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FORREST GUMP: SOMETIMES THERE AREN'T ENOUGH ROCKS
In the movie Forrest Gump, Forrest has a lifetime friendship with Jenny. In one scene, when both of them are grown and Jenny is just beginning to retreat from her lifestyle of sex and drugs, they are walking down a dirt road. Soon they come to the shack where Jenny lived as a little girl - the shack where she experienced abuse. As they come up to it her face contorts with hatred and anger. She reaches down, picks up a rock and flings it towards the shack. It chips off some of the already deteriorating paint. She picks up another rock and fires again, this time crashing through an already broken window. She picks up and hurls another, and another, and another - all with reckless abandon. Finally, she falls exhausted to the ground. Forrest gazes down at her and says, "I guess sometimes there just aren't enough rocks."
There was more to what Forrest said than what he probably knew. Surely she could have thrown stones all day and never destroyed the shack. That was obvious. But not so obvious was the deeper meaning of the scene - throwing stones all day would never abolish the abuse, or demolish the effects of it. Throwing stones would never bring her torment, her agony, her misery, her anguish to the ground.
And weíve been there - weíve thrown the stones - at situations, at people, at memories. And itís never relieved the agony, destroyed the misery, or lessened our anguish. It has never eased our torment. So Jennyís question is ours Ė When throwing stones wonít cut it, what do we do?
Wade Hughes, Sr
Why do people wear masks?
Several years ago, I had a nightmare, it was terrible.
For many days my spirit was greatly troubled.
In a dream, I saw one of my most serious workers at
church dying a terrible death.
As my church worker was dying,
I saw a battle going against my member.
I was broken beyond belief, as I saw this dedicated
Christian worker die and the Devil was grabbing the
individual and taking the soul to hell.
The smell was terrible, I could smell the enemy and
hell. This was so real.
In the dream, I started screaming, this is a terrible
No way enemy, you canít have this worker!
I have counted on them to do many things to build
They have touched many people and led many to the
I am a better pastor because of this individual, and
the church is a better church, after all the hours
and efforts this family has invested in the church.
The enemy was slowly dragging my church member toward
the lake of fire and great torment.
We could hear the horrible sounds coming out of hell.
The smell was so real and horrible, I shall never
I was thinking, maybe there was secret sin, and they
were playing Christian games.
This was not the problem. I tried to fight for my
dear friend and the enemy kept slowly pulling my
member towards hell.
The fight was very painful.
I said, this is a good person.
This family paid their tithes.
They were faithful to church.
I could count on them.
What is going on here?
Jesus help me? What is going on here?
With tears in His eyes, Jesus came to me,
and said, I have tried and I have tried to change the
events of this day.
I have personally sent messages through you to warn
I have sent radio messages to expose the sin?
I have given the words to television preachers, and
they watched with zeal, but My words were unheeded.
This person has cassette tapes that has warned them,
but they have not heard the message I have spoken to
This person has books on their shelf, they have read
the parts they like, but the message I warned them,
As a matter of record, when they heard the message,
they said the message was for someone else.
They even said, amen, let it be, but they thought the
message was for the other party.
I again questioned, Why Jesus, what is the wrong?
I knew them! They are good people.
With tears running down Jesusí face,
Jesus said, "This individual was very angry,
and full of wrath.
Bitterness was rampant daily, and unforgiveness had
helped to bring an early death.
The home was full of coldness and painful rejection.
This person had allowed a critical spirit to tear
down the confidence in everyone.
They refused to pray.
Their hurt and disappointments had become the driving
force in their heart.
The anger they carried had brought physical
affliction, yet this never got their attention to
The person had rejected forgiveness, and justified
because of unforgiveness.
I was absolutely broken, as I saw one of my best
friends escorted into hell.
I could do nothing to change the hard heart, the
the bitterness, --- the bait had been accepted.
The trap had locked on the neck.
I understood blasphemy as never before.
By focusing on the bitterness and pain, the person
had shown contempt and the lack of reverence for God
or His people.
Jesus had warned, the anger was turning into wrath,
Elie Wiesel, Nobel prize winner and author is a Holocaust survivor. He tells the story of two men and a youth who were hung at a Nazi concentration camp. All of the prisoners, including Wiesel, were paraded to the gallows to witness this horror. The older men died quickly, but the death throes of the younger man lasted much longer. “Where is God?” asked one voice. As the torment continued, the voice called again, “Where is God?” Wiesel says he heard a voice within answer, “Where is he? He is there. He is hanging on the gallows.” German theologian JŁrgen Moltmann says, “Any other answer would be blasphemy.”
A Sunday School teacher told her class of 2nd graders the story found in Luke 16 of the Rich man and Lazarus. How that when they were here upon the earth the rich man had everything that money could buy and poor Lazarus had to beg for mere crumbs. But when they died, the rich man due to his selfishness went to a place of horrible torment while Lazarus went to a place of paradise. In conclusion, the teacher asked her students the question: "Now, which man would you rather be, Lazarus or the ...
Sermon Central Staff
PAIN PASSES, BUT BEAUTY REMAINS
Pierre Auguste Renoir is a famous French artist who lived in the late 19th century to the early 20th century. He was known for his paintings, mostly depicting family life. But there was one disease that tormented this gifted artist -- he had arthritis that plagued him to the tip of his fingers. Every time he painted, each stroke of brush meant grimacing pain due to his arthritis. It took him quite a time to finish one painting, a masterful work of art. One of his friends pitifully consoled him to stop painting and shift his passion in arts and focus on his health, for it did seem a great struggle against pain whenever he held his brush and start another piece of art. But Renoir, with great display of passion, answered, "The Pain passes away but the Beauty remains."
I would say with Renoir that every time we face a brunt of painful experience, we must answer with pride on our faces, "The pain will pass away ultimately, but the beauty of character that it would produce in me will remain."
(From a sermon by Jofrey Bustamante, Let the Pain Remain! 7/25/2010)
You’re probably familiar with the book "Moby Dick". Even if you’ve never read it, you know the story: Captain Ahab goes in search of a great while whale, and is finally killed when the whale attacks and destroys his ship. But you probably didn’t know that this scene in Herman Melville’s novel was inspired by an actual event in the year 1820 - the sinking of the whaling vessel "Essex" in the South Pacific. Just like the ship in "Moby Dick", the Essex was rammed by a whale. As it sank, the captain and crew abandoned ship and climbed into the three whaleboats. These were twenty-five foot seqgoing rowboats that were normally used to chase and kill whales. But now they would be used to carry the survivors of the Essex more than three thousand miles, over a period of 93 days, to the coast of South America.
It is difficult to comprehend the torments and extreme agonies these men must have suffered, constantly exposed to the brutal rays of the sun, having very little to eat or drink and both starving and dying of thirst. In fact, many of the men did not survive the trip. But those who did described the voyage as three months of constant torture. As the first mate, Owen Chase, recorded in his journal, "The privation of water is justly ranked among the most dreadful of the miseries of our life. . . The violence of raving thirst has no parallel in the catalogue of human calamities." On the twenty-third day after the sinking of their ship, he wrote, "[Our] thirst had become now incessantly more intolerable than our hunger, and the quantity then allowed [half a pint per day] was barely sufficient to keep the mouth in a state of moisture, for about one third of the time. . . In vain was every expedient tried to relieve the raging fever of the throat. . . Our suffering during these . . . days almost exceeded human belief." ["In the Heart of the Sea," p. 116]
As Nathaniel Philbrick writes in his book about the disaster,
"The Essex survivors had entered . . . the ’cotton-mouth’ phase of thirst. Saliva becomes thick and foul-tasting; the tongue clings irritatingly to the teeth and the roof of the mouth. Even though speech is difficult, sufferers are often moved to complain ceaselessly about their thirst until their voices become so cracked and hoarse that they can speak no more. A lump seems to form in the throat, causing the sufferer to swallow repeatedly in a vain attempt to dislodge it. Severe pain is felt in the head and neck. The face feels full due to the shrinking of the skin. Hearing is affected, and many people begin to hallucinate. Still to come . . . were the agonies of a mouth that has ceased to generate saliva. The tongue hardens into . . . ’a senseless weight, swinging on the still-soft root and striking foreignly against the teeth.’ Speech becomes impossible, although sufferers are known to moan and bellow. Next is the "blood sweats" phase, involving ’a progressive mummification of the initially living body.’ The tongue swells to such proportions that it squeezes past the jaws. The eyelids crack and the eyeballs being to weep tears of blood. The throat is so swollen that breathing becomes difficult, creating [the] terrifying sensation of drowning." [ibid, pp. 126-127]
As terrible as their suffering was, there’s something even worse. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), the rich man is in torment in hell, while Lazarus is with Abraham. And the rich man begs, "Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’" The description of the agony of thirst suffered by the crew of the Essex gives us just a glimpse of the torments of hell. But even this is only an approximation. The reality is even more intolerable, for Jesus says, " Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.." (Matthew 10:28) In other words, the worst bodily suffering possible on this earth is still less terrifying than suffering under the wrath of God for ever and ever, throughout eternity.
Heaven is close enough for souls in torment to glimpse; far enough away for them to forever miss what could have been theirs.
Based on Luke 16:19-31
During the 1st part of the 20th century, J. C. Penney presided over a very powerful empire of over 1,700 stores. At the time he had the countryís largest chain of department stores, each one bearing his name.
Although his enterprise made him incredibly wealthy, J.C. Penneyís life was not devoid of setbacks and troubles. In fact, beginning in 1929, events took place that nearly cost Penney his life.
When the Great Depression struck the country, it came at a time of great financial vulnerability for Penney. In the good times, before the Depression, Penney had overextended himself and had borrowed heavily to finance many of his ventures. But when the Depression hit banks began to request repayment of his loans sooner than anticipated. Suddenly cash flow was tight, and Penney was finding it difficult to meet payment schedules. Constant and unrelenting worry began to take a toll. "I was so harassed with worries that I couldnít sleep, and developed an extremely painful ailment," he said.
Concerned about his deteriorating health, Penney checked himself into the Kellogg sanitarium at Battle Creek, Michigan, (kind of the Mayo Clinic of its era). There, Dr. Elmer Eggleston, a staff physician, examined Penney, declaring that he was extremely ill.
Penney later recalled "A rigid treatment was prescribed, but nothing helped," He was constantly tormented by periods of hopelessness and despair. His very will to live was rapidly eroding.
"I got weaker day by day. I was broken, nervously and physically, filled with despair, unable to see even a ray of hope. I had nothing to live for, I felt that I hadnít a friend left in the world, that even my family had turned against me."
Alarmed by his rapidly deteriorating condition, Dr. Eggleston gave Penney a sedative. However, the effect quickly wore off, and Penney awakened with the conviction that he was living the last night of his life. "Getting out of bed, I wrote farewell letters to my wife and to my son, saying that I did not expect to live to see the dawn."
Penney awakened the next morning, surprised to find himself alive. Making his way down the hallway of the hospital, he could hear singing coming from the little chapel where devotional exercises were held each morning. The words of the hymn he heard being sung spoke deeply to him.
Going into the chapel, he listened to the singing, the reading of the Scripture lesson, and the prayer.
"Suddenly something happened," he said. "I canít explain it. I can only call it a miracle. I felt as if I had b...
Jesus was nailed to a cross with heavy, square wrought-iron nails through His wrists and through His feet. He hung there for several hours. When His body slumped, excruciating, fiery pain would shoot along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain - the nails in the wrists were putting pressure on the median nerves. As he pushed himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, he placed the full weight on the nail through his feet. Again he felt the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the bones of the feet. As the arms fatigue, cramps sweep through the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push himself upward to breathe. Air can be drawn into the lungs but not exhaled. He fights to raise himself in order to get even one small breath. Finally carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically he is able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen. Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint rendering cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn form his lacerated back as he moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony began: a deep, crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly filled with serum and began to compress the heart. It is now almost over - the loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level - the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues - the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air.
He then felt the chill of death creeping through his tissues... Finally He was able to allow his body to die.
(Crucifixion, Adapted From C. Truman Davis, M.D., In The Expos. Bible Comm, Vol. 8)
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As I was growing up with a younger brother and sister, one of our favorite games to play was baseball. We had a plastic bat and ball, and we would team up with some of the neighborhood kids and play ball in the back yard.
On one particular occasion my mom took our bat away from us because we were arguing, like all brothers and sisters tend to do. But this did not deter us from playing our favorite game. Mom took the bat, but not the ball. So we took the metal brace from the swing set (the metal bar that is used to brace two legs together on each end) and started using it as a bat.
I was at bat when I swung at a pitch and felt two distinct points of contact; one was with the ball, and the second was with my sisterís head. I didnít realize that she had walked up behind me, and on my follow through I clobbered her on the forehead with the end of the brace.
I turned around only to discover that my sister was screaming and bleeding profusely. In fact, not much of her face was really visible because she was covered in blood. I knew I was in trouble, so while my sister bled and cried, I pleaded with her not to tell momma. I figured that washing her down with the water hose to get rid of the blood would be enough to take care of the situation. Once the bleeding stopped, I would be in the clear. But in my panic to discover a way to keep from getting a good whipping, I couldnít see that the greater need was for my sister to receive medical attention. She had to be taken to the emergency room where she received several stitches to bind up her wound.
The point of this story is this. When my mom came out to find out what was going on, she didnít stop to dwell on how guilty I was for disobeying her, or to find out every detail about what had happened. As soon as she saw the blood, she swept my sister up in her arms, carried her into the house to put a bandage on her head, and drove her to the hospital so that she could get the medical attention she desperately needed. As a matter of fact, the whipping I deserved never came. My momís actions showed that her concern for my sisterís health and well-being was more important than trying to blame somebody for the accident that had caused her injuries, or for punishing the one who was responsible.
Pastors need to learn that lesson.
So many times we have been guilty of preaching on sin just so we can point a finger of blame at someone who has stumbled under the load of temptation that Satan brings to bear upon us. God forgive us for our arrogance and our shortsightedness. Forgive us for falling short of our God-given responsibility to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised (Luke 4:18). Our obligation as pastors is not only to warn people of sin and the consequences it brings, but also to bind the wounds of our brothers and sisters in Christ who have been victimized by the enemy, and to tell those who have never known the washing of regeneration that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay their sin debt, that His blood can wash away all of your sins, and that He rose from the dead to prove that He has power over death, hell and the grave.
Christians need to learn that lesson.
How many of us have been guilty of shooting our wounded? How many have kicked a brother or sister when they were down, rather than bearing their burden, and helping to restore them back into the sweetness of full fellowship with our Lord? We ought to be ashamed, for the Church is to be our refuge, our safe haven, and our place of restoration. But all too often it becomes a place of torment and ridicule because of those who have forgotten to ďconsider themselves, lest they also be tempted.Ē
Some of you this morning have been through the ringer in your battle with sin this week. Youíre battered and bloodied from the near lethal blows that Satan has inflicted upon you, and you desperately need medical attention, the kind of medical attention that only Jesus Christ can give. So I stand before you today, not with a pointed finger, but with outstretched hands, pleading with you to come this morning and be washed in the pure refreshing waters of Godís abundant grace and mercy. You need to be washed, to clean your feet. Youíve already been bathed in His loving grace and mercy. But you need to come to Jesus, confessing your sins and you will experience complete and total forgiveness and cleansing. Your fellowship will be restored, and your hope will be renewed. Youíve struggled with sin long enough. Now is the time to come back into the grace and mercy of the Lord.
Others of you may just simply be lost. Youíve washed your feet many times. Youíve turned over a new leaf only to find the same old dirty sin on the other side. Youíve attended church, and maybe even been baptized and joined the church. But youíve never trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ to save you from your sins. Friend, let me tell you, because I love you, that if you donít come to know Jesus Christ in the full pardon of sin, your eternal destination is hell. But if you come, you must come trusting in nothing but the shed blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse you all of your sins. You canít do anything to earn His favor, and you canít bring anything with you but a broken heart and a contrite spirit. You canít get better to come to Him. You can only plead with Him to forgive you as you are, a worthless sinner begging for mercy and pardon. You can only come to Jesus Christ in absolute unworthiness to ask Him for His free gift of salvation.