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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?"
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?"
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.
"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"
Sermon Central Staff
CAPTURE AND CONTROL
Craig Larson talks about being at a lunch party on a warm, Chicago day in early September with a dozen of his fellow workers. The windows were left open, and soon a bee found its way in. After buzzing around for a while, it landed on some food on the table. Then someone took an empty bottle of sparkling grape juice and put the mouth of the bottle near the bee. Without a moment's hesitation, the bee flew to the mouth of the bottle and climbed inside the narrow opening. Immediately, Larson's colleague put the cap on the bottle and screwed it shut. The bee spent the rest of the party drinking at the bottom of the bottle, and as far as anyone knew, the bee was never released.
The people at that table were not concerned about the bee. Their purpose was not to make sure it enjoyed itself and had a good time. No! Their only concern was capture and control.
That's the way it is with Satan. He is not concerned about us. His purpose is not to make sure we have a good time. No! He despises us, and his only concern is capture and control.
(From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Pitfalls of Leadership, 7/29/2010)
Sermon Central Staff
HORROR TO HOPE--A STORY FROM THE HOLOCAUST
In Jerusalem there is a Holocaust Museum dedicated to the memory of the millions of Jews who were killed by the Nazis in World War II. It has been said that going through the museum is a very depressing experience because you see these horrible pictures and read the accounts of the ghettos and the concentration camps. But in the midst of all the dark tales of suffering, there is one amazing story of how God can transform horror into hope.
In one of the German concentration camps there was a young lady named Rachel. She endured great hardship from being made to work in the snow with inadequate clothing. She watched in horror as many of her friends and family members were killed.
Then one day, the guards left unexpectedly. She didn't know the war was over. Later that day some American soldiers arrived to set the prisoners free. One young American soldier told Rachel he had come to rescue her and for her to gather her few possessions. Then he held the door for her and said, "After you, ma'am."
Rachel started to cry. He asked, "What's wrong, ma'am?"
She said, "I can't remember the last time someone held a door open for me. It's the nicest thing anyone has done for me in a long time." The soldier stayed in touch with Rachel after she was relocated, and they became friends. Later they fell in love and were married.
That's what God can do. He can take the most terrible situation imaginable and make something beautiful out of it. Our God is an awesome God and I'm glad He's in control. Whenever you go through tough times, you can either look for the junk or you can look for the joy. Job looked for the joy and in the end; God rewarded Job's persistence and patience. It says in Job 42:12 that "the Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first."
(From a sermon by Fred Markes, Better Off Dead, 8/30/2011)
1 Corinthians 13:1-13:8
CYMBALA'S EASTER STORY
Jim Cymbala preaches at a church in the slums of New York. He tells the following story: It was Easter Sunday and I was so tired at the end of the day that I just went to the edge of the platform, pulled down my tie and sat down and draped my feet over the edge. It was a wonderful service with many people coming forward. The counselors were talking with these people.
As I was sitting there I looked up the middle aisle, and there in about the third row was a man who looked about fifty, disheveled, filthy. He looked up at me rather sheepishly, as if saying, “Could I talk to you?”
We have homeless people coming in all the time, asking for money or whatever. So as I sat there, I said to myself, though I am ashamed of it, “What a way to end a Sunday. I’ve had such a good time, preaching and ministering, and here’s a fellow probably wanting some money for more wine.”
He walked up. When he got within about five feet of me, I smelled a horrible smell like I’d never smelled in my life. It was so awful that when he got close, I would inhale by looking away, and then I’d talk to him, and then look away to inhale, because I couldn’t inhale facing him. I asked him, “What’s your name?”
“How long have you been on the street?”
“How old are you?”
“Thirty-two.” He looked fifty--hair matted; front teeth missing; wino; eyes slightly glazed.
“Where did you sleep last night, David?”
I keep in my back pocket a money clip that also holds some credit cards. I fumbled to pick one out thinking; I’ll give him some money. I won’t even get a volunteer. They are all busy talking with others. Usually we don’t give money to people. We take them to get something to eat.
I took the money out. David pushed his finger in front of me. He said, “I don’t want your money. I want this Jesus, the One you were talking about, because I’m not going to make it. I’m going to die on the street.”
I completely forgot about David, and I started to weep for myself. I was going to give a couple of dollars to someone God had sent to me. See how easy it is? I could make the excuse I was tired. There is no excuse. I was not seeing him the way God sees him. I was not feeling what God feels.
But oh, did that change! David just stood there. He didn’t know what was happening. I pleaded with God, “God, forgive me! Forgive me! Please forgive me. I am so sorry to represent You this way. I’m so sorry. Here I am with my message and my points, and You send somebody and I am not ready for it. Oh, God!”
Something came over me. Suddenly I started to weep deeper, and David began to weep. He fell against my chest as I was sitting there. He fell against my white shirt and tie, and I put my arms around him, and there we wept on each other. The smell of His person became a beautiful aroma. Here is what I thought the Lord made real to me: If you don’t love this smell, I...
THE BLOOD AND WATER
Before I became a minister I attended a secular college for a couple of years. While I was there I took several classes I thought would help me when I went to Bible college, and some of those classes were in Philosophy.
Now Philosophy and Christianity are somewhat at odds. Christianity exalts Christ, Philosophy tends to exalt man. Thus, teachers of Philosophy tend to spend a fair amount of their time undermining the faith of their students whenever possible.
In one class the professor said: "Jesus didn't die on the cross... and I can prove it!"
He then went on to set up his premise: "When a person dies," he said, "their heart stops pumping and gravity takes over. If you were to die right now, seated at your desks, your blood would drain to the lowest part of your body -- and settle somewhere around your waist. But the Bible says that when Jesus died, a Roman soldier pierced his side with a spear ... and blood and water came out. Jesus was supposedly dead. He was nailed to a cross. And yet when He 'died' there was blood where there shouldn't have been blood. That proves He hadn't died."
That shook me. I went back to my dorm and had a little talk with God. I said to Him "This sounds pretty convincing. If you can't answer it, I'm gonna go sell insurance. I can't justify spending my life preaching about a God I can't defend against accusations like this one."
Now, that was fairly rude of me. But God was gracious.
I don't know why, but I didn't go to a preacher, or to a campus minister to ask for them to explain this to me. I guess I just waited to see what God would do. And I didn't have to wait very long.
About a month or so later, I was in another philosophy class. The class was over and a few students were gathered around the teacher's desk. Wandering what they were talking about, I made my way into the group in time to hear the teacher say: "I just heard the most intriguing thing this last weekend. Do you remember where the Bible says that Jesus died on the cross?"
That peaked my interest.
He continued "Do you remember where it said that a Roman soldier pierced His side and blood and water came out"
Now, he really had my interest.
"There's a condition known as cardiac tamponade. It happens when a person undergoes enough stress in their life that their heart literally bursts from the strain. When this happens, the blood from the heart mixes with the fluid in the sac that surrounds the heart known as the pericardium. That fluid looks a lot like water. So -- if you were to pierce that sac after person died of cardiac tamponade, what you'd see come out would be 'blood and water.'"
Now that made sense for a couple of reasons:
1) If I cut your arm, you'd bleed. But you wouldn't bleed blood and water. Only blood.
2) The Bible says that when Jesus was on the cross... all of the sins of mankind were brought to bear on His body in that one place, in that one time. The only thing that held that body up under the strain was the power of Son of God. But when Jesus died, He didn't die from the cross itself. Scripture says: "Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' When he had said this, he breathed his last." Luke 23:46
Thus, when Jesus gave up control over His body, it was like a snapping a rubber band. All the sins of mankind bore down now on a body that was no longer held by His power, and it makes sense that its heart burst.
I went back and explained that to my original Philosophy professor, and he hemmed and hawed, but had no real comeback for that. I doubt that he'd ever heard anything like it before.
I was excited. This was great stuff!
So when I went to Bible College the next year, I was determined to share this gem of knowledge with the professors there. But... there's a reason why Bible college professors are professors. They've heard most of this before.
So when I mentioned this discovery to one of my professors, he replied "Oh Jeff, it's even better than that! When Jesus died on the cross, He was placed on the cross at 9:00 in the morning, and He died at 3:00 in the afternoon. At the Temple, the first sacrifice was made at 9:00 in the morning... and the last sacrifice was offered at 3:00 in the afternoon.
"Now, Passover was a major day of sacrifice. People were lined up around the block to offer their lambs and other sacrifices to God. With all that sacrificing, there was a lot of blood on the altar, the floors and the utensils. How do you think they removed all that blood?
"Well, they'd developed a technique where they would pump water up from underneath the Temple and they used this water to wash down the altar, the utensils and the floor. This liquid then was carried by trenches out beneath the city walls into the Kidron Valley (the Kidron Brook ran between the city of Jerusalem and the Garden of Gethsemane).
People that have visited the Holy Land tell me that the banks of the Kidron are still red from all the blood from the many sacrifices over the centuries. Farmers would go to the Kidron and collect mud from its banks to spread on their fields -- it was a rich fertilizer for their crops.
"Now, if you'd been standing outside the walls of Jerusalem about 3:30 in the afternoon... what do you think you'd have seen coming out of those pipes? (Blood and water)."
Now, if I'd been God, there'd have been more than 21 chapters in the book of John. If I'd been God there'd have been at least another 10 chapters talking about all the applications of that one verse.
But John didn't care. He didn't care! His comment about seeing blood and water come out of the side of Jesus wasn't all that important to him. All John wanted to prove was that there had been no need to break Jesus' bones. Why? Because Jesus was the sacrificial Lamb. John knew that that kind of lamb would be unacceptable to God if it's bones were broken. So, John says "I KNOW Jesus was dead! I SAW the Roman soldier pierce His side, and blood and water came out."
"The budget should be balanced. The treasury should be refilled. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of officials should be tempered and controlled, and assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest we become bankrupt. The people should be forced to work and not depend on the government for subsistence."
Bishop Lalachan Abraham
BILLY GRAHAM: CHOICES
Billy Graham said, "The strongest principle of life and blessings lies in our choice. Our life is the sum result of all the choices we make, both consciously and unconsciously. If we can control the process of choosing, we can take control of all aspects of our life. We can find the freedom that comes from being in charge of our life. So start with what is right rather than what is acceptable.
"If you don’t make a decision, then time will make it for you, and time will always side against you."
SLOW AND STEADY
The power of the Holy Spirit is not just for salvation, but transformation, a process that might be slow and gradual. The difference might look like this:
You can take ten gallons of gasoline and release a tremendous amount of power and energy by just dropping a lighted match into it. It makes a dramatic onetime impact. But there is another way to release the energy in that gasoline. Place it in the fuel tank of a new Honda, designed to get 30 miles to the gallon. The high tech engine will use that ten gallons of gasoline to take a person 300 miles or more.
Explosions may be spectacular, but the sustained, controlled burn has staying power. You don’t want to be a flash in the pan, you want to make...
1 Thessalonians 4:13-4:18
2 Samuel 21:1-21:20
2 Samuel 21:1-21:10
1 Corinthians 15:57-15:58
TONY EVANS ON GETTING UN-STUCK
Tony Evans, a popular black preacher from down in Texas, spoke of being on an elevator in a high-rise building. He said he’d never been particularly comfortable on such elevators. There was something about riding up and down in a little box several hundred feet off the ground that has never sat well with him. He worried that something would go wrong.
One day it did. The car he was riding in got stuck in between floors way up in the higher floors. He noted that some of the people in the car became frantic. They began to beat on the door hoping to get someone’s attention. Others began to yell in the hopes that their voices would get someone on the surrounding floors to come to the aid. But nobody heard their noise or their cries.
Then Evans quietly made his way to the front of the car, opened a little door in the wall and pulled out a telephone. Immediately he was connected with someone on the outside. He didn’t need to beat on the wall to get their attention. He didn’t need to speak loudly in the phone to receive their help. He could have whispered and they would have heard him.
Evans said that - in this world, we’re going to get "stuck" in places we aren’t comfortable with. Some people begin to beat against the walls, others cry out in dismay. But the person who trusts in the power of confident prayer knows there’s someone on the other end who hears their call and comes to their aid.
Hebrews 10:19ff tells us that we now can have "boldness" (KJV) to enter into very presence of God because of the blood of Jesus. We can think this way only because Jesus has opened the way for us to approach God’s throne and earnestly ask whatever we desire according to His Will.
Solomon discovered the emptiness of stuff.
Illus. A young banker was driving his BMW, in the mountains, during a snowstorm. As he rounded a turn the vehicle slid out of control and toward a cliff. At the last moment he unbuckled his seatbelt and jumped from the car.
Though he escaped with his life, his left arm was caught near the hinge of the door and torn it off at the shoulder.
A trucker passing nearby witnessed the accident, stopped his rig, and ran back to see if he could be of help. There standing, in a state of shock, was the banker at the edge of the cliff moaning, "Oh no, my BMW, my BMW". The trucker pointed to the banker’s shoulder and said "man you’ve got bigger problems than a car".
With that the banker looked at his shoulder, finally realizing he’d lost his arm, and began crying ":Oh No, my new Rolex, my new Rolex".
The pull of the world can easily steal our affections away, and cause us to live for the wrong things. See, stuff is not bad, and it is not evil to own stuff, to have money, possessions, nice cars, Rolex’s.
The important thing is our attitude toward the stuff in our life.
For example: Money is not evil, the love of it is.
Many godly men were rich :
Solomon – with his wealth he built the Temple.
Jehoshaphat – with his wealth he built a great Military power
Job - Stayed faithful to God even when he lost all his wealth. Then God gave him even greater wealth as a reward..
Hezekiah – Used his wealth to reform Israel.
Solomon was the richest man who ever lived.
He owned : Houses, vineyards, gardens, parks, fruit trees, slaves, flocks, singers, so much silver that it was as common as dirt, gold shields, a solid ivory throne, a solid gold throne, fleets of ships, robes of the finest materials, weapons, Storage buildings full of exotic spices, herds of mules, peacocks, 1,400 chariots, 12,000 horses, and land that extended farther than the eye could see.
Ecclesiastes 2:10: “He was denied nothing his eye desired.”
From a Sermon By Art Good