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ILL. Do you remember Bubba Smith? He retired from professional football a few years ago. Then, after he retired from playing football, Bubba Smith started making beer commercials. He was the guy who tore the top off of beer cans, & engaged in the argument about whether it is less filling or tastes great. You remember him now, donít you?
In a magazine article about him, Bubba Smith said that he has never, ever drank beer. Drinking any kind of alcoholic beverage just isnít a part of his life. But he advertised it & felt good about his job. It was an easy job. It was an enjoyable job, & it paid a good salary.
Until one day when he went back to Michigan State, his alma mater, as the Grand Marshal of the Homecoming Parade. As he was riding in the limousine at the head of the parade, he heard the throngs of people on both sides of the parade route shouting. And what were they shouting? "Hail to Michigan State?" No! One side was shouting, "Tastes great!" & the other side was shouting, "Less filling!"
Bubba Smith suddenly realized that he & the beer commercials that he made had had a tremendous impact on the students at Michigan State. And the message that they had gotten was that "It is all right to drink light beer."
Later, Bubba was in Ft. Lauderdale during Spring Break, & he saw drunken college kids up & down the beaches, shouting "Tastes great! Less filling!"
And when it came time to renew his contract, he refused to sign because he said that he didnít want his life to count for something like that. He said that there was a still, small voice in his mind that kept saying, "Stop, Bubba. Stop."
You see, everybodyís life counts for something.
FATHERíS DAY: A TRIBUTE Today is Fatherís Day. A day of cologne. A day of hugs, new neckties, long-distance phone calls, and Hallmark cards. Today is my first Fatherís Day without a father. For thirty-one years I had one. I had one of the best. But now heís gone. Heís buried under an oak tree in a west Texas cemetery. Even though heís gone, his presence is very near--especially today. It seems strange that he isnít here. I guess thatís because he was never gone. He was always close by. Always available. Always present. His words were nothing novel. His achievements, though admirable, were nothing extraordinary. But his presence was. Like a warm fireplace in a large house, he was a source of comfort. Like a sturdy porch swing or a big-branched elm in the backyard, he could always be found...and leaned upon. During the turbulent years of my adolescence, Dad was one part of my life that was predictable. Girl friends came and girl friends went, but Dad was there. Football season turned into baseball season and turned into football season again and Dad was always there. Summer vacation, Homecoming dates, algebra, first car, driveway basketball--they all had one thing in common: his presence. And because he was there life went smoothly. The car always ran, the bills got paid, and the lawn stayed mowed. Because he was there, the laughter was fresh and the future was secure. Because he was there my growing up was what God intended growing up to be; a storybook scamper through the magic and mystery of the world. Because he was there we kids never worried about things like income tax, savings accounts, monthly bills, or mortgages. Those were the things on Daddyís desk. We have lots of family pictures without him. Not because he wasnít there, but because he was always behind the camera. He made the decisions, broke up the fights, chuckled at Archie Bunker, read the paper every evening, and fixed breakfast on Sundays. He didnít do anything unusual. He only did what dads are supposed to do--be there. He taught me how to shave and how to pray. He helped me memorize verses for Sunday school and taught me that wrong should be punished and that rightness has its own reward. He modeled the importance of getting up early and staying out of debt. His life expressed the elusive balance between ambition and self-acceptance. He comes to mind often. When I smell "Old Spice" aftershave, I think of him. When I see a bass boat I see his face. And occasionally, not too often, but occasionally when I hear a good joke, (the kind Red Skelton would tell), I hear him chuckle. He had a copyright chuckle that always came with a wide grin and arched eyebrows. Daddy never said a word to me about sex or told me his life story. But I knew that if I ever wanted to know, he would tell me. All I had to do was ask. And I knew if I ever needed him, heíd be there. Like a warm fireplace. Maybe thatís why this Fatherís Day is a bit chilly. The fire has gone out. The winds of age swallowed the late splendid flame, leaving only golden embers. But there is a strange thing about those embers...stir them a bit and a flame will dance. It will dance only briefly, but it will dance. And it will knock just enough chill out of the air to remind me that he is still...in a special way...very present. Max Lucado
When I was in high school, there was this girl -- let's call her "Edith". Everyone called her Big "Ed" because she was on the heavy side. She was the youngest of four sisters, the three older ones being very attractive. Edith accepted the nickname, showed no real signs of being injured by it and went through her sophomore and junior years quietly. She didn't get invited to parties -- she was a little socially awkward, after all. No one asked her to attend homecoming or prom. She was simply written off as one of those background people who are pleasant most of the time, but peculiar -- could be prickly. She was considered by most as unattractive, and athletically proved to be ungraceful as well -- which didn't help. Her sisters were all 1st team athletes.
As you might guess, Edith lived a very lonely existence. Although loved by her family, that's not always a comfort when you are ridiculed by everybody else -- especially those you look up to as popular or cool. In just about every social circle Edith was on the outside looking in.
She disappeared the summer between her junior and senior years. In a town as small as ours was it is hard to remain unseen all summer long -- even if you are a social misfit in frumpy clothes. But Edith was a ghost throughout the summer and where she had gone to was something of a mystery.
The first day of school rolled around and suddenly a buzz began to hum in the hallways of Elkins High School -- there was a new hot girl in school. Except, this wasn't a new girl -- it was Edith and no one was going to call her "Big Ed" anymore. It was never clear where Edith went, but what is clear is that wherever it was, she got into shape. She blossomed into this drop-dead, gorgeous girl that was now driving all the young men crazy. Suddenly, everybody who was somebody wanted a piece of Edith.
To her credit, Edith never accepted one invitation to a dance or a date. She kept her head with the newfound popularity. She once said in a conversation that I was privy to that none of these people could see who she was when she was overweight and what they want now is not who she is, but what they think she can do for them. Guys wanted her for the bragging rights of dating and sleeping with such an attractive young woman, the girls wanted her for a hunk-magnet. Since that was the case, they would get none of her, just as they gave none of themselves to her when she was less than desirable.
I tell this story this morning for two reasons; first, because I have always liked the story. Edith was a friend of mine, a teammate on the tennis team -- and I have always thought it was great the way she refused to allow herself to be used. She had a good sense of self.
There are going to be things happen to you in this life that will make you cling to that eternal hope because there is no other. Wally and Barbara Rendel know thatís true. Wally is the minister at the Southern Acres Christian Church in Lexington and has been for over 20 years. But five years ago they got the phone call that every parent dreads. Late one night an Ohio State Trooper told them that their 21 year old daughter Jill was killed when the van that she was riding in with the rest of the girls basketball team from her college had overturned. Jill was vivacious, she was on the deanís list, she was popular, even been selected by her student body as Homecoming Queen just several days before she was killed. She was a Daddyís girl. I understand that a week before she died that she was home in Lexington and sat on her Dadís lap for an hour just joking around. When Wally and Barbara received the tragic news that Jill had been killed they were devastated. But within minutes, because of his faith, this Dad through tears said, "The Queen has gone home to be with the King." Say what you will, there is something markedly different about the way mature Christians face death. Paul said, "We grieve, but not as those who have no hope."
The funeral for Jill Rendel was packed. Over a thousand people came. I understand that it was a funeral that was a little different for some. It was not a dirge of sadness but a celebration of Jillís ultimate victory in Christ and our promise of life eternal. Toward the end of the service a young man sang a most moving song. Itís entitled, "I fell on my knees and cried Holy." The song says, "I dreamed of a city called glory, so bright and so fair. When I entered the gates I cried holy, the angels all met with me there. They carried me from mansion to mansion. Oh, the sights that I saw. Then I said, "I want to see Jesus, for Heís the one who died for all." The second time that he sang, "I want to see Jesus.." Wally and Barbara, who sat within reach of their daughterís casket stood and raised their hands to heaven and ...
Sermon Central Staff
THE DURER BROTHERS: NO ONE MAKES IT ALONE
Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen!
In order merely to keep food on the table for this big family, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighbourhood.
Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer the Elderís children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.
After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by labouring in the mines.
They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg.
Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrechtís etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.
When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrechtís triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honoured position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfil his ambition. His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you."
All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over, "No ...no ...no ...no."
Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look ... look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother ... for me it is too late."
More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durerís hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver point sketches, water-colours, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durerís works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office.
One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brotherís abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply "Hands," but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love "The Praying Hands."
The next time you see a copy of that touching creation, take a second look. Let it be your reminder, if you still need one, that no one--no one--ever makes it alone!
(From a sermon by Philip Harrelson, Spiritual Ambition, 8/6/2010)
Alexandra Flynn of Fremont, Nebraska, was looking forward to the 2002 homecoming dance. She left home in high spirits, but she did not have her high school ID with her. When the man at the door refused her admission without her ID, she went home to get it. Unable to find it, her mother went with her back to the dance to identify her and to explain. Again, the daughter was refused admission without the ID. Alex had the tickets in her hand but still was not admitted. Even though Alexandra Flynn of Freemont High is Student Body President, plays cello in the Allstate orchestra, is on the Honor Roll, is the schoolís number one cheerleader, and she spent hours decorating the gym for the Homecoming Dance, she was still ...
Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. To keep food on the table the father, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighborhood.
Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of the children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.
After many discussions, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, he would support the other brother while he attended school.
They tossed a coin and Albrecht won the toss and went off to Nuremberg. Albert went down into the mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. By the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.
When he to his village, the family held a festive dinner to celebrate his triumphant homecoming. After the meal, Albrecht rose to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition. His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you."
Albert rose and said softly, "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines with a pen or a brush. No, brother, for me it is too lat...