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"What makes life worthwhile is having a big enough objective, something which catches our imagination and lays hold of our allegiance, and this the Christian has in a way that no other person has. For what higher, more exalted, and more compelling goal can there be than to know God?"
[Packer, J. I. (2011-09-26). Knowing God (p. 36). Intervarsity Press. Kindle Edition.]
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.
Sermon Central Staff
J. OSWALD SANDERS ON LONELINESS
J. Oswald Sanders once pointed out: "The round of pleasure or the amassing of wealth are [often] but vain attempts to escape from the persistent ache. The millionaire is usually a lonely man and the comedian is often more unhappy than his audience."
In his book, "Facing Loneliness," Sanders goes on to emphasize that being successful often fails to produce satisfaction. Then he refers to Henry Martyn, a distinguished scholar, as an example of what he is talking about. Martyn, a Cambridge University student, was honored at only 20 years of age for his achievements in mathematics. In fact, he was given the highest recognition possible in that field. And yet he felt an emptiness inside. He said that instead of finding fulfillment in his achievements, he had "only grasped a shadow."
After evaluating his life's goals, Martyn sailed to India as a missionary at the age of 24. When he arrived, he prayed, "Lord, let me burn out for You!" In the next 7 years that preceded his death, he translated the New Testament into three difficult Eastern languages!" He died at age 31!
(From a sermon by Davon Huss, Understanding the Law, 5/9/2011)
The First Billionaire
The very first person to reach the status of billionaire was a man who knew how to set goals and follow through. At the age of 23, he had become a millionaire, by the age of 50 a billionaire. Every decision, attitude, and relationship was tailored to create his personal power and wealth. But three years later at the age of 53 he became ill.
His entire body became racked with pain and he lost all the hair on his head. In complete agony, the world’s only billionaire could buy anything he wanted, but he could only digest milk and crackers. An associate wrote, "He could not sleep, would not smile and nothing in life meant anything to him." His personal, highly skilled physicians predicted he would die within a year.
That year passed agonizingly slow. As he approached death he awoke one morning with the vague remembrances of a dream. He could barely recall the dream but knew it had something to do with not being able to take any of his successes with him into the next world. The man who could control the business world suddenly realized he was not in in control of his own life. He was left with a choice.
He called his attorneys, accountants, and managers and announced that he wanted to channel his assets to hospitals, research, and mission work. On that day John D. Rockefeller established his foundation. This new direction eventually led to the discovery of penicillin, cures for current strains of malaria, tuberculosis and diphtheria. The list of discoveries resulting fr...
One of my all-time favorite scenes out of Hollywood. (They are few and far between for me...) It’s a scene from one of the Star Trek TV series. Worf, the Klingon, is captured by the evil Dominion. They intend to use him as a practice dummy in hand-to-hand combat for their lethal ground troops, and so they do. They bring out soldier after soldier to take Worf on and they go at it. It’s never very long before the bad guys get tired of getting beat up, and they "tap out" and quit. So, after Worf’s been taking on all comers for most of the day, they finally bring out their biggest and baddest, the one warrior they know will be able to win. They begin to battle, and Worf is just too weak from the day’s struggles. He is little more than a punching bag for the bad guy to work out on. But Worf will not "tap out" like all the other beaten soldiers. He keeps getting up, no matter how many times he is knocked down, no matter how injured he is. He simply will not quit. It is obvious that this valiant warrior has won the respect and admiration of all the Dominion troops, including the one now beating him up. They all begin to beg him to tap out and quit, but he will not. Finally, out of sheer exhasperation, the warrior who is beating him stops and "taps out" himself. When asked by his enraged commander why he has done this, he says, resigned, "I cannot defeat this man. I can only kill him."
Think about that for a moment. I cannot defeat this man. I can only kill him. I don’t know about you, but my goal is to hear the devil himself say those words about me some day. I will not tap out. How about you?
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. Let’s go get ’em!
But now nearly 9 month later we’ve 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". Let’s not forget who the enemy is.
Peter Drucker offers insightful guidance to the church when he calls leadership a peak performance by one who is "the trumpet that sounds a clear sound of the organizations’ goals." His five requirements for this task are amazingly reliable and useful for those who dare to lead churches:
(1) a leader works;
(2) a leader sees his assignment as responsibility rather than rank or privilege;
(3) a leader wants strong, capable, self-assured, independent associates;
(4) a leader creates human energies and vision;
(5) a leader develops followers’ trust by his own consistency and integrity.
H.B. London, Jr. and Neil B. Wiseman, Pastors at Risk, Victor Books, 1993, pp. 227-228.
Wade Hughes, Sr
WHAT IS THE GOAL OF PLAYING FOOTBALL?
Well, of course, we would say winning. But there is a clearer point than winning, it is scoring points. We might score 6
points in a touchdown, three points in a field goal, two points in a safety, or one point in a point after the touch down.
WHAT IF I TOLD YOU OF A MAN THAT PLAYED FOOTBALL 23 YEARS, 15 YEARS IN THE NFL,
FOUR YEARS IN COLLEGE, AND FOUR YEARS IN HIGH SCHOOL AND HE NEVER SCORED A TOUCH DOWN
OR MADE A POINT?
He never even scored one point? THIS MAN WOULD HAVE TO BE A FAILURE WOULDN’T HE?
Well, let’s look at this? This man never made a touch down, but he played in 245 games in his career.
Why start a man that can’t score? He made 1,032 tackles, pretty impressive?
He blocked 86 passes. He made 19 fumble recoveries, but still no touch downs?
He made 3 interceptions, but no touchdowns?
While in a football game everything centers on the football and the goal line, but there is more to the game than that.
THE MAN’S NAME IS ED "TOO TALL" JONES!
Ed "Too Tall" Jones is in the Football Ha...
The circumstances of life often speak to us like Lucy one day spoke to Charlie Brown. Lucy said to Charlie Brown "Sometimes, I feel we are not communicating: You, Charlie Brown, are afoul ball in the line drive of life. You’re often in the shadow of your own goal post you’re a miscue. You ‘re 3 putts on the 18th green. You are a 7-10 split in the 10th frame. You have dropped a rod and reel in the lake of life. You’re a missed free throw. You’re a shacked 9-iron, a called 3rd strike, a bug on the windshield of life! Do you understand? Have I made myself clear?"
But the Christian who is living as a disciple considers that which he is confidently assured of-that he will be like Christ one day and that as he lovingly surrenders to God, he can be blessed by becoming more like Christ today. Then he replies like Paul in verse 31, "God is for me!"
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright once told of an incident that may have seemed insignificant at the time, but had a profound influence on the rest of his life. The winter he was 9, he went walking across a snow-covered field with his reserved, no-nonsense uncle. As the two of them reached the far end of the field, his uncle stopped him. He pointed out his own tracks in the snow, straight and true as an arrow’s flight, and then young Frank’s tracks meandering all over the field. “Notice how your tracks wander aimlessly from the fence to the cattle to the woods and back again,” his uncle said. “And see how my tracks aim directly to my goal. There is an important lesson in that.”
Years later the world-famous architect liked to tell how this experience had greatly contributed to his philosophy in life. “I determined right then,” he’d say with a twinkle in his eye, “not to miss most things in life, as my uncle had.”
Focus on the Family letter, September, 1992, p. 14.