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BRAVEHEART: "I DON'T WANT TO LOSE HEART"
Braveheart (2:12:34 - 2:14:30) is the story of Scotlandís pursuit of freedom from the tyranny of the English under the leadership of William Wallace, played by Mel Gibson. Leading up to this scene was a battle where Wallace and his men were fighting the English. Wallace thought he had the backing of the Scottish nobles, but they had been bought off by the King and betrayed him on the battlefield, leaving Wallace and his men to be routed by the English. Weíll see the leader of the nobles, Robert the Bruce, takes his act of betrayal particularly hard. Pay attention to how he owns his betrayal but doesnít let it define him, and notice his resolve to fight for a purpose that is above himself:
Robert Bruce, Sr.: Iím the one whoís rotting, but I think your face looks graver than mine. Son, we must have alliance with England to prevail here. You achieved that. You saved your family, increased your land. In time, you will have all the power in Scotland.
Robert the Bruce: Lands, titles, men, power... nothing.
Robert Bruce, Sr.: Nothing?
Robert the Bruce: I have nothing. Men fight for me because if they do not, I throw them off my land and I starve their wives and children. Those men who bled the ground red at Falkirk fought for William Wallace. He fights for something that I never had. And I took it from him when I betrayed him. I saw it in his face on the battlefield, and itís tearing me apart.
Robert Bruce, Sr.: All men betray. All lose heart.
Robert the Bruce: I DONíT WANT TO LOSE HEART!!! I want to believe as he does. I will never be on the wrong side again.
Maybe thatís the cry of your heart this morning. Youíve chased after everything you thought would satisfy your soul, and itís left you empty--nothing. And maybe you even betrayed your savior to do it. You and I have been idolaters. Weíve built our own cisterns and they donít hold water. They leave us empty-hearted.
Maybe you're even saying to yourself, "I DONíT WANT TO LOSE HEART. I want to BELIEVE. I will never be on the wrong side again."
Many years ago, a day was dawning on a battlefield in northern France, through a fog so thick that no one could see more than a few yards from the trenches. In the night the Germans had drawn back their lines a little and the French had gone forward. But between the two positions a lonely farmhouse was till standing. As the sun rose, heavy guns began to boom. But suddenly on both sides the firing ceased and there fell a strange, dead silence. For there in the green meadow, crawling on itís hands and knees was a little baby. It appeared perfectly happy and contented and the babyís laugh was heard as it clutched a dandelion. Not a shot was fired that day!
And when the babe of Bethlehem lay in his motherís arms, it signaled the entrance of the Prince of Peace into a hostile world. His coming would eventually cause men to cease their hatred as they looked by faith to Him.
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Henry Ward Beecher was one of the great preachers of the 19th Century. He was ill one Sunday, so a substitute pastor walked up to the pulpit as the worship service began. Seeing that Dr. Beecher would not be speaking that day, a number of people got up and headed for the door. The substitute preacher said, "All those who came to worship Dr. Beecher this morning may leave. All those who came to worship the Lord, may stay in their seats." Everyone sat back down.
Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg--or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soulís ally forged in the refinery of adversity. Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You canít tell a vet just by looking.
What is a vet?
He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didnít run out of fuel.
He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.
She--or he--is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.
He is the POW who went away one person and came back another--or didnít come back at all.
He is the Quantico drill instructor that has never seen combat--but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each otherís backs.
He is the parade-riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.
He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.
He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor die unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the oceanís sunless deep.
He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket--palsied now and aggravatingly slow--who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.
He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being, a person who offered some of his lifeís most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.
He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.
So remember, each...
The roof of the church hall of a little Swiss church, at the turn of the 20th century, was falling down. So the members of the church held regular prayer meetings in the hall after the service to pray for funds to repair the roof .
There was an old man, known to be very tight with his money, who used to attend and sit near the back of the hall. He could sneak out just before the collection plate came round at the end of the prayer meeting.
One Sunday, he was held up on his way to the prayer meeting in the Hall by the vicar and could only find a seat at the front of the church.
During the prayer meeting, a piece of the roof fell and hit him on the head. Feeling spoke to by the Lord, he stood up and said "Lord, I’ll give £1000"
A voice at the back of the church was heard to say " Hit him again, Lord"!
Come with me in your imagination to the battlefield of Saratoga in New York where in 1777 two battles of the Revolutionary War took place. You will notice on that battlefield an obelisk or pillar standing as a monument to what happened there. At the base are four deep niches for the bronze figures of the generals who fought there so heroically. The first contains the figure of Horatio Gates while the second contains that of Philip Schuyler. In the third niche we see the figure of Daniel Morgan, but when we come to the fourth we see something unusual.
The fourth niche is empty. This one was for a general whose performance during battle merited honor. However, he later committed an act of treason and his name became became associated with being a traitor rather than a hero. Yet at the base of that empty niche, we can see the name of this general engraved in the stone. His name is Benedict Arnold, and that niche will stand forever as a monument of one who went from heroism to treason.
In heaven a great monument is there also consisting of twelve foundations on each of which is the name of an apostle. However, on that celestial monument there is a name that is missing, the name of Judas Iscariot. Oh, the tragedy of abandoning noble purposes!
ďToo Big To MissĒ
The storyís told in the Bible about a mighty king. And how when he was just a little boy he played around with a sling. Well he got up early one morning and before the sun had set that day, a nasty olí giant had lost his head and his body lay cold on the clay.
When David went out to the battlefield his big brother said, ďStay away! Youíve got no business out here, David, so go back home and play!Ē David said, ďStep aside, boys. Iím gonna take that giant on!Ē His brother said, ďObey your elders David; get back home where you belong!Ē
David said, ďThat giant ainít gonna make fun of MY God and King! Iím gonna find me five smooth stones and play awhile with my sling! Iím gonna challenge that devil in the Name of the Lord; and when heís dead Iím gonna take my sword, chop of his head and let the world know that Jehovah is the Lord!Ē
His brother said, ďListen little David, you ainít thinkiní straight. That giant up thereís too big to hit, and your body he will mutilate!Ē David said, ďListen big brother; Iíve seen worse than this. That giant up there ainít too big to hit, that giantís too big to miss!Ē
Well the rest of the story you all know, I guess itís history. David took one smooth stone and that giant fell like a tree. So when a giant of trouble gets in your way, you remember what ďlittle DavidĒ had to say: ďIíve seen worse than this! That giant up there ainít too big to hit, that giantís too big to miss!
MEMORIAL DAY, A TIME FOR HEALING
Memorial Day, perhaps more than any other holiday, was born of human necessity. Deep inside all of us lies a fundamental desire to make sense of life and our place in it and the world. What we have been given, what we will do with it and what we will pass to the next generation is all part of an unfolding history, a continuum that links one soul to another.
Abraham Lincoln pondered these thoughts in the late fall of 1863. His darkest fear was that he might well be the last president of the United States, a nation embroiled in the self-destruction of what he described as "a great civil war..testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure." He began his remarks with those words as he stood on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19th of that year.
The minuteís speech that became known as Lincolnís Gettysburg Address turned into what might be called the first observance of Memorial Day. Lincolnís purpose that day was to dedicate a portion of the battlefield as a cemetery for the thousands of men, both living and dead, who consecrated that soil in the sacrifice of battle. Said Abraham Lincoln: "That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause which they gave the last full measure of devotion...that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom..."
The next year, a pleasant Sunday in October of 1864 found a teenage girl, Emma Hunter, gathering flowers in a Boalsburg, Pennsylvania cemetery to place on the grave of her father. He was a surgeon who had died in service to the Union Army in that great Civil War. Nearby, Mrs. Elizabeth Meyer was strewing flowers upon the grave of her son Amos, a private who had fallen on the last day of the battle of Gettysburg. Emma respectfully took a few of her flowers and put them on the grave of Amos. Mrs. Meyer, in turn, laid some of her freshly cut blooms on the grave of Dr. Hunter. Both women felt a lightening of their burdens by this act of honoring each otherís loss, and agreed to meet again the next year. This time they agreed they would also visit the graves of those who had no one left to honor them.
Both Emma Hunter and Elizabeth Meyer returned to the cemetery in Boalsburg on the day they had agreed, Independence Day, July 4, 1865. This time, though, they found themselves joined by nearly all the residents of the town. Dr. George Hall, a clergyman, offered a sermon, and the community joined in decorating every grave in the cemetery with flowers and flags. The custom became an annual event at Boalsburg, and it wasnít long before neighboring communities established their own "Decoration Day" each spring.
About that same time in 1865, a druggist in Waterloo, New York, Henry C. Welles, began promoting the idea of decorating the graves of Civil War veterans. He gained the support of the Seneca County Clerk, General John B. Murray, and they formed a committee to make wreaths, crosses and bouquets for each veteranís grave. On May 5, 1866, war veterans marching to martial music led processions to each of three cemeteries, where the graves were decorated and speeches were made by General Murray and local clergymen. The village itself was also decorated with flags at half-mast, evergreen boughs and mourning black streamers.
Also, as the Civil War was coming to a close in the spring of 1865, Womenís Auxiliaries of the North and South moved from providing relief to the families and soldiers on their own sides to joining in efforts to preserve and decorate the graves of both sides. A woman of French extraction and leader of the Virginia womenís movement, Cassandra Oliver Moncure, took responsibility of coordinating the activities of several groups into a combined ceremony on May 30. It is said that she picked that day because it corresponded to the Day of Ashes in France, a solemn day that commemorates the return of the remains of Napoleon Bon...
Just out in this past Thursdayís USATODAY website (May 30,2002) Ė ďAmericans are increasingly pessimistic about the war against terrorism following weeks of revelations about missed clues and warnings of likely future attacks. Only four in 10 Americans believe the United States and its allies are winning the war against terrorism, according to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup poll. In January, when headlines focused on military successes on the battlefield in Afghanistan, two-thirds of those polled felt the nation was winning the war. The number has declined steadily since. Now, 35% say neither side is winning the war, and 15% say the terrorists are winning.Ē Wave after wave of reports of new terrorist threats, perhaps biological terrorism, nuclear arms at the hands of terrorist, and terrorist attack alerts/warnings I believe is wearing down on the nerves of the people.
I believe in the same way many Christians today too are sensing that they are not winning the battle against the enemy of our souls. Just like the Al Qeada terrorists, the devilís demons appears hard to root out, and when they do strike, many Christians fall or fall far away from Godís purposes, just as we hear soldiers die or mistakes happen such as the ďfriendly fireĒ incident that caused Canadian lives. As a result, there is a sense of pessimism among many defeated Christians. Defeated perhaps by cares of this world, defeated by pressures that seem out of control, defeated by Ö If Jesus is victorious, as many claim, where then is that victory? Where then is the joy?
A monument to a man’s leg was erected on the Saratoga battlefield in honor of Benedict Arnold, one-time hero of the Continental Army but who later tried to betray West Point and then fled to England.
Because Arnold was instrumental in winning the crucial battle of Saratoga where his left leg was wounded. General Depeyster had the monument erected at his own expense. The rest of the betrayer’s body and his face were not to be commemorated!
The inscription beside the boot nowhere carries the name of Benedict Arnold. It reads:
“In memory of the most brilliant soldier of the Continental Army, who was desperately wounded on this spot. . . 7th October, 1777, winning for his countrymen the decisive battle of the American Revolution, and for himself the rank of major general.”
Great things can be erased by bad acts.