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A wealthy man before leaving on an extended vacation said to a contractor, "While I am away, I want you to build me a fine new home according to these plans. Be sure you work with extreme care, and use the best of everything. Tell me the cost as soon as you have it and I’ll send you a check." During the process of construction the contractor discovered many opportunities to substitute inferior materials; he put in his own pocket the money he saved. His employer would never know the difference, and he himself would profit. But he soon regretted his dishonesty, for the wealthy man upon his return inspected the finished home and said: "You have built it exactly as I wanted it, and I’m sure that you used the best of everything in its construction. Now, in appreciation for your long years of service to me, I am giving you this new home for your very own. Here’s the deed!" Church, we are building for eternity. Do we build with inferior materials or do we build with choice materials on the foundation of Christ? Don’t ever forget, the house we will have later on depends on the material we are using now.
JOY IN THIS WORLD
Men have pursued joy in every avenue imaginable. Some have successfully found it while others have not. Perhaps it would be easier to describe where joy cannot be found:
Not in Unbelief -- Voltaire was an infidel of the most pronounced type. He wrote: "I wish I had never been born."
Not in Pleasure -- Lord Byron lived a life of pleasure if anyone did. He wrote: "The worm, the canker, and grief are mine alone."
Not in Money -- Jay Gould, the American millionaire, had plenty of that. When dying, he said: "I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth."
Not in Position and Fame -- Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both. He wrote: "Youth is a mistake; manhood a struggle; old age a regret."
Not in Military Glory -- Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept in his tent, before he said, "There are no more worlds to conquer."
Where then is real joy found? -- the answer is simple, in Christ alone.
The Bible Friend, Turning Point, May, 1993. http://www.eSermons.com
THANKS FOR THE HELMET
Cecil Conrad was a farm boy, tired of waking up at the crack of dawn to clean up after cows. He lied about his age, joined the Army and helped free Asia from the Axis.
But it was in the next war, battling Communists in Korea, that Conrad might truly have regretted his change of career.
In a too-shallow foxhole, somewhere north of Seoul, the 188th Airborne Division soldier held his gun close to his head, trying to shield himself from fast-flying ordnance that "whistled through the air like birds tweeting," he said.
Then the world exploded in his face.
"It was like being smacked with a baseball bat. It knocked me backwards," Conrad said.
Dirt had hit him, a chunk of sod flung up by a shell, Conrad thought, as he gradually accepted the fact that he was still alive.
Then he touched his helmet, and felt the hole that a shell had torn out of the steel.
"I knew a piece of sod couldn’t do that," he said.
By the laws of nature, that big bullet ought to have kept on going, making a fatal journey through his skull and brain. Instead, it struck the steel at such an angle that it cut through the metal and then arced away. He had a bruise and a headache, but he would live to tell the story.
Conrad still has that old helmet, with its tell-tale furrow in the brow.
A Korean vet thankful for the helmet that saved his life
SOURCE: "Korean Vet Thankful For The Helmet That Saved His Life" by Cliff Davis. 11/10/2002. ©The Progress-Index 2002. http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?BRD=2271&dept_id=462946&newsid=6014233&PAG=461&rfi=9
GETTING PAST YOUR PAST
Consider Charles Colson, the aide to Richard Nixon who was sent to jail for Watergate. As as a result of his experience as a convicted felon, Colson founded Prison Fellowship, now the world’s largest Christian outreach to prisoners and their families. Prison Fellowship has more than 50,000 volunteers working in hundreds of prisons in 88 countries around the world. A ministry that has blessed millions of people got started twenty-five years ago because Charles Colson committed a crime. God’s eternal purposes for that man included even the sin that sent him to prison. It was a part of God’s plan from the very beginning.
But the story that matters most to you isn’t Peter’s, or Paul’s, or even Charles Colson’s. It’s yours. And what I want to say to you this morning is that the story of your life has not been ruined, not by your sin or anyone else’s. God’s good plan for your life is not buried under the mistakes of the past. God has a plan for your life, a good plan, a wise plan, a loving plan, a sovereign plan, and that plan is still in effect. You haven’t missed it. He is working ...
“Passing Through The Shadows!” 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 Key verse(s): 26:“‘For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes’.”
“Smile and the world smiles with you! Cry and you cry alone.” Walking through life with a smile on our faces is something to hope for, isn’t it? Life it far too short to be all gloom and sadness. Like the old song says, if you smile you draw crowds. When you cry you draw isolation and loneliness.
From an early age on we are taught not be be gloomy. There’s something about being around a person who is sad that simply repels us. Most of us will resort to nothing less than our best efforts to either avoid the gloom or change it somehow. Recently I returned home from a long day at the office dragging pretty much everything that I had encountered that day behind me. As I slipped in through the garage door into the entry way, so slipped in the meeting that had not gone well, the invoice that turned out to be more than I had planned, and the angry telephone call I had taken. Plop, they landed on the floor right beside my briefcase. Somehow I knew they were still there because even when I tried to refocus my thoughts on home and family, all I could think of was the office. I guess it was pretty evident on my face as I walked into the kitchen, shuffling across the floor in my slippers, mostly looking past my children and wife. They could see it written all over my face. “Had a bad day, huh?” “Yeah, the worst!” And I plunged into a lengthy dissertation on the woes of the day; moving back and forth between diatribe and regret. They had had a great day but now, as they listened to my woes, somehow their days had not been as good as they had thought. In fact, it wasn’t long before they were able to match woe for woe with the “king of woes”. My sorrow had magically become their sorrow. My sorrow like a drop of black ink in water slowly spread its inky murk throughout their clear and sunny day. “Gloom and doom, meet happy and promising!” Like that bothersome gab that grabs your hand and makes it serve as a sort of freeway for their emotions, gloom and doom simply won’t let go until they have poured themselves into you completely.
Carry our sorrow and laying it on others is not a very good idea. Yet, how can one be happy all the time? Isn’t there ever a place for sorrow, at least to balance out the brilliance of the light from time to time? In northern Chile, between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, lies a narrow strip of land where the sun shines every day! Clouds gather so seldom over the valley that one can say, “It almost never rains here!” Morning after morning the sun rises brilliantly over the tall mountains to the east. Each noon it shines brightly overhead, and every evening it brings a picturesque sunset. Although storms are often seen rising high in the mountains, and heavy fog banks hand their gray curtains far over the sea, Old Sol continues to shed his warming rays upon this “favored” and protected strip of territory. One might imagine this area to be an earthly paradise, but is far from that! It is a sterile and desolate wilderness! There are no streams of water, and nothing grows there.
We often long for total sunshine and continuous joy in life, and we desire to avoid the heartache that bring tears to our eyes. Like that sunny, unfertile part of Chile, however, life without clouds and even an occasional downpour would not be productive or challenging. But though showers do come, they will also end, and the sun will shine again. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5). (Our Daily Bread.)
Total sunshine in life? Let’s face it. That is never going to happen. In fact, there will always be a proper place for sorrow in life. I’m not talking about the impertinent spreading of your own personal gloom on people. Nobody needs that. No, I’m talking about the godly sorrow that leads to repentance and forgiveness of sins. When Jesus passed the cup to his disciples and broke the bread between his fingers at that last communing supper together, His soul was filled with a kind of sorrow that was truly appropriate and necessary for the moment. His soul was, as Martin Luther put it, “empty, single, and hungry”. His soul was prepared for the task ahead and He was demonstrating to His disciples how that sorrow could and would turn into joy. But first it must pass through the shadows and dwell in the darkness of sin. Here the soul must weep and by that invisible cleansing be able to behold more clearly the land of sweet light and happiness that awaits it if only it can endure the sorrow for but a short time longer. Yes, there is a time for sorrow when we rightly park our joy and walk some distance away from the light toward the shadowland where we find the source of that nagging that is constantly beating upon the doors of our souls. Here we too shall find the emptiness that makes preparation for being filled.
William Borden was a wealthy Christian growing up in Chicago as an heir of the Borden milk fortune. When he was in his first year at Yale University he committed himself to reaching the Muslims of North India. Three years later he sailed for Egypt to study Arabic before going to India. He knew that money could not mean security so before he left he gave away his inheritance of nearly one million dollars to various missions. He was in Cairo for four months when he contracted spinal meningitis and was dead within weeks. He had scrawled on a piece of paper under his pillow the words, "No reserve! No retreat! No regrets!"
A. Todd Coget
["Mr. Holland’s Opus": Leaving a Legacy, Citation: Mr. Holland’s Opus, (Hollywood Pictures, 1995), rated PG, written by Patrick Sheane Duncan, directed by Stephen Herek; submitted by Greg Asimakoupoulos, Naperville, Illinois]
Mr. Holland’s Opus is a movie about a frustrated composer in Portland, Oregon, who takes a job as a high school band teacher in the 1960s.
Although diverted from his lifelong goal of achieving critical fame as a classical musician, Glenn Holland (played by Richard Dreyfuss) believes his school job is only temporary.
At first he maintains his determination to write an opus or a concerto by composing at his piano after putting in a full day with his students.
But, as family demands increase (including discovery that his infant son is deaf) and the pressures of his job multiply, Mr. Holland recognizes that his dream of leaving a lasting musical legacy is merely a dream.
At the end of the movie we find an aged Mr. Holland fighting in vain to keep his job.
The board has decided to reduce the operating budget by cutting the music and drama program.
No longer a reluctant band teacher, Mr. Holland believes in what he does and passionately defends the role of the arts in public education.
What began as a career detour became a 35-year mission, pouring his heart into the lives of young people.
Mr. Holland returns to his classroom to retrieve his belongings a few days after school has let out for summer vacation.
He has taught his final class.
With regret and sorrow, he fills a box with artifacts that represent the tools of his trade and memories of many meaningful classes.
His wife and son arrive to give him a hand.
As they leave the room and walk down the hall, Mr. Holland hears some noise in the auditorium.
Because school is out, he opens the door to see what the commotion is.
To his amazement he sees a capacity audience of former students and teaching colleagues and a banner that reads "Goodbye, Mr. Holland."
Those in attendance greet Mr. Holland with a standing ovation while a band (consisting of past and present members) plays songs they learned at his hand.
His wife, who was in on the surprise reception, approaches the podium and makes small talk until the master of ceremonies, the governor of Oregon, arrives.
The governor is none other than a student Mr. Holland helped to believe in herself his first year of teaching.
As she addresses the room of well-wishers, she speaks for the hundreds who fill the auditorium:
"Mr. Holland had a profound influence in my life (on a lot of lives, I know), and yet I get the feeling that he considers a great part of his life misspent.
Rumor had it he was always working on this symphony of his, and this was going to make him famous and rich (probably both).
But Mr. Holland isn’t rich and he isn’t famous.
At least not outside our little town.
So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure, but he’d be wrong.
Because I think he’s achieved a success far beyond riches and fame."
Looking at her former teacher the governor gestures with a sweeping hand and continues, "Look around you.
There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each one of us is a better person because of you.
We are your symphony, Mr. Holland.
We are the melodies and the notes of your opus.
And we are the music of your life."
THE GRADUATION GIFT
A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealers showroom, and knowing that his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted. As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study.
His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautiful wrapped gift box. Curious, but somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather bound Bible, with the young man’s name embossed in gold.
Angrily, he raised his voice to his father and said, "With all your money you give me a BIble?" and stormed out of the house, leaving the Bible.
Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but realized his father was very old and thought perhaps he should go to him. He had not seen him since that graduation day. But before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things.
When he arrived at his father’s house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart.
He began to search through his father’s important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages.
His father has carefully underlined a verse, Matthew 7:11, "And if ye, being evil, know how t...
Byron Deel, grew up with an alcoholic and abusive father. Byron had two brothers and three sisters, a large family, but his dad spent the family income on alcohol, and he drank and ranted and raved and hit them. When Byron was twelve, his father walked away from the family, and did absolutely nothing to support them. There were no child care payments. No alimony. No cards at birthdays. No gifts at Christmas. Nothing but hardship and abandonment.
Six years later, he showed up again, two weeks after Byron had graduated from high school. It was an awkward meeting. He stayed about half an hour. And then he left again, and this time there was no contact for sixteen years. Byron confided to a friend, "My attitude toward my dad was everything that it shouldn’t have been for a Christian. He had robbed mi of a happy childhood. He had failed me at every point. He had abused me. I hesitate to say I hated him, but perhaps hatred isn’t too strong a word. There was a bitterness there that was almost a loathing. Whenever anyone asked me about my dad, I’d shut them off pretty fast. As I grew older, I put it all out of my mind, and there was just a blank spot there. I didn’t think about it. I could go for years without once thinking about my father."
Then out of the blue Byron’s aunt called him and said, "Your father is in Bristol, VA, very sick and close to death. It would mean something to him if he could see one of his children. He has cirrhosis of the liver." None of the other children wanted to see him, and Byron lived the closest to Bristol. So he got in his car and drove up there. He said, "I had a ton of thoughts. Not a lot of strong feelings, just a sense that someone should do this. I didn’t want to, but it seemed like I should."
He walked into the ICU and there was a seventy one year old man, connected to monitors, tubes inserted into his body, surrounded by medical equipment. Byron hadn’t seen him for sixteen years, but he recognized the man. And something strange happened. As Byron saw his dad lying there helplessly, dying, strung about with wires and tubes and monitors and machines, all the years of hatred and anger melted away. He walked over and stood by the bedside. The man opened his eyes, saw Byron, and began to cry. Byron said. "I wept, too. It was almost as though I could see going through his mind waves of regret for the wasted years." Byron spent that day and the next with his dad, and he was surprised th find that he had a lot of feeling for the man. "The burden that I had been carrying around for years, without realizing it, was gone. We were able to talk, and I was able to share the gospel with him."
Byron’s father survived that stay in the hospital, and was able to return home briefly. During that time, Byron had a second visit , taking his wife and daughters with him. And during that visit, he grew convinced that his dad had trusted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
Later the call came that his father had died. But Byron was no longer bitter or estranged. The compassion of Jesus Christ had taken hold, and instead of seeing himself as an abused victim full of hatred and cold of heart, he saw something else. He saw his dad through the Lord’s eyes, as a needy man who just needed Jesus Christ.
*Nelson’ Complete Book of Stories,Illustrations, and Quotes. Robert J. Morgan
True Confession and Repentance:
True confession is not the mere mental assent that we
have done wrong, for even a thief will admit he’s done
wrong in the bragging of his accomplishments. No,
confession means seeing and agreeing with God how our
sins have harmed us and others. It is pouring out our
shame and deep sorrow to the Lord over our misdeeds.
It is repenting of our evil ways, turning around and
doing what’s right and good, and it’s seeking
reconciliation with others and our God.
This is repentance the leads to life, whereas the
thief’s boasting leads only to further alienation
from God. As the Bible says, “Godly sorrow brings
repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no
regret, but worldly sorrow brings death”