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THE PUNISHMENT OF THE GOLF ADDICT
Once there was a man who was such a golf addict that he was neglecting his job. Frequently he would call in sick as an excuse to play.
One morning, after making his usual call to the office, an angel up above spotted him on the way to the golf course and decided to teach him a lesson. "If you play golf today, you will be punished," the angel whispered in his ear.
Thinking it was only his conscience, which he had successfully whipped in the past, the fellow just smiled. "No," he said, "I've been doing this for years. No one will ever know. I won't be punished."
The angel said no more, and the fellow stepped up to the first tee where he promptly whacked the ball 300 yards straight down the middle of the fairway. Since he had never driven the ball more than 200 yards, he couldn't believe it. Yet, there it was.
And his luck continued. Long drives on every hole, perfect putting. By the ninth hole he was six under par and was playing near-perfect golf. The fellow was walking on air.
He wound up with an amazing 61, about 30 strokes under his usual game. Wait until he got back to the office and told them about this! But, suddenly, his face fell. He couldn't tell them. He could never tell anyone.
The angel smiled.
(Bits & Pieces, August 22, 1991 -- 10,000 Sermon Illustrations)
Redemption and Restoration in Real Life
I conclude this morning with a story about what happened since a tragic event that took place 9 months ago around Christmas time at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. I share it because I think it makes a point about moving beyond the 'Who, Them?' To THEM!
The event was the shooting of several people in the church parking lot and building that left three dead and three wounded. The young man, who had done the shooting, killed himself after being shot by a security guard. Earlier that day, he had entered Youth with A Mission Headquarters in suburban Denver, shooting four and killing two. His name was Matthew Murray, and he had been raised in a Christian home.
The tragedy shook the church that had just started to come out of the painful and very public story about their former pastor's, Ted Haggard, sexual sin. Now they were faced with this terrible tragedy.
In a recent Christianity Today article, it was told that after granting the interview to talk about that day and its after effects, it was revealed that Brady Boyd, the current Senior Minister, called Murray's parents and asked if they would like to come to New Life and see where 'their son had passed away.' They said they had wanted to, but had refrained from do so because of their concerns for the church. They were also asked if they would be willing to meet with members of the family who had lost two teenage daughters that morning. They said yes. The same invitation was extended to the victim's family, the Work's. They said yes.
After showing the Murrays around the church where the tragic events took place, they met with the Work's in Boyd's office. "What happened there in the two hours in my office ... was the most significant ministry moment I've experienced, maybe in all of my life," Boyd said. When they first entered the office, the two families embraced. They sat, wept, and cried together, Boyd said, for "I don't know how long." Then they prayed together.
Later Jeanne Assam [the security guard who shot Murray] was invited to join them. When Jeanne, who had undoubtedly saved many lives but had been forced to shoot the Murray's son, walked into the room, "the Murrays embraced her and hugged her and released her from any guilt and remorse. The dad looked at Jeanne and said, "Please know we're so sorry that you had to do what you did. We're so sorry."
The article concludes with these words from Boyd, "We can talk philosophically about repentance and redemption and going forward with God," Boyd said, "but what I saw in that room in my office was the greatest testimony of forgiveness and redemption that I have ever seen. It was a testimony that God really can restore and redeem."
An Emergency-room doctor wrote, "Recently we saw another preview of hell in the Parkland Hospital in Dallas. A woman struck down by a drunken driver. A college student lying semi-conscious following a head on collision with another drunk driver who himself was critically injured. The drunk's companion was dead. Four other drunks with lacerations and stab wounds waiting to be treated. Night after night, year after year, the same bloody trail of horror, major automobile accidents, stabbings, rapes, wife-beatings, the nightly emergencies treated and released or admitted to the hospital or pronounced dead on arrival; and almost always the bloody trail is lead by that honored man of distinction, the weekend drinker, not the alcoholic.
I wonder if there is that much joy to be gained from the total consumption of all beers and whiskies ever made, ever to equal even a small fraction of the innocent suffering, the damaged bodies, the broken marriages, the discarded children, the total brutalities and crimes that will inevitably accompany its use.
What a quiet place our emergency room would be if beverage alcohol were ever abolished from our city!"
One of America’s greatest poets is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The year 1860 found Longfellow happy in his life, enjoying a widening recognition, and elated over the election of Abraham Lincoln which he believed signaled the triumph of freedom and redemption for the nation.
The following year the Civil War began. On July 9, 1861 Longfellow’s wife, Fanny, was near an open window sealing locks of her daughter’s hair, using hot sealing wax. Suddenly her dress caught fire and engulfed her with flames. Her husband, sleeping in the next room, was awaked by her screams. As he desperately tried to put out the fire and save his wife, he was severely burned on his face and hands.
Fanny died the next day. Longfellow’s severe burns would not even allow him to attend Fanny’s funeral. His white beard, which so identified with him, was one of the results of the tragedy – the burn scars on his face made shaving almost impossible. In his diary for Christmas day 1861 he wrote, “How inexpressibly sad are the holidays.”
In 1862 the toll of war dead began to mount and in his diary for that year Longfellow wrote of Christmas, “A merry Christmas say the children, but that is no more for me.”
In 1863 his son who had run away to join the Union army was severely wounded and returned home in December. There is no entry in Longfellow’s diary for that Christmas.
But on Christmas Day 1864 – at age 57 – Longfellow sat down to try to capture, if possible, the joy of the season. He began:
I heard the bells on Christmas day.
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
As he came to the third stanza, he was stopped by the thought of the condition of his beloved country. The Battle of Gettysburg was not long past. Days looked dark, and he probably asked himself the question, “How can I write about peace on earth, good will to men in this war-torn country, where brother fights against brother and father against son?” But...
It was a regular work day. There were 6 of us in a room—myself, two other men, and three women. One of the guys was talking about his vacation when one of the women handed him a knife and he stabbed me, right in the lower abdomen. The last thing I remembered before I passed out was the women working to control the bleeding. I woke up in a 5th floor hospital bed at St. Peter’s Hospital in Olympia. You wanna see my scar?
I think I better tell you the whole story. It was indeed a regular work day while I worked for the State Patrol, but I wasn’t at work. The room was a surgical room and the 5 other people in the room were my anesthesiologist, my surgeon, and three nurses. They were there to perform an appendectomy, which is why the doctor stabbed me in the gut. Fortunately, he had my best interest at heart and he was nice enough to sew me up when he was finished.
You see, if you don’t hear the whole story, the act of a surgeon cutting into you with a knife can sound quite traumatic. Who would opt for that? But for someone who is sick and in need of relief, it is a welcome wound.
Corinthians 13 written by a South African Pioneer:Read the following paraphase of 1
"If I have the language perfectly and speak like a native, and have not His love for them, I am nothing. If I have diplomas and degrees and know all the up-to-date methods, and have not His touch of understanding love, I am nothing. If I am able to argue successfully against the religions of the people and make fools of them, and have not His wooing note, I am nothing. If I have all faith and great ideals and magnificent plans, and not His love that sweats and bleeds and weeps and prays and pleads, I am nothing. If I give my clothes and money to them, and have not His love for them, I am nothing.
If I surrender all prospects, leave home and friends, make the sacrifices of a missionary career, and turn sour and selfish amid the daily annoyancesand slights of a missionary life, and have not the love that yields its rights, its leisures, its pet plans, I am nothing. Virtue has ceased to go out of me. If I can heal all manner of sickness and disease, but wound hearts and hurt feelings for want of His love that is kind, I am nothing. If I can write articles or publish books that win applause, but fail to transcribe the Word of the Cross into the language of His love, I am nothing."
On October 2, 1864, one of the worst battles of the American Civil War was fought. 2800 Confederate soldiers squared off against 4500 Union soldiers. The battle is forever recorded in American history as one of the worst atrocities that has ever occurred on US soil. After a day of intense fighting, shots continued throughout the night muffling the cries of wounded Union soldiers. Later an eyewitness to the carnage reported that a Confederate renegade walked up to a wounded Union cavalry soldier identified as Crawford Hazelwood and asked him if he wanted to be shot in the face or the back. As the soldier pleaded for his life, he was shot in the face. With the intense fighting and the great loss of life, you would think that the battle had been fought for a great cause, fought for some great strategic value to shorten the war; but, the truth is, the battle was fought over a mineral. It was a mineral so valuable that more wars have been fought over it than gold. The battle was waged for salt. One of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War was fought over Saltville, VA--the largest supplier of salt to the Confederate army.
AWL FOR THE GOOD
In 1809, Simon Renee Braille and his wife Monique welcomed their fourth child into the world-- a lively boy named Louis. They lived in a small stone house near Paris where Braille was the local harness maker. Leather working tools are dangerous, so the toddler had been instructed not to go into his father's shop alone.
But when Louis was still small, he slipped into the shop, and with curiosity started to handle all the fascinating tools. As Louis was inspecting an awl, the sharp tool used to punch holes in leather, he slipped and punctured a part of his eye with the tool. The injured eye became infected. The little boy could not keep his hands from rubbing and scratching the wound, and soon the infection spread to his other eye as well. When Louis was only 4, he became completely blind.
Louis was fortunate enough to study at the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris. He excelled as an organist, and at twelve years old began asking the question “How can the blind read?” Over his summer break at home, Louis was determined to find the answer. As He moved and groped around his father’s shop in search of the right tool for his task, the awl presented itself as perfect for the job. The awl would make the raised dots he had seen in the French military system of “night writing.”
And with the very instrument that had blinded him, Louis worked and worked until he had created a syste...
It’s the story of a friendship forged during one of the worst battles of World War II, and a promise made almost 60 years ago, a promise that was finally kept Thursday, Aug. 2, 2001. HAROLD HUGGINS, a veteran of 10 major campaigns in World War II and the last survivor of his battalion, traveled halfway across the country by train on one last mission in memory of his best buddy.
"I had this on my mind for 57 years, trying to locate his sister and loved ones out there in California," says Huggins. "Part of him lives in me."
Huggins, from Albany, Ill., and Mack McClain from Marysville, Calif., were best friends in the army. They wound up together at Anzio Beach, Italy, scene of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. Mack had a premonition that he wouldn’t make it out of there alive, so he gave Harold some mementos, a belt, some photos, and said: "’Give this to my sister, tell her that I love her,’ Huggins recalls. ’You can even give her a kiss.’"
Harold promised if anything happened to Mack he would do what was asked. One day later, Mack was killed in an artillery barrage. After the war, Harold looked for Mack’s sister but he never found her until Harold’s daughter sent out e-mails to various veterans groups. Some California vets found Mack’s sister, Grace, whose last name changed when she married.
"We have always hoped and prayed that we would meet somebody that would tell us about Mack," says Grace.
Thursday, Aug. 2nd, at the place where his buddy’s name is engraved in marble at the veterans memorial in Marysville, Calif., Harold Huggins kept that promise he made 57 years ago, meeting Mack’s sister for the very first time and giving her that kiss that Mack asked Harold to deliver, turning over those mementos from his fallen friend.
SOURCE: Steve Shepherd.
When the Federal troops occupied Cheraw, South Carolina, the Confederates left so much gun powder behind that the Union troops decided to dump most of it in a little creek. Some of the Union troops were looking for some entertainment so they scooped up handfuls of the powder and carried it to their cooking fires a few hundred yards away, where they exploded it amid much shouting and laughter. With each handful they grew more careless, and left numerous crisscrossing trails of powder running back to the ravine. Sergeant Theodore Upson of the 100th Indiana had just started his coffee boiling when he saw “a little flash of powder running along the ground.” A moment later he noticed that the powder flashes had multiplied and were running in all directions. Someone yelled, “Look out for the magazine!” Upson and his comrades “made some pretty quick moves” in putting as much space between themselves and the creek bed as the burning powder trails would allow. “Then there was a tremendous explosion,” Upson recorded. “The dirt and stones flew in every direction.” The ground shook for miles. The force of the blast destroyed several houses and shattered nearly every window in town. A storm of shell and shrapnel rained down for a half-mile in every direction. One officer and three enlisted men were killed as a result of the blast, and more than a dozen were wounded. Rumor had it that Sherman at first believed the explosion was an act of sabotage, and was on the verge of issuing orders to burn the rest of the town and execute the mayor in retaliation. He relented, however, when he learned that it was the carelessness of his own men that had caused the devastation.
Don’t play with the fire of temptation. It may seem fun for a while but eventually it will burn you and others. (Prov 6:27-28 NIV) Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? (1 Tim 6:11 NIV) But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
From Mark L. Bradley,The Battle of Bentonville: Last Stand in the Carolinas, pg. 67-69: