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When DAVE THOMAS died in early 2002, he left behind more than just thousands of Wendy’s restaurants. He also left a legacy of being a practical, hard-working man who was respected for his down-to-earth values.
Among the pieces of good advice that have outlived the smiling entrepreneur is his view of what Christians should be doing with their lives. Thomas, who as a youngster was influenced for Christ by his grandmother, said that believers should be "roll-up-your-shirt sleeves" Christians.
In his book Well Done, Thomas said, "Roll-up-your-shirtsleeves Christians see Christianity as faith and action. They still make the time to talk with God through prayer, study Scripture with devotion, be super-active in their church and take their ministry to others to spread the Good Word." He went onto say they are "anonymous people who are doing good for Christ may be doing even more good than all the well-known Christians in the world."
That statement has more meat in it than a Wendy’s triple burger. Thomas knew ab out hard work in the restaurant business; and he knew it is vital in the spiritual world also.
Let’s Roll-up-our-shirt sleeves, there is plenty to do.
(Source: Dave Branon, Our Daily Bread. From a sermon by Dennis Davidson, Authentic Faith Works, 10/26/2009)
Again, there’s a great deal of Internet research and revisionist thinking going on about these characters in the Christmas story. Some of have suggested that things would have been considerably different if these wise men had actually instead been wise women. And things sure would have been different. If it had been ‘Wise Women’ instead of ‘Wise Men’, they would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and brought practical gifts from Baby’s-R-Us, including diapers, wipes, bibs and formula. But that’s an entirely different story…
Jerry Vines said, "An unread Bible is like food uneaten, a love letter never read, a buried sword, a road map unstudied, gold never mined" (A Practical Guide to Sermon Preparation, p.69).
1 Corinthians 13:1-13:8
CYMBALA'S EASTER STORY
Jim Cymbala preaches at a church in the slums of New York. He tells the following story: It was Easter Sunday and I was so tired at the end of the day that I just went to the edge of the platform, pulled down my tie and sat down and draped my feet over the edge. It was a wonderful service with many people coming forward. The counselors were talking with these people.
As I was sitting there I looked up the middle aisle, and there in about the third row was a man who looked about fifty, disheveled, filthy. He looked up at me rather sheepishly, as if saying, “Could I talk to you?”
We have homeless people coming in all the time, asking for money or whatever. So as I sat there, I said to myself, though I am ashamed of it, “What a way to end a Sunday. I’ve had such a good time, preaching and ministering, and here’s a fellow probably wanting some money for more wine.”
He walked up. When he got within about five feet of me, I smelled a horrible smell like I’d never smelled in my life. It was so awful that when he got close, I would inhale by looking away, and then I’d talk to him, and then look away to inhale, because I couldn’t inhale facing him. I asked him, “What’s your name?”
“How long have you been on the street?”
“How old are you?”
“Thirty-two.” He looked fifty--hair matted; front teeth missing; wino; eyes slightly glazed.
“Where did you sleep last night, David?”
I keep in my back pocket a money clip that also holds some credit cards. I fumbled to pick one out thinking; I’ll give him some money. I won’t even get a volunteer. They are all busy talking with others. Usually we don’t give money to people. We take them to get something to eat.
I took the money out. David pushed his finger in front of me. He said, “I don’t want your money. I want this Jesus, the One you were talking about, because I’m not going to make it. I’m going to die on the street.”
I completely forgot about David, and I started to weep for myself. I was going to give a couple of dollars to someone God had sent to me. See how easy it is? I could make the excuse I was tired. There is no excuse. I was not seeing him the way God sees him. I was not feeling what God feels.
But oh, did that change! David just stood there. He didn’t know what was happening. I pleaded with God, “God, forgive me! Forgive me! Please forgive me. I am so sorry to represent You this way. I’m so sorry. Here I am with my message and my points, and You send somebody and I am not ready for it. Oh, God!”
Something came over me. Suddenly I started to weep deeper, and David began to weep. He fell against my chest as I was sitting there. He fell against my white shirt and tie, and I put my arms around him, and there we wept on each other. The smell of His person became a beautiful aroma. Here is what I thought the Lord made real to me: If you don’t love this smell, I...
Fred Craddock, in an address to ministers, caught the practical implications of living for Christ.
-"We think giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $l,000 bill and laying it on the table-- ’Here’s my life, Lord. I’m giving it all.’
-But the reality for most of us is that he sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $l,000 for quarters. We go through life putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there. Listen to the neighbor kid’s troubles instead of saying, ’Get lost.’ Go to a committee meeting instead of doing what we want to do. Giving a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home instead of hanging out with our friends. Usually giving our life to Christ isn’t glorious. It’s done in all those little acts of love, 25 cents at at time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it’s harder to live the Christian life little by little over the long haul." http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/f/faithfulness.htm (modified)
C. T. Schwarze has written a thesis called “The Bible and Science on the Everlasting Fire,” in which he seeks to prove the validity of the Lake of Fire. As an example, he uses the existence of midget or white dwarf stars. He points out the fact that there is general agreement among scientist that “…the temperature at or near the center of stars is between 25 million and 30 million degrees Fahrenheit!” (J. Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come: published by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, pg. 560). He further points out that these stars are so dense that they are about 5000 times smaller than would be expected for their mass. Because of the tremendous heat, everything is turned into gasses. However, due to the greatness of the pressure, these “…gasses become compressed to the consistency of a liquid…” (Ibid, pg. 560). These stars are for all practical purposes, lakes of fire.
BIG TOMMY SIROTNAK
L.A. LAKER POWER GUARD A.C. GREEN is one example of a man who will stand for the truth
at all costs.
I knew A.C. during his rookie season with the Lakers. Like all rookies, he had to
endure harassment and practical jokes. As he started to practice one day, a teammate came
up to him and told him he had a phone call.
Later he told me, Tommy, I knew if I got that call, I would be late to practice.
That phone was a long way away, and if I were late to practice, I’d be in big
Trouble meant extra laps after practice. But being a naive rookie, he thought,Well, maybe I’d better get it.
Off he ran to answer the call. He picked up the receiver ... sure enough ... nothing
but a dial tone. Sprinting back, A.C. said to himself, “They got me. I can’t believe
it. They got me good.”
When A.C. burst through the door, practice had already started. The players laughed, “Ha, ha, ha, look at the rookie! Hey, A.C.! Did you get the call?”
“Yeah”, he nodded, embarrassed. “I got it all right.”
Magic Johnson chimed in, “Oh yeah, Ace, who called?”
After a momentary silence, A.C. blurted out, “It’s my Father and He wants to talk
All season, A.C. kept going back to Magic to challenge him, “Hey Earvin, have you answered the Call Yet? My Dad’s still on the line waiting.”
That’s my question to you as well. Will you answer the Father’s call?
THE CONCEPT OF GRACE
There is a great article that illustrates the concept of grace written by Charles Stanley.
“One of my more memorable seminary professors had a practical way of illustrating to his students the concept of grace. At the end of his evangelism course he would distribute the exam with the caution to read it all the way through before beginning to answer it. This caution was written on the exam as well. As we read the test, it became unquestionably clear to each of us that we had not studied nearly enough.
The further we read, the worse it became. About halfway through, audible groans could be heard through out the lecture hall. On the last page, however, was a note that read, "You have a choice. You can either complete the exam as given or sign your name at the bottom and in so doing receive an A for this assignment."
Wow? We sat there stunned. "Was he serious? Just sign it and get an A?" Slowly, the point dawned on us, and one by one we turned in our tests and silently filed out of the room.
When I talked with the professor about it afterward, he shared some of the reactions he had received through the years. Some students began to take the exam without reading it all the way through, and they would sweat it out for the entire two hours of class time before reaching the last page.
Others read the first two pages, became angry, turned the test in blank, and stormed out of the room without signing it. They never realized what was available, and as a result, they lost out totally.
One fellow, however, read the entire test, including the note at the end, but decided to take the exam anyway. He did not want any gifts; he wanted to earn his grade. And he did. He made a C+, but he could easily have had an A.
This story illustrates many people’s reaction to God’s solution to sin. Some people look at God’s standard--moral and et...
R. David Reynolds
In CONSPIRACY OF KINDNESS, Steve Sjogren (pronounced “SHOW-GREN”) tells the true story of Joe Delaney and his eight-year-old son, Jared, who were playing catch in their backyard.
“Jared asked, ‘Dad, is there a God?’
“Joe replied that he went to church only a few times when he was a kid; he really had no idea.
“Jared ran into the house. ‘I’ll be right back!’ he yelled.
“Moments later he returned with a helium balloon from the circus, a pen, and an index card. ‘I’m going to send God an airmail message,’ Jared explained: ‘Dear God,’ wrote Jared, ‘if You are real, and You are there, send people who know you to Dad and me.’
“‘God, I hope You’re watching,’ Joe thought, as they watched the balloon and message sail away.
“Two days later, Joe and Jared pulled into a wash sponsored by Sjogren’s church. When Joe asked, ‘How much?’ Sjogren answered, ‘It’s free. No strings attached. We just want to show God’s love in a practical way.’
“‘Are you guys Christians, the kind of Christians who believe in God?’ Joe asked.
“Sjogren said, ‘Yes, we’re that kind of Christians.’ From that encounter, Steve led Joe to faith in Christ. Many people may be only one act of kindness from meeting a true Christian” [--Tom Lundeen in FRESH ILLUSTRATIONS FOR PREACHING AND TEACHING (Baker), from the editors of LEADERSHIP.]
“Comeback Kid!” Romans 4:19-25 Key verse(s) 25:“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
Combacks are the things of movies and dreams! Few things cause more instant satisfaction than a comeback. People who overpower a disability or disease–teams that come from behind and triumph–a boxer down in fourteen rounds that pulls a fifteenth round knockout–the politician behind in the polls who pulls out a victory. All of these scenarios represent comebacks that inspire and give us hope that someday we too might overcome a looming obstacle in our own lives. But above these feats there has always been a type of comeback that has impressed me even more than these–the verbal comeback.
Getting behind in a conversation, buried in someone else’s logic and cool reasoning is a maddening thing. You go into the situation confident and come out battered, embarrassed and bested. Although it is a humbling experience, it is also a maddening one to most of us. We long for just that right word, the perfect thought, to pull into the argument and then, when given the opportunity to insert it, we fail because “we just didn’t think of it at the time.” Emotions high, reason, judgement, and thought are pushed aside for the moment. There simply isn’t room when our emotions boil over. We stutter, back-track, even become belligerent in our hopelessness. Then, when all is finished, our logic foiled and the foe strutting away in victory, we think of what we should have said; the comeback that would have fit so perfectly and won the day. Can there be anything more maddening than this?
I have long admired the man who could stay cool and collected when faced with an argument that hit him squarely in the jaw; the type of man who just wouldn’t blink when the situation called for blinking. I remember hearing the story of a young man who had aspirations of become the ambassador to China under President Woodrow Wilson. He was young for the job and had not served in such a high post before. He wrote letter after letter to Wilson describing his qualifications and promoting his abilities. Finally Wilson enlisted his Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan, for assistance. He asked Bryan to set up an interview with the young man and put “the situation in order.” Bryan set up the interview at the state department and when the young man arrived, he was ushered to Bryan’s austere yet impressively large office. Not known for his shyness or lack of preparation, Bryan greeted the young man and immediately commenced a one-sided dialogue describing the “utter importance” of the office, interjecting how it was perhaps foolish to take on such a burden without the proper credentials and background. The young man seemed to listen intently to each word Bryan spoke. He took notes throughout and then, when it seemed that the one-sided argument was working, the young man looked Bryan squarely in the eyes and indicated that he had was yet convinced the job was just right for him. Bordering on frustration but still in control, Bryan changed his tactic to a more practical bent. He pushed back his chair, smiled and then leaned forward. “You know young man, in order to receive this appointment and succeed in the position there is one thing that “we” don’t have. “‘We’ don’t speak Chinese, do we?” Unperturbed, the young man smiled and moved his face closer to Bryan and whispered. “I don’t know. Try me. Ask me something in Chinese!”
What a great comeback! Although the young man did not get the job he certainly earned Bryan’s admiration. He went on to serve admirably in the State Department under Bryan. His “comeback” was perfectly conceived and exquisitely timed. But, of all the “Rocky’s” of this life we have known, read about or observed, there is one who excelled far beyond all the rest. That was our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Sin lay at our doorstep. The situation was dire. Without a savior we would be consumed by it. Then, from out of nowhere a man appears. He pushes himself between the sin and us and faces off with it. It lunges for him and the fight begins. The struggle is terrific. In fact there has never been another like it before or since. In the end, sin has its way and casts him down. He lays wretched and defeated as he sadly lays within the grave. Where is our Savior we cry? How could such a battle be fought and evil triumph over good? But wait, there is movement there. It may be the fifteenth and final round but there is still hope. He arises now stronger than ever and grabs sin by the throat and throttles it all the while delivering the perfect physical and verbal blows to the foe. Jesus Christ, our hero has won the day. It looked bad for the moment but could there ever have been any doubt? His Father had prepared Him for this day and there would be no denying it. Even the terrible burden of a world of sin was no match for the Son of Righteousness, the eternal “comeback” kid. His comeback, our victory!