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Sermon Central Staff
HOW BIG IS YOUR GOD?
Tony Campolo was once confronted by an atheist who was one of his students. The young man told Campolo, "For me to believe in God, I have to have a God that I can understand."
And Campolo replied, "God refuses to be that small!"
(From a sermon by Jeff Strite, Trusting in Ravens, 8/8/2011)
Tony Campolo says that his wife is a brilliant woman. She has a PHD & is capable of pursuing a very profitable career. But she elected to stay home with her children when they were young. Her decision didn’t bother her at all except when other women would ask, “What do you do?” She would answer, “I’m a homemaker. I stay home & take care of my children & my husband.” They would usually respond with “Oh” & then ignore her from then on.
So Mrs. Campolo came up with this response when she was asked what she did: “I’m socializing two Homo-sapiens in Judeo-Christian values so they’ll appropriate the eschatological values of utopia. What do you do?” They would often blurt out “I’m a doctor” or “I’m a lawyer” & then wander off with a dazed look in their eyes.
“Joy in Christ requires a commitment to working at the Christian lifestyle. Salvation comes as a gif, but the joy of salvation demands disciplined action. Most Christians I know have just enough of the Gospel to make them miserable, but not enough to make them joyful. They know enough about the biblical message to keep them form doing the things which the world tempts them to do; but they do not have enough of a commitment to God to do those things through which they might experience the fullness of his joy.” (Tony Campolo. Seven Deadly Sins. p. 21)
HE WAS HEALED
Tony Campolo tells a story about being in a church in Oregon where he was asked to pray for a man who had cancer. Campolo prayed boldly for the man’s healing.
That next week he got a telephone call from the man’s wife. She said, "You prayed for my husband. He had cancer." Campolo thought when he heard her use the past tense verb that his cancer had been eradicated! But before he could think much about it she said, "He died." Compolo felt terrible.
But she continued, "Don’t feel bad. When he came into that church that Sunday he was filled with anger. He knew he was going to be dead in a short period of time, and he hated God. He was 58 years old, and he wanted to see his children and grandchildren grow up. He was angry that this all-powerful God didn’t take away his sickness and heal him. He would lie in bed and curse God. The more his anger grew towards God, the more miserable he was to everybody around him. It was an awful thing to be in his presence.
But the lady told Compolo, "After you prayed for him, a peace had come over him and a joy had come into him. Tony, the last three days have been the be...
Tony Campolo, A Baptist minister, was invited to speak at a college in Valley Forge Penn. He drove to the college and before he spoke several men took him in the back room and began to pray for him, that God would use his speech.
While these men were praying, one man, just off the cuff began praying "And Lord, about Burt Harris. Lord, Burt Harris needs you really badly. Because he lives in that trailer down the street and he is considering leaving his wife and family. And Lord if you could just get through to Burt Harris...that would be great." and then went on with his prayer.
Campolo thought, "that is strange that he should pray that here." He went out and he spoke and finished his message and then he got in his car and was driving home. And he picked up a hitch hiker. He said he knew that he wasn’t supposed to pick up hitch hikers, but he thought, ’being a preacher, anytime I can get a captive audience, I’ll take advantage of it."
So he gets this guy in the car and he is talking to him and he says, "By the way, what is your name?" and the man said, "Burt Harris". Campolo stopped the car, turned it around and immediately headed the opposite direction. The man looked at him and said, "What are you doing?" Campolo said, "I am taking you back to your wife and family whom you are trying to leave."
The man went white! He never said another word, he sat there speechless and Campolo drove him straight up to this guys trailer. And the guy says, "How do you know where I live?" Campolo said, "God told me." (in a way He really had.)
Campolo said "I took this guy inside his home and the family and marriage was restored and God did an exciting thing."
I want to conclude with a story that Tony Campolo tells about a time he was asked to speak at a Pentecostal college. He remembered that before the service, eight men had him kneel so they could place their hands on his head and pray. He was glad to have prayer, but each of them prayed a long time, and the longer they prayed the more they pushed on his head. One of the men didn’t even pray for him, he prayed for a neighbor. He said, "Dear Lord, you know Charlie Stoltzfus. He lives in that silver trailer down the road a mile. You know the trailer, Lord, just down the road on the right-hand side." Tony recalls that he wanted to interrupt and tell him that God already knew where they guy lived and didn’t need directions, but he remained silent & just tried to keep his head upright. The prayer went on: "Lord, Charlie told me this morning he’s going to leave his wife and three kids. Step in and do something, God. Bring that family back together." The prayer time ended & Tony preached. Things went well. After the service as he was headed home he saw a hitchhiker and felt compelled to pick him up. Campolo, said, "We drove a few minutes in silence & then I said: ’Hi, my name’s Tony Campolo. What’s yours?’ He said, ’My name is Charlie Stoltzfus.’ Campolo got off the turnpike at the next exit and headed back. After a few minutes Charlie said, ’Hey mister, where are you taking me?’ He said, ’I’m taking you home.’ He narrowed his eyes & asked, ’Why?’ I said, ’Because you just left your wife & 3 kids, right?’ He was shocked, he had never seen me before. He plastered himself against the car door & never took his eyes off me. Then I really did him in as I drove right to his silver trailer. When I pulled up, his eyes almost bulged as he asked, ’How did you know that I lived here?’ I said ’God told me.’ (I believe God did tell me.) When he opened the trailer door his wife exclaimed, ’You’re back, You’re back’ He whispered in her ear & the more he talked, the bigger her eyes got. I said with real authority, ’The two of you sit down. I’m going to talk & you two are going to listen’ That afternoon I led those two people to Jesus Christ."
Tony Campolo tells a story of a homeless man who offered to share his coffee with Tony. Tony said the coffee must have been swimming with bacteria but he took a drink. Then he said “that’s very generous of you to share your coffee with me.” And the man said “I believe that when God gives you something extra special you should share it”.
Miss Thompson taught Teddy Stallard in the fourth grade. He was a slow, unkempt student, a loner shunned by his classmates. The previous year his mother died, and what little motivation for school he may have once had was now gone. Miss Thompson didn’t particularly care for Teddy either, but at Christmas time he brought her a small present. Her desk was covered with well-wrapped presents from the other children, but Teddy’s came in a brown sack. When she opened it there was a gaudy rhinestone bracelet with half the stones missing and a bottle of cheap perfume. The children began to snicker but Miss Thompson saw the importance of the moment. She quickly splashed on some perfume and put on the bracelet, pretending Teddy had given her something special. At the end of the day Teddy worked up enough courage to softly say, "Miss Thompson, you smell just like my mother . . . and her bracelet looks real pretty on you too. I’m glad you like my presents." After Teddy left, Miss Thompson got down on her knees and prayed for God’s forgiveness. She prayed for God to use her as she sought to not only teach these children but to love them as well. She became a new teacher. She lovingly helped students like Teddy, and by the end of the year he had caught up with most of the students. Miss Thompson didn’t hear from Teddy for a long time. Then she received this note: "Dear Miss Thompson, I wanted you to be the first to know. I will be graduating second in my class. Love, Teddy Stallard." Four years later she got another note: "Dear Miss Thompson, They just told me I will be graduating first in my class. I wanted you to be the first to know. The university has not been easy, but I liked it. Love, Teddy Sta...
Tony Campolo said, "If you ever start to feel proud, just remember that soon after your body has been lowered into the grave, your family & friends will be eating potato salad & telling jokes, & you’ll be history."
Tony Campolo - God carries your picture in His wallet.