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FORREST GUMP: SOMETIMES THERE AREN'T ENOUGH ROCKS
In the movie Forrest Gump, Forrest has a lifetime friendship with Jenny. In one scene, when both of them are grown and Jenny is just beginning to retreat from her lifestyle of sex and drugs, they are walking down a dirt road. Soon they come to the shack where Jenny lived as a little girl - the shack where she experienced abuse. As they come up to it her face contorts with hatred and anger. She reaches down, picks up a rock and flings it towards the shack. It chips off some of the already deteriorating paint. She picks up another rock and fires again, this time crashing through an already broken window. She picks up and hurls another, and another, and another - all with reckless abandon. Finally, she falls exhausted to the ground. Forrest gazes down at her and says, "I guess sometimes there just aren't enough rocks."
There was more to what Forrest said than what he probably knew. Surely she could have thrown stones all day and never destroyed the shack. That was obvious. But not so obvious was the deeper meaning of the scene - throwing stones all day would never abolish the abuse, or demolish the effects of it. Throwing stones would never bring her torment, her agony, her misery, her anguish to the ground.
And weíve been there - weíve thrown the stones - at situations, at people, at memories. And itís never relieved the agony, destroyed the misery, or lessened our anguish. It has never eased our torment. So Jennyís question is ours Ė When throwing stones wonít cut it, what do we do?
SEEKING THE RIGHT KINGDOM
She is filled with bitterness as she speaks to me. Jillian (not her real name) has suffered from a stroke and her tears run freely as she recounts once again her desire to live at home.
Those who have power of Attorney have decided that she is best cared for at Shalom, but she doesnít want to spend the remaining years of her life in an Aged Care Facility. She doesnít like the room, the people, the food. She has money, so much money, "thousands of dollars," but it is no good to her now.
She looks at me through tears of sheer frustration as her kingdom is beyond her reach. She is bereft and disinherited, with all her money just lying in the bank. In building a kingdom of outward luxury, she has forgotten the kingdom of her heart, those inward resources that would enable her to give thanks in all circumstances and to experience inward joy no matter what she encounters in life. She kicks against the goads and says "I DONíT WANT TO LIVE LIKE THIS!" I can understand that. Iíve exclaimed these words with the same anguished vehemence, only she is in danger of losing her sanity and even worse, her own soul.
Jesus tells a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven in contrast to the kingdoms we try to build for ourselves on earth in Matthew 13:24. Jillianís freedom and contentment depends on which kingdom she seeks and no, I am not speaking about suicide, euthanasia or death. Seeking the Kingdom of Heaven has little to do with dying and much to do with experiencing life to the full, here and now.
Sure, heaven, the Kingdom of God, is a LITERAL place, but Jesus said something interesting. He said ďThe Kingdom of Heaven has comeĒ (Matthew 4:17). In fact we pray that way whenever we pray the Lordís prayer. "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." We pray that the will and authority of the Kingdom of Heaven will be translated into the everyday things of earth, here and now.
1 John 2:15-2:17
1 Kings 3:16-3:28
2 Corinthians 9:12-10:1
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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:
5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness
5. (Tie) Sexual lust
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).
Years ago in Germany, there was a young Jewish boy who had a profound sense of admiration for his father. His familyís life centered on the acts of piety and devotion prescribed by their religion. The father was zealous in attending worship and religious instruction, and he demanded the same from his children. While the boy was a teenager, the family was forced to move to another town in Germany. There was no synagogue in the new town, and the pillars of the community all belonged to the Lutheran church. Suddenly the father announced to the family that they were going to abandon their Jewish traditions and join the Lutheran church. When the stunned family asked why, the father explained that changing religions was necessary to help his business.
The youngster was bewildered and confused. His deep disappointment soon gave way to anger and a kind of intense bitterness that plagued him throughout his life. That disappointed son, disillusioned by his fatherís lack of integrity, eventually left Germany and went to England to study. He sat daily at the British Museum, formulating various ideas and writing a book. In that work, he introduced an entirely new world-view, envisioning a movement that would change the social and political systems of the world. Drawing from past experiences with his father, he described religion as an ďopiate for the massesĒ that...
1 John 2:4-2:5
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What Does Hope Do For Mankind?
Hope shines brightest when the hour is darkest.
Hope motivates when discouragement comes.
Hope energizes when the body is tired.
Hope sweetens while bitterness bites.
Hope sings when all melodies are gone.
Hope believes when evidence is eliminated.
Hope listens for answers when no one is talking.
Hope climbs over obstacles when no one is helping.
Hope endures hardship when no on is caring.
Hope smiles confidently when no one is laughing.
Hope reaches for answers when no one is asking.
Hope presses toward victory when no one is encouraging.
Hope dares to give when no one is sharing.
Hope brings the victory when no one is winning.
- John Maxwell from Think on These Things –
Wade Hughes, Sr
Why do people wear masks?
Several years ago, I had a nightmare, it was terrible.
For many days my spirit was greatly troubled.
In a dream, I saw one of my most serious workers at
church dying a terrible death.
As my church worker was dying,
I saw a battle going against my member.
I was broken beyond belief, as I saw this dedicated
Christian worker die and the Devil was grabbing the
individual and taking the soul to hell.
The smell was terrible, I could smell the enemy and
hell. This was so real.
In the dream, I started screaming, this is a terrible
No way enemy, you canít have this worker!
I have counted on them to do many things to build
They have touched many people and led many to the
I am a better pastor because of this individual, and
the church is a better church, after all the hours
and efforts this family has invested in the church.
The enemy was slowly dragging my church member toward
the lake of fire and great torment.
We could hear the horrible sounds coming out of hell.
The smell was so real and horrible, I shall never
I was thinking, maybe there was secret sin, and they
were playing Christian games.
This was not the problem. I tried to fight for my
dear friend and the enemy kept slowly pulling my
member towards hell.
The fight was very painful.
I said, this is a good person.
This family paid their tithes.
They were faithful to church.
I could count on them.
What is going on here?
Jesus help me? What is going on here?
With tears in His eyes, Jesus came to me,
and said, I have tried and I have tried to change the
events of this day.
I have personally sent messages through you to warn
I have sent radio messages to expose the sin?
I have given the words to television preachers, and
they watched with zeal, but My words were unheeded.
This person has cassette tapes that has warned them,
but they have not heard the message I have spoken to
This person has books on their shelf, they have read
the parts they like, but the message I warned them,
As a matter of record, when they heard the message,
they said the message was for someone else.
They even said, amen, let it be, but they thought the
message was for the other party.
I again questioned, Why Jesus, what is the wrong?
I knew them! They are good people.
With tears running down Jesusí face,
Jesus said, "This individual was very angry,
and full of wrath.
Bitterness was rampant daily, and unforgiveness had
helped to bring an early death.
The home was full of coldness and painful rejection.
This person had allowed a critical spirit to tear
down the confidence in everyone.
They refused to pray.
Their hurt and disappointments had become the driving
force in their heart.
The anger they carried had brought physical
affliction, yet this never got their attention to
The person had rejected forgiveness, and justified
because of unforgiveness.
I was absolutely broken, as I saw one of my best
friends escorted into hell.
I could do nothing to change the hard heart, the
the bitterness, --- the bait had been accepted.
The trap had locked on the neck.
I understood blasphemy as never before.
By focusing on the bitterness and pain, the person
had shown contempt and the lack of reverence for God
or His people.
Jesus had warned, the anger was turning into wrath,
Wade Hughes, Sr
If we face our problems and respond to them positively, and refuse to give in to panic,
refuse bitterness, or refuse self-pity...
THEN GOD CAN TURN THINGS AROUND.
THE ADVERSITIES THAT COME ALONG TO BURY US USUALLY HAVE WITHIN THEM THE POTENTIAL TO BENEFIT AND BLESS US!
A HEART FOCUSED ON GOD
One writer (Warren Wiersbe) wrote a book called Victorious Christian about a woman named Fanny Crosby. Crosby was the author of over 8000 songs including several that we sang today. In fact she wrote so many that she had to write under pseudonymns just so she could get more of her songs into the hymnbooks.
At 6 weeks of age Fanny Crosby developed a minor eye inflammation and was taken to a local doctor for treatment. However, the doctor who treated her used the wrong medicine on her eyes and she became totally and permanently blind because of his carelessness.
Interviewed years later, Fanny Crosby said she harbored no bitterness against the physician. In fact, she once said, "If I could meet him now, I would say thank you, over and over again for making me blind." She felt that her blindness was a gift from God to help her write the hymns that flowed from her pen.
How could Fanny Crosby, blinded by a tragic failure of a careless doctor Ėstill be filled with suc...
ILL. Listen to this true story. Rabbi Michael Weisser lived in Lincoln, Nebraska. And for more than 3 years, Larry Trapp, a self-proclaimed Nazi & Ku Klux Klansman, directed a torrent of hate-filled mailings & phone calls toward him.
Trapp promoted white supremacy, anti-Semitism, & other messages of prejudice, declaring his apartment the KKK state headquarters & himself the grand dragon. His whole purpose in life seemed to be to spew out hate-ridden racial slurs & obscene remarks against Weisser & all those like him.
At first, the Weissers were so afraid they locked their doors & worried themselves almost sick over the safety of their family. But one day Rabbi Weisser found out that Trapp was a 42-year-old clinically blind, double amputee. And he became convinced that Trappís own physical helplessness was a source of the bitterness he expressed.
So Rabbi Weisser decided to do the unexpected. He left a message on Trappís answering machine, telling him of another side of lifeÖa life free of hatred & racism.
Rabbi Weisser said, "I probably called 10 times & left messages before he finally picked up the phone & asked me why I was harassing him. I said that Iíd like to help him. I offered him a ride to the grocery store or to the mall."
Trapp was stunned. Disarmed by the kindness & courtesy, he started thinking. He later admitted, through tears, that he heard in the rabbiís voice, "something I hadnít experienced in years. It was love."
Slowly the bitter man began to soften. One night he called the Weissers & said he wanted out, but didnít know how. They grabbed a bucket of fried chicken & took him dinner. Before long they made a trade: in return for their love he gave them his swastika rings, hate tracts, & Klan robes.
That same day Trapp gave up his Ku Klux Klan recruiting job & dumped the rest of his propaganda in the trash. "They showed me so much love that I couldnít help but love them back," he finally confessed.
Folks, if that could happen in Lincoln, Nebraska, what could happen here in our community, in our neighborhoods, if we truly began to live lives that showed the love of Jesus to those around us?
Kurt Cobain died about 8 years ago. I remember the day I picked up the newspaper and read about it. He was the founder and lead singer of the rock group "Nirvana." His death was a suicide. He took a shotgun, pointed it to his head, and killed himself. The newspaper was filled with the words of fans and commentators in disbelief saying "Why? It makes no sense." "He had it all . . . a great career, a huge following, plenty of money, a wife and a 19 month old daughter . . . Why?" To most people it made no sense. But I remember sitting at my desk thinking. "Yes it does. It makes sense. Kurt Cobain was living out his beliefs to their logical extreme." You see, Kurt Cobain was a self professed humanist and nihilist. In other words, he believed their was no God and that there was no meaning or purpose to life. His music (poetry) could not be more clear on this matter.
Kurt Cobainís music was grunge rock. He pioneered this type of music. The alternative rock style of today has evolved from grunge rock. Kurt had a disdain for anything mainstream or acceptable to society. He was a child of divorce. At the age of eight he began to be shifted from home to home, sometimes even being homeless. He was very vocal about his bitterness from that experience. He developed his belief that life was basically rotten and meaningless.
His music often spoke of his anger and disillusionment. One of his most famous songs was called "Nevermind." Its recurring line was "Oh well, whatever, nevermind." Another song he wrote never got released. It was too objectionable to the label company, but Kurt liked it. It was called, "I Hate Myself, And I Want To Die." In another song called "Smells Like Teen Spirit," a well known line says, "I feel stupid and contagious, here we are, now entertain us." The video of that song was voted best video of the decade of the 90ís.
Friends of Cobain say he lived up to his music. He often acted without reason. He was constantly on an emotional roller coaster. But his dips into despair got deeper and deeper. Once, a member of his road crew asked him why he was moping around so much. Cobain replied, "Iím awake, arenít I?" Kurt Cobain was a young man fueled by nihilism. He had passion, but for nothing. He had a void in his heart that nothing he pursued could fill, and he believed that nothing could or ever would. He had no purpose, no meaning, and he simply lived out his belief in his worldview to its logical conclusion.
He reminds me of another man. Solomon. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes of pursuing all of the things the world has to offer. He also wrote of the despair they brought him. They offered no meaning. Solomon, however, concluded differently than Kurt Cobain. He concluded that purpose and meaning were found in the living God. Only be knowing and serving Him could you rise above the level of despair. And there is even better news than that. Now, God has declared through His Son how much He loves us, and that He wants to spend eternity with us.