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I like the story about 3 prospectors who found a rich vein of gold in California during the gold rush days. They realized what a great discovery they had, & decided, "We’ve a really good thing going here as long as no one else finds out about it." So they each took a vow to keep it secret.
Then they headed for town to file their claims & get the equipment necessary to mine the gold. True to their vows, they didn’t say a word to anybody. They filed their claim, bought the equipment, & headed back to their mine. But when they did, a crowd of people followed them.
And the reason was because the expression on their faces had given them away. Their faces were aglow in anticipation of the wealth that soon would be theirs. People knew that they must have found something very special. So a crowd followed them out of town.
Young Harold had a really bad case of Attention Deficit Disorder. On Palm Sunday, Harold’s Sunday School teacher sent empty plastic eggs home with each of her students. Mrs. Wilson told them to bring something back in the eggs next Sunday to represent Easter. She really didn’t expect Harold to bring anything, because he never listened in class. The next Sunday her children brought their eggs back. Susan had a pretty spring flower inside her egg. Joey had a little cross in his egg. Jackie had put a plastic butterfly in her egg. But, just as Mrs. Wilson suspected, there was nothing in Harold’s egg. She was surprised that he even remembered to bring it back! She had praised each of the other children for what they brought, but she didn’t say anything about Harold’s empty egg. Harold looked at her with anticipation and said, "Mrs. Wilson, you didn’t say anything about my egg!" Mrs. Wilson said, "But, Harold, you don’t have any reminder of Easter in your egg." Harold replied, "Uh-huh! It’s empty just like Jesus’ tomb!"
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PRECIOUS DAD MOMENT
As ham sandwiches go, it was perfection. A thick slab of ham, a fresh bun, crisp lettuce and plenty of expensive, light brown, gourmet mustard. The corners of my jaw were aching in anticipation,
I carried it to the picnic table in our backyard, picked it up with both hands but was stopped by my wife suddenly at my side. "Hold Johnny, (our six-week-old son), while I get my sandwich," she said.
I had him balanced between my left elbow and shoulder and was reaching again for the ham sandwich when I noticed a streak of mustard on my fingers. I love mustard. And I had no napkin. So I licked it off.
It was NOT mustard. No man ever put a baby down faster. It was the first and only time I have sprinted with my tongue protruding. With a washcloth in each hand I did the sort of routine shoeshine guys do, only I did it on my tongue.
Later my wife said, "Now you know why they call that mustard ’Poupon.’"
THE EMPTY GIFT
"I was enjoying 1st grade to the fullest until one day in December when the little girl behind me set "it" on her desk. It was the tiniest Christmas present imaginable, less than an inch on each side with white glossy paper tied up with a sliver of red cellophane. Immediately I was captivated. I had never seen anything so exquisite. Day after day the tiny gift caught my eye, and my active imagination tried to guess what miniature treasure might be inside. It had to be something wondrous beyond description.
I longed for that object with all the power a 5-year-old can muster. Finally, I became convinced that it should be mine. I deserved it because I desired it. Since I rode an early bus to school, it was a simple matter to slip into the empty classroom one morning. My hands eagerly tore open the tiny present. Inside I found - nothing.
Staring at the destruction in my hand, anticipation dissolved into disappointment and confusion. Gradually my stunned mind grasped the fact that the little package had been nothing more than a hollow decoration. I sat at my desk with the empty paper and an empty feeling, sickened by the knowledge of my guilt.
Little did I know that morning that this scene would repeat itself many times in my life. As I grew up the world enticed me wi...
In a far country lived a band of minstrels who traveled from town to town presenting music to make a living. They had not been doing well. Times were hard; there was little money for common folk to come to hear the minstrels, even though their fee was small. Attendance had been falling off, so early one evening the group met to discuss their plight. “I see no reason for opening tonight,” one said. “To make things even worse than they may have been, it is starting to snow. Who will venture out on a night like this?” “I agree,” another disheartened singer said. “Last night we performed for just a handful. Fewer will come tonight. Why not give back their meager fees and cancel the concert? No one can expect us to go on when just a few are in the audience.” “How can anyone do his best for so few?” a third inquired. Then he turned to another sitting beside him. “What do you think?” The man he appealed to, was older than the others. He looked straight at his troupe. “I know you are discouraged. I am too. But we have a responsibility to those who might come. We will go on. And we will do the best job of which we are capable. It is not the fault of those who come that others do not. They should not be punished with less than the best we can give.” Heartened by his words, the minstrels went ahead with their show. They never performed better. When the show was over and the small audience gone, the old man called his troupe to him. In his hand was a note, handed to him by one of the audience just before the doors closed behind him. “Listen to this, my friends!” Something electrifying in his tone of voice made them turn to him in anticipation. Slowly the old man read: “Thank you for a beautiful performance.” It was signed very simply—“Your King.”
Christmas is an exciting time and little Sammy was excited. He was 15 years old and Christmas was still to him a time of wonder. He was a happy child despite his handicap. You see, Sammy was slightly retarded. He still went to school, though he was 2 years behind. And he did the things that most boys do; he played ball, road his bike, fished, climbed trees and other fun stuff.
And for the most part the kids were not too mean -- sometimes they laughed and called him "stupid Sammy" -- but Sammy just didn’t seem to hear them -- he just enjoyed life every part of it; to him life was full of wonder and amazement.
And Christmas was the most wonderful time of all.
It was Christmas Eve, and both the sky and the ground were white with snow. And it was 8 O’Clock, time to go to church for the annual Christmas Eve Celebration. Sammy could hardly wait. He was so excited wondering what present would be under the tree for him this year. Last year he got a telescope.
Every year on Christmas Eve after the service all the children would gather around the huge Christmas tree and each one was handed a present, with their name on it. And even though Sammy was a little old for this they still let him take part.
Sammy’s parents left early that night, because his mother was singing a solo, "Silent Night" and she wanted to practice.
They were the first to arrive at church. And when his dad opened the door; well you can guess where Sammy went; that’s right.. at the speed of light he went right to the Christmas tree and started to look for the present with his name of it.
After a few minutes, he began to worry because he couldn’t find it. Then his eyes caught hold of a big box -- the biggest present that was there. He slowly walked over to it -- lifted the card and there in great big letters was his name "Sammy." He couldn’t believe it, the biggest present was his, and his mind began thinking at the sped of light of all the many possibilities of what was inside; maybe it was a bike; a TV a horse, a tent; ... What was in it -- Sammy could barely stand it -- but he knew he had to wait.
Sammy really did enjoy the service, really, but he kind of thought that 3 days was just a little too long -- well, at least that is how long it seemed to him.
Finally it was over and all the children rushed to the huge tree.
Preacher Joe stared picking up presents and calling out names; Sarah, Bobby, Susan, Sammy was on the edge of his seat -- he was about to burst with anticipation.
The Preacher Joe walked over to the big box and said, "Well, let’s see whose name is on this one," but before he could read the name Sammy bolted beside him and said "It’s mine Preach Joe" "so it is," Joe replied.
Sammy took the box and gently took off the bow, His heart was racing like a jack hammer. His mom and dad stood beside him smiling -- enjoying their sons excitement.
Sammy removed all the paper and laid it beside the box -- And then he began to remove the lid -- In his mind all of the things he hoped to see flashed before his eyes in a second. Finally Sammy got the box open and he looked inside and he saw........
Nothing ---- He saw nothing -- someone had played a trick on stupid Sammy. When Sammy lifted his head, huge tears were streaming down his face.
Who would do something so cruel -- who would play such a mean trick on Sammy... The box was empty.
Everyday, all around the world, this same trick is being played. Though the names and exact situation are a little different -- the results are still the same.
Our world promises people great things; happiness, wealth, pleasure, relationships, fame, success, power. And it wraps them up in a great big box, with pretty paper and a beautiful bow.
And it hands us this box -- as a gift, we get excited; and we take off the bow -- we unwrap the box and we open it with great expectations.... And when we look inside, just like Sammy all we find is an empty box. No hope, no life, no joy, no happiness -- just huge tears of heart break streaming down our face. THAT’S THE KIND OF GIFTS THIS WORLD GIVES US... HAVE YOU EVER OPENED ONE OF HER BOXES? I THINK YOU HAVE AND IT’S NOT FUN IS IT?
During the 1970’s when the San Diego Chargers had Dan Fouts as quarterback, in 1 particular game, both Fouts and the team were having a bad day. With 2 minutes remaining in the game, San Diego was down 14-0. Frustrations were high so the coach pulled the star Fouts and put in the backup quarterback, Bobby Douglas. As Douglas strapped on his helmet with anticipation, he bolted onto the field, heading for the huddle. Suddenly, he stopped in his tracks, turned to the coach and yelled, “Coach, do you want me to win the game, or just tie it?” What a great statement! Do we have that kind of confidence in Jesus Christ? Do we trust Him to just get by or to heal totally?
[Worship Is a Time to Celebrate, Citation: Rod Cooper, "Worship or Worry?" Preaching Today, Tape No. 108.]
I used to be the chaplain for the Astros and the Oilers when I was in Houston, Texas.
After I’d do a chapel, they’d give me tickets.
One time in the Astrodome I watched Earl Campbell run over everybody, his own men included, to get to the goal line.
When he got to the goal line, he put the ball down.
The place went crazy.
People were giving high fives and jumping around.
The scoreboard went off.
The same thing happened when the Astros hit a home run.
It was a ringing shout, because their man scored a touchdown.
I’m not saying that when you come to church you need to give each other high fives or d...
It is October 14th, and the sun is reflecting mirages of water on an Air Force base runway in southern Florida. The silence of the scene is interrupted as a long-winged plane touches down on the runway and taxies to the hanger. A thousand planes a day go through this same routine, but this one plane’s payload is different from all the others. Its payload is just a few rolls of film, but the information on that film will shape the events of the world. It will shift the balance of power in the world. The film is transported to a top-secret laboratory and developed. It is sent to the Pentagon and then to the Oval Office in the White House.
The date is 1962, and a young president, John F. Kennedy, just 44 years old, sits at the desk. The decision he makes moves the armies of the most powerful nation in the world. The crisis he faces is one of immense proportions.
The photos taken were from a U2 reconnaissance aircraft. One picture in particular revealed that the Soviets had placed medium-range missile silos in Cuba. These missiles were capable of reaching strategic targets throughout the United States.
The risk of world conflict hadn’t reached this level since WW2, and it involved the two greatest superpowers in the world. The president moved decisively, ordering Premier Khrushchev to halt all further deliveries of weapons and to immediately dismantle the missile sites.
A broadcast to the American people let us know the gravity of the situation. The president said, "This secret, swift, extraordinary buildup of communist weapons is a deliberate and unjustifiable challenge to our national security, and it will not be accepted.
America braced for what was to come. President Kennedy ordered an immediate naval and air blockade of Cuba.
Premier Khrushchev decided he would test this young president’s fabric. He would challenge this nation’s resolve. He would confront the standard of our convictions. The Soviet ships sailed on toward Cuba.
The world held its breath in nervous anticipation as hours crept by and ships grew closer and closer to one another.
As kids we played a little game. We called it ’chicken’. You want to see who is going to flinch when challenged. In national politics, you call it ’brinkmanship.’ Brinkmanship is the willingness to expose oneself to risk, to press the limits of safety for a cause. It is the walking of the tightrope of disaster.
The Soviets were going to press the boundary, walk the line, and see just how much they could get away with.
The Soviet ships were 100 yards away from our American ships. Our Navy was on full battle alert with orders to stop the Russians at all costs.
Some of you recall those moments as people were glued to the radios and TV’s to see who would flinch, who would fire, or what the world would look like in this latest age of nuclear war.
With just feet to spare, at the brink of disaster and destruction, the Soviets turned.
This incident in world history has a living parallel in our daily lives. Many are involved in a dangerous game of spiritual brinkmanship. We walk the very boundary of sin in our lifestyle. Balancing precariously, we move toward the cliff’s edge. Dangling our toes over the abyss, we tempt the fall. We struggle with bad habits that become self-destructive patterns. At the same time, we are saying, "Oh, don’t worry about me’ it’s okay, I’m a Christian."
I tried counting backwards, I tried counting sheep.
The leftovers beckoned-- the dark meat and white,
But I fought the temptation with all of my might.
Tossing and turning with anticipation,
The thought of a snack became infatuation.
So, I raced to the kitchen, flung open the door
And gazed at the fridge, full of goodies galore.
I gobbled up turkey and buttered potatoes,
Pickles and carrots, beans and tomatoes.
I felt myself swelling so plump and so round,
Till all of a sudden, I rose off the ground.
I crashed through the ceiling, floating into the sky
With a mouthful of pudding and a handful of pie
But, I managed to yell as I soared past the trees...
Happy eating to all---pass the gravy, please.