Lion Taming and Multi-Tasking

May 31, 2010

William H. Hinson tells us why animal trainers carry a stool when they go into a cage of lions. They have their whips, of course, and their pistols are at their sides. But invariably they also carry a stool. Hinson says it is the most important tool of the trainer. He holds the stool by the back and thrusts the legs toward the face of the wild animal. Those who know maintain that the animal tries to focus on all four legs at once. In the attempt to focus on all four, a kind of paralysis overwhelms the animal, and it becomes tame, weak, and disabled because its attention is fragmented.

Source: Developing the Leader Within You, by John Maxwell.

Contributed by: Darren Ethier

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What Does God’s Voice Sound Like?

May 29, 2010

Erwin McManus, a pastor in Los Angeles, tells a great story about recognizing God’s voice.

My son, Aaron, was five or six when he began asking me, “What does God’s voice sound like?” I didn’t know how to answer.

A few years later, Aaron went off to his first junior high camp. In the middle of the week, I went up with another pastor at Mosaic to see our kids. Aaron, I learned, had started to assault another kid but had been held back by his friends. He was unrepentant, wanted to leave camp, pulled together his stuff, and shoved it into the car.

I asked him for a last talk with me before we drove away. We sat on two large rocks in the middle of the woods. “Aaron,” I asked, “is there any voice inside you telling you what you should do?”

“Yes,” he nodded.

“What’s the voice telling you?”

“That I should stay and work it out.”

“Can you identify that voice?”

“Yes,” he said immediately. “It’s God.”

It was the moment I’d waited for.

“Aaron,” I said, “do you realize what just happened? You heard God’s voice. He spoke to you from within your soul. Forget everything else that’s happened. God spoke to you, and you were able to recognize Him.”

I will never forget Aaron’s response: “Well, I’m still not doing what God said.”

I explained to him that that was his choice, but this is what would happen. If he rejected the voice of God coming from deep within and chose to disobey His guidance, his heart would become hardened, and his ears would become dull. If he continued on this path, there would be a day when he would never again hear the voice of God. There would come a day when he would deny that God even speaks or has ever spoken to him.

But if he treasures God’s voice, however it comes to him—through the scriptures, through his conscience—and responds to Him with obedience, then his heart would be softened, and his ears would always be able to hear the whisper of God into his soul.

Aaron chose to stay, I’m grateful to say. If he had chosen differently, he would have begun the path toward nominal discipleship. Perhaps he never would have rejected the faith overtly. He might have even chosen to be a faithful attendee at a church and been by everyone else’s estimation a good man, but he would no longer be a close Jesus-follower.

Contributor: Anne Benefield

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So Personal

May 28, 2010

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in 1982. In the first 15 years, 54,000 items were left at the Wall. It still takes almost an hour every night, [and much longer on Memorial Day,] to collect all the mementos-a teddy bear, a photo of a soldier’s grandchild, a letter from a daughter who never knew her dad.

Every item is labeled and taken to a warehouse. No one knows quite how to deal with it all. “No one ever expected this to happen,” a park ranger says. “It’s so personal. It caught everyone by surprise.”

Loss comes to us all, and we often carry our grief for many years. We struggle with our emotions. Is there a place where we can leave our sorrows and find healing for the wounds of life?

The Messiah is the One who has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.

Source: From a sermon by Dennis Davidson, “Punished for You and Me” 7/14/08.

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Clinker Bricks

May 27, 2010

Although at times it seems as though the church is in ruin and rubble, God sees it as a beautiful building.

Clinker bricks are bricks that did not quite make it. For some reason or another, they come out of the kiln misshapen or deformed. I read about a Presbyterian Church in New York State that was intentionally built of clinker bricks. Apparently, the congregation wanted to send a message, so they build their church of imperfect, rejected bricks. (“Clinker Bricks and Ebenezers,” May 2, 1999, Exeter Congregational United Church of Christ Web Site, users.rcn.com.) The message is that we are all clinker bricks, we are sinners, we are imperfect people full of follies and foibles, but through Christ we become living stones in his church.

We do not become living stones because we are so great. It is Christ who is great. We are connected into his church through him.

Source: From a sermon by Larry Wise, Precious In His Sight, 2/24/2010

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The Pleasure Explosion

May 26, 2010

What someone has called the pleasure explosion has overtaken us so that in the United States alone the pleasure business has been growing at an average rate of 6 billion dollars a year since 1965. Thrills and chills are available on demand. Popular amusement parks offer themes and thrills of all sorts, including spectacular shows and breathtaking rides. And there are the video games, which rival TV itself, one of the most pervasive sources of amusement. One estimate is that 5 billion or more is spent in a single year on video games and that during a single year people play them for the equivalent of 75 thousand manned years. Over and above that something like an additional one billion dollars is spent annually on games that can be plugged in and played on television sets and computers in our homes.

There can be little doubt that we have become a generation addicted to pleasure, that this is a generation addicted to pleasure more than to the things of God. The United States probably has the greatest percentage of people going to church on a more or less regular basis. The spending habits of the American public make it quite evident that token attendance to religious duties is in no way allowed to interfere with most people’s pleasures.

One survey taken some years ago, that is still relatively valid today, showed that in one year Americans spent 16 billion dollars for amusements, 10.5 billion for alcohol, 5 billion for tobacco, 2 billion for travel, 325 million for cat and dog food, 304 million for chewing gum, and 76 million for lipstick. During the same period, the total given for foreign missions by all Protestant churches of the United States was said to be only 145 million dollars–less than half of what Americans spent on chewing gum. If these figures are only reasonably accurate, isn’t it evident to you and me now that people are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God?

Contributor: James O. Davis

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Pour Water Into Basket

May 25, 2010

A certain king needed a faithful servant and had to choose between two candidates for the office. He took both at fixed wages and told them to fill a basket with water from a nearby well, saying that he would come in the evening to inspect their work.

After dumping one or two buckets of water into the basket, one of the men said, “What is the good of doing this useless work? As soon as we pour the water in, it runs out the sides.”

The other answered, “But we have our wages, haven’t we? The use is the master’s business, not ours. He is a wise King, and must have his own purpose that we do not understand.”

“I’m not going to do such fool’s work,” replied the complainer. Throwing down his bucket, he went away.

The other man continued until he had drained the well. Looking down into it, he saw something shining at the bottom—it was a diamond ring.
“Now I see the use of pouring water into the basket!” he exclaimed. “If the bucket had brought up the ring before the well was dry, it would have been filtered out in the basket. The King was looking for his diamond. Our work was not useless.”

The King found his most faithful servant!

Contributed by: Christian Cheong

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He Still Loves Us

May 24, 2010

There is a strange power in the consciousness of being loved.

It is said that one of the most distinguished statesmen of the times of the American Revolution was once a hopeless drunkard. He had been engaged to a beautiful girl, but his indulgence had compelled her to break the engagement and sever herself from his influence, which was dragging her down.

She had not ceased to love him, or to pray for him. One day she was passing along a suburban road. She saw him lying intoxicated by the sidewalk, his face exposed to the broiling, blistering sun, and swollen with drink and exposure.

Her tender heart was moved, and, as she passed by, she took her handkerchief and gently spread it over his stupid, sleeping face. An hour or two later he awoke and saw the handkerchief and her name upon the corner of it.

He sprang to his feet, and a glad thrill of hope and courage came to his heart. “She loves me still,” he said. “All is not yet lost. For her sake, I will redeem my life.”

And he did…Oh, how much more power there is in the love of Christ to save lost men from despair, if they can only believe that He loves them!

Source: A. B. Simpson, The Alliance Weekly

Contributor: Bill Butsko

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No Room for Confusion

May 22, 2010

Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by US Air Force pilots and the replies from the maintenance crews.

Problem: “Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.”
Solution: “Almost replaced left inside main tire.”

Problem: “Test flight OK, except autoland very rough.”
Solution: “Autoland not installed on this aircraft.”

Problem #1: “#2 Propeller seeping prop fluid.”
Solution #1: “#2 Propeller seepage normal.”
Problem #2: “#1, #3, and #4 propellers lack normal seepage.”

Problem: “The autopilot doesn’t.”
Signed off: “IT DOES NOW.”

Problem: “Something loose in cockpit.”
Solution: “Something tightened in cockpit.”

Problem: “Evidence of hydraulic leak on right main landing gear.”
Solution: “Evidence removed.”

Problem: “Number three engine missing.”
Solution: “Engine found on right wing after brief search.”

Problem: “DME volume unbelievably loud.”
Solution: “Volume set to more believable level.”

Problem: IFF inoperative.
Solution: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.

Problem: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
Solution: That’s what they’re there for.

Where there is a lack of clarity there is always confusion and the potential for misunderstanding. Last week as we looked at the story of the rich young man coming to Jesus seeking eternal life we saw that there was no room for confusion as to what Jesus was seeking. There could be no mistaking Jesus call to him.

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Praying with Practice

May 21, 2010

Richard Dehaan tells of a soldier who was doing sentry duty on the front line in WWI. After being relieved of duty, as a Christian, he wanted to pray, to thank God for protecting him and to ask specifically for his continued protection. But the enemy lines were very close and he couldn’t go far, so he just walked a little ways from where he had been standing guard and began to pray aloud.

The sentry who replaced him heard his voice and thought he was speaking to someone in the enemy lines. So he reported him. The officer in charge said, “You’ve been accused of revealing secrets to the enemy. How do you respond?” The soldier said, “It’s not true.”

The officer replied, “Then what were you doing when you were standing out there facing the enemy and talking?” He said, “I was praying.”

“You were praying out loud?” “Yes, I was.” The officer said, “Show me. Pray right now.”

So the young man got down on his knees and prayed. When he finished the officer dismissed the charges. “Because,” he said, “nobody can pray like that unless they have been practicing.”

Contributed by Kenneth Squires, from a sermon by Melvin Newland, Pray With Thanksgiving, 12/20/2000

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Steps of Faith

May 20, 2010

When my oldest daughter was about five years old, we went to spend an afternoon at a river. Some of the adults decided to walk out to an island in the middle of the river. My daughter wanted to come out with me. I returned to shore and took her hand. She stepped into the water but held on tightly to a branch on the shore. She was afraid of the river, but wanted to go where I was going. I told her, “You must let go of the branch if you want to come.” She said that she was afraid that she would sink. “I have your hand. You won’t sink, and if you start to, I will lift you up.”

Fearfully, she let go of the branch. I knew the water was just over waist deep, and I guided her feet to each rock. When we began, she had no confidence, but she stepped on the rocks I guided her to. With each step, she gained more confidence until she was eagerly reaching for each stone, and soon we reached the middle.

I looked back and realized that this is exactly how God deals with me. Psalm 37: 23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way. 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand.

Contributor: Eddie Snipes

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