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A youth minister was attending a Special Olympics where handicapped children competed with tremendous dedication & enthusiasm. One event was the 220-yard dash, Contestants lined up at the starting line, & at the signal, started running as fast as they could. One boy by the name of Andrew quickly took the lead, & was soon about 50 yards ahead of everybody else. As he approached the final turn he looked back & saw that his best friend had fallen & hurt himself on the track. Andrew stopped & looked at the finish line. Then he looked back at his friend. People were hollering, "Run, Andrew, run" But he didnít. He went back & got his friend, helped him up, brushed off the cinders. And hand in hand, they crossed the finish line dead last. But as they did, the people cheered, because there are some things more important than winning. My goal as your Pastor is to develop not just a winning attitude, but a caring attitude. Because if we care, we win.

 
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POEM: ďI Am Just a RaindropĒ
The following poem was heard on Paul Harveyís broadcast in 2004:
I AM JUST A RAINDROP
I am just a raindrop
I was born in the sky and settled into a hillside
there to dance in the sun and sparkle
And nourish green and growing things
But there are other raindrops on the hillside
and they invite me to join them for a downhill romp,
and we become a chain of raindrops.
Thus able to travel faster and what do you know
soon others join us until we become a stream
now remember Iím still just a drop of rain.
And yet the other drops say
Iím important to them and they are important to me
and together we hasten downward toward the beautiful forest.
The grass bends in our path
the soil beneath us begins to crumble
until my companions and I are carving out a pathway
farther and deeper
until we are tearing little gullies in the earth
and then big gullies.
Iím just a little drop of rain
its my friends who have the power
Iím just along for the ride
Ahead a towering tree
stands majestically at the edge of the forest.
And soon my friends and I
are playfully ripping the soil from the roots
and its roots from the rocks
and low and behold the great tree comes crashing down in front of me.
For a long moment the tree lies motionless:
Facedown, defeated, dying.
But then my friends and I are under, and lifting, and moving the great tree
carrying it before us as a huge battering ram.
Nothing can stop us now.
I wonder if I can stop myself now, or, if I even want to.
Into the forest we plunge my friends and I
and our battering ram tree.
Other trees grouped together stand their ground,
from us they can see there is strength in numbers.
And our numbers are greater.
Our battering ram is sideways now.
We raindrops get behind;
we push with all of our might.
My friends and I are learning the strength and the weaknesses of trees.
Erode the soil, denude the roots, and you leave them with nothing to hold to.
So, soon, we are a raging torrent.
And they and we and the turncoat tree are thundering toward the sea.
And I am freighted.
Iím just a little raindrop,
but Iím soiled now.
How did I become a part of this?
I never wanted to conquer, nor to destroy
I only needed to be needed.
I only needed to be one of the crowd.
Down there ahead, at the end of the valley
Dear God thatís a town!
I will not be a part of this any longer.
Now my friends have gone too far.
Far too far.
Iím stopping right here right now.
But I canít. I canít stop.
I am no longer me.
I am something different then I ever meant to be.
It took a thousand million gallons of water they say
to drown that town that day.
So donít blame me.
Iím only one little drop of rain.
From Donald Tabbererís Sermon: An Empty Frame

 
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THE PERIL OF NO BURDEN

Shortly after coming to Christ, Sadhu Sundar, a Hindu convert to Christ, felt called to become a missionary to India. Late one afternoon Sadhu was traveling on foot through the Himalayas with a Buddhist monk. It was bitterly cold and the wind felt like sharp blades slicing into Sadhu's skin. Night was approaching fast when the monk warned Sadhu that they were in danger of freezing to death if they did not reach the monastery before darkness fell.

Just as they were traversing a narrow path above a steep cliff, they heard a cry for help. Down the cliff lay a man, fallen and badly hurt. The monk looked at Sadhu and said, "Do not stop. God has brought this man to his fate. He must work it out for himself." The he quickly added while walking on, "Let us hurry on before we , too, perish."
But Sadhu replied, "God has sent me here to help my brother. I cannot abandon him."

The monk continued trudging off through the whirling snow, while the missionary clambered down the steep embankment. The man's leg was broken and he could not walk. So Sadhu took his blanket and made a sling of it and tied the man on his back. Then, bending under his burden, he began a body-torturing climb. By the time he reached the narrow path again, he was drenched in perspiration.

Doggedly, he made his way through the deepening snow and darkness. It was all he could do to follow the path. But he persevered, though faint with fatigue and overheated from exertion. Finally he saw ahead the lights of the monastery.
Then, for the first time, Sadhu stumbled and nearly fell. But not from weakness. He had stumbled over an object lying in the snow-covered road. Slowly he bent down on one knee and brushed the snow off the object. It was the body of the monk, frozen to death.

Years later a disciple of Sadhu's asked him, "What is life's most difficult task?"

Without hesitation Sadhu replied: "To have no burden to carry."

(From a sermon by Horace Wimpey, God's Guidelines For Thanksgiving, 11/17/2011)

 
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FAITHFUL INSTRUCTIONS

There was a man who got lost in the desert. After wandering around for a long time his throat became very dry, about that time he saw a little shack in the distance.
He made his way over to the shack and found a water pump with a small jug of water and a note.

The note read: "pour all the water into the top of the pump to prime it, if you do this you will get all the water you need". Now the man had a choice to make, if he trusted the note and poured the water in and it worked he would have all the water he needed. If it didnít work he would still be thirsty and he might die. Or he could choose to drink the water in the jug and get immediate satisfaction, but it might not be enough and he still might die. After thinking about it the man decided to risk it. He poured the entire jug into the pump and began to work the handle, at first nothing happened and he got a little scared but he kept going and water started coming out. So much water came out he drank all he wanted, took a shower, and filled all the containers he could find. Because he was willing to give up momentary satisfaction, he got all the water he needed. Now the note also said: after you have finished, please refill the jug for the next traveller.Ē The man refilled the jug and added to the note: ď Please prime the pump, believe me it worksĒ!

We have the same choice to make...

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WORSHIP WARRIOR

I like the way songwriter and worship leader, Brian Doerksen, puts it. He says, "Becoming a worshipper means becoming a warrior... And by toning that down...we have sent men and women away from the church in droves. It's time to call them back," Doerksen says, "as worshiping warriors." That is as "warriors who are surrendered to God, warriors who know that their authority comes because they are under authority, warriors willing to wait even when everyone else is rushing ahead, or [warriors willing to] act decisively...in obedience" to their commanding officer, Jesus Christ, even when everybody else is lagging behind in disobedience.

(Brian Doerksen, Make Love, David C. Cook, 2009. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Take a Risk, 5/25/2012)

 
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THEY REFUSED TO BE RESCUED

On August 30, 2005 Coast Guard Lieutenant Iain McConnell was ordered to fly his H46 helicopter to New Orleans and to keep that machine flying around the clock for what would turn out to be a heroic rescue effort. None of his crew were prepared for what they were about to see. They were ahead of every news crew in the nation. The entire city of New Orleans was under water. On their first three missions that day they saved 89 people, three dogs and two cats.

On the fourth mission, despite twelve different flights to New Orleans, he and his crew were able to save no one. None! They all refused to board the helicopter. Instead they told the Coast Guard to bring them food and water. Yet they were warned that this extremely dangerous. The waters were not going to go away soon. Sadly, many of those people perished because of their refusal to be rescued.

In our Gospel lesson today we come face to face with the Son of God and with the greatest rescue effort of all time.

(From a sermon by Michael P. Walther, Blessed is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord, 5/25/2011)

 
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RUBY BRIDGES ON DOING WHAT'S RIGHT

"A federal judge had ordered New Orleans to open its public schools to African-American children, and the white parents decided that if they had to let black children in, they would keep their children out. They let it be known that any black children who came to school would be in for trouble. So the black children stayed home too.

"Except Ruby Bridges. Her parents sent her to school all by herself, six years old.

"Every morning she walked alone through a heckling crowd to an empty school. White people lined up on both sides of the way and shook their fists at her. They threatened to do terrible things to her if she kept coming to their school. But every morning at ten minutes to eight Ruby walked, head up, eyes ahead, straight through the mob; two U.S. marshals walked ahead of her and two walked behind her. Then she spent the day alone with her teachers inside that big silent school building.

"Harvard professor Robert Coles was curious about what went into the making of courageous children like Ruby Bridges. He talked to Ruby's mother and, in his book The Moral Life of Children, tells what she said: 'There's a lot of people who talk about doing good, and a lot of people who argue about what's good and what's not good,' but there are folks who 'just put their lives on the line for what's right'"

(Lewis Smedes, 1001 Quotes, Illustrations and Humorous Stories for Preachers, Teachers, and Writers, 221. From a sermon by Eric Lenhart, Thursday -- "Sleepy Heads" 8/13/2010)

 
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THE MOST IMPORTANT FREEDOM

Patrick Henry was a famous statesman and orator of colonial Virginia. In 1764 he was elected to the House of Burgesses where he became a champion of the frontier people, supporting their rights against the arrogant exercise of power by the aristocracy.

In 1774 he was a delegate to the First Continental Congress. In 1775, before the Virginia Provincial Convention, which was deeply divided between those who supported England and those who desired freedom, he uttered his most famous words, "Give me liberty or give me death!"

During the Revolutionary War he became commander-in-chief of Virginiaís military forces, a member of the Second Continental Congress, helped draw up the first constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and was largely responsible for drawing up the ammendments to our Constitution known as the Bill of Rights.

He became Virginiaís first governor, and was re-elected four times. Then he retired from public life, but despite his strong objections the people went ahead and re-elected him Governor for the 5th time. But he meant what he said, so he refused to take the office.

He was offered a seat in the U.S. Senate, and posts as ambassador to Spain and to France. President George Washington asked him to join his cabinet and become Secretary of State, and later wanted to appoint him the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. But he refused all such honors and recognitions.

Listen to these words from him: "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians - not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Chris...

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TEMPORARY CASTLES

"A little boy is on the beach. On his knees he scoops and packs the sand with plastic shovels into a bright red bucket. Then he upends the bucket on the surface and lifts it. And, to the delight of the little architect, a castle tower is created.

"All afternoon he will work. Spooning out the moat. Packing the walls. Bottle tops will be sentries. Popsicle sticks will be bridges. A sandcastle will be built.

"Big city. Busy streets. Rumbling traffic.

"A man in his office. At his desk he shuffles papers into stacks and delegates assignments. He cradles the phone on his shoulder and punches the keyboard with his fingers. Numbers are juggled and contracts are signed and much to the delight of the man, a profit is made.

"All his life he will work. Formulating the plans. Forecasting the future. Annuities will be sentries. Capital gains will be bridges. An empire will be built.

"Two builders of two castles. They have much in common. They shape granules into grandeurs. They see nothing and make something. They are diligent and determined. And for both the tide will rise and the end will come.

"Yet that is where the similarities cease. For the boy sees the end while the man ignores it. Watch the boy as the dusk approaches.

"As the waves near, the wise child jumps to his feet and begins to clap. There is no sorrow. No fear. No regret. He knew this would happen. He is not surprised. And when the great breaker crashes into his castle and his masterpiece is sucked into the sea, he smiles. He smiles, picks up his tools, takes his father's hand, and goes home.

"The grownup, however, is not so wise. As the wave of years collapses on his castle he is terrified. He hovers over the sandy monument to protect it. He blocks the waves from the walls he has made. Salt-water soaked and shivering he snarls at the incoming tide.

"'It's my castle,' he defies.

"The ocean need not respond. Both know to whom the sand belongs...

"And I don't know much about sandcastles. But children do. Watch them and learn. Go ahead and build, but build with a child's heart. When the sun sets and the tides take -- applaud. Salute the process of life, take your Father's hand and go home"

(Max Lucado, More Stories for the Heart (Multnomah: Sisters, Oregon, 1997), 224-225. From a sermon by Eric Lenhart, Seasons of Life, 8/16/2010)

 
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ILLUSTRATION… Discipleship Journal, 11-12/92
A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:
1. Materialism
2. Pride
3. Self-centeredness
4. Laziness
5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness
5. (Tie) Sexual lust
6. Envy
7. Gluttony
8. Lying

Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when…
they had neglected their time with God (81 percent)
and when they were physically tired (57 percent).
Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising
situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).

 
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