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Sermon Central Staff
DISTURB US, O LORD
Sir Frances Drake: "Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrive safely because we have sailed too close to the shore. Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity; and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim. Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love."
(From a sermon by Glenn Durham, Christian Heroes, 8/3/2010)
1 John 2:4-2:5
What Does Hope Do For Mankind?
Hope shines brightest when the hour is darkest.
Hope motivates when discouragement comes.
Hope energizes when the body is tired.
Hope sweetens while bitterness bites.
Hope sings when all melodies are gone.
Hope believes when evidence is eliminated.
Hope listens for answers when no one is talking.
Hope climbs over obstacles when no one is helping.
Hope endures hardship when no on is caring.
Hope smiles confidently when no one is laughing.
Hope reaches for answers when no one is asking.
Hope presses toward victory when no one is encouraging.
Hope dares to give when no one is sharing.
Hope brings the victory when no one is winning.
- John Maxwell from Think on These Things –
In a sermon, Juan Carlos Ortiz spoke of a conversation with a circus trapeze artist. The performer admitted the net underneath was there to keep them from breaking their necks, but added, "The net also keeps us from falling. Imagine there is no net. We would be so nervous that we would be more likely to miss and fall. If there wasn’t a net, we would not dare to do some of the things we do. But because there’s a net, we dare to make turns, and once I made three turns -- thanks to the net!"
Ortiz makes this observation: "We have security in God. When we are sure in his arms, we dare to attempt big things for God. We dare to be holy. We dare to be obedient. We dare, because we know the eternal arms of God will hold us if we fall."
In Our Greatest Gift, Henri Nouwen tells a parable of faith and hope. He imagines twins–a brother and a sister–talking to each other in their mother’s womb:
The sister said to the brother, "I believe there is life after birth."
Her brother protested vehemently, "No, no, this is all there is. This is a dark and cozy place, and we have nothing else to do but to cling to the cord that feeds us."
The little girl insisted, "There must be something more than this dark place. There must be something else, a place with light where there is freedom to move." Still, she could not convince her twin brother.
After some silence, the sister said hesitantly, "I have something else to say, and I’m afraid you won’t believe that, either, but I think there is a mother."
Her brother became furious. "A mother!" he shouted. "What are you talking about? I have never seen a mother, and neither have you. Who put that idea in your head? As I told you, this place is all we have. Why do you always want more? This is not such a bad place, after all. We have all we need, so let’s be content."
The sister was quite overwhelmed by her brother’s response and for a while didn’t dare say anything more. But she couldn’t let go of her thoughts, and since she had only her twin brother to speak to, she finally said, "Don’t you feel these squeezes every once in a while? They’re quite unpleasant and ...
When my son was just 5 years old, he and I were standing in line at a card store during the Christmas season. He noticed on the counter a small statue for sale, depicting Santa kneeling at the manger of baby Jesus. Curiously he asked me, "Daddy, did that really happen?"
Knowing it had not happened but not wanting to blow any Santa legend, I simply replied, "No, it did not."
Satisfied with my answer, he stepped over to be with his mother, while I remained in line with the card I was going to purchase. The woman standing in front of me in line turned around and snapped, "How dare you, sir?"
I said, "How dare I what, ma’am?"
She said, "How dare you tell your little boy that didn’t happen?"
I pointed to the statue and said, "This? Well, it didn’t happen."
She insisted, "Oh yes it did! It’s in the Bible. You really ought to read it!"
Chuckling to myself, I told her that I did indeed read the Bible and in fact was a Christian minister. She slammed her cards down on the counter without buying them and stormed out of the store. I apologized to the clerk if I had cost her a sale, but she couldn’t stop laughing, saying, "I can’t believe she actually thought that really happened! I guess some people don’t know the truth about Christmas."
Indeed, some do not.
John Williams III
Christian fathers need to pray for their children. When we pray for our children, we are asking God to help, guide and protect beyond our abilities to do so. All human fathers have limits. But, our Heavenly Father is not limited by any means! And when we pray to our Heavenly Father for wisdom and guidance, we are praying for the interaction the hands of our Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer who is all knowing (omniscient), everywhere (omnipresent), and all-powerful (omnipotent). Only our Heavenly Father has these unlimited capacities! Therefore, when we pray to God our Heavenly Father, we are praying that He will help us. We are praying that He will help us in our helplessness and give us hope in our uncertainties in all that we do as we seek to do our part in training our children up in the ways that they are to go and grow (Proverbs 22:6).
While I was working on this sermon, I looked up a prayer of General Douglas MacArthur. Listen to the wisdom and the insight of his prayer that I am going to read to you.
The General’s Prayer: by General Douglas MacArththur
"Build me a son, oh Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.
"Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be; a son who will know Thee, and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge. Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge.
"Here let him learn to stand up to the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail. Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.
"And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.
"Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, `I have not lived in vain.’ (Internet source http://my.dreamwiz.com/junewlee/prayers2.html#general).
“He led them up the steep slope out of the river valley and then slightly to the right apparently by the very same route which they had used that afternoon in coming from the hill of the stone table.
On and on he lead them into dark shadows out into pale moonlight. Getting their feet wet with the heavy dew he looked somehow different from the Aslan they knew. His tail and his head hung low and he walked slowly as if he were very, very tired. Then when they were crossing a wide open place where there were no shadows for them to hide in he stopped and looked around. It was no good trying to run away so they came towards him. When they were closer he said,
“Oh children, children why are you following me?” “We couldn’t sleep,” said Lucy. And then felt sure that she say no more and that Aslan knew all they had been thinking.
“Please may we come with you wherever you’re going,” asked Susan. “Well-” said Alsan and seemed to be thinking. Then he said, “I should be glad of company to-night. Yes, you may come, if you will promise to stop when I tell you, and after that leave me to go alone.”
“Oh thank you, thank you” and “We will,” said the two girls.
Forward they went again and one of the girls walked on each side of the Lion. But how slowly he walked! And his great, royal head drooped so that his nose nearly touched the grass. Presently he stumbled and gave a low moan.
“Aslan! Dear Aslan! SaidLucy, “what is wrong? Can’t you tell us?
“Are you ill, dear Aslan?” asked Susan.
“No,” said Aslan. “I am sad and lonely. Lay your hands on my mane so I can feel you are there and let us walk like that.”
And so the girls did what they would never have dared to do without his permission, but hat they had longed to do ever since they first saw him- buried their cold hands in the beautiful sea of fir and stroked it and, in so doing, walked with him. And presently they saw that they were going with him up the slope of the hill on which the stone table stood. They went up at the side where the trees came furthest up, and when they got to the last tree (it was one that had some bushes about it) Alsan stopped and said,
“Oh children, children. Here you must stop. And whatever happens, do not let yourselves be seen. Fairwell.”
A great crowd of people where standing all around the stone table. And though the moon was shining many of them carried torches which burned with evil-looking red flames and black smoke. But such people! Ogres with monsterous teeth, and wolves, and bull-headed men; spirits of evil trees and poisonous plants; and other creatures who I won’t describe because if I did the grown-ups would probably not let your read this book- Cruels and Hags and Incubuses, and Wraiths, Horrors, Efreets, Sprites, Orknies, Wooses and Ettins. In fact here were all those who were on the witches side and whom the Wolf had summoned at her command. And right in the middle, standing by the table, was the Witch herself.
A howl and a gibber of dismay went up from the creatures when they first saw the great Lion pacing towards them, and for a moment even the Witch seemed to be struck with fear. Then she recovered herself and gave a wild fierce laugh.
“The fool, she cried. The fool has come. Bind him fast.”
Lucy and Susan held their breath waiting for Aslan’s roar and his spring upon his enemies. But it never came. Four hags, grinning at leering, yet also (at first) hanging back and half afraid of what they had to do, had approached him. “Bind him, I say!” repeated the White Witch. The hags made a dart at him and shrieked with triumph when they found that he made no resistance at all. Then others- evil dwarfs and apes- rushed in to help them and between them they rolled the huge Lion round on his back and tied all his four paws together. Shouting and cheering as if they had done something brave, though, had the Lion chosen, one of those paws could have been death of them all. But he made no noise, even when the enemies, straining and tugging, pulled the cords so tight that they cut into his flesh. Then they began to drag him towards the Stone Table.
“Stop,” said the witch, “Let him first be shaved.”
Another roar of mean laughter went up from her followers as an ogre with a pair of shears came forward and squatted down by Aslan’s head. Snip-snip-snip went the shears and masses of curling glod began to fall to the ground. Then the ogre stood back and the children watching from their hiding-place, could see the face of Aslan looking all small and different without his mane. The enemies saw the difference.
“Why he is only a great cat after all!” cried one.
Is that what we were afraid of?” said another
And they surged around him jeering at him. Saying things like “Puss Puss! Pour pussy,” and “How many mice have you caught today, Cat? And would you like a saucer of milk Pussums?”
“Oh how can they?” said Lucy, tears streaming down her cheeks. “The brutes, the brutes!” For now that the first shock was over, the shorn face of Aslan looked to her braver, and more beautiful, and more patient than ever.
“Muzzle him!” said the Witch. And even now, as they worked about his face putting on the muzzle, one bite from his jaws would have cost two of three of them their hands. But he never moved. And this seemed to enrage all that rabble. Everyone was at him now. Those who had been afraid to come near him even after he was bound began to find thire courage, and for a few minutes the two girls coud not even see him- so thickly was he surrounded by the whole crowd of creatures kicking him, hitting him, and spitting on him jeering at him.
At last the rabble had had enough of this. They began to drag the bound and muzzled Lion to the Stone Table, some pulling and some pushing. He was so huge that even when they got him there it took all their efforts to hoist him on to the surface of it. Then there was more tying and tightening of cords.
“The cowards! The cowards!” sobbed Susan. Are they still afraid of him even now?”
When once Aslan had been tied (and tied so that he was really a mass of cords) on the flat stone, a hush fell on the crowd. Four hags holding four torches, stood at the corners of Table. The Witch bared her arms as she had bared them the previous night when it had been Edmund instead of Aslan. The she began to whet her knife. It looked to the children, when the gleam of the torchlight fell on it, as if the knife were made of stone not steel and it was of a strange evil shape.
At last she drew near. She stood by Aslan’s head. Her face was working and twitching with passion, but looked up at the sky, still quiet, neither angry nor afraid, but a little sad. Then, just before she gave the blow, she stooped down and said in a quivering voice,
“And now, who has won? Fool, did you think that by all this you would save the human traitor? Now I will kill you and instead of him as our pact was and so the Deep Magic will be appeased. But when you are dead what will prevent me from killing him as well? And who will take him our of my hand then? Understand that you have given me Narnia forever, you have lost your own life and you have not saved his. In that knowledge, despair and die.”
The children did not see the actual moment of the killing. They couldn’t bear to look and had covered their eyes.
The story doesn’t end there just as the Christmas story is only the beginning of the Christ story.
(From chapter 15):
As soon as the wood was silent again Susan crept out into the open hill-top. The moon was getting low and the thin clouds were passing across it, but still they could see the shape of the lion laying dead in his bonds. And down they both knelt and kissed his cold face and stroked his beautiful fir, what was left of it and cried till the could cry no more. And then they looked at each other and held each others hands for lonliness and cried again. And then again were silent. At last Lucy said,
“I can’t bear to look at that horrible muzzle. I wonder if I could take it off?”
So they tried. And after a lot of working at it, (for their fingers were cold and it was now the darkest part of the night) they succeeded. And when they saw his face without it they burst out crying again and kissed it and fondled it and wiped away the blood and foam as well as they could. And it was all the more lonely and hopeless and horrid than I know how to describe.
“I wonder, could we untie him as well? Said Susan presently. But the enemies out pure spitefulness had drawn the cords so tight that the girls could make nothing of the knots.
I hope no one who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan and Lucy were that night; but if you have been- if you’ve been up all night, and cried til you have no more tears left in you- you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing is ever going to happen again. At any rate that was how it felt to these two. Hours and hours seemed to go by in this dead clam, and they hardly noticed that they were getting colder and colder. But at last Lucy noticed two other things. One was that the sky on the East side of the hill was a little less dark than it had been an hour ago. The other was some tiny movement going on in the grass at her feet. At first she took no interest in this. What did it matter? Nothing mattered now! But at last she saw what whatever-it-was that had begun to move up the upright stones of the Stone Table. And now whatever-they-were were moving about on Aslan’s body. She peered closer. They were little grey things.
“Ugh!” said Susan from the other side of the table. “How beastly! They are horrid little mice crawling all over him. Go away you little beasts!” And she raised her hand to frighten them away. “Wait!” said Lucy who had been looking at them more closely still, can you see what they are doing?”
Both girls bent down and stared.
“I do believe!” said Susan. “But how queer! They ’re nibbling away at the cords.”
“That’s what I thought,” said Lucy. “I think they’re friendly mice. Poor little things- they don’t realize he’s dead. They think it’ll do some good untying him.”
It was quite definitely lighter by now. Each of the girls noticed for the first time the white face of the other. They could see the mice nibbling away; dozens and dozens, even hundreds of little field mice. And at last, one by one, the ropes were all gnawed through.
The sky in the East was whitish by now and the stars were getting fainter- all except the very big one low down on the eastern horizon. They felt colder than they had been all night. The mice crept away again.
The girls cleared away the remains of gnawed ropes. Aslan looked more like himself without them. Every moment his dead faced looked nobler, as the light grew and they could see it better.
In the wood behind them a bird gave a chuckling sound. It had been so still for hours and hours that it startled them. Then another bird answered it. Soon there were birds singing all over the place.
It was quite definitely early morning now, not late night.
“I am so cold,” said Lucy.
“So am I said Susan. Let’s walk about a bit.”
“What’s that? Said Lucy clutching Susan’s arm.
“I – I feel afraid to turn around,” said Susan something awful is happening.
“They’re doing something worse to him,” said Lucy. “Come on!” And she turned pulling Susan around with her.
The rising of the sun had made everything looked so different- all the colors and shadows were changed- that for a moment they didn’t see the important thing. Then they did. The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end; and there was no Aslan.
“Oh, oh, oh!” cried the tow girls rushing back to the table.
“Oh, it’s too bad, sobbed Lucy; “they might have left the body alone.”
“Who has done it?” Susan cried. “What does it mean? Is it magic?”
“Yes!” said a great voice behind their backs. “It is more magic.” They looked around. There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.
“Oh Aslan!” cried both the children, staring up at him, almost as much frightened as they were glad.
“Aren’t you dead then,” said Lucy.
“Not now,” said Aslan.
“You not- not a-? asked Susan in a shaky voice. She couldn’t bring herself to say the word ghost.
Aslan stooped his golden head and licked her forhead. The warmth of his breath and a rich sort of smell that seemed to hang about his hair came over her.
“Do I look it?” he said.
“Oh you’re real, you’re real Oh Aslan!” cried Lucy, and both girls flung themselves upon him and covered him with kisses.
“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were something calmer.
“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic there’s magic deeper still that she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back into stillness darkenss before time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who has committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.”
THE OLD MAN WITH THE RAGS
A beggar lived near the king’s palace. One day he saw a proclamation posted outside the palace gate. The king was giving a great dinner. Anyone dressed in royal garments are welcome.
The beggar went on his way. He looked at the rags he was wearing and sighed. Slowly an idea crept into his mind. He made his way back to the palace. He approached the guard at the gate. "Please sir, I would like to speak to the king."
"Wait here," the guard replied.
In a few minutes, he was brought before the king. "What do you want?" the king asked.
"Yes, your majesty. I want so much to attend the banquet, but I have no royal robes to wear. Please sir, if I may be so bold, may I have one of your old garments so that I, too, may come to the banquet?"
The beggar was trembling in fear of what the king might do.
"You have been wise in coming to me," the king said. He called to his son, the young prince. "Take this man to your room and array him in some of your clothes."
The prince did as he was told and soon the beggar was standing before a mirror, clothed in garments that he have never dared hope for.
"You are now eligible to attend the king’s banquet tomorrow night," said the prince. "But even more important, you will never need any other clothes. These garments will last forever."
The beggar dropped to his knees. "Oh, thank you," he cried. But as he started to leave, he looked back at his pile of dirty rags on the floor. He hesitated. What if the prince was wrong? What if he would need his old clothes again? Quickly he gathered them up.
The banquet was far greater than he had ever imagined, but he could not enjoy himself, as he should. He had made a small bundle of his old rags and it kept falling off his lap. The food was passed quickly and the beggar missed some of the greatest delicacies.
Time proved that the prince was righ...
Sermon Central Staff
THE AMBUSH OF JOHN WESLEY POWELL
John Wesley Powell, lost his arm in the Civil War. This, however, did not stop him from becoming a hero.
"Back in 1869 conventional wisdom said that passage through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River was impossible. It couldn’t be done. The back country surrounding the Grand Canyon oozed with legends of doomed expeditions. No one had ever dared that stretch of river and come out alive. Out of all expeditions that had given it their best shot, there was not one survivor.
One army lieutenant who has explored the Colorado just on the southern side of the Grand Canyon believed that powerful river so treacherous that 'the Colorado, along the greater part of its lonely and majestic way, shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed.' (If you saw the River Wild, the rapids shown in the movie were a class nine rapids, which looked like a sprinkler next to these rapids).
But the one-armed explorer thought he could pull it off.
On May 24, 1869, Powell and a party of nine stepped into their four small boats to attempt the thousand-mile journey. Along the way, their party encountered numerous ambushes.
They were ambushed by legion killer rapids.
They were ambushed by waterfalls.
They were ambushed by boulders the size of cabins.
They were ambushed by the loss of boats, critical foodstuffs, and instruments.
Yet one hundred days later, Powell and five men emerged from two boats. All hope for their survival had been given up weeks before. They were suffering from exposure and near starvation. But they made it.
What happened to the other four men? One decided to go back. The other three, after numerous disagreements with Powell, left the expedition. They hiked to the rim of the Canyon...only to be killed by Indians.”
(Steve Farrar, Finishing Strong, pg. 24)
Dr. Robert Clinton discovered while researching various individuals in the Word of God that they all finished one of the following Four Ways:
• CUT OFF EARLY (assassinated, denounced, overthrown)
• FINISH POORLY (on the down side spiritually)
• FINISH "SO-SO" (they weren’t all they could have been)
• FINISH WELL (walked with God)
WHY DIDN’T SOME FINISH WELL?
They were ambushed!
(From a sermon by Rick Finitzer, Watch Out for Ambushes, 10/28/2009)
"I'M NOT A CHRISTIAN, SO..."
You need to know what is going on in the head of a non-saved or pre-saved person.
* "I'm not a Christian, so ... I really don't understand this religious stuff. I did try and read bits of the Bible when I was at school, but found it hard to understand. I never went to church or Sunday School or anything.
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...It really bugs me to see Christians claiming that they know it all.
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...I doubt they have much fun anyway, because they are living by a load of rules.
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Well, some do. Mandy in the Accounts Department goes to church, but she can't keep her hands off men. Ever."
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Of course, I do try to live by my own rules too. Well, most of the time. I still feel bad about what happened with Sam though."
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...There is one church in town that give out leaflets in the street. They are so badly produced though -- just lots of text and Bible verses. I never read them properly. There's an invitation to their church services at the end -- but I would never dare to go to a church by myself, even if I wanted to. I'd feel like a fish out of water."
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Church services sometimes come on the TV too. I always switch channels, they seem so old-fashioned and preachy. One time though, I came across a Christian program that was looking at the Christian messages hidden in recent Hollywood film releases. Now, that WAS interesting, and it made sense to me. (I try to get to the movies every two or three weeks.) Another time, there was a story about Christians starting an AIDS hospice in our country. Those people really impressed me."
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Not that I actually know any Christians at all. Otherwise I could perhaps find out more, and ask some real questions. If they'd try and give straight answers, and not just preach at me."
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Well, if their beliefs work for them, that's great. Of course, I do read my horoscope when I remember to. I always try to avoid things that it warns against. And Charlie gave me some healing crystals -- I keep them by my bed, and they really seem to make me feel calmer sometimes. Buddhism sounds fun, actually. There are evening classes at the local college. Carlos and Miriam have been going. They say it is really good -- there is no pressure to join anything, the classes are friendly and interactive, and already they feel that their lives are changing for the better."
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Not that I need God, or religion or stuff. Though it would be nice to know where I am going. To feel more grounded. Have a purpose. And I wish I could cope with stress better than I do. Or even find someone I could talk to about the things that worry me. My job is not safe anymore. I can't face all that job-loss stuff again -- it's happened twice before. Specially with my loans to repay. And I'm just hoping that dad's medical tests won't show anything bad. Specially now he has left mum and is living alone."
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...And even deal with that thing which happened when I was a child -- what that man did to me in the toilets. I never told anyone, not even my mother. It still makes me feel guilty. I manage to blank it out most of the time. I'm sure it contributed to my last relationship breakup. Life is a bit lonely just now."
* "I'm not a Christian, so ...Of course, I always try to escape from the week's stress on Friday night. Me and a few mates. It seems to help, somehow. But there's always Monday again."