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70% of American adults identify family or family members as their most significant connection. 33% gave their entire nuclear family this status while 22% conferred it up on their spouse and 17% their children. 29% of American adults say their church is their most significant group affiliation. 18% say this about people they work with, 14% friends that regularly get together, 12% a hobby club or social group and 7% people in their neighborhood. People 25 or younger listed friends as their most critical network while church ranked 5th. In contrast, adults over 25 ranked church as their key social group, followed by their work relationships. 74% of evangelicals said their church was their main social network.
(Barna Update 3/17/08)
I read recently the story of a 10-year-old boy who decided to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car accident.
The boy began lessons with an old Japanese judo master. The boy was doing well, so he couldn’t understand why, after three months of training, the master had taught him only one move.
"Sensei," the boy finally said, "Shouldn’t I be learning more moves?"
"This is the only move you know, but this is the only move you’ll ever need to know," the sensei replied. Not quite understanding, but believing in his teacher, the boy kept training.
Several months later, the sensei took the boy to his first tournament. Surprising himself, the boy easily won his first two matches. The third match proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match.
Still amazed by his success, the boy was now in the finals. This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced. For a while, the boy appeared to be overmatched. Concerned that the boy might get hurt, the referee called a time-out. He was about to stop the match when the sensei intervened. "No," the sensei insisted, "Let him continue."
Soon after the match resumed, his opponent made a critical mistake: he dropped his guard. Instantly, the boy used his move to pin him. The boy had won the match and the tournament. He was the champion.
On the way home, the boy and the sensei reviewed every move in each and every match. Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind: "Sensei, how did I win the tournament with only one move?"
"You won for two reasons," the sensei answered. "First, you’ve almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in all of judo. And second, the only known defense for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm."
The boy’s biggest weakness had become his biggest strength.
D. Greg Ebie
We can see in our national headlines the power of unity to fulfill a common goal. Each of us will never forget what happened September 11, 2001. Out of that terrible day we saw our nation join together in unity. President George W. Bush had the support of the nation as he led the nation into the war against the terrorist who murdered so many innocent Americans. Letís go get íem!
But now nearly 9 month later weíve started pointing fingers. What did our president know before the attacks? What could the government have done to prevent the terrorist attacks? The unity that was born through terror is unraveling. We have forgotten who our enemy is.
The same happens within the church. We can so easily begin to point fingers at other "sheep;" we become critical of the "shepherd." All the while we forget that we have a common enemy outside the walls of the church. Satan seeks to "steal kill and destroy". Letís not forget who the enemy is.
Two taxidermists stopped in front of a window where an owl was on display. They immediately began to criticize the way it was mounted. Its eyes were not natural; its wings were not in proportion with its head; its feathers were not neatly arranged; and its feet could be improved. Just when they had finished w...
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,
AUGUSTINE AND THE FOUR STATES OF MAN
In the 5th century AD, St. Augustine wrote about the "4 States of Man":
* The first state of man (the haec sunt prima) is "living according to the flesh -- with reason making no resistance." This can be seen in so many ancient cultures and religions (and unfortunately more than a few in our own time) with their human sacrifices, their idols, their pagan ceremonies, and even cannibalism. Human life -- without power -- was lightly regarded. Animals, especially domesticated animals, were often valued more highly than human life. Reason often vanishes when weighed against lust and self-gratification. Even today, this seems to be coming full circle.
* The second state of man is "recognition of sin through the Law . . . but sinning knowingly." It was so important for Satan to remove the Ten Commandments from our classrooms and courtrooms. It was critical for him to "separate church and state." So long as people knew the Law, it would not be so easy to ignore the Law. Without the reminders of the Law, we easily return to the first state of man. Does any of this sound familiar?
* The third state of man is "faith in the help of God -- but he perseveres in seeking to please God." Man has begun to be moved by the Spirit of God. We are already standing with one foot in the hell which we have created, but in the "third state", man knows it. So he still struggles against his own sinful nature because he has not yet been fully healed.
* The fourth state of man is "the full and perfect peace in God." This we find in harmony with Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. In the person of Jesus Christ, we see how far we have departed from God.
Augustine adds, "The will of man is always free, even and particularly when it can no longer will to do evil." But Adam and Eve were not gods, "and their 'free will' would not have sufficed, even in paradise, to merit immortality. Divine assistance was needed. Their immortality could only continue by their continued relationship with the Divine. So how much more do we need God's help since our fall?"
Augustine continues, "Even the good merits and qualities which people may display toward one another are gifts from God. Every good quality comes from His grace. God's mercy is the ground of salvation. Therefore, let no man boast. Out of faith spring hope and love. We hope only in God -- not in men and not in ourselves." ("The History of Doctrines", Reinhold Seeberg, p. 366)
Dorothy Sayers wrote, "If men will not understand the meaning of judgment, they will never come to understand the meaning of grace."
Recently I heard Dieter Zander, the pastor of the first GenX church in America speak at a conference about reaching people in the age of relativism. He cited a Barna study that asked people to use single words to describe Jesus. They responded, "wise, accepting, compassionate, gracious, humble." Then he asked them to use single words to describe Christians, they said, "critical, exclusive, self righteous, narrow and repressive."
"There is a difference between knowing the good news and being the good news, Zander said. "We are the evidence! How we live our lives are the evidence. Everything counts--all the time."
"With previous generations, a strong preacher could give a good message, even if the church was hypocritical and critical and people would still get saved," Zander continued, "but not any more. I’m seeing a change in what seekers are looking for. Not something they can relate to. They are looking for a transcendent God. They don’t want to be entertained they want to be transformed."
The following incident won the runner-up prize in the 1999 Darwin Awards:
A Vermont native, Ronald Demuth, found himself in a difficult position. While touring the Eagleís Rock African Safari (Zoo) with a group of thespians from St. Petersburg, Russia, Mr. Demuth went overboard to show them one of Americaís many marvels. He demonstrated the effectiveness of "Crazy Glue"... the hard way.
Apparently, Mr. Demuth wanted to demonstrate just how good the adhesive was, so he covered the palms of his hands with the adhesive, and jokingly placed them on the rear end of a passing rhino. The rhino, a resident of the zoo for the past thirteen years, was not initially startled as it has been part of the petting exhibit since its arrival as a baby.
However, once it became aware of its being involuntarily stuck to Mr. Demuth, it began to panic and ran around the petting area wildly making Mr. Demuth an unintended passenger.
"Sally [the rhino] hasnít been feeling well lately. She had been very constipated. We had just given her a laxative and some depressants to relax her bowels, when Mr. Demuth played his juvenile prank," said James Douglass, caretaker. During Sallyís tirade two fences were destroyed, a shed wall was gored, and a number of small animals escaped. Also, during the stampede, three pygmy goats and one duck were stomped to death.
As for Demuth, it took a team of medics and zoo caretakersí to remove his hands from her buttocks. First, the animal had to be captured and calmed down. However, during this process the laxatives began to take hold and Mr. Demuth was repeatedly showered with over 30 gallons of rhino diarrhea.
"It was tricky. We had to calm her down, while at the same time shield our faces from being pelted with rhino dung. I guess you could say that Mr. Demuth was into it up to his neck. Once she was under control, we had three people with shovels working to keep an air passage open for Mr. Demuth. We were able to tranquilize her and apply a solvent to remove his hands from her rear," said Douglass. "I ...
A lady of society was gazing upon an image she had never seen before in the city’s art museum. "My dear fellow," she said condescendingly to the Curator, "I have never seen this painting before. I find the image shallow and rather crude in appearance. What do you call this?" The curator answered without giving the slightest expression," That madam, is a mirror." The lady’s vision was not very focused.
Losing focus on the Jesus of Scripture blurs our own view—not only of Christ—but of ourselves, as well. The Bible is also a great mirror. We may go to it to observe its content with a critical eye, but in the end, we are under its criticism.
Jesus was nailed to a cross with heavy, square wrought-iron nails through His wrists and through His feet. He hung there for several hours. When His body slumped, excruciating, fiery pain would shoot along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain - the nails in the wrists were putting pressure on the median nerves. As he pushed himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, he placed the full weight on the nail through his feet. Again he felt the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the bones of the feet. As the arms fatigue, cramps sweep through the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push himself upward to breathe. Air can be drawn into the lungs but not exhaled. He fights to raise himself in order to get even one small breath. Finally carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically he is able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen. Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint rendering cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn form his lacerated back as he moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony began: a deep, crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly filled with serum and began to compress the heart. It is now almost over - the loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level - the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues - the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air.
He then felt the chill of death creeping through his tissues... Finally He was able to allow his body to die.
(Crucifixion, Adapted From C. Truman Davis, M.D., In The Expos. Bible Comm, Vol. 8)