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HUMILITY: THE BALLOON GAME
Robert Roberts writes about a fourth grade class in which the teacher introduced a game called "balloon stomp." A balloon was tied to every child's leg, and the object of the game was to pop everyone else's balloon while protecting one's own. The last person with an intact balloon would win.
The fourth graders in Roberts' story entered into the spirit of the game with vigor. Balloons were relentlessly targeted and destroyed. A few of the children clung to the sidelines like wallflowers at a middle school dance, but their balloons were doomed just the same. The entire battle was over in a matter of seconds, leaving only one balloon inflated. Its owner was, of course, the most disliked kid in the class. It's hard to really win at a game like balloon stomp. In order to complete your mission, you have to be pushy, rude and offensive.
Roberts goes on to write that a second class was introduced to the same game. Only this time it was a class of mentally handicapped children. They were given the same explanation as the first class, and the signal to begin was given. But the game proceeded very differently. Perhaps the instructions were given too quickly for children with learning disabilities to grasp them. The one idea that got through was that the balloons were supposed to be popped. So it was the balloons, not the other players, that were viewed as enemies. Instead of fighting each other, they began helping each other pop balloons. One little girl knelt down and held her balloon carefully in place, like a holder for a field goal kicker. A little boy stomped it flat. Then he knelt down and held his balloon for her. It went on like this for several minutes until all the balloons were vanquished, and everybody cheered. Everybody won.
Who got the game right, and who got the game wrong? In our world, we tend to think of another person's success as one less opportunity for us to succeed. There can only be one top dog, one top banana, one big kahuna. If we ever find ourselves in that enviable position, we will fight like mad to maintain our hold on it. A lot of companies fail to enjoy prolonged success because the people in charge have this "balloon stomp" mentality. In the church, the rules change. Jesus Christ gets top billing. We're just here to serve his purposes, and we do that most effectively by elevating others and humbling ourselves.
A church that has passion is a church where "Discouraged folks cheer up, dishonest folks fees up, sour folks sweeten up, closed folk, open up, gossipers shut up, conflicted folks make up, sleeping folks wake up, lukewarm folk, fire up, dry bones shake up, and pew potatoes stand up! But most of all, Christ the Savior of the entire world is lifted up."
Have you heard about the little boy who attended church for the first time and was asked how it went? He replied, "The music was nice but the commercial was too long."
A parable is told of a community of ducks waddling off to duck church one Sunday to hear their duck preacher. After they waddled into the duck sanctuary, the service began and the duck preacher spoke eloquently of how God had given the ducks wings with which to fly.
He pounded the pulpit with his beak and said,
With these wings, there is nowhere we ducks can not go!
There is no God-given task we ducks cannot accomplish!
With these wings we no longer need walk through life.
We can soar high in the sky!
Shouts of Amen!¨ were quacked throughout the duck congregation.
The duck preacher concluded his message by exclaiming,
With our wings we can fly through life!
WE......CAN.....FLY!!!!¨ More ducks quacked out loud AMENS! in response.
Every duck loved the service.
In fact all the ducks that were ...
Church growth expert, George Barna found that prayer was the foundational ministry of rapidly growing churches in America. He wrote: “The call to prayer [in these churches] was the battle cry of the congregation: it rallied the troops. These people understood the power of prayer. They actively and consistently included prayer in their services, in their events, their meetings and their personal ministries.” Barna also said in Little Rock at a church growth conference that, “culture reinvents itself every 5 to 8 years, while the church reinvents itself ever 35 to 40 years. Therefore the church is at least 75 to 80 years behind culture all the time.”
Jonathan Edwards: The Obligation of every Generation is to understand what God is doing and then to do it together with Him!
D. Greg Ebie
Imagine that we are putting together a 1,000 piece puzzle. In turn we each put pieces into place; slowly the beauty of the picture begins to take shape. As we continue putting the puzzle together we talk about what it would be like to be a part of the scene before us. As the final pieces are being put into place we are suddenly confronted with the fact that our picture is incomplete; 4 pieces are missing. How do you feel about all our work together knowing that it will forever remain incomplete?
Now imagine that instead of missing pieces, the puzzle is alive. As the final pieces are being put into place they change shape and refuse to be joined together with the adjoining pieces. Or worse yet we watch as parts of the puzzle we have put together suddenly separate and pieces leave the table. How do you feel knowing that the beauty of the image being put together will never be finished, because the pieces won’t cooperate with each other?
I wonder if that is sometimes how God feels about His church? He fits people together only to find that some are missing, or individuals which He has purposed to join together refuse to be connected or deliberately separate from each other. I know that there have been times when I have had those kind of feelings.
George Muller was born in Prussia on September 27, 1805. His father was a collector of taxes and George seemed to inherit his father’s ability with figures.
When Muller was converted to Christ he was impressed by the many recurring statements of Jesus for us "to ask." At this point in Muller’s life he and his wife launched into a daring experiment. First, they gave away all of their household goods. The next step was even more daring, he refused all regular salary from the small mission he had been serving. He then set out to establish an orphan home to care for the homeless children of England.
The first home was dedicated in a rented building on April 21, 1836. Within a matter of days, 43 orphans were being cared for. Muller and his co-workers decided their experiment would be set up with the following guidelines:
1- No funds would ever be solicited.
2- No debts were ever to be incurred.
3- No money contributed for a specific purpose would ever be used for any other purpose.
4- All accounts would be audited annually.
5- No ego-pandering by the publication of donor’s names.
6- No "names" of prominent people would be sought for the board or to advertise the institution.
7- The success of the orphanage would be measured not by the numbers served or by the amount of money taken in, but by God’s blessing on the work, which Muller expected to be in direct proportion to the time spent in prayer.
When the first building was constructed, Muller and his friends remained true to their convictions. The public was amazed when a second building was opened six months after the first. They kept concentrating on prayer and eventually there were five new buildings, 110 workers, and 2,050 orphans being...
Lyle Schaller in speaking about the challenges of the church said - "The biggest challenge for the church at the opening of the twenty-first century is to develop a solution to the discontinuity and fragmentation of the American lifestyle." (The Connecting Church, Randy Frazee, p. 37)
Sermon Central Staff
I once read about a certain Mr. Wahlstrom who purchased an old bombsight and took it apart to see what made it work. As he began to put it back together, he decided to add to it some spare parts he had from other projects. Over time, friends and neighbors took an interest in the matter and started bringing him parts and pieces, which he incorporated into his contraption. Over a period of about ten years, he added to his machine hundreds of wheels and cogs, belts and whistles and gears and who knows what all until the thing became "a marvel to behold." He would throw the switch, and the machine’s thousand parts would begin to move. Wheels turned, lights flashed, bells rang, and belts whirred. The device came to be known as "Wahlstrom’s Wonder." It was incredible. The only thing is: It didn’t do anything! It just went through the motions. (Gene Bartlett, The Audacity of Preaching, 1962, pp. 64f.).
It makes you wonder: Is that what we’re doing? Are we just go through the motions? The church has been commissioned by Jesus himself to make disciples, but do we do that?
(From a sermon by Isaac Butterworth, Showing Up at the Gym, 12/17/2010)