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DR. R. G. LEE ON THE BIBLE
The late Dr. R. G. Lee, former pastor of the Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis TN expressed the value of God’s Word in this way:
"The Bible is a book beyond all books as a river is above and beyond a rivulet. The Bible is a book beyond all books as the sun is above and beyond a candle in brightness. The Bible is a book beyond all books as the wings of an eagle is above and beyond the wings of a sparrow. It is supernatural in origin, eternal in duration, inexpressible in value, immeasurable in influence, infinite in scope, divine in authorship, human in penmanship, regenerative in power, infallible in authority, universal in interest, personal in application, and inspired in totality. This is the Book that has walked more paths, travelled more highways, knocked at more doors and spoken to more people in their mother tongue than in other book this world has ever known or will know."
(From a sermon by Rev. John D. Jones, That Ye May Grow, 7/20/2011)
I want to read to you the opening story from David Platt's book "The Radical Question" (Multnomah Press).
Imagine a scene that took place in Asia not so long ago:
A room in an ordinary house, dimly lit, all the blinds on the windows closed. Twenty leaders from churches in the region sit quietly in a circle on the floor, their Bibles open. They speak in hushed tones or not at all. Some still glisten with sweat; others' clothes and shoes are noticeably dusty. They have been walking or riding bicycles since early morning when they left distant villages to get here.
Whenever a knock is heard or a suspicious sound drifts in, everyone freezes while a burly tough-looking man gets up to check things out.
These men and woman have gathered in secret, arriving intentionally at different times throughout the day so as not to draw attention. In this country it is illegal for Christians to come together like this. If caught, the people here could lose their land, their jobs, their families, even their lives.
I was in that dimly light room that day, a visitor from America. I huddled next to an interpreter, who helped me understand their stories as they began to share.
The tough-looking man--our "head of security"--was first to speak up. But as he spoke, his intimidating appearance quickly gave way to reveal a tender heart.
"Some of the people in my church have been pulled away by a cult," he said. Tears welled up in his eyes. "We are hurting. I need God's grace to lead my church through these attacks."
The cult that had been preying on his church is known for kidnapping Christians, taking them to isolated locations, and torturing them, my interpreter explained. Many brothers and sisters in the area would never tell the good news again. At least not with words. Their tongues had been cut out.
Sermon Central Staff
WESLEY RESPONDS TO CRITICISM
John Wesley was a great English preacher of the 1700s. He was considered a rather spiffy dresser. One Sunday morning he wore a bow tie that had long ribbons that hung downward. After the sermon was over a lady walked up to him and said, "Brother Wesley, are you open to some criticism?"
He said, "I guess so. What would you like to criticize?"
She said, "The ribbons on your tie are entirely too long and inappropriate for a man of God." And she took out her scissors and cut them off.
A hush fell over the people standing there as Wesley calmly asked, "Now may I borrow the scissors for a moment?" As she handed them to him, he said, "Ma’am, are you open to some criticism?"
She answered, "Well, I suppose I am."
He said, "All right then, please stick out your tongue."
(From a sermon by Stephen Sheane, New Year - New You, 12/23/2010)
THANKFULNESS OR FORGETFULNESS
"History knows no disasters," said the Literary Digest (Sept. 1923), "which parallels the earthquake and fire that visited Japan this month and laid waste the capital city and the chief seaport."
The New York Tribune called this earthquake “undoubtedly the greatest disaster in recorded time.” The New York Times described the havoc as covering about 45,000 square miles which contained five big cities and a population of 7,000,000. Other dispatches reported that virtually every building in Yokohama was destroyed. Perhaps three-fourths of Tokyo was burned and the entire city with its 5,000,000 inhabitants was shattered by the earthquake.
A joint survey made by Herbert Hoover and the Red Cross estimated the dead at almost 300,000 with 2,500,000 people homeless. Disease and despair rode throughout the island empire.
Then help came! Help from America for helpless Japan! Food, clothing, medical supplies, and volunteer workers came by the shipload. The American Red Cross collected ten million dollars from people of the United States for the suffering and homeless Nipponese.
Those who lived through the awful earth tremors, the gigantic waves, and the tongues of fire must perish, it seemed, from starvation or disease. But they didn’t. Why? Because America remembered—remembered their need, their suffering, their hunger.
The Nipponese were grateful. They even put their appreciation in writing. Walter Kiernan, correspondent for the International News Service, recalls their words: “Japan will never forget!”
But Japan did forget! American ships of mercy were forgotten, and the Rising Sun sent planes of dest...
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PRECIOUS DAD MOMENT
As ham sandwiches go, it was perfection. A thick slab of ham, a fresh bun, crisp lettuce and plenty of expensive, light brown, gourmet mustard. The corners of my jaw were aching in anticipation,
I carried it to the picnic table in our backyard, picked it up with both hands but was stopped by my wife suddenly at my side. "Hold Johnny, (our six-week-old son), while I get my sandwich," she said.
I had him balanced between my left elbow and shoulder and was reaching again for the ham sandwich when I noticed a streak of mustard on my fingers. I love mustard. And I had no napkin. So I licked it off.
It was NOT mustard. No man ever put a baby down faster. It was the first and only time I have sprinted with my tongue protruding. With a washcloth in each hand I did the sort of routine shoeshine guys do, only I did it on my tongue.
Later my wife said, "Now you know why they call that mustard ’Poupon.’"
IT WAS PENTECOST SUNDAY. As the congregation filed into church, the ushers handed each person a bright red carnation to symbolize the festive spirit of the day. The people listened attentively to the reading of the Pentecost story from the Book of Acts about how the disciples had heard “what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven”; about how the Holy Spirit had appeared “like tongues of fire.” Then came the sermon: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon us,” the preacher began. “Like the powerful wind from heaven!” shouted a woman sitting in the first pew. Then she threw one of the red carnations toward the altar. The preacher began again: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon us.” The same woman’s voce rang out again, “Like the tongues of fire, the tongues of fire!” Again, she threw a red carnation toward the altar. The preacher looked straight at her and said, “Now throw your pocketbook.” To which the woman replied, “Preacher, you have just calmed the wind and put out the fire.”
We laugh at stories like these, but the truth is, the whole issue of stewardship is no laughing matter, is it? This is serious business. Today, I want to approach the subject of giving from a positive perspective.
DEAREST JESUS, HOLY CHILD
Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.
My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep,
I too must sing, with joyful tongue,
That sweetest ancient cradle song,
Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given
While angels sing with pious mirth.
A glad new year to all the earth.
SOURCE: Martin Luther
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’ ...
John Wycliffe had a vision of a Bible in the common English tongue. But dogmatists anchored to the past killed him for it. John Huss dreamed a dream of a responsible Christian life guided by the scriptures. Traditionalists burned him at the stake. Martin Luther was awakened to a new reality of God’s grace -- an awakening not shared by contemporaries profiting from the status quo. Consequently, he was hunted for years for revealing an exciting and preferable future. A kingdom was coming and the powers of the past could not prevail against it.
Maurice A. Fetty, The Divine Advocacy, CSS Publishing, Lima, Ohio.
WHAT COMES OUT OF YOUR MOUTH
How carefully do you monitor what goes into your mouth, compared to what comes out of it? For example, do you follow a low-fat diet? Do you obsessively track the grams of fat going into your body? Do you watch the number of calories that you consume? Do you avoid refined sugars? Do you limit your caffeine? Do you eat only dolphin-safe tuna? Are you a locavore, someone who eats only food grown locally? Are you a vegetarian or a vegan? Do you eat only free-range chicken? Do you shun high fructose corn syrup? Do you buy organic milk? Organic fruit? Organic soap? Heirloom tomatoes? Do you use sea salt instead of table salt? Purchase only beef that’s produced without the use of bovine growth hormone? Cook with olive oil instead of Crisco? Drink bottled water from the island of Fiji?
The bad news is that you can do all of those things, and you’ll still die. Their value is limited. These practices may make you a little healthier, and definitely a little poorer, but their value is temporary. None of the foods that you are avoiding or limiting can defile you. They can’t soil you spiritually. They can’t make you any less pleasing to God.
Now, compared to the care you take in controlling what goes into your mouth, how careful are you to control what comes out of your mouth? Do you apply as much energy, and planning, and self-discipline to controlling your speech as you apply to controlling your calories, or your fat grams, or your carbohydrates? If not, then you’re focusing on the wrong thing. Because Jesus says that what comes out of your mouth can defile you.