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Bishop Lalachan Abraham
WISHING FOR PASCAL'S BRAIN
Biblical Education is the process by which Godly character is formed, strength of clear conscious and sound mind is amplified, and understanding is sharpened, as a result of which one can walk in divine wisdom.
Someone once approached Blaise Pascal, the famous French philosopher and said, "If I had your brains, I would be a better person." Pascal replied, "Be a better person and you will have my brains."
Bible says In Philippians 2:5 "Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:]"(Amplified Bible)
Sermon Central Staff
FEAR AND THE DECEITS OF THE HEART
I think Edward Welch chose brilliantly the title for his book on overcoming the fear of man: When People are Big and God is Small. Maybe you can relate to his personal awakening to this problem when he was a high-school senior:
"I had always been shy and self-conscious, controlled by what my peers thought (or might have thought), but I never considered it seriously until the day of the awards assembly. I was up for an award, and I was scared to death I would get it!
"The auditorium bulged with over two thousand high-school juniors and seniors. From the back, where I like to sit, it seemed a good mile or two up to the platform. All I could think of was what my classmates would think of me while I walked to the front. Would I walk funny? Would I trip going up the stairs? Would one person -- I prayed it would not be a girl I liked -- think I was a jerk? What about those who were also nominated or who thought they were deserving? What would they think of me if I won instead of them? What would I ever say for a brief acceptance speech? 'God, please don't let me get this!' I prayed.
"After a number of lesser awards were announced, the vice principal went to the podium to introduce the winner. He began with a short, somewhat cryptic biographical sketch. It did not sound exactly like me, but it was generic enough to fit. I was starting to sweat, but I sat motionless for fear that someone would think I was getting interested. Finally the announcement came: 'And the winner of this year's senior award is...Rick Wilson.
"Rick Wilson! I could not believe it! Of all people. No one even thought he was a candidate!
"You can imagine my reaction. Relief? No way. I felt like a total failure. Now what would people think of me? They knew I was up for the award, and someone else was chosen. What a loser I was.
"Immediately my mind began spinning out justifications. If I had worked at all this year, I would have won. I certainly had the potential, I just didn't want to win. I'm a late bloomer; when I get to college, I will show them. I was ashamed to go back to class. Pitiful, isn't it?"
Dr. Welch describes well the deceit of the heart. Many fear success, for it would put us on display; yet we also fear failure, for then we are shown to be less wonderful than we had hoped. The Bible mentions often this heart-struggle. Almost 600 verses contain the word, "fear" and related synonyms. One of the profound comments comes through the prophet Isaiah: "And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. [So God promises to restore and revive his people, to protect and deliver them. Then he says,] 'I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass, and have forgotten the LORD, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth?'" (Isaiah 51.11-13).
(From a sermon by Glenn Durham, How Fear Controls People, 5/31/2010)
A. Todd Coget
[Good Won’t Get You There, Feda H. Babinski]
I’m standing there in front of gates like none I’ve ever found
They shine like golden ribbons as they glide across the ground
I see the stairs that never end how brilliantly they glow
I start to climb and realize there’s nothing down below
Then suddenly the two appear yes they must be my guide
They didn’t speak or show their face while they were by my side
We reached the top and I was placed in line with everyone
The two so quickly disappeared I guess their job was done
Such purity was all around so it just had to be
The day that would determine where I’d spend eternity
The line moved very slowly but since I’d been good and kind
I knew where I was going so I really didn’t mind
I watched so many walk away with wings as white as snow
The others were escorted out to where? I didn’t know
My turn had come to face the Lord but much to my surprise
I didn’t feel so confident when I looked in his eyes
I felt His power all around and nothing was the same
He opened up this golden book and asked me for my name
He said, "Where your name should appear there’s just a vacancy"
I said, But God I’ve been so good please look again for me"
God closed the book and tiny angels wiped his tears away
He said, "I hope you’ll understand what I’m about to say
Do you recall that poor old man who asked you for a dime?
You hurried passed and said to him that you did not have time
There also was a little child who wanted you to play
Again you didn’t have the time and pushed the child away
In line while at the grocery store she tried to hurry so
You grumbled as you passed her by because she moved too slow
You see, I came so many times but you turned me away
So now I don’t know who you are I’m sad for you today
If I’m not living in your heart you can’t be free from sin
So being good is not enough you must be Born Again"
The two appeared just like before they stood close by my side
This time I saw their faces and became so terrified
Through tears I was escorted to my final destiny
I had no one to blame at all except for one, just me
Then suddenly a ringing sound completely filled my head
I opened up my eyes and found that I was still in bed
Through sweat and tears I realized how real our dreams could be
And then I wondered just how long that God would wait for me
That night I gave my heart away I’m Born Again through prayer
God proved to me with so much love that "Good Won’t Get You There"
I want to tell you about a practicing Christian, a public figure who lives out his faith in Jesus Christ. Here is a behind-the-scenes story.
There was a lot of excitement in watching the Indianapolis Colts, led by Head Coach Tony Dungy, win their trip to the Super Bowl this past January.
A TV sports interviewer asked the coach how great it was to be one of the first “African-American” head coaches to take his team to a Super Bowl. Coach Dungy responded immediately with: “Yes, that’s good, but what is really great and awesome, is how God worked this out for us; it’s just amazing how He made this all come together!”
Right after the Colts went on to win the Super Bowl in Feb., a true story originally posted on the Colts website was circulated by email. It’s an article from the previous year, Feb., 2006, about a talk Dungy gave at a breakfast held in Detroit by Athletes in Action on the eve of Super Bowl XL.
During that appearance Dungy talked publicly for the first time about the suicide of his son James.
Let me relate to you this very touching story about this great man, and the essence of his purpose in life.
DETROIT, Mich. - They were there for breakfast, and they were there to cheer New York Jets running back Curtis Martin.
And it was Martin who received the Athletes in Action Bart Starr Award Saturday morning, but the hundreds who gathered in fourth-floor ballroom at the Marriott Renaissance in Detroit, Mich., on the morning before Super Bowl XL were clearly touched by the featured speaker.
That speaker was the Colts Head Coach, Tony Dungy.
Two hours into the breakfast, emcee Brent Jones introduced Dungy, who was welcomed with a lengthy standing ovation. Dungy thanked the crowd, shared an anecdote about Martin, then told the crowd he was going to speak for about 15 minutes.
“It’s great to be here,” Dungy told the crowd, then adding with a laugh, “I just wish I wasn’t here in this capacity so many times of being just that close to being in the game and just being an invited speaker.
“My goal is to have our team here one day and have a couple of tables with all of our guys here. Because we have a special group of young men, a great group of Christian guys. It’d be wonderful to have them here so you could see their hearts and what they’re all about. It hasn’t quite happened yet, but we’re still hoping one day it will.”
He told them he was going to talk about lessons he had learned from his three sons. The crowd fell silent. Then Dungy spoke.
And although this was a breakfast - and although at many such events speakers speak over the clinking of glasses and murmurs from semi-interested listeners - for most of the 15 minutes the room was silent except for Dungy’s voice.
He spoke of his middle son, Eric, who he said shares his competitiveness and who is focused on sports “to where it’s almost a problem.” He spoke of his youngest son, Jordan, who has a rare congenital condition, which causes him not to feel pain.
“He feels things, but he doesn’t get the sensation of pain,” Dungy said. The lessons learned from Jordan, Tony Dungy said, are many.
“That sounds like it’s good at the beginning, but I promise you it’s not,” Dungy said. “We’ve learned a lot about pain in the last five years we’ve had Jordan. We’ve learned some hurts are really necessary for kids. Pain is necessary for kids to find out the difference between what’s good and what’s harmful.”
Jordan, Dungy said, loves cookies. “Cookies are good,” Dungy said, “but in Jordan’s mind, if they’re good out on the plate, they’re even better in the oven. He will go right in the oven when my wife’s not looking, reach in, take the rack out, take the pan out, burn his hands and eat the cookies and burn his tongue and never feel it. He doesn’t know that’s bad for him.”
Jordan, Dungy said, “has no fear of anything, so we constantly have to watch him.” The lesson learned, Dungy said, is simple. “You get the question all the time, ‘Why does the Lord allow pain in your life? Why do bad things happen to good people? If God is a God of love, why does he allow these hurtful things to happen?”“
Dungy said. “We’ve learned that a lot of times because of that pain, that little temporary pain, you learn what’s harmful. You learn to fear the right things.
“Pain sometimes lets us know we have a condition that needs to be healed. Pain inside sometimes lets us know that spiritually we’re not quite right and we need to be healed and that God will send that healing agent right to the spot. “Sometimes, pain is the only way that will turn us as kids back to the Father.”
Finally, he spoke of James. James Dungy, Tony Dungy’s oldest son, died three days before Christmas 2005. As he did while delivering James’ eulogy in December, Dungy on Saturday spoke of him eloquently and steadily, speaking of lessons learned and of the positives taken from experience.
“It was tough, and it was very, very painful, but as painful as it was, there were some good things that came out of it,” Dungy said.
Dungy spoke at the funeral of regretting not hugging James the last time he saw him, on Thanksgiving of last year. “I met a guy the next day after the funeral,” Dungy said. “He said, ‘I was there. I heard you talking. I took off work today. I called my son. I told him I was taking him to the movies. We’re going to spend some time and go to dinner.’ That was a real, real blessing to me.”
Dungy said he has gotten many letters since James’ death relaying similar messages. “People heard what I said and said, ‘Hey, you brought me a little closer to my son,’ or, ‘You brought me a little closer to my daughter,”“ Dungy said. “That is a tremendous blessing.”
Dungy also said some of James’ ...
One evening Sam left his bible study group where his pastor was teaching on listening to God, convinced that he would listen when he felt God was speaking to him. It was at that very moment that Sam felt the compulsion to buy a gallon of milk. So he pulled over at the nearest shopette and bought a gallon of milk— though he had no need for it because he is lactose intolerant and won’t drink the milk. Perhaps God is talking to him, he thought.
As he got into his car and began his trip home, Sam found himself turning onto a road that doesn’t lead to his door, in fact he was allowing himself to drive into the worst neighborhood in town, and after another turn he felt led to stop the car, right in front of a little house at the end of the street. Sam began to wonder if he was going crazy when a voice seemed to come out of thin air and said,"Sam, take the milk up to that house, and give it to the family inside, my people have need of it." Sam thought,"This is crazy! I’m going out of my mind!" Yet the urge to do as the voice requested was very strong, so up to the door Sam went. Just as Sam was about to knock, the door to the house opened to reveal a startled young man. Who are you? He asked.
"Hi, I know this is going to sound ridiculous, but I think God wanted me to give you this milk." Sam hesitantly said.
To which the young man replied," That is not at all ridiculous, my wife and I were just praying for food for our baby, we ran out of milk two days ago, and God said he would provide."
Sam gave the milk to the young man and drove away praising God that He had been listening.
Rob Frazier, a contemporary Christian artist wrote a song titled, "He doesn’t want you better, He wants you deader"
Dead people don’t mind the pain, Don’t get offended so they never complain
They’re not concerned about personal gain, Does that sound like me or you?
The truth is rising from the mist And the word is this;
That when Jesus calls a man He calls him to come and die!
He doesn’t want you better, He wants you deader.
President Anwar Sadat’s Address to the Israeli Knesset November 20, 1977
In the name of God, Mr. Speaker of the Knesset, ladies and gentlemen, allow me first to thank deeply the Speaker of the Knesset for affording me this opportunity to address you....
I come to you today on solid ground to shape a new life and to establish peace. We all love this land, the land of God, we all, Moslems, Christians and Jews, all worship God....
I do not blame all those who received my decision (negatively) when I announced it to the entire world before the Egyptian People’s Assembly. I do not blame all those who received my decision with surprise and even with amazement, some gripped even by violent surprise. Still others interpreted it as political, to camouflage my intentions of launching a new war.
I would go so far as to tell you that one of my aides at the presidential office contacted me at a late hour following my return home from the People’s Assembly and sounded worried as he asked me: "Mr. President, what would be our reaction if Israel actually extended an invitation to you?"
I replied calmly: "I would accept it immediately. I have declared that I would go to the end of the earth. I would go to Israel, for I want to put before the people of Israel all the facts...."
No one could have ever conceived that the president of the biggest Arab state, which bears the heaviest burden and the main responsibility pertaining to the cause of war and peace in the Middle East, should declare his readiness to go to the land of the adversary while we were still in a state of war.
We all still bear the consequences of four fierce wars waged within 30 years. All this at the time when the families of the 1973 October war are still mourning under the cruel pain of bereavement of father, son, husband and brother.
Sadat then put his peace initiative forward and then concluded:
I have chosen to come to you with an open heart and an open mind. I have chosen to give this great impetus to all international efforts exerted for peace. I have chosen to present to you, in your own home, the realities, devoid of any scheme or whim. Not to manoeuvre, or win a round, but for us to win together, the most dangerous of rounds embattled in modern history, the battle of permanent peace based on justice.
I had tears in my eyes that day when I heard him speak when the speech was broadcast – a man seeking peace with his enemies. And it cost him his life
Dr. and Mrs. Oswald Goulter were missionaries in China for 41 years. Then one morning outside of Nanking, they heard the sounds of guns. Before they could even get out of bed, the Communist soldiers came and ransacked their house and tore up their mission station. They captured he and his wife and incarcerated them in a makeshift camp just 20 miles outside of Nanking. Dr. Goulter said they put him in a room with a glass that separated him from wife in the next room, where he could see her. The Communist soldiers asked him to deny his faith. But he said for years he and his wife had knelt by their bed and said that whatever happened they would never deny their faith. Dr. Goulter said he was forced to watch, they propped his eyes open so he had to watch, as one after another the soldiers raped his wife, and then cut her tongue out with a razor blade, and then pulled her hair out and began to scalp her. They said, "Now will you change your mind and deny Christ?" and Dr. Goulter said, "No." He could read her lips and even in her pain, her lips were saying, "Don’t deny his name." They stripped her down, put branding irons all over her face and body, and abused her in his sight. Dr. Goulter said he saw her for the last time as they drug her by her remaining hair out the door. They took him to another prison where two yea...
“Staring Down the Critic’s Barrel!” Proverbs 9: 7-10 Key verse(s): 8b:“. . . rebuke a wise man and he will love you.”
The Bible tells us that “rebuke a wise man and he will love you.” Love? What happened to getting the emotional revenge that is so satisfying? There doesn’t seem to be a lot of room in that statement for pride, is there? In fact, being made to look the dummy seems like an invitation to wisdom. That’s something that doesn’t square real well with the world or our own self-esteem. It almost sounds like it would be better to be meek and withdrawing when others criticize us. In fact, if you are one of those people who are not “quick on the trigger” when others start shooting criticism your way, are you blessed? Perhaps. While it is never good to respond to anyone when we don’t have full command of our senses, it doesn’t mean that we should empty ourselves out completely and allow that criticism to fill us up to overflowing. There is a process of assimilation that can help.
Several years ago I read a helpful article on the subject of receiving and benefitting from criticism. If you can keep this process in mind even when bitter criticism is being leveled at you, you may find it easier to bear up and certainly less recriminating when you consider the criticism down the road. It stated that when we are criticized we ought to ask ourselves whether the criticism contains any truth. If it does, we should learn from it, even when it is not given with the right motivation and in the right spirit. The article then offered these four suggestions: (1) Commit the matter instantly to God, asking Him to remove all resentment or counter-criticism on your part and teach you the needed lessons. (2) Remember that we are all great sinners and that the one who has criticized us does not begin to know the worst about us. (3) If you have made a mistake or committed a sin, humbly and frankly confess it to God and to anyone you may have injured. (4) Be willing to learn afresh that you are not infallible and that you need God’s grace and wisdom every moment of the day to keep on the straight path.
When we are criticized, it’s good to accept what is true and act upon it, thereby becoming a stronger person. And, as the proverb says, “instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still.” Isn’t that every Christian’s goal? Give me more of that wisdom and if criticism is one of the best ways of getting more of it, “bring it on!” I remember a worship dialog from Don Moen’s “God With Us!” that has stuck with me over the years. “Your strength is made strong in our weakness.” When you think of it, there is no weaker state than that of receiving criticism. Is there ever a time when we need to rely on our God more? Being on the receiving end of criticism opens us completely to the devil’s wiles. It is an open door to sin just waiting for the evil to enter. What better time to invite the Holy Spirit in than when we are vulnerable to criticism. The key to being receptive to other people’s criticism is who we are willing to invite in at the first moment when the words begin to sting. We can choose to “commit the matter” to God or “commit” it to Satan. The choice is ours. When staring down the critic’s barrel expect the infusion of the Spirit not the bullet of sin and you may find that the criticism doesn’t sting so much after all.
Sermon Central Staff
GOD KNOWS WHERE WE ARE
Ken Gaub wrote about an experience he had back in the 1990s:
"Do you believe that God not only loves you, but knows where you are and what you’re doing every minute of the day? I certainly do after an amazing experience I had several years ago.
"At the time I was driving on 1-75 near Dayton, Ohio, with my wife and children. We turned off the highway for a rest and refreshment stop. My wife Barbara and children went into the restaurant. I suddenly felt the need to stretch my legs, so waved them off ahead saying I’d join them later.
"I bought a soft drink, and as I walked toward a Dairy Queen, feelings of self-pity enshrouded my mind. I loved the Lord and my ministry, but I felt drained, burdened. My cup was empty.
"Suddenly the impatient ringing of a telephone nearby jarred me out of my doldrums. It was coming from a phone booth at a service station on the corner. Wasn’t anyone going to answer the phone?
"Noise from the traffic flowing through the busy intersection must have drowned out the sound because the service station attendant continued looking after his customers, oblivious to the ringing. 'Why doesn’t somebody answer that phone?' I muttered.
"I began reasoning. It may be important. What if it’s an emergency? Curiosity overcame my indifference. I stepped inside the booth and picked up the phone. 'Hello?' I said casually and took a big sip of my drink.
"The operator said: 'Long distance call for Ken Gaub.'
"My eyes widened, and I almost choked on a chunk of ice. Swallowing hard, I said, 'You’re crazy!' Then realizing I shouldn’t speak to an operator like that, I added, 'This can’t be! I was walking down the road, not bothering anyone, and the phone was ringing... '
"'Is Ken Gaub there?' the operator interrupted, 'I have a long distance call for him.'
"It took a moment to gain control of my babbling, but I finally replied, 'Yes, he is here.' Searching for a possible explanation, I wondered if I could possibly be on Candid Camera!
"Still shaken, perplexed, I asked, 'How in the world did you reach me here? I was walking down the road, the pay phone started ringing, and I just answered it on chance. You can’t mean me.'
"'Well,' the operator asked, 'Is Mr. Gaub there or isn’t he?'
"Yes, I am Ken Gaub," I said, finally convinced by the tone of her voice that the call was real.
"Then I heard another voice say, 'Yes, that’s him, operator. That’s Ken Gaub.'
"I listened dumbfounded to a strange voice identify herself. 'I’m Millie from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. You don’t know me, Mr. Gaub, but I’m desperate. Please help me.'
"'What can I do for you?'
"She began weeping. Finally she regained control and continued. 'I was about to commit suicide and had just finished writing a note, when I began to pray and tell God I really didn’t want to do this. Then I suddenly remembered seeing you on television and thought if I could just talk to you, you could help me. I knew that was impossible because I didn’t know how to reach you, I didn’t know anyone who could help me find you. Then some numbers came to my mind, and I scribbled them down.'
"At this point she began weeping again, and I prayed silently for wisdom to help her. She continued, 'I looked at the numbers and thought, "Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I had a miracle from God, and He has given me Ken’s phone number?" I decided to try calling it. I can’t believe I’m talking to you. Are you in your office in California?'
"I replied, 'Lady, I don’t have an office in California. My office is in Yakima, Washington.'
"A little surprised, she asked, 'Oh really, then where are you?'
"'Don’t you know?' I responded. 'You made the call.'
"She explained, 'But I don’t even know what area I’m calling. I just dialed the number that I had on this paper.'
"'Ma’am, you won’t believe this, but I’m in a phone booth in Dayton, Ohio!'
"'Really?' she exclaimed. 'Well, what are you doing there?'
"I kidded her gently, 'Well, I’m answering the phone. It was ringing as I walked by, so I answered it.'
"Knowing this encounter could only have been arranged by God, I began to counsel the woman. As she told me of her despair and frustration, the presence of the Holy Spirit flooded the phone booth giving me words of wisdom beyond my ability. In a matter of moments, she prayed the sinner’s prayer and met the One who would lead her out of her situation into a new life. I walked away from that telephone booth with an electrifying sense of our Heavenly Father’s concern for each of His children.
"What were the astronomical odds of this happening? With all the millions of phones and innumerable combinations of numbers, only an all-knowing God could have caused that woman to call that number in that phone booth at that moment in time. Forgetting my drink and nearly bursting with exhilaration, I headed back to my family, wondering if they would believe my story. Maybe I better not tell this, I thought, but I couldn’t contain it.
"'Barb, you won’t believe this! God knows where I am!'"
(From a sermon by David Scudder, El Roi "The Strong One who Sees" Part 2, 3/27/2011)