Listeners Must Act

May 19, 2010

The address is not given for the speaker’s sake, in order that men may praise or blame him. The listener’s repetition of it is what is aimed at. If the speaker has the responsibility for what he whispers, then the listener has an equally great responsibility not to fall short in his task.

In the theater, the play is staged before an audience who are called theatergoers, but at the devotional address, God himself is present. In the most earnest sense, God is the critical theatergoer, who looks to see how the lines are spoken and how they are listened to.

Hence, here the customary audience is wanting. The speaker then is the prompter, and the listener stands openly before God. The listener, if I may say so, is the actor, who in all truth acts before God.

Source: Soren Kierkegaard

Contributed by: Bobby Scobey

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Potatoes, Eggs, and Coffee

May 18, 2010

Once upon a time a daughter complained to her father that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it.

She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed.

Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Once the three pots began to boil, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot, and ground coffee beans in the third pot.

He then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to his daughter.

The daughter, moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing.

After twenty minutes he turned off the burners. He took the potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them a bowl. He then ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup.

Turning to her he asked. “Daughter, what do you see?”

“Potatoes, eggs, and coffee,” she hastily replied.

“Look closer”, he said, “and touch the potatoes.” She did and noted that they were soft.

He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face.

“Father, what does this mean?” she asked.

He then explained that the potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity – the boiling water. However, each one reacted differently.

The potato went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak.

The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard.

However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.

“Which are you?” he asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

In life, things happen around us, things happen to us, but the only thing that truly matters is what happens within us.

Contributed by: Mike Leiter

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The Music Pastor at Ben Franklin Middle School

May 17, 2010

Jack Martens is a fifty-six year old teacher who has spent 33 years teaching music at Ben Franklin Middle School in San Francisco.

“Over 50 percent of Martens’ students are from broken homes. The same number are on welfare. Nearly that many come from families where English is not the primary language. To that score, add the reality factor that funding for the arts has been all but cut off in Jack’s school district.”

He sees himself as Father Christmas bringing joy to girls and boys all year long. Jack’s ultimate desire is to help kids in his band see God’s love. Although Martens keeps a Bible and other Christian symbols on his desk, “it is his interaction with the kids that gives his witness a melody line.”

He eats lunch with them to give them a chance to talk through their problems at home with somebody. He stays after school to help with difficult fingerings with their instruments and difficult passages in life. Through the mechanics of music, he is able to communicate with disadvantaged and academically struggling students that they are capable of doing something beautiful with their lives.

Every December as the Band from Ben’s performs in the Nordstrom Plaza dressed in their nicely pressed white shirts, black slacks and skirts, it’s not only the Christmas shoppers that feel the spirit of the season. The kids in the band (who otherwise might be in a gang or in the juvenile detention center) feel the joy of God’s love incarnated through a man they love and respect.

Jack Martens “is a “minister” who marches to the beat of a different drummer. He is not ordained, has never been to seminary, and doesn’t preach from a pulpit. But he is a pastor nonetheless. Ask the over 10,000 students who have benefited from his ministry on the other side of a music stand.”

Source: From Mainstay Ministries’ Christmas series “The Christmas Touch: Making Christlike Connections during the Holidays.” Sample sermon for December 9, 2001.

Contributed by: Jim Kane

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What Do You Live For?

May 15, 2010

There’s an old story about St Augustine. Early on in his Christian life, he was intensely absorbed in the writings of Cicero. And around this time, he had a dream that he had died. And now he was standing at the pearly gates. And the keeper of the gate said, “Who are you?”

And he said, “I’m Augustine.”

Then the keeper said, “What are you?”

Augustine said, “I’m a Christian.”

The gatekeeper said, “No, you’re not a Christian. You’re a Ciceronian!”

Augustine said, “What are you talking about? I’m a Christian!”

And the gatekeeper said this: “All souls on earth are judged by what dominated their interests. In you, Augustine, it was not the Christ of the gospel. It was the Cicero of Roman literature. You are not a Christian. You cannot enter here!”

Augustine was so startled that when he woke up, he resolved then and there to be fully committed to Jesus Christ for the rest of his life. And to live for Him.

Contributed by: Marc Axelrod

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At Least One Follower

May 14, 2010

A father was filling out an application form for his daughter, who was seeking entrance to a very exclusive college. He came to the question on the form which asked whether the applicant was a leader. In honesty, he wrote, “No, but she is a good follower.”

The application was sent in, and a month later a letter arrived notifying him that his daughter had been accepted. At the bottom of the page, the dean had written, “Since the entering class of 500 has 499 leaders, we thought that there ought to be room for one follower.”

Contributed by: Dale Krueger

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Nowhere Else to Go

May 13, 2010

Dave Galloway told of a soldier who had just returned from Viet Nam. His parents were socialites, very well-to-do. It was near Christmas, and they were getting ready to go out to the first of the round of parties of the Christmas season.

Just then the phone rang, and it was their son on the phone. “Mom,” he said, “I’m back in the States.”

She said, “That’s wonderful! Where are you? Will you be home for Christmas? Can you get here in time for the parties? Everybody will just love to see you.”

He answered, “Yes, I can be home for Christmas, but I want to ask you something first.”

“What is it?” she asked.

“Well, I have a friend with me from Viet Nam. Can he come?”

“Oh, of course,” she answered. “Bring him along. He’ll enjoy the parties, too.”

“Wait a moment, Mom,” he said, “I need to explain something about him. He was terribly wounded, and lost both legs and one arm. His face is disfigured, too.”

There was silence on the phone for awhile. Then the mother said, “That’s all right. Bring him home for a few days.”

“No, mom, you don’t understand. He has nowhere to live. He has no one else. I want to bring him home and to let our home be his home.”

The mother was quiet again. Then she said, “Son, that just wouldn’t do. What you’re asking would be very unfair to us. Why, it would disrupt all our lives. I’m sure there are government agencies that would be more than glad to take charge of him. Look, just you hurry home for Christmas now, and then maybe you can visit him once in a while. Darling, I’m sorry, but we’ve got to rush or we’ll be late for the party. Call us again as soon as you know when you’ll be home. Goodbye.”

When the parents returned home from the party that night, there was an urgent message from the California police asking them to call. They telephoned, and the officer said, “I’m very sorry to have to call you, but we just found a young soldier dead in a motel room. His face is disfigured, and he has lost both legs and one arm. From the documents on him it would appear that he is your son.”

Contributed by: Melvin Newland

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Our Image of God

May 12, 2010

Brennan Manning said, “It is always true to some extent that we make our images of God. It is even truer that our image of God makes us. Eventually we become like the God we image.”

Contributed by: Mark Eberly

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Which Way You Went

May 11, 2010

Years ago, a man was searching his family roots and visited several cemeteries and read many inscriptions on the tombstones. There was one tombstone on which was engraved, “Pause now stranger as you pass by; as you are now, so once was I. As I am now, so soon you will be. Prepare yourself to follow me!”

Next to the tombstone someone placed a piece of wood engaged with this note… “To follow you I am not content, until I know which way you went.”

Contributed by: David Whitten

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My Dilapidated House

May 10, 2010

On his eightieth birthday, John Quincy Adams was walking slowly along a Boston street. A friend asked him “How is John Quincy Adams today?”

The former president replied graciously,
“Thank you, John Quincy Adams is well, sir, quite well, I thank you. But the house in which he lives at present is becoming dilapidated. It is tottering upon the foundations. Time and the seasons have nearly destroyed it. Its roof is pretty well worn out, its walls are shattered, and it trembles with every wind. The old tenement is becoming almost uninhabitable, and I think John Quincy Adams will have to move out of it soon; but he himself is quite well, sir, quite well.”

That is the attitude we need to cultivate so that when the call home comes we may say with Paul:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Contributed by: SermonCentral

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Every Last One–Crucified!

May 8, 2010

At one point early in Julius Caesar’s political career, feelings ran so high against him that he thought it best to leave Rome. He sailed for the Aegean island of Rhodes, but en route the ship was attacked by pirates and Caesar was captured. The pirates demanded a ransom of 12,000 gold pieces, and Caesar’s staff was sent away to arrange the payment.

Caesar spent almost 40 days with his captors, jokingly telling the pirates on several ocassions that he would someday capture and crucify them to a man. The kidnappers were greatly amused.

But when the ransom was paid and Caesar was freed, the first thing he did was gather a fleet and pursue the pirates. They were captured and crucified … to a man!

Such was the Romans’ attitude toward crucifixion. It was to be reserved for the worst of criminals, a means of showing extreme contempt for the condemned. The suffering and humiliation of a Roman crucifixion were unequaled.

Source: Today in the Word, November 23, 1992

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