Illustration results for intervention
AUGUSTINE AND THE BIBLE
For 2,000 years the Bible, often unaided by any human intervention, has transformed the lives of those who read it, many times dramatically so. St. Augustine is a good example. For most of his life he was a famed academic in the Roman Empire. He was very successful in rhetoric, a noble profession. But he lived a thoroughly dissolute, self-indulgent, immoral life. The time came when he began to consider the claims of Christianity.
He was alone in a garden one day when he heard a child singing out a line from a game: "Pick it up and read, pick it up and read." He turned to his copy of the Scriptures, which was opened to Roman. 13. His eyes were drawn to the following words: "Not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature." (Rom. 13:13-14)
Deeply convicted, he surrendered to Christ, and the Roman rhetorician went on to become the Christian bishop of Hippo, the greatest theologian after Paul, and one of the most formidable intellects of Western civilization.
I read of a Norwegian missionary, Marie Monsen, who served in China in the 1950s. She testified to the intervention of angels when Christians were in great danger. They had taken refuge in the mission compound only to be surrounded by looting soldiers and they were astonished to find that they were left in peace. A few days later the hostile men explained that they were ready to break down the flimsy wall when they noticed tall soldiers with shining faces on a high roof in the compound. Marie Monsen wrote, "The heathen saw them, it was a testimony to them, but they were invisible to us.
In 1899 four newspaper reporters from Denver, CO, set out to tear down the Great Wall of China. They almost succeeded. Literally.
The four met by chance one Saturday night, in a Denver railway depot. Al Stevens, Jack Tournay, John Lewis, Hal Wilshire. They represented the four Denver papers: the Times, the Post, the Republican, the Rocky Mountain News.
Each had been sent by his respective newspaper to dig up a story—any story—for the Sunday editions; so the reporters were in the railroad station, hoping to snag a visiting celebrity should one happen to arrive that evening by train.
None arrived that evening, by train or otherwise. The reporters started commiserating. For them, no news was bad news; all were facing empty-handed return trips to their city desks.
Al declared he was going to make up a story and hand it in. The other three laughed.
Someone suggested they all walk over to the Oxford Hotel and have a beer. They did.
Jack said he liked Al’s idea about faking a story. Why didn’t each of them fake a story and get off the hook?
John said Jack was thinking too small. Four half-baked fakes didn’t cut it. What they needed was one real whopper they could all use.
Another round of beers.
A phony domestic story would be too easy to check on, so they began discussing foreign angles that would be difficult to verify. And that is THE REST OF THE STORY.
China was distant enough, it was agreed. They would write about China.
John leaned forward, gesturing dramatically in the dim light of the barroom. Try this one on, he said: Group of American engineers, stopping over in Denver en route to China. The Chinese government is making plans to demolish the Great Wall; our engineers are bidding on the job.
Harold was skeptical. Why would the Chinese want to destroy the Great Wall of China?
John thought for a moment. They’re tearing down the ancient boundary to symbolize international good will, to welcome foreign trade! Another round of beers.
By 11:00 p.m. the four reporters had worked out the details of their preposterous story. After leaving the Oxford Bar, they would go over to the Windsor Hotel. They would sign four fictitious names to the hotel register. They would instruct the desk clerk to tell anyone why asked that four New Yorkers had arrived that evening, had been interviewed by reporters, had left early the next morning for California.
The Denver newspapers carried the story. All four of them. Front page. In fact, the Times headline that Sunday read: GREAT CHINESE WALL DOOMED! PEKING SEEKS WORLD TRADE!
Of course, the story was a phony, a ludicrous fabrication concocted by four capricious newsmen in a hotel bar.
But their story was taken seriously, was picked up and expanded by newspapers in the Eastern U.S. and then by newspapers abroad.
When the Chinese themselves learned that the Americans were sending a demolition crew to tear down their national monument, most were indignant; some were enraged!
Particularly incensed were the members of a secret society, a volatile group of Chinese patriots who were already wary of foreign intervention.
They, inspired by the story, exploded, rampaged against the foreign embassies in Peking, slaughtered hundreds of missionaries.
In two months, 12,000 troops from six countries joined forces, invaded China with the purpose of protecting their own countrymen.
The bloodshed which followed, sparked by a journalistic hoax invented in a barroom in Denver, became the white-hot international conflagration known to every high school history student . . . as the Boxer Rebellion. —Paul Harvey
British Airways 2069 left Heathrow’s London Airport everything seemed to be going quite well at first. Six hours into the flight some of the passengers were asleep, some of the reading lights were on, everyone was comfortably settled in when suddenly everyone was jarred awake by a violent dip of the airplane. They heard a scuffle up near the front and in the cockpit their was a lot of chaos. Then about as suddenly as the plan dipped it had leaved out and seemed to have recovered. The problem was that a 27 year old deranged and suicidal man had rushed into the cockpit and momentarily gained control of the plane. When the pilots jumped on him they were able to pull him away from the controls for just a moment and then he began to punch them and pull the and even began to bite them. He regained control of the airplane and locked himself onto the controls and leaned forward and pushed the 747 into a deep and violent plunge. At this point everyone in the cabin was absolutely chaotic, people were yelling and screaming people were praying out loud, people writing notes to their loved ones. They were certain they were doomed as this 747 plunged toward the ground. Earlier that day a man by the name of Clark Bineham had gone to London’s Heathrow and tried to get on his flight from London to Uganda but was bumped due to bad weather and got on flight 2069 going from London to Kenya. They were going to fly him from Uganda to Kenya with apologies and to make up for it they put him in first class. Clark said it was the first time he had ever flown in first class and they put him two sets from the cockpit. Clark was on his way to a short-term missions trip, he was a preacher from South Carolina and he was going to preach to a couple thousand teenagers who were assembled for a rally in Uganda. The preacher that God had redirected to this flight happened to also be six foot seven and a former athlete from Clemson. He was huge and in the prime of his life. He says in the report that he saw a very short flight attendant going to assist in the cockpit and about that time he says he realized it was his calling to get involved. He unleashed himself from his seat belt and dove into the fray in the cockpit were everyone was fighting and this madman was clenched to the controls of the plane. And this six foot seven preacher popped that guy out of the cockpit like a bad tooth. He literally threw him on the floor between the first couple of rows and jumped on him and with the help of his preaching partner subdued this man and had him quickly tied up by his hands. The plane in this deep descent was then regained ...
When the first Memorial Day was celebrated, a group of women from Washington D.C. asked the War Department for permission to put flowers on the soldiers graves at Arlington Cemetery. After a lot of haggling, permission was finally granted to do so. But a stern order was attached to the permission. No flowers were to be placed on the graves of the Confederate soldiers who were buried in a segregated section of the cemetery. The ladies carried out their task, careful to follow these instructions. Then General James Garfield made a speech. When the crowds left, a strong wind arose. The wind blew almost all the flowers into the Confederate section. After that the separation was never repeated. Many believed that all this was due to divine intervention.
Malcolm Muggeridge explained with the speculation of the scenario of Christ’s birth in our post-modern world, “.....in our day, with family-planning clinics offering convenient ways to correct “mistakes” that might disgrace a family name, “It is, in point of fact, extremely improbable, under existing conditions, that Jesus would have been permitted to be born at all. Mary’s pregnancy, in poor circumstances, and with the father unknown, would have been an obvious case for an abortion; and her talk of having conceived as a result of the intervention of the Holy Ghost would have pointed to the need for psychiatric treatment, and made the case for terminating her pregnancy even stronger.”
“911 or You!” Obadiah 1: 1-14 Key verse(s): 10-11: “Because of the violence against your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame; you will be destroyed forever. On the day you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates you were like one of them.”
We are a people who love to watch. We watch the time, the sky, the road. We spend an inordinate amount of time watching television shows, videos, DVD’s, video games and, each other. In many ways we are made for watching. Our eyes are in front not on the side. We don’t even have to turn our head to watch things, everything we need to see, for the most part, is right in front of us. Our eyes take it in, our brain processes the image and supplies us with the appropriate action to accommodate the situation. Unfortunately, unlike in animals, what we see is not always appropriately responded to in the most timely or even responsible fashion. When an animal sees food, if hungry, it will eat until satisfied. If we see food we will most likely eat until it is consumed. If an animal sees danger, it will either attack or flee. If we see danger we have those same options. But, there is one added into the mix. We can always do nothing.
God created each of us to be distinct from the other “living things” of His creation. On the Sixth Day he also created man, a creature distinct from all other living things in that man possessed the innate ability to freely choose. Man was not driven by instinct. Man was motivated by will. This, as God foreordained from before time, would be both a blessing and a curse. Free will grants the freedom to work with God and His purposes as well as against Him. Choosing is a wonderful thing and one of the greatest blessings God has bestowed upon us. Choosing gives us flexibility, tremendous freedom and versatility. Of all God’s creation, man alone has the ability to find happiness in the midst of sorrow and reflection in the shadow of joy. Unfortunately, the ability to choose can also cause us to make wrong choices. Standing idly by while others suffer is one of those unfortunate choices.
In his book Who Cares? Rediscovering Community, author David Schwartz writes: “When my friend Gerald looked out his office window, he saw the woman about to jump off the bridge. She stood on the edge, wavering. Below her the Susquehanna River flowed rapidly around the bridge footings, carrying flood logs and debris over the dam and to the Chesapeake Bay . . . Gerald stood for a minute, frozen. What should he do? He seemed to be the only person who had spotted the woman from his vantage point one story above the street. Shaking himself into movement, he grabbed the telephone and started to dial the emergency number 911. Could the police and the ambulance and the crisis intervention team possibly make it there in time? What would the woman do when she heard the police sirens speeding to her rescue? As his fingers punched the numbers, he saw a city bus rounding the turn onto the bridge. The bus drove slowly along the edge of the right lane. As it neared the woman, he saw the front accordion door open. Then suddenly--almost too fast to see if his eyes hadn’t been riveted on the scene--the driver, in one continuous motion, stopped, leaned out of the open door, grabbed the woman’s arm from behind, and pulled her backward into his bus. My friend sat down, shaking slightly, and replaced the telephone receiver in its cradle. He thought about what he’d seen. And because he was a reflective person, he thought about what he had done. As he explained to me later, he realized that his response to the life-or-death situation of this stranger, this woman, had been to mobilize the complex human services system set up and ready to deal with such situations. That is what anyone would do, would they not? But the bus driver had responded completely differently . . . He had seen the situation and had immediately done something himself.” (Who Cares? Rediscovering Community, David Schwartz, pages 1,2)
When you and I see things happening to others, whether that be imminent danger or simply the fact that they need a helping hand, we have choices. We can respond with help or deny that help. Pushing the responsibility on others, whether that be government or our neighbor, is really a poor substitute for reacting boldly out of Christian love for those in need. We live in a society that has conditioned us to react from a distance, to withhold personal contact and avoid personal responsibility. Perhaps that’s the way the Edomites felt when they saw their brothers, the sons of Jacob, being invaded and put to the sword. Even though they were not part of the cause, they could have been part of the cure. They did not lift a hand, however, to take up a sword for Jacob. Maybe they thought others would do it. Whatever the case, their choice resulted in God’s condemnation and wrath. It is not only a sin to commit harm, it is also a sin to ignore it. May our love for others always motivate action not idle good will. If not us, then who?
A SERIOUS RELATIONSHIP
Even those people who espouse a belief in God still often resist and resent the notion of specifically commanded behaviors. People often want the benefits of having a God for personal requests or crisis interventions, and may use being a “believer” as a way to increase status, respect or trust from others.
Entering into a relationship with God is not just about rewards we receive in this world or the next but rather how we show God that we are serious about our relationship with Him.
Normally the flight from Nassau to Miami took Walter Wyatt, Jr., only sixty-five minutes. But on December 5, 1986, he attempted it after thieves had looted the navigational equipment in his Beechcraft. With only a compass and a hand-held radio, Walter flew into skies blackened by storm clouds.
When his compass began to gyrate, Walter concluded he was headed in the wrong direction. He flew his plane below the clouds, hoping to spot something, but soon he knew he was lost. He put out a mayday call, which brought a Coast Guard Falcon search plane to lead him to an emergency landing strip only six miles away. Suddenly Wyatt’s right engine coughed its last and died. The fuel tank had run dry. Around 8 p.m. Wyatt could do little more than glide the plane into the water.
Wyatt survived the crash, but his plane disappeared quickly, leaving him bobbing on the water in a leaky life vest. With blood on his forehead, Wyatt floated on his back. Suddenly he felt a hard bump against his body. A shark had found him. Wyatt kicked the intruder and wondered if he would survive the night. He managed to stay afloat for the next ten hours. In the morning, Wyatt saw no airplanes, but in the water a dorsal fin was headed for him. Twisting, he felt the hide of a shark brush against him. In a moment, two more bull sharks sliced through the water toward him.
Again he kicked the sharks, and they veered away, but he was nearing exhaustion. Then he heard the sound of a distant aircraft. When it was within a half mile, he waved his orange vest. The pilot radioed the Cape York, which was twelve minutes away: "Get moving, cutter! There’s a shark targeting this guy!" As the Cape York pulled alongside Wyatt, a Jacob’s ladder was dropped over the side. Wyatt climbed wearily out of the water and onto the ship, where he fell to his knees and kissed the deck. He’d been saved. He didn’t need encouragement or better techniques. Nothing less than outside intervention could have rescued him from sure death. How much we are like Walter Wyatt. Peter Michelmore, Reader’s Digest, October, 1987.
Sermon Central Staff
RAVI ZACHARIAS: CHANGED LIVES SHOW THE TRUTH OF CHRIST
In his book Has Christianity Failed You? Ravi Zacharias points to one of the greatest proofs for the truth of Christ and the reality of his resurrection: the changed lives of Christians. He writes:
"During the course of nearly 40 years, I have traveled to virtually every continent and seen or heard some of the most amazing testimonies of God’s intervention in the most extreme circumstances. I have seen hardened criminals touched by the message of Jesus Christ and their hearts turned toward good in a way that no amount or rehabilitation could have accomplished. I have seen ardent followers of radical belief systems turned from being violent, brutal terrorists to becoming mild, tenderhearted followers of Jesus Christ. I have seen nations where the gospel, banned and silenced by governments, has nevertheless conquered the ethos and mind-set of an entire culture."
Then in his own words, Zacharias lists examples of Christ’s power to transform lives:
"In the middle of the twentieth century, after destroying all of the Christian seminary libraries in the country, Chairman Mao declared that...Christianity had been permanently removed from China, never to make a return. On Easter Sunday in 2009, [however] the leading English language newspaper in Hong Kong published a picture of Tiananmen Square on page 1, with Jesus replacing Chairman Mao’s picture on the gigantic banner, and the words "Christ is Risen" below it.
"I have also been in the Middle East and marveled at the commitment of young people who have risked their lives to attend a Bible study...I have talked to CEOs of large companies in Islamic nations who testify to seeing Jesus in visions and dreams and wonder what it all means. The British author A. N. Wilson, who only a few years ago was known for his scathing attacks on Christianity...celebrated Easter [in 2009] at a church with a group of other church members, proclaiming that that the story of the Jesus of the Gospels is the only story that makes sense out of life and its challenges. [Wilson said], 'My own return to faith has surprised none more than myself...My belief has come about in large measure because of the lives and examples of people I have known—not the famous, not saints, but friends and relations who have lived, and faced death, in light of the resurrection story, or in the quiet acceptance that they have a future after they die.'
"Matthew Parris [a British atheist who visited Malawi in 2008] wrote an article titled "As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God." [Parris wrote], 'I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa...I used to avoid this truth...but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it."
[Ravi Zacharias, Has Christianity Failed You? (Zondervan, 2010), pp. 105-107. From a sermon by Michael McCartney, Experience the Spirit in the Resurrection, 5/11/2011]