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Some years ago at a drawing-room function, one of Englandís leading actors was asked to recite for the pleasure of his fellow guests. He consented and asked if there was anything special that his audience would like to hear. After a momentís pause, an old clergyman present said: "Could you, sir, recite to us the Twenty-third Psalm?" A strange look passed over the actorís face; he paused for a moment, and then said: "I can, and I will, upon one condition; and that is that after I have recited it, you, my friend, will do the same." "I," said the clergyman, in surprise. "But I am not an elocutionist. However, you wish it, I will do so." Impressively, the great actor began the psalm. His voice and his intonation were perfect. He held his audience spellbound; and as he finished, a great burst of applause broke from the guests. Then, as it died away, the old clergyman arose and began the psalm. His voice was not remarkable; his intonation was not faultless. When he had finished, no sound of applause broke the silence, but there was not a dry eye in the room, and many heads were bowed. Then the actor rose to his feet again. His voice shook as he laid his hand upon the shoulder of the old clergyman and said: "I reached your eyes and ears, my friends; he reached your hearts. The difference is just this: I know the Twenty-third Psalm, but he knows the Shepherd."
(from "The War Cry")
My brother served his first parish in Massillion, Ohio, as an associate pastor, with the late Pastor Maurice "Mo" White. Pastor White was a very large, strong and vibrant man. During one Lenten season, one of the older, but faithful members of the church came with her husband to an evening Lenten service. As they were leaving the service, the woman somehow fell down the outside flight of steps and broke her hip. For some unknown cause, she did not recover from the hip surgery and died in a few short days. Pastor White stood with the bereaved husband by the casket the night before the funeral. Many people came to offer their sympathies. Some were saying to the sorrowing husband,"God must of had a plan for this, so accept it." Another said,"It was God?s will and we must live by it." Still another said,"Somehow God planned this to test your faith!!" And still another said,"There is a sliver lining in every cloud, you will find God?s reason behind this eventually."
Pastor White left that funeral home filled with a very strong emotion of anger at the "babbling", as he put it, he heard that evening. He went to the study and rewrote the beginning of his funeral sermon.
Pastor White began his funeral sermon with this phrase:"My God does not push old ladies down church steps!!!" Then he proceeded to explain that God cannot be blamed or accused for all the brokenness of this world. If God is the author of death, how, how can He be at the same time the author of life as shown through the resurrection we celebrate each Sunday and especially on Easter. Is God the God of the living, or the God of the dead? You cannot have it both ways.
Music is major influence for "mosaic" generation
On a recent edition of the radio program "For Faith and Family", pollster George Barna discussed the significant cultural influence music exerts on the Mosaic generation (those born between 1984 and 2002): "Music is really interesting because essentially that is the language of our culture. If you need an example of how that works just think about churches. Even in churches this is true. What is the biggest war we have in churches? It doesnít tend to be theological. It tends to be over what style of music youíre going to use in the worship service. Weíve had all kinds of fights, but music is the way that we suggest to somebody, Hey, I understand where youíre coming from. I speak your language. This is the feel; this is the sound that constitutes who you are and what youíre about."
"One of the ways I would describe it is every generation has to have itís own private language that people over 30 canít penetrate. And thatís really what todayís music is doing for young people. They have icons within the culture that we donít understand - many of whom we donít appreciate - but theyíre important to the Mosaics because it helps them to develop a life philosophy. Many of those individuals become role models for them. It helps them to identify some of their values and lifestyles. And, it also helps develop a sense of community among themselves. So itís hugely important."
PreachingNow Newsletter, August 6, 2002
5-year old Johnny was in the kitchen as his mother made supper. She asked him to go into the pantry and get her a can of tomato soup, but he didnít want to go in alone. "Itís dark in there and Iím scared." She asked again, and he persisted. Finally she said, "Itís OK--Jesus will be in there with you." Johnny walked hesitantly to the door and slowly opened it. He peeked inside, saw it was dark, and started to leave when all at on...
Dallas Williams: You give me a 1000 words and I can have The Lords Prayer,The 23rd Psalm, The original Hippocratic oath, a Shakespearian sonnet, the preamble to the Constitution,Lincoln’s Gettisburg Address... and I wouldn’t trade you for any picture on earth."
GODíS PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE: The Apostleís Creed is not a pledge of allegiance, which we speak before God. We are remembering the gospel. We are remembering Godís pledge to us. The Creeds are nothing different from the 23rd Psalm. They simply explain how our Good Shepherd has Ďrestored my soul,í Ďhow he comforts me,í Ďspreads a table before me,í and Ďmakes my cup overflow.í The Creeds are there for our comfort, describing how God has achieved that which was impossible for us.
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THE FEARLESS LION TAMER
A 1st grader stood in front of his classroom to make a speech about "What I want to be when I grow up." He said, "I'm going to be a lion tamer and have lots of fierce lions. I'll walk into the cage and they will roar."
He paused for a moment, thinking through what he had just said and then added, "But of course, I'll have my mommy with me."
(From a sermon by Ray Ellis, Victory in Times of Crisis, 6/14/2010)
I love the 23rd Psalms where it says "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me. all the days of my life." I imagine two angels, one named goodness and one named mercy, and everywhere I go they follow me, and protect me. I had the chance to experience this first hand. I was travelling to Chicago, Il and saw an elderly man and his wife pulled over to the side of the road in thier truck waving for help. So of course I stopped and asked what was wrong. The elderly man told me he was a pastor, and he and his wife were on thier way to a town up the road, and were about to run out of gas, and was wondering could I give him a ride to the nearest gas station. I said "Sure, but since he had not ran out of gas yet, I suggested that he get back in his truck, and drive towards the next station, and I would follow behind them, and if he ran out of gas, I would take him to get gas from there, but at least we would be closer. He agreed and thanked me. We drove over 20 miles, and I watched him as he would look in his rear view mirror and wave to me, as I followed him. The truck ne...
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WHAT HE DID AFFECTED US ALL
On November 24, 1971, a man known today as D. B. Cooper hijacked a commercial flight between Portland and Seattle by threatening to blow up the plane unless he received $200,000. After landing to receive a ransom, he ordered the plane back into the air. Then the rear stairs of the 727 aircraft were lowered, and he parachuted into the night. He was never captured, and the case is still unsolved. This act hastened the age of airport security in which trust and confidence have been replaced by suspicion and fear. What he did affected us all.
The Bible describes two actions that changed the world in a far more significant way. Through Adam's choice, sin and death entered the world, "and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned" (Rom. 5:12). But through Christ's sacrifice on the cross, God provided a remedy for the results of sin. "Through one man's [Adam's] offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's [Christ's] righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life" (v.18).
BILLY GRAHAM AWARDED GOLDEN CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL
On Thursday May 2, 1996, Dr. Billy Graham was awarded the Golden Congressional Medal, the highest honor this country can bestow upon an individual - only 263 individuals had ever received this in the history of the United States of America. In his acceptance speech, Dr. Billy Graham said that the dilemma within each one of us is addressed by David in Psalm 23.
First, David said, is a problem of emptiness. David wrote, "The Lord in my shepherd; I shall not want." He was not talking just about physical want, but spiritual want.
I stood on the campus of one of our great universities some time ago, and I asked the Dean. "What is the greatest problem on your campus?" He replied in one word: "Emptiness." The human heart craves for meaning, and yet we live in a time of spiritual emptiness that haunts millions.
"Nirvana" is the Hindu word for someone who has arrived into the state of perpetual bliss. Media reports said that Kurt Cobain, the NIRVANA rock group's leader, was the pacesetter for the nineties, and the "savior of rock and roll." But he said the song in the end which best described his state of mind was "I hate myself and I want to die!" And at age 27 he committed suicide with a gun.
Second, is the problem of guilt. David wrote, "He restoreth my soul, He leadeth me ...