Never Lick A Frozen Flagpole

Never Lick A Frozen Flagpole

by Marvin Phillips


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416533399
Publisher: Howard Books
Publication date: 03/01/1999
Pages: 222
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Marvin Phillips is a member of the National Speakers Association and has appeared on the platform with Paul Harvey, Zig Ziglar, the late Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, and many others. He hosts the weekly TV program Peak of the Week from Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is seen in several Midwestern states and is the author of Never Lick a Frozen Flagpole!, and Never Lick a Moving Blender! Marvin and his wife, Dot, have three grown children — Alan, Mark, and Tammy — and eight fantastic grandchildren.

Read an Excerpt

Never Lick a Frozen Flagpole

Snow and ice covered the school grounds, but the sixth-grade class went outside for recess anyway. In Jean Shepherd’s delightful tale called A Christmas Story, Ralph and Flick and Swartz and four or five other students huddled in the cold, their conversation creating clouds of vapor in their midst. Surveying the frosty schoolyard, one of the boys remembered a warning he’d heard from his father. If you touch your tongue to a frozen flagpole, his dad had said, you could never get it loose. You’d be there for life.

Another boy chimed in that his father actually knew a man who had touched his tongue to a frosty railroad track. The fire department had to come and get him loose.

“That’s not so,” said Flick, scoffing at his friends’ stories.

All eyes darted from Flick to the school’s frost-covered flagpole as Swartz, defending his father’s integrity, hotly replied, “Then I dare you to do it!”

Daring is serious business to twelve-year-old boys.

Flick was tempted, but he didn’t move. Then Swartz double-dared him. And as every twelve-year-old boy knows, it is almost impossible to withstand a double-dare. Only one thing is worse . . .

“I triple-dog dare you!” Swartz shouted.

That was it! No one could resist a triple-dog dare. Flick stuck out his tongue and headed for the flagpole. He really didn’t want to do it. But how could he live with the guys if he backed down on a triple-dog dare? Throwing his chin up with a cocky air, he defiantly thrust his tongue against the frozen pole.

“Not so bad,” he started to say. But the words wouldn’t come out. And his tongue wouldn’t come off the pole.

The bell rang. Recess was over, and the kids ran for their classroom. Flick, still attached to the flagpole, screamed bloody murder—as best he could.

Back in class, Miss Shields spotted the empty seat. “Where’s Flick?” she asked.

No one could seem to remember just who Flick was. Finally she looked out the window. There stood poor little Flick with his tongue stuck fast to the flagpole. The fire department was hastily summoned. The police came, too, sirens screaming. The whole sixth-grade class watched from the window as the rescuers set the hapless boy free.

Flick returned to the classroom with his tongue bandaged. It would be at least a week before he could talk clearly.

Why Do We Lick the Frozen Flagpole?

We’ve all done stupid things. When we’re twelve years old, it’s often because of a dare. When we’re adults, our moments of stupidity may arise from simple curiosity. Or risk-taking. Or yielding to some temptation even though we know better.

Many of us do stupid things because of our inherent sinful nature, that part of us the apostle Paul described in his letter to the Romans. We constantly fight against the pull of this nature to violate the law of the God in whose image we’re made. When we lose the battle, we may find ourselves committing ridiculously foolhardy deeds or selfish and immoral acts.

But more often I believe it’s our inherent curiosity, rather than our sinful nature, that makes us want to lick the frozen flagpole. After all, God created us with imagination and an adventurous spirit (some more adventurous than others!). And these parts of our makeup have nothing to do with evil. They’re part of the marvelous zest for life we got at birth. And in these cases, licking that flagpole may seem stupid to others, but to us it’s more like a lesson in life. We’re curious. We try it. And we learn from the experience without killing ourselves or anyone else or losing too much blood.

Human curiosity is apparent from our earliest days on earth. Just think how youngsters are fascinated by a hot stove. Tell them, “No, don’t touch. Hot!” and they stand staring at it in curious wonder, drawn by its strange appeal. How hot? they wonder. Hot enough to melt my plastic horse? Hot enough to make the pages of my book turn black? Hot enough to . . . They want to touch it.

Later the same youngsters wonder what will happen if they shove the tweezers in the electrical outlet. They watch Superman movies and wonder what it’s like to fly. So they wrap a dishtowel around their necks, strip down to their Fruit of the Looms, and jump off the dining room table.

A few years later, as curious adolescents, they sneak out behind the barn and make cigarettes out of cedar bark wrapped in brown paper torn from a grocery sack. Or they somehow get possession of a cheap, fat cigar and light up. They don’t want to become nicotine-addicted smokers. They’re just curious, that’s all. And the cigar isn’t so bad at first. But ten minutes later, their stomachs are churning, and they’re running for Mama.

Then kids grow up and wonder what it’s like to jump out of an airplane, climb a mountain, or go scuba diving. They hitchhike around Europe or sail around the world. Sometimes curiosity leads folks to do things no one else can understand. They just seem like good ideas at the time. And later they give us memories that warm us and make us smile.

Here’s an example: You might be surprised to learn that I own a Honda Gold Wing motorcycle. I’m no Hell’s Angel, just a retired minister who enjoys roaring around curves doing fifty miles an hour at a forty-five degree angle, my hand on the throttle and the wind gliding over my helmet. It was curiosity that caused this glitch in my “normally normal” personality. I was thinking one day, I’ve seen the world. I’ve seen a good bit of America. But I haven’t seen my own state of Oklahoma. So I got out a state map and drew a line around the perimeter of the state, following the back roads. Riding my motorcycle, I stayed off the interstates and purred through the towns, seeing the sights and meeting the people. I took four days and three nights and drove 1,496 miles. What an experience! Pretty tame, I guess, compared with licking a frozen flagpole. But for me, it was quite a thrill.

I traveled a couple of times with the venerable Dr. Norman

Vincent Peale. He once told me, “Never think age! You’ll either say, ‘Oh, I’m too old for that’ (in which case you’ll miss out on a lot of life’s good things), or you’ll do all kinds of crazy things trying to look and act younger—and you’ll end up looking like a fool.”

The secret is to go with your spirit, he told me. Make the most of every day. Take a few chances now and then and put a little excitement and adventure in your life. When curiosity consumes you, go ahead. Lick the frozen flagpole if you must. It may hurt a little. But what fun you’ll have later in the telling!

We are made in our Father’s image; there is God in each of us (see Gen. 1:26). And that bit of immortality in our beings may be the source that sparks our curiosity, causing us to explore exciting new horizons in this marvelous world he created for us. Don’t wait till all the lights are green! Get out there and live right now, while a couple of them are still flashing yellow. Take some chances. Grab some dreams. Go back (or more accurately, step forward) and get that degree you almost finished. Write that book that’s been swirling around inside your head. Start your own business. Buy that sports car. Build that house. Take that dream vacation.

If I had my life to live over, I’d spend my money and my time a lot differently. I’d own more toys, take more chances, step out on more adventures. I’d love more deeply and freely.

Put Some Excitement in Your Spiritual Life

I can’t live my whole life over, but I can still live what’s left of it with a joyful attitude of enthusiasm. One of the ways I can add zest and excitement to my everyday existence is to add some adventures to my walk with God. Our relationship with the Father can be a spiritual skydive, a true mountaintop experience. After all, one of the most exciting verses of Scripture says,

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint. (Isa. 40:31)

My ministry has been an adventure! I began preaching at age seventeen. After serving a couple of churches in Texas and Arkansas, my family and I were called to Australia. Just imagine it! We left the States hardly knowing how we’d survive. But once we answered God’s call, the money and the sponsoring church just fell into place. What a thrilling thing God’s providence is!

Then, after seven years of this adventure in the “Land Down Under,” we were called to help start a new church in Tulsa,

Oklahoma, and we were there until I retired from that work after twenty-six years, eight months, and six days. We saw that congregation grow from ninety-one people to more than twelve hundred. Our highest attendance on a special day reached almost five thousand worshipers! We also began an annual International Soul-Winning Workshop that continues to this day, attracting more than twelve thousand people from all over the world to the Tulsa Fairgrounds for the yearly event.

Did I say I had retired? Well, don’t think that means I’ve quit working! I’ll never quit. God just transferred me to a different department. I now get to spend a month each year working in both Australia and South Africa. I do a weekly TV show, Peak of the Week Live! And I travel to churches and professional groups all over America participating in workshops and seminars.

Just God and Me

Through my work I’ve learned how exciting the spiritual life can be. It’s just God and me, out there on the cutting edge, one curious adventure after another. Just as I once wondered, What if we did a TV show, Lord? How could we do it? What would the format be? I can now feel curiosity leading me into other adventures of spreading the Gospel.

I’m like the guy who said, “I used to endure my Christianity; now I’m enjoying it!” And another who said, “I’m having a lot more fun on my way to heaven than I ever did on my way to hell!”

You don’t have to lick a frozen flagpole or respond to every triple-dog-dare that comes your way in order to live life with zest and enthusiasm. You don’t have to skinny dip in the baptistry. But there are spiritual adventures out there, waiting to be experienced and enjoyed. There are people out there aching to be saved. And I know just the Guy to take along as your partner through the passage. He’s got quite a history of adventures in his own right. And when it comes to loyalty, he’ll love you like a Father.

Go on and live! Go with God.

Table of Contents


1 Never Lick A Frozen Flagpole
2 Home Court Advantage
3 Don't Snap My Stick
4 Come before Winter
5 The Four Beats of a Healthy Heart
6 The Eye in the Sky
7 It's How You Play the Game
8 Rescue 911
9 Learn to Brake before You Break
10 How to Become a Classic instead of an Old Wreck
11 Learn to Succeed by Failing
12 Random Acts of Kindness; Senseless Deeds of Beauty
13 Get Out of the Kitchen
14 Life is a Termianl Disease
15 What Makes America Great?
16 Peace Be Still
17 A Real Hall of Famer
18 Whoever
20 How to Make a Difference
21 He Profits Most Who Serves Best
22 I've Got Friends in High Places
23 Oasis in the Desert
24 Choose to Believe
25 We'll Leave the Light On

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