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Illustration: At first I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there sort of like the president. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I didn’t really know Him. But later on when I recognized this Higher Power, It seemed as though life was rather like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that God was in the back helping me pedal. I don’t know just when it was that he suggested we change places, but life has not been the same since—life with my Higher Power, that is. God makes life exciting! But when He took the lead, it was all I could do to hang on! He knew delightful paths, up mountains and through rocky places—and at breakneck speeds. Even though it looked like madness, he said, “Pedal!” I worried and was anxious and asked, “Where are you taking me?” He laughed and didn’t answer, and I started to learn trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into adventure. When I’d say, “I’m scared,” He’d lean back and touch my hand. He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance, and joy. They gave me their gifts to take on my journey, our journey, God’s and mine. And we were off again. He said, “Give the gifts away; they’re extra baggage, too much weight.” So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving I received, and our burden became light. At first I did not trust Him in control of my life. I thought He’d wreck it. But He knows bike secrets—knows how to make it lean to take sharp corners, dodge large rocks, and speed through scary passages. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places. I’m beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant Companion. And when I’m sure I just can’t do any more, He just smiles and says, “Pedal!”
James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 247-248.
WHAT KIND OF HEART DO YOU HAVE?
I was reading this week an article by Bryan Doyle. It talks about hummingbirds.
Hummingbirds have race car hearts that eat oxygen at an eye-popping rate. Their hearts are built of thinner, leaner fibers than ours. Their arteries are stiffer and more taut. Their hearts are stripped to the skin for the war against gravity and inertia, the mad search for food, the insane idea of flight.
They are tiny little birds and their hearts beat 10 times a second. So even if you put your huge ear to its chest, it would be hard to discern the heartbeat.
The price of their ambition is a life closer to death; they suffer more heart attacks and aneurysms and ruptures than any other living creature. It’s expensive to fly. You burn out. You fry the machine. You melt the engine.
The biggest heart in the world is inside the blue whale. It weighs more than seven tons. It’s as big as a room. It is a room, with four chambers. A child could walk around it, head high, bending only to step through the valves. The valves are as big as the swinging doors in a saloon. This house of a heart drives a creature a hundred feet long.
Every creature on earth has approximately two billion heartbeats to spend in a lifetime. You can spend them slowly, like a tortoise and live to be two hundred years old, or you can spend them fast, like a hummingbird, and live to be two years old.
What kind of heart do you have? Is it beating to the rhythm of songs of praise to God? for eternity? Or is your pulse set to the city, the job, the constant striving for possessions and property, the ways of the world, the pulse of hell?
Sermon Central Staff
WHAT A 95-YEAR-OLD WOMAN WORRIES ABOUT
A ninety-five year old woman at the nursing home received a visit from one of her fellow church members.
"How are you feeling?" the visitor asked.
"Oh," said the lady, "I'm just worried sick!"
"What are you worried about, dear?" her friend asked. "You look rather well and healthy today. Are they taking good care of you here?"
"Oh, yes, they're taking very good care of me."
"Are you in any pain?" she asked.
"No, I'm not in any pain at all."
"Well then, what are you worried about?" her friend asked again.
The lady leaned back in her rocking chair, sighed a heavy sigh, then slowly explained her major worry. "Every close friend I ever had has already died and gone on to heaven. I'm afraid they're all wondering where I went."
The word worry in the Greek, means to be divided. The Greek word is formed by two root words "divided" and "mind." To worry means to be pulled in many different directions.
(From a sermon by Jimmy Haile, Consider the Lilies!, 12/25/2010)
FOX SPORTS PLAY OF THE DAY
"Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’" (Acts 2:38).
Pat Summerall spent 50 years with the national Football League. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1952 and played with the Chicago Cardinals and New York Giants until 1961. After his retirement from the game, he joined CBS as a broadcaster, and in 1993 switched to Fox. During his CBS years he and a fellow broadcaster partied hard off the field. "We raised Cain. I was the first guy at the bar and the last to leave." Summerall was told that if he kept on drinking he was going to die.
After checking himself into the Betty Ford Clinic, his counselor urged him to seek a better life through faith. At age 66, Pat Summerall was baptized. In USA Today he told a reporter that when the minister "leaned me back in the water, I never felt so helpless." Summerall testified, "I knew I just became a Christian. I can’t tell you how great life has been since then."
Baptism is a faith response to the gospel of Christ. In baptism we are indeed helpless. We are sinners in t...
Everyone put your hand out. Imagine with me that you have a lemon in your hand. Feel how cold it is since you just took it out of the refrigerator. Feel the two knobs on the ends? Ok, now take a knife and cut the lemon in half. Careful! Don’t cut yourself. Oh, look at the juice run down over the sides. Now, put one half down and just hold the other half of the lemon. Now, look at the inside of the cut lemon. Lean down and smell the lemon. Get a good full sense of the lemon fresh scent of the just cut lemon. Ok, now squeeze the lemon. See the juice ooze up and cover the surface of the cut lemon? Now - lick the lemon. That’s right! Lick the lemon. Ok, who feels like you have more saliva than you did a minute a go? How can that be? It was only pretend! The reason is because your body reacts to that which your mind thinks about.
At first I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there sort of like a president. I recognized his picture when I saw it, but I really didn’t know Him.
But later on, when I met Christ, It seemed as though life were rather like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal.
I don’t know when it was that he suggested that we change places, but life has not been the same since. When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable. . . It was the shortest distance between two points.
But when he took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places at breakneck speeds, It was all I could do to hang on! Even though it looked like madness, He said, "Pedal!"
I worried and was anxious and asked, "Where are you taking me?" He laughed and didn’t answer, and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure. And when I’d say "I’m scared," He’d lean back and touch my hand.
He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance and joy. They gave me gifts to take on my journey, my Lord’s and mine. And we were off again. He said, "Give the gifts away; they’re extra baggage, too much weight."
So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving I received, and still our burden was light. I did not trust Him, at first, In control of my life. I thought He’d wreck it; but he knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, knows how to jump to clear high rocks, knows how to fly to shorten scary passages. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I’m beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion Jesus Christ. And when I’m sure I just can’t do anymore, He just smiles and says . . . "Pedal." - author unknown
A man has been lost and walking in the desert for about five days. One hot day--actually, they’re all hot--he comes to the home of a preacher. Tired and weak, he crawls up to the house and collapses on the doorstep. The preacher takes him in and nurses him back to health. Feeling better, the man asks the preacher for directions to the nearest town. The preacher tells him the directions, and offers to lend him his horse to make it. The preacher says, "However, there is a special thing about this horse. You have to say ’Thank God’ to make it go and ’Amen’ to make it stop."
Anxious to get to town, the man says, "Sure, okay" and gets on the horse. He says, "Thank God" and sho ’nuff, the horse starts walking. A bit later he says louder, "Thank God, thank God," and the horse starts trotting. Feeling really brave, the man say, "Thank God! Thank God! THANK GOD!" and the horse is soon up to a full run!
About then he realizes he’s heading for a huge cliff and yells "Whoa!" But the horse doesn’t even slow! It’s coming up REAL QUICK and he’s doing everything he can to make the horse stop. "Whoa, stop, hold on!" Finally he remembers "AMEN!!!"
The horse stops a mere two inches from the cliff’s edge, almost throwing him over its head. The man, panting and heart racing, wipes the sweat from his face and leans back in the saddle. "Oh!" he says, gasping for air, "Thank God."
Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg--or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul’s ally forged in the refinery of adversity. Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You can’t tell a vet just by looking.
What is a vet?
He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn’t run out of fuel.
He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.
She--or he--is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.
He is the POW who went away one person and came back another--or didn’t come back at all.
He is the Quantico drill instructor that has never seen combat--but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other’s backs.
He is the parade-riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.
He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.
He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor die unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean’s sunless deep.
He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket--palsied now and aggravatingly slow--who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.
He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being, a person who offered some of his life’s most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.
He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.
So remember, each...
In an April, 1988 edition of Sports Illustrated, their was a story titled “Ali and His Entourage”. Sports writer Gary Smith went to Ali’s farmhouse to interview the three-time world champion. On the floor leaning against the walls, were mementos of Ali in his prime. Photos and portraits of the champ punching and dancing. Sculpted body. Fist punching the air. Championship belt held high in triumph. “The thrilla in Manila.”
But on the pictures were white steaks – bird droppings. Ali looked into the rafters at the pigeons who had made his gym their home. And then he did something significant. Perhaps it was a gesture of closure. Maybe it was a statement of despair. Whatever the reason, he walked over to the row of pictures and turned them, one by one, toward the wall. He then walked to the door, stared at the countryside, and mumbled something so low that Smith had to ask him to repeat it. Ali did.
“I had the world,” he said, “and it wasn’t nothin’. Look now.”
The story is told about the baptism of King Aengus by St. Patrick in the middle of the fifth century. Sometime during the rite, St. Patrick leaned on his sharp-pointed staff and inadvertently stabbed the king’s foot. After the baptism was over, St. Patrick looked down at all the blood, realized what he had done, and begged the king’s forgiveness.
Why did you suffer this pain in silence, the Saint wanted to know.
The king replied, “I thought it was part of the ritual.”
Knowing the Face of God, Tim Stafford, p. 121ff