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"Earlier that same year, 1885, three Christian boys had shed their blood for Christ in Uganda. The king had ordered the arrest of these page boys in an effort to stamp out Christianity. The eldest was fifteen and the youngest was eleven-year-old Yusufu. They held fast their faith and staked their lives on it, though people were weeping and their parents were pleading with them. At the place of execution they sent a message to the king: ‘Tell his majesty that he has put our bodies in the fire, but we won’t be long in the fire. Soon we shall be with Jesus, which is much better. But ask him to repent and change his mind, or he will land in a place of eternal fire and desolation.’ They sang a song which is now well loved in Uganda as the ‘martyr’s song.’ One verse says, ‘O that I had wings like the angels. I would fly away and be with Jesus!’ Little Yusufu said, ‘Please don’t cut off my arms. I will not struggle in the fire that takes me to Jesus!’ Forty adults came to Jesus the day the boys died. This was a new kind of life, which fire and torture could not control. We have a memorial near Kampala where these youngsters are remembered as the first Christian martyrs of Uganda. By 1887, the end of the first decade of the church, hundreds had died. There were martyrs out of every village that had believers. They were only beginners, they knew little theology, and some could barely read, but they had fallen in love with Jesus Christ. Life had taken on a completely new meaning. The value of living and of living eternally had been discovered. They were not hugging their lives, but ready to give them for Jesus. During these dangerous days, there was an immediate and steady increase in the number of those embracing Christ."
A retiree was given a set of golf clubs by his co-workers.
Thinking he’d try the game, he asked the local pro for lessons, explaining that he knew nothing whatever of the game.
The pro showed him the stance and swing, then said "Just hit the ball toward the flag on the first green."
The novice teed up and smacked the ball straight down the fairway and onto the green, where it stopped inches from the hole.
"Now what?", the fellow asked the speechless pro.
"Uh... you’re supposed to hit the ball into the cup" the pro finally said, after he was able to speak again.
The retiree replied, "Oh great! NOW you tell me!"
*Thanks to Pastor Tim for this joke!* http://www.cybersalt.org/cleanlaugh
Of course, like the wary schoolboy who scoffs at ghosts yet whistles while passing a graveyard, some atheists would seem to protest too much. The publications of an organization called Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc. include The Born-Again Skeptic’s Guide to the Bible; The Pillars of Religion: Ignorance, Inadequacy, Indoctrination; Why I Am an Atheist; and its bestseller Atheism, The Case Against God, promoted as an excellent manual for beginners.
From Thinking and Acting Like a Christian, D. Bruce Lockerbie, p. 27.
Bernie May of Wycliffe Bible Translators wrote, "As an airplane pilot, from the first time I sat in the beginner’s seat beside my instructor I was taught to ’trust’ my instruments. ’Your instincts will fool you,’ my instructor rightly told me. ’You must learn that even though you may feel you are flying south, if your compass says you are flying east, you’d better believe it.’ Often when a plane is surrounded by swirling mist and being buffeted by strong winds, you may feel you are in a dive and be tempted to pull back on the controls. But if your instruments say you are flying level - or even climbing - you’d better believe them. To pull back on the...
Most children and many adults have a mobile. It’s a valuable tool of communication, not only as a portable phone, but also in word messages known as ‘texting’. We were on holiday in Canada and found it so useful to keep in touch with our family by sending and receiving text messages as we travelled around.
I’m only a beginner at using my thumb in tapping out the message – I’m sure you young people are used to wearing out your thumbs in sending out messages to your friends – but it was amazing to receive a reply within minutes from our children back in the UK some 5,000 miles away!
This made me think of communicating with God our heavenly Father. Do you know what it’s called? It’s prayer! We read in the Gospels that Jesus often went to a quiet place to pray to His Father, but it wasn’t just one-way communication. No, God replied to Him by the Holy Spirit, to encourage and help Him. And He still does it today.
God is waiting to receive our text messages as we pray to Him. They don’t have to be long – my texting were only 25 words or so, often in the kind of shorthand used by texters – but God understands even the shortest, stumbling prayer, ‘Lord help me, Lord save me.’ And how does he reply? He does it in words – do you know how? Through what is written in the Bible.
Every profession has its favorite stories, and the legal profession is no exception.
A beginner attorney was defending a man accused of biting another man’s ear off during a barroom brawl. A witness to the fight was on the stand, and the young attorney was cross-examining him: “Did you actually see the defendant bite off this man’s ear?”
“No, sir,” the witness replied.
That was the answer the young attorney wanted to hear, but he made a common mistake among novice lawyers. Instead of ending his cross-examination when he was ahead and on the winning track, he continued with another question.
“What exactly did you see?” he asked.
The witness replied: “I saw him spit it out!”
From Freddy Fritz’ Sermon: Do Religious People Have an Advantage?
Sermon Central Staff
LIKE A CHILD
Yo-Yo Ma, one of the most famous cellists in our day, once said, "When people ask me how they should approach performance, I always tell them that the professional musician should aspire to the state of the beginner. In order to become a professional," he says, "you need to go through years of training. You get criticized by all your teachers, and you worry about all the critics. You are constantly being judged. But if you get onstage and all you think about is what the critics are going to say, if all you are doing is worrying, then you will play terribly. You will be tight, and it will be a bad concert. Instead," Ma says, "one needs to constantly remind oneself to play with the abandon of the child who is just learning the cello."
(Jonah Lehrer, Imagine, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012, pp. 110-111. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Take a Risk, 5/25/2012)
"Creativity is freedom to see things as always fresh and new, to enter each dawn with a beginners...
Sometimes there’s no substitute for being there in person.
One of my friends is a convicted criminal but he’s also very wealthy. He’s been sent down for a number of deception crimes and drug crimes.
This man never does anything for himself – he always pays someone to do it for him. He looses his driving license he gets a driver. He needs a dirty job doing – he hires someone. There’s worse but I won’t go into that.
Well a few years ago we went skiing with a bunch of guys. Many of the gang couldn’t ski so took lessons at the dry slope. Skiing is hard for beginners. It hurts, it’s exhausting, it’s easy to quit. My friend skipped the lessons that were booked for him with the group – too much bother.
The trouble is that when we got on the slopes he was hopeless and helpless. All the lads went straight up the mountain and had a week of great fun. He spent a miserable week sitting alone in the chalet watching TV.
Sometimes there’s no substitute for being there in person – like the shepherds at Christmas.
“Oh Please Don’t Hit the Ball to Me!” Psalm 116:1-6 Key verse(s): 3:“The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.”
There is no greater temptation than separation from God. There are many things in this life that appear tempting and alluring. The lusts of the body are strong and the lure of the world is ever-pressing. Satan stalks about always looking for a way to pull us down, even ruin us. Yet, all of these things pale in comparison to the temptation that sometimes befalls the Christian to doubt God’s presence in his life.
Growing up, I played hardball on the sandlot level. The sandlot gave way to Little League and, eventually, that gave way to the high school diamond. Maturity, however, brought me to the church softball league. Although I was a pitcher in high school, I was what you called a utility player when it came to softball. I didn’t hit for power as most of my hitting was ground balls. If I could put one between third and short, I was usually satisfied. A one bagger was an achievement for me. I never hit for the cycle and most often played a “non-finesse” position like center or right field. Possessing a pretty good arm, I was able to get the ball into the infield on no more than one hop even from deep center. At first, parked deep in right or center, I possessed a “beginner’s” level of comfort that comes with the understanding that, as a softball player, I was not the best and should no one hit the ball out to me that particular day, I would be satisfied to simply make it through the game without an embarrassing drop of a fly ball or tripping over my cleats.
Over time, however, I got more and more confidence in my ability to play the outfield and even developed a sense of pride in my albeit limited capabilities. I developed an outfield posture, able to pound my glove and crouch menacingly, looking quite comfortable, even capable out there. I even developed the ability to banter and harass the batter, taunting him to hit out to me. Over time I developed this “urge for ball” that every player longs for. You begin to want the ball. The challenge of going after a line drive, leaving your feet to stab the ball and make the incredible play, became my driving force in the outfield. Then, suddenly, that all changed. Just when I had reached the zenith of my confidence in the outfield, the team manager asked me to play the infield. Our second baseman was missing and there was no one else to play the position. I was asked to fill in. Now graduating from the outfield to the infield was a very big transition. The balls come to you a whole lot quicker when you are three times closer to the batter’s box. A quick move in the outfield can look rather sluggish when someone smashes a line drive between you and the first baseman. You have to be more alert and ready for the ball on almost every pitch. Whereas in the outfield should a batter come up that “pulls” the ball to the other field, you can feel pretty confident that you won’t be “getting” the ball on most pitches. Not the case in the infield and especially not at second base. It doesn’t matter if the batter is left-handed or right-handed. It doesn’t matter if the pitcher is pitching “in” or “out.” Second base is a hot-spot and the chances of making a mistake are high.
I knew this as I walked out onto the field and took my place near the second bag. Nonetheless, I had gained a certain level of confidence in the outfield and I figured that this would carry over no matter where I played. I knew how to field a ground ball and had a pretty good throwing arm. Second base? No problem. I could play second base. As the game warm-up began and we threw the ball around the bases, I even developed a bit of swagger. I was playing second base! Hey--I can do this! As the pitcher finished his last warm-up toss he turned around his infielders and checked their positions. “Brunner! Move closer to the bag!” He yelled. A bit startled and then embarrassed that I hadn’t positioned myself well, I obediently moved over. That’s when it hit. “I don’t know how to play second base.” Suddenly, I was separated from my confidence and the swagger was gone. “Oh please don’t hit the ball to me!”
Sometimes God, for His divine purpose and reason, asks us to “play second base.” He withdraws His grace from us and the door is open to temptations pouring in. Triggered by some trauma or great change in life, we become ripe for the ultimate test, life without knowledge that we are God’s and that He will always be there to protect us from every evil. It’s as if, as Martin Luther wrote, “he no longer wills to be our God”. Then, with the Son of God, we cry out, “Where are you Father?” We are “overcome by trouble and sorrow”. In such a vulnerable state we can only hope that “no one hits the ball to us” at that moment in our life. Rest assured, however, even this temptation is under God’s protection. He has heard your cry. He will be your God again once this test has passed. Be strong and keep your eye on the ball.