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Two years ago, on June 28 (2005), four Navy SEAL commandos were on a mission in Afghanistan, searching for a notorious al-Qaeda terrorist leader hiding in a Taliban stronghold.
As the battle ensued, three of the SEALs were killed, and the fourth, Marcus Luttrell was blasted unconscious by a rocket grenade and blown over a cliff. Severely injured, he spent the next four days fighting off six al Qaeda assassins who were sent to finish him, and then crawled for seven miles through the mountains before he was taken in by a Pashtun tribe, who risked everything to protect him from the encircling Taliban killers.
They took Luttrell back to their village, where the law of hospitality, considered “strictly non-negotiable,” took hold. “They were committed to defend me against the Taliban,” Luttrell wrote, “until there was no one left alive.” (Lone Survivor – by Marcus Luttrell)
The Law of Hospitality is very strong in Middle Eastern culture, and has been that way for many millennia. It prompted Abraham in our reading from Genesis today to offer food and drink to his three visitors, the Lord and two angels.
It is what prompted Lot in the next chapter to protect the two angels in his home in Sodom from the men who wanted to rape them. While Lot’s idea of how to protect them is appalling to us — he offers his daughters to the crowd instead — the point is that the Law of Hospitality is so strong that it even supersedes the obligation to protect one’s own family.
Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. In the darkness of the unexpressed it poisons the whole being of a person. This can happen even in the midst of a pious community. In confession the light of the gospel breaks into the darkness and seclusion of the heart. The sin must be brought into the light. The unexpressed must be openly spoken and acknowledged. All that is secret and hidden is made manifest. It is a struggle until the sin is openly admitted, but God breaks gates of brass and bars of iron (Ps. 107:16).
Since the confession of sin is made in the presence of a Christian brother, the last stronghold of self-justification is abandoned. The sinner surrenders; he gives up all his evil. He gives his heart to God, and he finds the forgiveness of all his sin in the fellowship of Jesus Christ and his brother. The expressed, acknowledged sin has lost all its power. It has been revealed and judged as sin. It can no longer tear the fellowship asunder. Now the fellowship bears the sin of the brother. He is no longer alone with his evil for he has cast off his sin in confession and handed it over to God. It has been taken away from him. Now he stands in the fellowship of sinners who live by the grace of God and the cross of Jesus Christ… The sin concealed separated him from the fellowship, made all his apparent fellowship a sham; the sin confessed has helped him define true fellowship with the brethren in Jesus Christ.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, 112-113.
Sermon Central Staff
IGNORING THE BARRIERS OF THE PAST
Every four years, the world’s attention turns to the summer Olympic games. For a few days, men and women from around the globe gather to compete against the best. Amazing records are broken and new ones are set at these games.
Just a few decades ago, track-and-field experts proudly declared that no runner could break the four-minute-mile barrier. It was said that a human being couldn’t run that distance that fast. "Experts" conducted all sorts of profound studies to show it was impossible to beat the four-minute barrier. And for years, they were right. Nobody ever ran a mile in less than four minutes.
But one day a young man came along who didn’t believe the experts’ opinions. He didn’t dwell on the impossibilities. He refused to let all those negative words form a stronghold in his mind. He began to train, believing he was going to break that record. Sure enough, he went out one day and broke the four-minute-mile barrier. He did what the experts said couldn’t be done. His name was Roger Bannister, and he made sports history.
Now, here is what is so interesting about the Roger Bannister story... Within a month, the Australian runner John Landy had broken Bannister’s record, but Bannister had the satisfaction of beating Landy at that summer’s British Empire Games in Vancouver. In a race billed as "The Mile of the Century," both runners beat the four minute time, but Bannister came in first at 3:58.8 to Landy’s 3:59.6.....Within ten years after Roger Bannister broke that record, 336 other runners had broken the four-minute-mile record as well!
Think about that. For hundreds of years, as far back as statisticians kept track-and-field records, nobody ran a mile in less than four minutes; then, within a decade, more than three hundred people from various geographic locations were able to do it.
What happened? Simple. The barrier to running a four-minute mile was in the athletes’ minds. For all those years, runners believed what the experts were saying. They were convinced that it was impossible to run a mile in less than four minutes.
ROBER BANNISTER IGNORED THE BARRIERS …
You Too Can Break The Barriers Of The Past !!!
(From a sermon by Herman Abrahams, Breaking the Barriers of the Past, 10/19/2009)
One man’s life provides a dramatic answer to the question, can God indeed bring positives out of troubled times? This young man’s name is David, and he is an awesome picture of God’s using difficulties for good. For years he viewed trials as something that affected only his external world, and any blow to what he owned or how he looked would discourage him and leave him feeling cheated. Today, David travels around the world, talking with people about how he discovered that no matter what happens to the outside, it’s the internal life that trials really touch. Just like what happened in Jerry’s life (whose story we shared in the last chapter), the bigger the trial, the more potential to see God’s power and peace at work in the inner person.
During the Vietnam War, David went through rigorous training to become part of the ultra elite special forces team the Navy used on dangerous search-and-destroy missions. During a nighttime raid on an enemy stronghold, David experienced the greatest trial of his life. When he and his men were pinned down by enemy machine-gun fire, he pulled a phosphorus grenade from his belt and stood up to throw it. But as he pulled back his arm, a bullet hit the grenade, and it exploded next to his ear.
Lying on his side on the bank of a muddy river, he watched part of his face float by. His entire face and shoulder alternately smoldered and caught on fire as the phosphorus that had embedded itself in his body came into contact with the air. David knew that he was going to die, yet miraculously he didn’t. He was pulled from the water by his fellow soldiers, flown directly to Saigon, and then taken to a waiting plane bound for Hawaii.
But David’s problems were just beginning. When he first went into surgery -- the first of what would become dozens of operations -- the surgical team had a major problem during the operation. As they cut away tissue that had been burned or torn by the grenade, the phosphorus would hit the oxygen in the operating room and begin to ignite again! Several times the doctors and nurses ran out of the room, leaving him alone because they were afraid the oxygen used in surgery would explode! Incredibly, David survived the operation and was taken to a ward that held the most severe burn and injury cases from the war.
Lying on his bed, his head the size of a basketball, David knew he presented a grotesque picture. Although he had once been a handsome man, he knew he had nothing to offer his wife or anyone else because of his appearance. He felt more alone and more worthless than he had ever felt in his life. But David wasn’t alone in his room. There was another man who had been wounded in Vietnam and was also a nightmarish sight. He had lost an arm and a leg, and his face was badly torn and scarred. As David was recovering from surgery, this man’s wife arrived from the States. When she walked into the room and took one look at her husband, she became nauseated. She took off her wedding ring, put it on the nightstand next to him, and said, "I’m so sorry, but there’s no way I could live with you looking like that." And with that, she walked out the door. He could barely make any sounds through his torn throat and mouth, but the soldier wept and shook for hours. Two days later, he died. That woman’s attitude represents in many respects the way the world views a victim of accident or injury. If a trial emotionally or physically scars someone or causes him to lose his attractiveness, the world says "Ugly is bad," and consequently, any value that person feels he has to others is drained away. For this poor wounded soldier, knowing that his wife saw no value in him was more terrible than the wounds he suffered. It blew away his last hope that someone, somewhere, could find worth in him because he knew how the world would perceive him.
Three days later, David’s wife arrived. After watching what had happened with the other soldier, he had no idea what kind of reaction she would have toward him, and he dreaded her coming. His wife, a strong Christian, took one look at him, came over, and kissed him on the only place on his face that wasn’t bandaged. In a gentle voice she said, "Honey, I love you. I’ll always love you. And I want you to know that...
Bishop Raymond Allan Johnson
Prudentius (c. 348-after 405)
His power and miracles proclaim him God.
I see the wild winds suddenly grow calm
When Christ commands; I see the storm-tossed sea
Grow smooth, with tranquil surface bright
At Christ’s behest; I see the waves grow firm
As the raging flood sustains his treading feet
He walks dry shod upon the flowering tide
And bears upon the flood with footsteps sure.
He chides the winds and bids the tempest cease.
Who would command the stormy gales: “Be still,
Your strongholds keep and leave the boundless sea,”
Except the Lord and maker of the winds? …
Who on the sea could walk, who with firm step
Upon the flood could without sinking tread
That path with soles upborne and feet unwet,
Except the author of the deep, the Spirit,
Poured from the Father’s lips, that moved across
The waves, not yet hemmed in by solid shores?
A Hymn on the Trinity, Lines 649-79
Alternative Church: In a typical week, 22% of American adults engage in spiritual encounters outside the traditional church, 9% participate in a house church while more than 10% turn to the Internet as their foundation for interactive faith experience (Most in tandem with another form). Revolution, a new George Barna book, claims •Baby Boomers are largely responsible for mega churches redefining the church landscape during the past 25 years. •Adults involved in a marketplace ministry are twice as likely as those connected only to a congregational church to have a biblical worldview, twice as likely to identify the Bible as the source of truth, and a third more likely to contend absolute moral truth exists. •About 66% of all adults engaged in a house church attend weekly, with the remainder attending at least monthly. •The Midwest is the stronghold for congregational church connections, while the southern states are the most fertile for marketplace ministry involvement. •Evangelicals are those most likely to get involved in an alternative form of the church – and the group most likely to participate in both a traditional and alternative church. •Adults with below-average levels of education and income are twice as likely as upscale individuals to be active in an alternative church form. (Barna Update 10/24/05)
March 16th, 1942 General Douglas MacArthur is ordered out of the Philippines after a siege of America’s last stronghold in the country. All that is left is the island of Bataan. A reluctant MacArthur finally leaves Bataan for Australia, but before he leaves says “I shall return.” Eventually the Japanese take over MacArthur’s last stronghold in the Philippines and on April 9th, after being denied food and water 70,000 American and Filipino nurses are forced to march 100 kilometers to a death camp 16,000 die of malaria, heat, and dysentery. Two years after leaving, General Douglas MacArthur returns to the island of Leyte in the Philippines to begin the clean up operations to drive what remains of the defeated army of Japan out of the country, fulfilling his word.
In 1979 I was living in a town called Te Aroha in New Zealand, We had a wind storm which destroyed many homes- one gust was so strong that it wound the wind meter off the scale (over 200 MPH) no one believed their home would be damaged when they built them but that night over 50 homes were destroyed who could predict such a wind? Where did it come from? Where did it go?
The Holy Spirit comes in much more power than this! Breaks down barriers Destroy strongholds Blast away sin Brings signs and ...
As we faithfully serve the Lord through the power of His Spirit, the devil’s hosts will begin to attack us with all their might. As a result, we may be called upon to suffer for Christ’s sake. The veteran missionary Russell Ebersole was once greatly encouraged by the beloved Bible teacher William Pettingill.
After Ebersole told him of the disappointments and trials he had faced on the foreign field, Pettingill exclaimed, "Brother, that means you’re on the right track. If you never experience any opposition or setbacks in the Lord’s work, you ought to get down on your knees and ask Him to show you what you’re doing wrong!"
We have many difficulties, but God’s promises are greater! "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God." (2 Cor. 10:4-5)
Thomas Paine said, “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; ’tis dearness only that gives everything its value.”
Men ablaze are invincible.The stronghold of Satan is proof against everything but fire.