Archive for November, 2009

Jesus: Enriching Every Sphere

November 30, 2009

Socrates taught for 40 years, Plato for 50, Aristotle for 40, and jesus for only 3. Yet the influence of Christ’s 3-year ministry infinitely transcends the impact left by the combined 130 years of teaching from these men who were among the greatest philosophers of all antiquity. Jesus painted no pictures; yet, some of the finest paintings of Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci received their inspiration from Him. Jesus wrote no poetry; but Dante, Milton, and scores of the world’s greatest poets were inspired by Him. Jesus composed no music; still Haydn, Handel, Beethoven, Bach, and Mendelssohn reached their highest perfection of melody in the hymns, symphonies, and oratories they composed in His praise. Every sphere of human greatness has been enriched by this humble Carpenter of Nazareth.

Source: Henry G. Bosch, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations Signs of The Times

Contributed by: Ron Newton

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Humility and the Ax

November 30, 2009

Dr. Samuel Brengle (Salvation Army) said, “The axe cannot boast of the trees it has cut down. It could do nothing but for the woodsman. He made it, he sharpened it, he used it. The moment he throws it aside, it becomes only old iron. O that I may never lose sight of this.”

Contributed by: Troy Mason

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The LORD is my Shepherd

November 28, 2009

A.W. Tozer, The Divine Conquest: “While few would dare thus to voice their secret feelings, there are millions who have imbibed the notion that they hold in their hands the keys of heaven and hell. …Man is made large and God small; How deeply do men err who conceive of God as subject to our human will or as standing respectfully to wait upon our human pleasure. Though He in condescending love may seem to place Himself at our disposal, yet never for the least division of a moment does He abdicate His throne or void His right as Lord of man and nature. He is that Majesty on high. To Him all angels cry aloud, the heavens and all the powers therein: … heaven and earth are full of the majesty of thy glory. … before Him prophet and Patriarch and saint have knelt in breathless awe and adoration. Our God has now become our servant to wait on our will. ‘The Lord is my SHEPHERD,’ we say, instead of ‘The LORD is my shepherd,’ and the difference is as wide as the world.”

Contributed by: Brad Bailey

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He Can See Me Now

November 27, 2009

I want to share a story with you in closing. It’s a story I heard several years ago about a high school football player. I don’t know his name, or what number he wore on his uniform or anything like that. All I know is that this kid wasn’t really that great of an athlete. He played on the kickoff team, and was a second string linebacker but hardly ever played unless his team got way ahead. Even though this young man didn’t get to play very much, his dad was always in the stands to support him and cheer him on.

When it came time for his last home game, the last game of his senior year he stormed into the coaches’ office with a sense of urgency about him.

He said, “Coach, you’ve got to let me start tonight, please coach, please let me start tonight!” The coach said, “I know you’re a senior but I can’t make any promises. This is an important game, a game we’ve got to win if we are going to make the playoffs.”

But the young man begged and pleaded with the coach until finally right before the game started the coach said, “Okay, I’ll let you play the first series.”

The young man was so excited. He couldn’t wait to get out onto the field. When it finally came time for the defensive team to take the field, he was the first one in the huddle.

The first play from scrimmage the opposing quarterback handed the ball off to the fullback, but to everyone’s surprise this second string linebacker who hardly ever played nailed him in the backfield for a 5 yard loss.

On the next play from scrimmage, the quarterback went back to pass and the same young linebacker blitzed and sacked the quarterback for another 5 yard loss. The young man played with reckless abandon, like a man on a mission. In fact he played so well, the coach let him play the entire game. He ended up with over 20 tackles.

At the end of the game as he was running off the field, the coach grabbed him by the helmet and he said, “Son, what in the world got into you tonight? That’s one of the greatest games I’ve ever seen a high school linebacker play. I don’t get it. What happened?”

He said, “Well, coach, you know my dad has always supported me by coming to all of my games and cheering me on even though he’s blind.”

The coach said, “Yeah, I know who your dad is, and I know he’s blind, but what’s that got to do with the way you played tonight?”

Then the young man said, “Well, you see Coach, my dad died last night and I know that He is in Heaven tonight, and that this is the first game he’s ever been able to see me play. That’s why I had to play. I was playing for him, and that made all the difference in the world.”

Contributed by: Matthew Sickling

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The Turtle on the Fence Post

November 26, 2009

Alex Haley, the author of Roots, had an unusual picture hanging on his office wall. It was a picture of a turtle on top of a fence post. When asked, “Why is that there?” Alex Haley answered, “Every time I write something significant, every time I read my words and think that they are wonderful and begin to feel proud of myself, I look at the turtle on top of the fence post and remember that he didn’t get there on his own. He had help.”

That is the basis of thankfulness—to remember that we got here with the help of God and that He is the provider of every blessing we have.

Source: Melvin Newland, Minister, Central Christian Church, Brownsville, TX.

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No Place for Pain

November 25, 2009

In his sermon on dealing with trials, Nashville pastor Byron Yawn points out: “For most, especially American Christians, even the remotest suggestion that there could be value in our suffering is viewed as uncaring and insensitive. We have been conditioned by our culture to believe the opposite. A collective attitude that exalts comfort and views personal happiness as the end of all things has blurred our perspective. There is no place for pain in American Christianity.

“Because of this distorted perception, we rarely stop to search for the ‘hand of God’ in the midst of our trouble. Seeking to understand God’s purposes in our pain is all but foreign. As a result, embracing pain’s role in our sanctification is usually the farthest thing from our minds. As one so aptly put it, ‘Most people count it all joy when they escape trials. James said to count it all joy in the midst of trials.’ We need to come to grips with a significant truth: God’s will is not our happiness, but His Glory. The two may, or may not, be directly related.”

Source: PreachingNow Vol. 1, No. 20. Tue 9/3/2002.

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Reaching the Heavens

November 24, 2009

It is difficult to say. If we take an elevator to the top of the Sears tower, or climb a mountain we may find ourselves engulfed by clouds. Have we reached the heavens? We still have a fundamental attachment to the earth. We feel the height we have reached, but we are aware that there is much more above us.

If we fly in an airplane or a jet, we may find ourselves above the clouds with nothing but blue sky above us on an overcast day. Have we reached the heavens? We are sometimes frighteningly aware that we still have a fundamental attachment to the earth. We may not have bedrock under our feet, but gravity still tugs at us and turbulence reminds us that it is a long way down, but we would reach it faster than we want to.

If we fly in the space shuttle or the International Space Station, have we reached the heavens? At 250 miles above the surface of the earth, we are outside the atmosphere completely and the tug of gravity is almost negligible. But even though we have no physical attachment to the earth, we continue to have a dependency. The air we breath and all the food and water we take in are gifts from the world below. If we tried to sever our ties with the ground, we would not fall to our death, but it would come just as certainly.

What about the Apollo astronauts, did they reach the heavens? Going 100 times further than the space shuttle flies, they went higher than any human has ever gone. Only to reach another place where they stood on the solid ground and looked up into the heavens.

Contributed by: Timothy Darling

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In the Power of the Spirit

November 23, 2009

As a young man, Oswald Chambers, who wrote the materials that became My Utmost For His Highest, battled a persistent sense of barrenness in his Christian life. He finally wrote: “I was getting desperate. I knew no one who had what I wanted; in fact I did not know what I did want. But I knew that if what I had was all the Christianity there was, the thing was a fraud.

“At a little meeting in Dunoon, a well-known lady was asked to take the after-meeting. She did not speak, but set us to prayer, and then sang, ‘Touch me again, Lord.’ I felt nothing, but I knew emphatically my time had come. I rose to my feet. Then and there, I claimed the gift of the Holy Spirit in dogged committal on Luke 11:13. I had no vision of heaven or of angels; I had nothing. I was as dry and empty as ever, no power or realization of God, no witness of the Holy Spirit. Then I was asked to speak to a meeting, and forty souls came out to the front!

I came to realize that God intended me, having asked, to simply take it by faith, and that power would be there. I might see it only by the backward look, but I was to reckon on the fact that God would be with me.”

From that point on, Oswald Chambers ministered with extraordinary power. His words and writings touched people around the world, especially when he taught, as he frequently did, from his favorite verse, Luke 11:13. And when Oswald died at an early age in Egypt during World War I, an old Australian soldier whom he had led to Christ had a Bible carved in stone for his grave. Its pages were tuned to Luke 11:13.

Contributed by: A. Todd Coget

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No Rear to the Battle

November 23, 2009

During the Civil War a Union soldier from Ohio was shot in the arm. His captain saw he was wounded and barked out an order, “Gimme your gun, Private, and get to the rear!”

The private handed over his rifle and ran toward the north, seeking safety. But after gong only about two or three hundred yards, he came upon another skirmish. So he ran to the east, and found himself in another part of the battle. Then he ran west, but encountered more fighting there. Finally, he ran back to the front lines shouting, “Gimme back my rifle, Cap’n. There ain’t no rear to this battle nowhere!”

Source: 1001 Humorous Illustrations for Public Speaking, Michael Hodgin, p. 364

Contributed by: A. Todd Coget

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To Rock the Boat

November 21, 2009

Survivor Eva Hart remembers the night, April 15, 1912, on which the Titanic plunged 12,000 feet to the Atlantic floor, some two hours and forty minutes after an iceberg tore a 300-foot gash in the starboard side: “I saw all the horror of its sinking, and I heard, even more dreadful, the cries of drowning people.” Although twenty life-boats and rafts were launched—too few and only partly filled—most of the passengers ended up struggling in the icy seas while those in the boats waited a safe distance away. Lifeboat No. 14 did row back to the scene after the unsinkable ship slipped from sight at 2:20 A.M. Alone, it chased cries in the darkness, seeking and saving a precious few. Incredibly, no other boat joined it. Some were already overloaded, but in virtually every other boat, those already saved rowed their half-filled boats aimlessly in the night, listening to the cries of the lost. Each feared a crush of unknown swimmers would cling to their craft, eventually swamping it.

“I came to seek and to save the lost,” our Savior said. And he commissioned us to do the same. But we face a large obstacle: fear. While people drown in the treacherous waters around us, we are tempted to stay dry and make certain no one rocks the boat.

Contributed by: Ryan Johnson

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