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Contributed By:
Paul Fritz
 
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Connie Mack was one of the greatest managers in the history of baseball. One of the secrets of his success was that he knew how to lead and inspire men. He knew that people were individuals. Once, when his team had clinched the pennant well before the season ended, he gave his two best pitchers the last ten days off so that they could rest up for the World Series. One pitcher spent his ten days off at the ball park; the other went fishing. Both performed brilliantly in the World Series. Mack never critcized a player in front of anyone else. He learned to wait 24 hours before discussing mistakes with players. Otherwise, he said, he dealt with goofs too emotionally.

In the first three years as a major league baseball manager, Connie Mack’s teams finished sixth, seventh, and eighth. He took the blame and demoted himself to the minor leagues to give himself time to learn how to handle men. When he came back to the major leagues again, he handled his players so successfully that he developed the best teams the world had ever known up to that time.

Mack had another secret of good management: he didn’t worry. "I discovered," he explained, "that worry was threatening to wreck my career as a baseball manager. I saw how foolish it was and I forced myself to get so busy preparing to win games that I had no time left to worry over the ones that were already lost. You can’t grind grain with water that has already gone down the creek."

Bits and Pieces, December 13, 1990

 
Contributed By:
Jim Kane
 
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‘Grow as You Go.’ The first sermon in this series took us to Moses and his encounter with God. We were told that God had a role, an important one at that, for Moses and it was in line with God’s plan and story and not Moses’ plan and story. In other words, we ‘grow’ in our Christian faith and character as we ‘go’ along in life by remembering that the Christian story and faith is about God and not about us and though we have a role in that story and it is not the role of director.
Out next stop took us to 2 Chronicles 26 and the painful and tragic story of King Uzziah. We learned that Uzziah, who became King of Israel at a young age, governed well because he governed with the help of God who made him successful. But one day, due to an increasing belief in himself and a less increasing reliance on the Lord, Uzziah exceeded his authority and with a heart that was filled with pride and power, fell from power and afflicted with leprosy, and spent the remaining years of his life literally cut off from his people.
Uzziah’s story thus serves us as a powerful and important reminder that as we go and grow in our faith and character, we must pay attention to the gaps between our skills and our character because the latter rather than the former will undo us and cause us tremendous pain and disconnect with God.
This morning we move through the Old Testament to the book of Daniel and the person of Daniel and here we encounter the opposite of Uzziah. Here we see a man who says yes to the right things so that he can say no to the right things. (You heard me right, Daniel is some one who says yes to the right things so that he can say no to the right things.)
The lesson we learn from Daniel’s life as it applies to ‘growing as we go’ is, in the words of Eric Simpson, ‘what we say ‘yes’ to grants us power to what we have longed to say no to.’ Spiritual growth and development; the process of going and growing as followers of Jesus; requires us to say ‘yes’ to some things and ‘no’ to other things. Daniel’s story tells us what he says ‘no’ to, at least in this chapter of his life.
Now it is always important to place the text we examine in its context and, very briefly, here is the context of our main text this morning. Our text begins with a statement about a governmental decision being made by a new King, a new ruler, in fact a conquering king and ruler, ‘Darius the Mede.’
As we read in Daniel 5:30 and 31, the former King, Belshazzar, the last of the Babylonian kings, was overthrown and the Babylonian empire, which had overthrown the remnants of Israel, was no more. A new empire, the Persian-Mede empire was now the top dog in that part of the world.
And by this time in his life Daniel most likely was 80 years of age. He had already served two kings, often at risk to his life and those of his friends, because of their faith and their commitment that they kept saying ‘yes’ to God while saying ‘no’ to the challenges. Now he was beginning service to a third king.
So now Darius is the new ruler and he orders some administrative changes and places Daniel and two others in key leadership positions much to the jealousy and anger of others who decide to play to the pride and power of the king and get him to make a law setting himself up as god of the nation. The result is a very serious and life-threatening challenge to Daniel, his character, and his faith.
So Daniel hears the new law, ‘For the next 30 days, only King Darius is to be worshipped and anyone who does otherwise will be cast into the lion’s den,’ and he goes home. Now there perhaps is a tendency to think that Daniel was unmoved by the turns of event because he goes home. Maybe he was. Maybe he wasn’t.
Let’s suppose for a moment he wasn’t moved. Let’s suppose that he went home, to pray, ‘just as he had always done.’
Wow! What kind of faith! What kind of assured confidence in God that God, His God, whom Daniel had faithfully followed throughout the years, would take care of the situation.
What really moves me in this passage is that Daniel went home to pray ‘just as he had always done.’ This three times a day prayer was more than a religious ritual, it was a habit of the heart and soul, that God used to nourish and grow Daniel into the man of God that he was.
But what if Daniel went home, troubled and uncertain? What if this time he thought, ‘This might be it?’ And yet, he went home and prayed ‘just as he had always done.’
Well, as the story continues, Daniel is observed praying (he is easily seen through the open windows) and later he is arrested, charged with breaking the new law, and sentence to death in the lion’s den. But, God protects him and he survives and is vindicated by a very, very relieved and humbled king who orders that a new decree honoring Daniel’s god.
So while the fear of Moses and the pride of Uzziah serve as reminders of the struggles and temptations we deal with as we grow and go, Daniel serves us as a reminder of how to respond to those temptations and struggles by saying yes to certain things and no to others.
Slide 2 Daniel said yes to God over and over over again. That phrase, ‘just as he had always done,’ is one that we need to pay attention to. It indicates a habit, a priority, a practice, (and an intentional one at that) that Daniel did for many, many years.
He went home to pray not just because he was taught it or was told to do it. He went home, day in and day out, when it was easy and when it was hard, and prayed to God. He set his face and heart toward God because he believed in God and believed that God’s way was THE way.
This consistent practice of prayer shaped Daniel’s character. It enabled him to become the person that we read about in this book; a person of consistency, honesty, faith, and maturity. And because he did, God was honored and Daniel thrived through both difficult and quiet circumstances.
(Slide 2b) Daniel said yes to those things that helped him perform God’s agenda. In the first story of this book, Daniel makes the decision not to eat the rich and tasty food given to him and his friends. He did for perhaps two reasons. First, because the foods offered went against the Jewish dietary laws and second it would put himself in the position of becoming dependent on the King in ways that could leave him vulnerable later on.
(Another reason, based on the results of the different diet chosen by Daniel in verse 15, could have been was that it was simply not healthy for someone to eat.)
But whatever the reason, Daniel, even at this early age, said ‘yes’ to God’s ways and purposes so that he could say ‘no’ to whatever would cause him to compromise his faith.
(Slide 3) In saying ‘yes’ to God and God’s ways, he said ‘no’ to some things as well.
By saying ‘yes’ to God and His ways, Daniel had the power and the willingness to say ‘no’ to certain things that I believe we can safely say were a part of his life and experiences as recorded in the book of Daniel.
In our main text he said no to worship another human being as god. Now, it seems that we do a good job of such worship these days.
Think for a moment about the entertainment industry. Many people spend many hours and spend (and pay) much money to learn ‘the latest’ about an entertainment star. Paparazzi chase people and automobiles to the far corners of the world just to get ‘that picture’ that could tell a new and sordid story.
Now it’s one thing to admire someone for a meaningful performance or good character acting. But it is another thing to worship, to put before anything else, another human being, who seems to make more money and get more fame by being bad than being good. (The same could be said for leading sports figures.)
Stephen Covey believes that about 90 or so years ago our society and culture began to be more concerned with, (and I am paraphrasing Covey here) a ‘winning personality’ rather than a ‘winning character.’ Some would probably say that Moses did not have a winning personality, that he was too moody, too uncertain, and probably too old. Others would have probably not picked him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. But God used him.
Uzziah, on the other hand, had that winning personality. He was a great king who did much for his people. He was a winner! Who could ask for more in a king?
Then there was Daniel; he was probably good looking. He had talent. He could have been a bigger influence and an even bigger star if he would have joined the party more. But his character was more important than his popularity.
Daniel said ‘no’ to the very powerful and tempting offer to ‘join the crowd.’ He was more concerned about honoring God with his life than being popular and liked. He said ‘yes’ to God so that he could say ‘no’ to those things that would create the conditions for character (and spiritual) breakdown.
(Slide 3b) He said no to those things that could compromise his faith and character. As we read and re-read his story, we see Daniel consistently refusing to take shortcuts that would make life easier for him. And I truly think he did so because he had seen first hand what the wrong kind of compromise had done to his nation. A turn to chapter one reminds us that Daniel was among those taken away from his homeland and brought to the capital of the conquering nation and chosen to be education in the ways and life of the new nation.
But even while God, as the text says, gifted Daniel with the ability to understand dreams, Daniel said ‘yes’ to God and ‘no’ to the compromises his new surroundings offered him. I just wonder if the memories of his defeated homeland remained in his mind.
So, growing in our faith in and relationship with the Lord requires us to do three important things: (Slide 4)
1. Remember that we are a part of God’s story not the other way around. This is about becoming a humble person.
2. We need to shorten the gap between our giftedness and our character. This is about becoming an authentic person.
3. We need to learn and practice saying ‘yes’ to God so that we can say ‘no’ to those things that would destroy us. Jim Kane

 
Contributed By:
Anne Benefield
 
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Did you ever notice that there are certain things the Lord doesn't want us to miss? That's the way I feel about Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture." It was simply impossible to miss. I think the first person to email the link to me was Jim Turk, our music director. He sent it with the words, "This is long, but it's really worth it." I was in the midst of going through my emails. I quickly went to the link, saw that it took one hour and forty minutes, and decided I couldn't take the time.

Then I went to a leadership meeting for Stephen Ministry. They were talking about it and telling everyone to watch Randy Pausch who was going to be interviewed by Diane Sawyer. I knew I had another meeting the night of the television show.

Then three Sundays ago, the Parade magazine with Randy Pausch's picture on the cover arrived in the Sunday newspaper. I glanced at it, was too tired to read it, and placed it in the pile of reading materials next to my bed.

Then on Thursday, I was preparing for this week's sermon. I read a lot in preparation. One of the sermons I found was by Barbara Lundblad, a Lutheran pastor in New York City. It was written in 2005. One of the things she mentioned was the idea of "The Last Lecture" which beloved professors are asked to give. The lecture is given as though it is the last lecture the professor will ever give. This is the information the professor wants you to remember forever.

Once again, I remembered all I had seen about Randy Pauschs' last lecture. I finally realized that I had to stop everything and watch this it. I settled down at the computer and spent two hours watching it. The Holy Spirit finally brought me to hear this amazing man.

If you haven't seen or read about it, Randy Pausch is a 47-year-old professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. Last year he was asked to participate in the university's "Last Lecture" series. A few weeks later he learned that he had only months to live because he was dying of pancreatic cancer. He could have canceled, knowing there was much to do for his family, wife, Jai; Dylan (6), Logan (3), and Chloe (1), but he didn't. He thought the lecture would give him the opportunity to leave a living piece of himself for his children.

 
Contributed By:
Paul Fritz
 
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In 1986 I had a series of experiences that turned my
preaching around. I came to realize that the ability to
help or stir people depends primarily on preparing the
heart of the preacher.

I found in myself that the pull toward religious Pharisaism
is a constant, a given. That’s why I need to respect the
manna principle. I need fresh bread every day, fresh oil
every day, fresh water every day. If it’s left over from...

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Contributed By:
Sermon Central Staff
 
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Tags: Peace (add tag)
 
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Major Osipovich, an Air Force pilot for the former USSR, planned to give a talk at his children's school about peace. That meant he would have to take some time off during the day to give his talk, so he volunteered for night duty. That’s how Major Osipovich found himself patrolling the skies over the eastern regions of the Soviet Union on September 1, 1983, the night Korean Air Lines Flight KE007 strayed into Soviet air space.

Soon the Soviet pilot was caught in a series of blunders and misinformation. In the end, Major Osipovich followed orders and shot down the unidentified aircraft. The actions of an air force major preparing to talk about peace plunged 240 passengers to their deaths and sparked an international incident that pushed world powers to a standoff.

(Leadership Magazine, Vol. 15:3, Summer 1994, p. 48; BI# 2994-2995; 6/1995.30. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Genuine Servants, 8/5/2010)

 
Contributed By:
Ross Cochrane
 
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BEAR GRYLLS VS MASTER CHEF

He is an outdoorsman, an adventurer, a survivor, best known for his television series "MAN VS. WILD". He climbed Mount Everest at 23, and has excelled in sailing, skydiving, karate, climbing cliffs, parachuting from helicopters, paragliding, and along the way he has eaten snakes and deer droppings and other disgusting things in order to survive.

Recently BEAR GRYLLS came to our Church (Hillsong Church, Australia) and spoke about his adventures and about his faith in God. He describes his faith as the "backbone" of his life. He promotes the Alpha Course on the basics of the Christian faith.

The Bear Gylls of the Old Testament was ESAU, only with more body hair. Esau was a great hunter, a sportsman, an outdoors man. Today he would have been chosen as the captain of the Rugby League team and he'd have his own survival TV show.

JACOB, his twin brother, was the total opposite to Esau (obvious not identical twins). He stayed around home, much less adventurous. Today he would be training as a Master Chef, writing recipe books, with his own restaurant called "BIRTHRIGHT" known for it's great stew.

Being a FIRST BORN SON brings certain privileges. A first born son in Old Testament times is given the overall LEADERSHIP of the family, the SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY of the family as well as a DOUBLE PORTION of the inheritance. Esau is a firstborn son, if only by a few seconds so this is his BIRTHRIGHT. This is how it is always done. Or is it?

 
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MINISTRY MELTDOWN

My dear friends, when life seems overwhelming, don't get busy; get help! Otherwise, you'll just wear yourself out and those around you.

That's what Bob Merritt, pastor of the Eagle Brook Church in Minnesota, was doing. In a recent issue of Leadership Journal he writes about what he called his "ministry meltdown." Merritt felt overworked and overwhelmed, and the cracks started showing up in harsh comments and bursts of anger towards his family and his staff. Emotionally, he felt depleted and afraid, but he didn't have the time or energy to address the issues that were bubbling under the surface of his life.

Finally, Merritt's leadership team forced him to look under the surface by entering a year-long intervention with a leadership coach named Fred. Merritt writes:

"Fred and his assistant interviewed all my family members, most of my staff, and all of my closest friends with a series of 60 questions that essentially asked, 'What's good about Bob, and what's bad about Bob?' The candid responses were recorded in a 200-page document that Fred and his assistant read back to me, word for word, during a two-day intervention.

"For two solid days," Merritt says, "I sat and listened while Fred read statements like: 'Bob overlooks relationships and lacks interpersonal skills in working with people.' 'Bob doesn't listen well.' 'Bob doesn't manage his staff. There's no love. He's unapproachable.' 'Bob speaks before he thinks.' 'Bob has a love problem.' 'I know that Bob cares, but he's not gifted in showing it.'

"What really nailed me was when I heard these words from my son, David: 'My dad is angry a lot.'" Merrit says, "When Fred read those words to me, he looked up from the page and just let them sink into my soul. I had to look away... Never in my life had I become so convicted over how flawed I had become.

"It broke me," Merritt says. "And it was the beginning of my new life."

When Merritt first started seeing Fred, he told Fred that he was afraid he might not be able to change. Fred has seen hundreds of CEO types, and he says the success rate is around 40 percent. The other 60 percent continue to stumble and often end up losing their jobs and families. He said the difference is humility. Those who turn the corner and take their leadership and lives to a new level are those who are humble enough to receive feedback and take it seriously.

"So if you're worn out or confused," Merritt concludes. "If you're afraid and somewhat paranoid about what others are saying or thinking about you; if you're angry, feeling alone, and misunderstood, I urge you to ask this vital question: Am I humble enough to address the cracks?"

(Bob Merritt, "Ministry Meltdown," Leadership Journal, Winter 2012. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Cure For Weariness, 8/17/2012)

 
Contributed By:
Jonathan  Busch
 
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When I was growing up my parents raised chickens. Chickens have a very interesting social life.
Bill Hybels notes: "Take ten chickens, any ten. Put them in a pen together, and spread a little chicken feed. In short order, you will witness an amazing phenomenon. In a matter of minutes, the chickens, previously strangers, will form a hierarchy based on dominance or, in everyday language, they will establish a Pecking Order. Instinctively, they will determine, through a series of skirmishes, who the Number One chicken will be; then the Number Two; the Number Three; all the way down to the unlucky Number Ten chicken.Much is at stake in this dance of domination. Chicken Number One pecks at and intimidates Chicken Number Two, without experiencing any kind of retribution from Chicken Number Two. Chicken Number Two will take it from Chicken Number One but will turn around a...

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Contributed By:
Gregg Svalstad
 
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Last season’s new TV reality show “The Apprentice” centering around Donald Trump was a big hit. The 58 year old Trump commands an empire of over 100 companies, billions of dollars, and some of the most illustrious buildings in the world. The newest addition to the Trump kingdom is a massive skyscraper under construction in Chicago and that project is being supervised by Bill he winner of the first season of The Apprentice.

This season began 10 days ago with a new group of business hopefuls vying for the job of a lifetime. The position: Trump is looking for the right person to come and work with him in a high level role in one of his companies. 18 candidates arrived on the scene for a 15 week job interview. They came from all over the country from all walks of life, the best and brightest of what America has to offer: attorneys, stockbrokers, executives, and entrepreneurs. Those who watch the show become acquainted with these candidates and select their own favorites while Trump decides by the process of elimination-- AKA firing candidates each week in the board room--who he will select as one of his inner circle, his leaders, his apprentice.

Almost 2000 years ago there was a 30 year old man who had more power and influence than Donald Trump could ever dream of. And he was ready to begin a three year venture of building a Kingdom here on earth that would alter the course of human history and would stand forever. How did he begin? He began with a search for a team, an inner circle. High level leaders who would take on the leadership of his Kingdom after he completed His mission here.

This morning we are going to begin a brief series in which we will get to know the “Apprentices” Jesus chose. What type of people were they? What does that tell us about the type of person God chooses today?

 
Contributed By:
John Beehler
 
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There are exceptions, but almost every team goes through some lean years where they, in a word, stink. They don’t have the talent and, more importantly, no leadership. Kind of like the 1971 NBA Championship series when Willis Reed, the NY Knick center, had a knee injury. The rest of the team floundered and was on the verge of losing to Wilt Chamberlain and the L.A. Lakers (which is what I was hoping for).
Then, in a dramatic comeback, Reed comes out to play. The Knicks are energized and go on to win the Championship. Now Jesus didn’t have a knee injury. HE’S DEAD! When you’re dead, you don’t just suck it up and play hurt! You don’t put a brace on and deal with the pain. Jesus was dead. There are no comebacks, no 9th inning or 4th quarter heroics when you’re dead. The disciples have no hope that their leader can come back and lead them to victory.

 
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