
are united so that we surrender some of those powers for the sake of
the whole and for the possibility of interstate commerce.
here we are on the Internet because people can do together what no one can do alone.
If you are in a home based business, it is likely that you are in that business "for yourself, but not by yourself."
are "of America" which means that a guy named Americo Vespucci did a
very good job of creating a map of a new and largely unexplored
continent and that our forefathers put aside their fears and
apprehensions to come and explore it.
We are still explorers charting new courses and embarking on adventures into the realm of success and significance.
I can look at this penny and know when it was minted - 1978, and where - Denver.
know where I was in 1978, finishing up my 6th year of college, married
since 1975, pastoring two small churches in western Virginia, and still
swelling with pride in America in the afterglow of the Bicentennial
celebration of 1976. In fact, cyclists were still stopping at our
little church along the Bicentennial Trail to rest and refresh
It was a great time in our nation's history.
1978, I was preparing to come to California in 1979, but I did not know
it at the time. I would move from one coast of this nation to the next
and I would need every penny I could find and that God's people would
generously bestow upon me to make it.
Here, at the Western edge
of our Continent, I have planted my life and ministry and worked on my
American Dream alongside my wife of nearly 32 years. We have raised two
sons and are helping to raise two wonderful grandsons.
to teach them the value of a penny, to earn it honestly, invest it
wisely, give it generously, save it judiciously, and spend it frugally.
My wife is better at that than me.
I have only been to the
airport in Denver, but I know there is a Mint there and my penny came
into its present form there and was disbursed from there.
don't know where it went from there, how many times it has crossed this
land, whether or not it has traveled overseas, how many people have
lost it and how many have found it.
It has traveled, as have
you and your ancestors. Now you are here and the choices you make from
this moment forward will determine where you are going.
penny has been in many pockets, heard many stories, perhaps even been
carried into battle. It has used for good and most likely, for evil. It
has years of usefulness left as well.
It is faded, so it has not been pampered.
Oh the stories it could tell.
Oh the stories you can tell.
I told you, I had nothing to write about.
It is a good thing someone left a penny on my desk.
I can get all of that out of the tiniest coin in our economy ... and I
could go on much longer, how do you say that you have no story to tell?
are a person of great experiential wealth and intricately interwoven
complexity. You have a fascinating past and a wonderfully mysterious
Tell your story; fight for your liberty; be all that you were made to be.
All the best to you. You are truly a center of influence. God bless you today and always.