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Martin Dale
 
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THE RED BARON AND TEMPTATION

Manfred, Freiherr von Richthofen was a famous German First World War fighter pilot.

He was better known as the Red Baron because he flew a distinctive a red Fokker aircraft.

He shot down more combat planes than any one else on either side in the first World war

His known kill tally was 80.

On 21st April 1918, he began chasing a Canadian plane - that was trying to escape the battle over the Mor-lan-court Ridge, near the river Somme.

As the Red Baron pursued his prey, he strayed behind Allied lines.

He dived too low into the enemy lines

And he also he missed a Canadian pilot (Arthur) "Roy" Brown coming up on his tail to help his comrade.

We will never know whether it was a shot from the ground - or a shot from Brown that killed Richthofen.

But what we do know is that the "Red Baron" came to his end because he made the mistake of pursuing that Allied 'plane "too long, too far, and too low into enemy territory" (as one report so succinctly put it)

And many committed Christians have been shot down because they have followed temptation for too long, too far, and too low into enemy territory.

And as with Richthofen -- they are then caught unawares and then have to deal with the conseqences.

 
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NOT MY JOB

The names in this story have been changed out of respect for their privacy. Julie W told her family's story in a magazine article.

[My daughter], Allison, came home for the weekend. She opened the door, didn't speak, and dropped her duffel bag. Smudges of mascara circled her eyes. I whispered a "God-please-no" prayer.
"Come tell me about your classes." I patted the sofa. She muttered,
"Gotta take a shower."

As she clomped upstairs, I analyzed the recent changes in her: complaints of not having any money, rarely answers the phone, weight loss, pinpoint pupils, and a "who gives a rip" [facade]. I searched her purse and found a leopard-colored pipe and the unmistakable sweet odor of pot. My heart fluttered wildly like a bird stuck inside my chest.

She plodded down the stairs, hair in a towel, wearing the same wrinkled clothes. Be still and talk in a sweet voice, I told myself. You must convince her to stop. "We need to talk, honey."

"Not now. I'm tired."

"I found your pipe."

She stared at me with death-row eyes. "Chill, it's not that big of a deal."

The tightness in the den suffocated me. I needed air. "Want to walk?" I asked brightly. "Like we used to?"

"Whatever."

I knew I could talk some sense into her. "Honey, please. You've gotta stop." I grabbed her hand.

"Mom!" She jerked away.

"We have a strong family history. You don't want to..."

I never got to finish the sentence. Allison stormed out of the room and within minutes was headed back to college. I knew what I had to do--abandon everything in my life and start to worry/fix/control full-time.

I began spending most days by the phone. I evaluated Allison's reactions, gestures, and comments. Thoughts circled my mind like buzzards: What if she never stops? What if I never see her again? What if she overdoses? Or goes to jail?

I lured Allison into therapy by promising we'd go to an Italian restaurant before visits. Her first appointment day arrived. She played with her spaghetti, and I couldn't eat. "So, what do you plan to say to the counselor?" I asked.

"How should I know?"

When they called her name at the office, I hurried in to make sure the counselor understood. Allison refused to sign for me to have any information. I considered eavesdropping, but too many people were around. An hour later, she walked past me as I paid.

"What'd you talk about?"

"Just stuff."

Our therapy/lunch charade continued that way for a few weeks. Then Allison's sister informed me she was still using. She denied it, refused to see the counselor, dropped out of college, and stopped answering my calls.

I was convinced if I forgot about Allison, even for a second, or enjoyed anything, something bad might happen. Several months later, after another night of little sleep, I glanced in the mirror. I could have passed for the addict: dark circles under hopeless eyes.
I called my friend Linda. Her son, also an addict, had been sentenced to state prison. "You can't imagine all that's going on here," I said.

"Come over for coffee," she urged.

I wanted to stand guard at home but knew she'd listen and understand.

"Hey, girlfriend." Linda hugged me. I didn't touch my coffee as I blurted the saga. Linda didn't sweet-talk. "You need help."
"You haven't heard the whole story," I argued. "I'm fine--my daughter, she needs help."

"You're addicted to worry and control," Linda said. "I've been where you are." She stretched out on the sofa. "The only one you can control is yourself."

The possibility that she might be right terrified me. "It took me years to realize that I'm not in charge. God is," Linda admitted. "By worrying, you're telling God he can't handle things. Go to Al-Anon with me." I'd heard of Al-Anon but didn't see how it applied to me. But I agreed because I was in awe of Linda.

I didn't open my mouth during the meeting. Every word spoken sounded like my own thoughts:

"I worried myself sick about my alcoholic husband."
"My peace comes only when I let go and let God."
Then the speaker said, "To change, you'll have to leave behind some familiar lifelong habits." But how? This is who I am--what I do. "An alcoholic can't drink, and those of us in this room can't allow an ounce of worry. For us, it's every bit as dangerous and addictive. Worry robs our serenity."

I didn't think change was possible. Not for me. But I knew one thing for sure--I was destroying my life. That night at home I got real. "Help me, God. I can't do this without you." I began to ask God for help each morning. I whispered, "Not my job," as worry, fear, or control tried to needle back in.

Two years after that first Al-Anon meeting, Allison and I met for an impromptu lunch. She'd gone back to the same therapist. On her own.
"You can't imagine how easy it is to study when you're not high," she laughed.

"Nope, I guess not." I blinked back happy tears.

"Thanks, Mom."

"For what?"

"When you didn't fix my problems, it scared me. A few times I had to dig change out of the seat of my car for gas money. Some days," she paused, "I didn't have food." My throat felt warm with pride. She'd done it on her own. "I'm making A's. And look," she handed me her checkbook. "I have money again."

Recovery defies logic. It means doing the opposite of what feels natural. When I took care of myself and my addictions, Allison did the same.

Citation: Condensed from our sister publication Today's Christian,© 2008 Christianity Today International Julie W., "Not My Job," Today's Christian (July/August 2008)

Everyone needs a hero. For the mother who told this story it was her friend, Linda. Then she turned to God as her ultimate hero. We all could do with someone to help us work through our troubles. We need a victorious warrior to fight our battles. No one knows that better than God himself.

From Mark Haines' Sermon "Our Mighty God"

 
Contributed By:
Andrew Moffatt
 
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The Parable of Water

There are a lot of things I could compare when it comes to living in the world, sexual sin, the lust we have for objects that are shiny; but, Iíve decided that Iím not going to. Iíve decided to discuss two different liquids. One of them is water and the other is Coca Cola.

The two Iím going to compare in this way:
Letís just pretend that water is the Godís kingdom stuff, the things that come from the Father.(repeat)
Letís also pretend that Coke on the other hand is the world.(repeat)

By my own admission, thereís always some Coke in the Moffatt family grocery trolley. We are Salvationistís we donít smoke, we donít drink, or gamble Ė but hey we have Coke in the fridge.

1) When I see a Coke bottle or Coke advertising Iím keen for a Coke. On a hot day I could be said to be craving a Coke. Water might be better for me, the truth is water is better for me, but there is water in Coke, Coke contains carbonated purified water, cane sugar, caramel 150d (colour), food acid (338), flavour, and caffeine. It says that about caffeine twice, the second time in bold letters.

On the other hand water contains two hydrogen atoms to every oxygen atom, a virtual trinity of atoms. All life is dependent on water if it knows it or not.

Coke all that yummy caramel coloured, caffeine enhanced goodness. The caffeine helps fuel the craving. That this has all been in the fridge Ė ice cold, (open the can), all enhances the craving, (take a sip) Ė how is that craving going for you? Now remember Iím pretending water is Godís Kingdom stuff and that Coke is the world.

2) Now the lust of the eyes, Coke comes in a ďcontour bottleĒ with its hoop skirt appearance and the ďdynamic ribbon deviceĒ note the attractive red and white against the dark caramel of the liquid. With the trademark Coca-Cola, lettering. Nice! This is one of the most widely recognised designs in the world.

So along with the craving and the eye attractiveness thingy Coke is a must! I even found this bottle that has my name on it, have a Coke with Andrew, thatís clever.
Water on the other hand, well its always close, we see it in creation, it sustains life, it cleans us, allows growth, it rains down on us. All life is dependent on water whether it knows it or not. You could deny all knowledge of water but it still sustains you.

Like Coke / the world comes in different flavours; mmm vanilla, with or without sugar and itís on special often. Water / that kingdom of God stuff is always there, the benefits of it are always there, the life sustaining growth that it brings is always there, you could almost take it for granted, how often do we pass it over for the Coke. Coke that liquid that comes in a variety of sizes, continually costs, not to mention the litter that is left behind. When if we just turned the tap on, if we just leapt into a lake of water we would have a supply that would never run out and the price of which has been paid for us.

The other thing about the world is that just when you believe that you have found satisfaction in Coca Cola, you discover Dr Pepper!

 
Contributed By:
Jim Kane
 
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GOD IS EVERY WHERE

A fifth grade teacher in a Christian school asked her class to look at TV commercials and see if they could use them in some way to communicate ideas about God. Here are some of the results:
GOD is like a FORD ... Heís got a better idea.
GOD is like COKE ... Heís the real thing.
GOD is like HALLMARK CARDS ... He cares enough to send His very best.
GOD is like TIDE ... He gets the stains out that others leave behind.
GOD is like GENERAL ELECTRIC ... He brings good things to life.
GOD is like SEARS ... He has everything.
GOD is like ALKA-SELTZER ... Try Him, youíll like him.
GOD is like SCOTCH TAPE ... You canít see him, but you know Heís there.
GOD is like DELTA .... Heís rea...

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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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This morning I want to focus upon some new yearís resolutions that each of should consider for ourselves, but before we delve into our topic, I thought you might enjoy a few stories of failed resolutions: A story is told that At the beginning of a new year, a high school principal decided to post his teachersí new yearís resolutions on the bulletin board. As the teachers gathered around the bulletin board, a great commotion started. One of the teachers was complaining. "Why werenít my resolutions posted?" She was throwing such a temper tantrum that the principal hurried to his office to see if he had overlooked her resolutions. Sure enough, he had mislaid them on his desk. As he read her resolutions he was astounded. This teacherís first resolution was not to let little things upset her in the New Year. Or how bout this oneÖA son called his parents to wish them a happy new year and when his Dad answered the phone, He asked his dad,Ē well Dad, whatís your new yearís resolution? His dad replied, To make "To make your mother as happy as I can all year," When his mom got on the phone he asked. her the same question. His mom replied my resolution is "To see that your dad keeps his New Yearís resolution." Or some of you may have given up on resolutions taking the same attitude as the characters in the cartoon Calvin and Hobbes: The cartoon character Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes once said, ďGod put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now Iím so far behind Iíll never die.Ē

 
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ROLL-UP-YOUR-SHIRT-SLEEVES CHRISTIANITY

When DAVE THOMAS died in early 2002, he left behind more than just thousands of Wendyís restaurants. He also left a legacy of being a practical, hard-working man who was respected for his down-to-earth values.

Among the pieces of good advice that have outlived the smiling entrepreneur is his view of what Christians should be doing with their lives. Thomas, who as a youngster was influenced for Christ by his grandmother, said that believers should be "roll-up-your-shirt sleeves" Christians.

In his book Well Done, Thomas said, "Roll-up-your-shirtsleeves Christians see Christianity as faith and action. They still make the time to talk with God through prayer, study Scripture with devotion, be super-active in their church and take their ministry to others to spread the Good Word." He went onto say they are "anonymous people who are doing good for Christ may be doing even more good than all the well-known Christians in the world."

That statement has more meat in it than a Wendyís triple burger. Thomas knew ab out hard work in the restaurant business; and he knew it is vital in the spiritual world also.

Letís Roll-up-our-shirt sleeves, there is plenty to do.

(Source: Dave Branon, Our Daily Bread. From a sermon by Dennis Davidson, Authentic Faith Works, 10/26/2009)

 
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ALL THE DIFFERENCE
All but four of the major world religions are based on mere philosophical propositions. Of the four that are based on personalities rather than philosophies, only Christianity claims an empty tomb for its founder.
In 1900 B.C. Judaismís Father Abraham died. In 483 B.C. Buddhist writings say Buddha died ďwith that utter passing away in which nothing whatever remains behind.Ē June 6, 632 A.D. Mohammed died. .
In 33 A.D. Jesus died but came back to life appearing to 500 people over a period of 40 days.
ďAnd if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is you...

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Contributed By:
Mark Eberly
 
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During a trial, in a small Missouri town, the local prosecuting attorney called his first witness to the stand. The witness was a proper well-dressed elderly lady, the Grandmother type, well spoken, and poised. She was sworn in, asked if she would tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, on the Bible, so help her God.
The prosecuting attorney approached the woman and asked, ďMrs. Jones, do you know me?íĒ She responded, ďWhy, yes I do know you, Mr. Williams. Iíve known you since you were a young boy and frankly, youíve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, cheat on your wife, manipulate people and talk badly about them behind their backs. You think youíre a rising big shot when you havenít the sense to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper-pushing shyster. Yes, I know you quite well.Ē
The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, ďMrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?Ē
She again replied, ďWhy, yes, I do. Iíve known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. Heís lazy, bigoted, has a bad drinking problem. The man canít build or keep a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. Yes, I know him.Ē
The defense attorney almost fainted. Laughter mixed with gasps, thundered throughout the courtroom and the audience was on the verge of chaos.
At this point, the judge brought the courtroom to silence, called both counselors to the bench, and in a very quiet voice said, ďIf either of you morons asks her if she knows me, youíre going to jail.Ē

 
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A PEACEMAKING CHURCH

I can tell this story because one neighbor has died and the other neighbor no longer lives across the street from our church. Our neighbors endured the disruption of their lives as we built on to our church. I'm sure that contributed to their lack of patience with us. We put our dumpster next to the parsonage. We didn't want it on Rock Creek. It was believed that it would attract others continually filling it up, and it was not the first thing that we wanted people to see when they look at our church. One neighbor had a different point of view. He didn't like coming out of his front door and looking across the street at a dumpster. He wanted to know what we were going to do.

All the neighbors and some men from our church and myself met at the dumpster. This man was angry. After he'd let off some steam I asked where he recommended we put the dumpster. You know that was a dangerous question. What he wanted was to put it out front on the corner of our property. I said to the group let's go look at what he's talking about. I did not want to do this.

I walked with the neighbors and listened to their complaints. When we got out front the man began explaining why it was a good spot. I was thinking of why it was not a good spot. But Music Minister Jim Garling, who'd followed behind and heard the man complain from one end of the property to the other, looked at me and said, "Ed, this will be OK. We can make it work." As you can see to this day, that's exactly what we did.

There are shields inside the covers of the outside lights on the west side because the woman who lived across the street at that time complained that the lights were so bright that it lit up her living room and kitchen. We didn't have to do any of that. But we're Christians. We are people of peace. Those were minor actions to do good for our neighbors in order to live at peace with them.

Peacemakers release tension; they don't intensify it. Peacemakers seek solutions and find no delight in arguments. Peacemakers calm the waters; they don't trouble them. Peacemakers work hard to keep an offense from occurring. And if it has occurred, they strive for resolution. Peacemakers lower their voice rather than raise their voice. Peacemakers generate light not heat.

(From a sermon by Ed Sasnett, Like a Good Neighbor, 7/29/2011)

 
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