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Muhammad Ali today is called the greatest. But it hasn’t always been that way. He became the greatest in the eyes of the world over the last 40 years. Muhammad Ali used to “float like a butterfly” and “sting like a bee”. He dazzled crowds with his amazing ability to dodge a punch while he used a very unconventional style, with hands held low, as he bobbed and weaved. Ali won the heavyweight title on February 25th, 1964 from Soney Liston. Ali was a 7-1 underdog and 43 of 46 major press writers picked him to lose. You see nobody really believed that he could be a champion. But he defeated Soney Liston to become the Heavy Weight Champion of the world. Well on his way to becoming the greatest, Ali lost his title and then won it back it perhaps the greatest Heavy Weight fight of all time, the “Rumble in the Jungle”, against then champion Gorge Foreman. Ali played what came to be known as the “rope a dope”. Ali covered up and let the heavy hitter, Gorge Foreman, tire himself out throwing punches, then when Forman was exhausted, Ali knocked him out. Now he became “Americas Champion” and some called him the greatest. Ali would again lose his title to Leon Spinks and then regain it after beating Leon Spinks in a unanimous decision. Now, he had become the only Heavy Weight to win the title three times and many called him the greatest. Ali would go on to lose two more fights to Trevor Burbick and Larry Holmes before retiring in 1981. Ali would have the spotlight once more in 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta Ali, with hands trembling from the Parkinson’s Disease he now suffers from, lit the cauldron to signify the start of the Summer Olympic Games. Many people shed tears as they watched “The Greatest” light the torch. Because of his accomplishments, the world calls Ali “The Greatest”. And while Ali’s story is inspiring and should stir the emotions of our heart, what the world calls great and what the Lord calls great are often two very different things. While Ali became great by winning the Heavy Weight title three times, God isn’t impressed by such accomplishments. While God desires good things in our life, he is immeasurably more concerned with our character than with our trophies. While he enables us to do great things, he desires that we would do his will, and God desires that we would understand what lasting accomplishment is. Faith…Hope…Love… The trophies will gather dust and our bodies wear out with just a little time, but the things of God endure forever!
What think you of Christ? is the test,
To try both your state and your scheme:
You cannot be right in the rest
Unless you think rightly of him.
As Jesus appears in your view,
As he is beloved or not,
So God is disposed to you
And mercy or wrath is your lot.
Some take Him a creature to be,
A man or an angel at most;
Sure these have not feelings like me
Nor know themselves wretched or lost:
So guilty, so helpless am I,
I durst not confide in his blood,
Nor on his protection rely
Unless I was sure He is God.
Some call him Saviour, in word,
But mix their own works with his plan,
And hope he his help will afford,
When they have done all that they can;
If doings prove rather too light,
(A little, they own, they may fail)
They purpose to make up full weight
By casting his name in the scale.
Some style him the pearl of great price
And say He’s the fountain of joys,
Yet feed upon folly and vice
And cleave to the world and its toys;
Like Judas the Saviour they kiss
And while they salute him, betray;
Ah! what will profession like this
Avail in the terrible day?
If asked what of Jesus I think,
Though still my best thoughts are but poor,
I say he’s my meat and my drink,
My life and my strength and my store;
My shepherd, my husband, my friend,
My Saviour from sin and from thrall;
My hope from beginning to end,
My portion, my Lord, and my all!
The Bible defines worldliness by centering morality where we intuitively know it should be. Worldliness is the lust of the flesh (a passion for sensual satisfaction), the lust of the eyes (an inordinate desire for the finer things of life), and the pride of life (self-satisfaction in who we are, what we have, and what we have done). Worldliness, then, is a preoccupation with ease and affluence. It elevates creature comfort to the point of idolatry; large salaries and comfortable life-styles become necessities of life.
Worldliness is reading magazines about people who live hedonistic lives and spend too much money on themselves and wanting to be like them. But more importantly, worldliness is simply pride and selfishness in disguises. It’s being resentful when someone snubs us or patronizes us or shows off. It means smarting under every slight, challenging every word spoken against us, cringing when another is preferred before us. Worldliness is harboring grudges, nursing grievance, and wallowing in self-pity. These are the ways in which we are most like the world.
Dave Roper, The Strength of a Man, quoted in Family Survival in the American Jungle, Steve Farrar, 1991, Multnomah Press, p. 68.
Brian La Croix
PEARLS FROM GOD-- COMMUNION MEDITATION
The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. With her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box. "Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please!"
Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl’s upturned face. "A dollar ninety-five. That’s almost $2.00 If you really want them, I’ll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday’s only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma."
As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.
Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere -- Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.
Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?"
"Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you."
"Then give me your pearls."
"Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess -- the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She’s my favorite."
"That’s okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night." And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.
About a week later, after the story time, Jenny’s daddy asked again, "Do you love me?"
"Daddy, you know I love you."
"Then give me your pearls."
"Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper."
"That’s okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you." And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss. A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. "What is it, Jenny? What’s the matter?" Jenny didn’t say ...
Self-righteous service comes through human effort. True service comes from a relationship with the divine Other deep inside.
Self-righteous service is impressed with the "big deal." True service finds it almost impossible to distinguish the small from the large service.
Self-righteous service requires external rewards. True service rests contented in hiddenness.
Self-righteous service is highly concerned about results. True service is free of the need to calculate results.
Self-righteous service picks and chooses whom to serve. True service is indiscriminate in its ministry.
Self-righteous service is affected by moods and whims. True service ministers simply and faithfully because there is a need.
Self-righteous service is temporary. True service is a life-style.
Self-righteous service is without sensitivity. It insists on meeting the need even when to do so would be destructive. True service can withhold the service as freely as perform it.
Self-righteous service fractures community. True service, on the other hand, builds community.
Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, "The Discipline of Service
Michael De Rosa
Probably never heard of Hetty Green. She died in 1916 and left an estate with an estimated value of $100 Million Dollars(not pesos and not 1960 but 1916). ?Hetty regularly ate cold oatmeal because it cost too much to heat it. ?Her son had his leg amputated because she took so long to get him adequate care because she was looking for a free clinic.?Hetty died in the midst of an argument over milk, she argued that skim was best because it was the cheapest.?She was wealthy but she lived like a PAUPER. She never enjoyed nor benefited from the riches that were hers.??A second person I heard about lived on the West Coast of America living in poverty until one day he found out that he was the only living heir to a British Nobleman. What do you think this guy did when he found out? Went to the clothing store and bought the best suit he could find, bought a 1st class ticket to London and returned to England in style! ?HE BELIEVED WHAT HE HAD BEEN TOLD WAS TRUE AND HE BEGAN TO ACT UPON IT!!!
Posted by Guy McGraw at Sermon Central www.sermoncentral.com
Dr. Bruce Emmert
One of the most touching moment in the Sydney Olympics was when Eric "The Swimmer" Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea swam in the 100-meter free style qualifying heat. The 22-year-old African had only learned to swim last January, had only practiced in a 20-meter pool without lane markers, and had never raced more than 50 meters. By special invitation of the International Olympic Committee, under a special program that permits poorer countries to participate even though their athletes don’t meet customary standards, he had been entered in the 100-meter men’s freestyle.
When the other two swimmers in his heat were disqualified because of false starts, Moussambani was forced to swim alone. Eric Moussambani was, to use the words of an Associated Press story about his race, "charmingly inept." He never put his head under the water’s surface and flailed wildly to stay afloat. With ten meters left to the wall, he virtually came to a stop. Some spectators thought he might drown! Even though his time was over a minute slower than what qualified for the next level of competition, the capacity crowd at the Olympic Aquatic Center stood to their feet and cheered the swimmer on. After what seemed like an eternity, the African reached the wall and hung on for dear life. When he had caught his breath and regained his composure, the French-speaking Moussambani said through an interpreter, "I want to send hugs and kisses to the crowd. It was their cheering that kept me going."
As Christians, we have a cheering section encouraging us on when we are tired and calling out to us to do better when we are feeling at our best. The author of Hebrews says, “We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” What in the world does he mean—great cloud of witnesses? The author of Hebrews is telling us that we are a part of something much richer and deeper than we know. As children of God and as brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, we are a part of a family.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE?
Behavioral scientists have discovered that we usually see things that we are prepared to see. This is all centered in a network of nerve cells called the "Reticular Activating System." Everybody has this system.
The "Reticular Activating System." works like this: Once something has been brought to our attention, and we have been prepared to see it, we’ll see it virtually everywhere we go.
For example, you decide to buy a new car. You make up your mind that you are going to buy a certain brand, a certain body style, and a certain color. Now, you’ll see those cars everywhere. You’ll see them on the roads, in TV advertisements, in newspapers and magazines. They’re everywhere.
Now what has happened? They were always there, but the moment you were prepared to see them, your Reticular Activating System kicked in, and suddenly you saw them everywhere.
It happens in other areas of life, too. We see what we are prepared to see. If we are prepared to see doom & gloom this...
Kurt Cobain died about 8 years ago. I remember the day I picked up the newspaper and read about it. He was the founder and lead singer of the rock group "Nirvana." His death was a suicide. He took a shotgun, pointed it to his head, and killed himself. The newspaper was filled with the words of fans and commentators in disbelief saying "Why? It makes no sense." "He had it all . . . a great career, a huge following, plenty of money, a wife and a 19 month old daughter . . . Why?" To most people it made no sense. But I remember sitting at my desk thinking. "Yes it does. It makes sense. Kurt Cobain was living out his beliefs to their logical extreme." You see, Kurt Cobain was a self professed humanist and nihilist. In other words, he believed their was no God and that there was no meaning or purpose to life. His music (poetry) could not be more clear on this matter.
Kurt Cobain’s music was grunge rock. He pioneered this type of music. The alternative rock style of today has evolved from grunge rock. Kurt had a disdain for anything mainstream or acceptable to society. He was a child of divorce. At the age of eight he began to be shifted from home to home, sometimes even being homeless. He was very vocal about his bitterness from that experience. He developed his belief that life was basically rotten and meaningless.
His music often spoke of his anger and disillusionment. One of his most famous songs was called "Nevermind." Its recurring line was "Oh well, whatever, nevermind." Another song he wrote never got released. It was too objectionable to the label company, but Kurt liked it. It was called, "I Hate Myself, And I Want To Die." In another song called "Smells Like Teen Spirit," a well known line says, "I feel stupid and contagious, here we are, now entertain us." The video of that song was voted best video of the decade of the 90’s.
Friends of Cobain say he lived up to his music. He often acted without reason. He was constantly on an emotional roller coaster. But his dips into despair got deeper and deeper. Once, a member of his road crew asked him why he was moping around so much. Cobain replied, "I’m awake, aren’t I?" Kurt Cobain was a young man fueled by nihilism. He had passion, but for nothing. He had a void in his heart that nothing he pursued could fill, and he believed that nothing could or ever would. He had no purpose, no meaning, and he simply lived out his belief in his worldview to its logical conclusion.
He reminds me of another man. Solomon. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes of pursuing all of the things the world has to offer. He also wrote of the despair they brought him. They offered no meaning. Solomon, however, concluded differently than Kurt Cobain. He concluded that purpose and meaning were found in the living God. Only be knowing and serving Him could you rise above the level of despair. And there is even better news than that. Now, God has declared through His Son how much He loves us, and that He wants to spend eternity with us.
One enterprising group of college students tried to literally manage time, but in the end it came back to haunt them. At this particular university the rule was that if the professor had not arrived in class within the first fifteen minutes of the hour, class was considered a "walk" and the students were free to leave - with no penalties for missing class. The rooms this school were equipped with the old style clocks where the minute hand mechanically ticked ahead after each minute. Some of the students discovered that they could cause the clock to jump ahead one minute if they hit it with an eraser from the black board. The professor of this class was not the most punctual so it became a ritual for these students to take target practice at the clock. After a few well-aimed erasers hit their target, bingo, 15 minutes had passed and the class walked.
At the end of the semester the final exam rolled around. The professor strolled into the room and passed out the test. He said, "You have one hour to complete it." He then proceeded to collect all the erasers in the room and gleefully took aim at the clock. When he had successfully jumped the clock ahead one-hour, the professor called "time’s up" and collected the exam papers.