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The Yeilded Life
Sometimes we allow sin to come into our lives and hinder the work of grace. Paul cautions that the blessings of grace upon a yielded life can be hindered by sin. "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof." (Ro. 6:12) Our unwillingness to confess our sin and seek God’s forgiveness and healing may hinder our service. The floodgates of God’s grace and power can be released only when we are right with Him.
In days gone by, great rafts of loose logs were floated down the rivers to the timber mills. Loggers could be seen skipping across the logs in an effort to keep them moving freely. If a particular log became caught upon a rock or obstruction, thousands of logs could be piled up in what became a huge log jam. When the logger found this key log and freed it, the jam would be broken and the logs would glide smoothly again. Sometimes the jam would be so great, that dynamite had to be used to free the key log. The analogy of sin in the Christian’s life is clear.
YOU’RE GOING TO PLAY BASEBALL THIS SUMMER
Joshua 14:12, James 2:26
A little boy named Jimmy was about 13 years old. He grew up with his brother in a very poor family not too far from downtown. Their dad was very sick and could not work. They had food to eat every morning and evening, but he and his brother wore jeans with holes in their knees. Both boys had paper routes so that they could have some lunch money at school.
One day in early spring, Jimmy’s dad called him into his room. “Son,” he said, “your mother and I have been saving up money all year so that you can play on a baseball team. I just wanted you to know that you’re going to play baseball this summer.”
Jimmy jumped to his feet and hugged his dad. He could hardly believe it. But, he knew that playing baseball cost a lot of money. He needed baseball shoes and a glove. He knew that his dad couldn’t afford all of that. He couldn’t believe that his dad had the money for the signup fee. But he knew his dad said that he would get to play baseball this summer. It was all too wonderful.
Jimmy immediately ran to the neighbors to see if he could cut their lawns and sweep their driveways. It didn’t take too long for him to have enough money to buy some cleats. So he went to the store and came home with a brand new pair of baseball cleats. He tried them on to show his dad. He was so excited.
Next, he saw a baseball glove at the corner drug store and began to work and save his money for that. It wasn’t long until he had it. Now he could begin practicing.
Every day after school, he threw an old tennis ball he had found against the side of the garage so he could practice being a baseball player. He thought he could be a pitcher so he drew a square on the garage wall out of chalk and began throwing the tennis ball at the square.
Soon he could put the ball in the square every time. Finally, the day came for signups. He and his dad walked down to the park and waited in line. The boy looked at all the coaches and wondered who would pick him to be on their team. He was the happiest boy at the sign ups. He loved his dad.
That was the last time Jimmy’s dad would take him to the park. Right after signups, he got extremely ill. He would lie in bed and wait for Jimmy to get home after every game so he could hear all about it. Right after baseball season ended that summer, Jimmy’s dad died. He never got to see him play in one game. But Jimmy never forgot about the day his dad told him, “This summer you’re going to play baseball.”
Because his dad told him that, Jimmy believed it. He trusted his dad. Then he worked hard toward what his dad had told him. Finally, he received what was promised.
Jimmy played baseball that summer. Later on, he played in high school and college.
Faith and works. James 2:26 in action.
A. Todd Coget
[Born to Lose, Citation: Norman Vincent Peale in Power of the Plus Factor, in Christianity Today.]
Once walking through the twisted little streets of Kowloon in Hong Kong, I came upon a tattoo studio.
In the window were displayed samples of the tattoos available.
On the chest or arms you could have tattooed an anchor or flag or mermaid or whatever.
But what struck me with force were three words that could be tattooed on one’s flesh, Born to lose.
I entered the shop in astonishment and, pointing to those words, asked the Chinese tattoo artist, "Does anyone really have that terrible phrase, Born to lose, tattooed on his body?"
He replied, "Yes, sometimes."
"But," I said, "I just can’t believe that anyone in his right mind would do that."
The Chinese man simply tapped his forehead and said in broken English, "Before tattoo on body, tattoo on mind."
Brian La Croix
PEARLS FROM GOD-- COMMUNION MEDITATION
The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. With her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box. "Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please!"
Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl’s upturned face. "A dollar ninety-five. That’s almost $2.00 If you really want them, I’ll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday’s only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma."
As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.
Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere -- Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.
Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?"
"Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you."
"Then give me your pearls."
"Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess -- the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She’s my favorite."
"That’s okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night." And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.
About a week later, after the story time, Jenny’s daddy asked again, "Do you love me?"
"Daddy, you know I love you."
"Then give me your pearls."
"Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper."
"That’s okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you." And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss. A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. "What is it, Jenny? What’s the matter?" Jenny didn’t say ...
JOY IN THIS WORLD
Men have pursued joy in every avenue imaginable. Some have successfully found it while others have not. Perhaps it would be easier to describe where joy cannot be found:
Not in Unbelief -- Voltaire was an infidel of the most pronounced type. He wrote: "I wish I had never been born."
Not in Pleasure -- Lord Byron lived a life of pleasure if anyone did. He wrote: "The worm, the canker, and grief are mine alone."
Not in Money -- Jay Gould, the American millionaire, had plenty of that. When dying, he said: "I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth."
Not in Position and Fame -- Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both. He wrote: "Youth is a mistake; manhood a struggle; old age a regret."
Not in Military Glory -- Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept in his tent, before he said, "There are no more worlds to conquer."
Where then is real joy found? -- the answer is simple, in Christ alone.
The Bible Friend, Turning Point, May, 1993. http://www.eSermons.com
One of the most memorable books I have ever read is A Severe Mercy. This is the story of Sheldon Vanauken and his wife Davy, who happened to be friends of C. S. Lewis. This couple was deeply in love and they sought to build the ideal marriage. They would only read books that the other wanted to read, and always tried to do everything together. But then a third person came along and interfered with this perfect relationship. That person was God. Davy began to get to know the Lord, and began to love Him. Sheldon became jealous, in his mind he didn’t want to share his wife with God. It was only after Davy’s premature death that Sheldon realized how foolish his attitude was. He also came to understand that the perfect marriage is not just when both partners love each other, but when both husband and wife love God even more than they love their spouse.
Dr. Bruce Emmert
In the 2000 summer Olympics, the USA women’s softball team won its second gold-medal. Lisa Fernandez is their pitcher. One commentator says that she is “arguably the best women’s softball pitcher the world has ever seen. She has found a source of strength and support that bridges all the highs and lows, strikeouts and home runs that life throws her way” [from CBN, 700 Club interview, Michael Rasnick, 700 Club Producer, autumn 2000]. This is what Lisa Fernandez says:
"Being with God and walking as one [with him] has definitely fulfilled me. He’s filled the voids in my life. When I feel insecure about myself and I’m not sure where I’m going, I can turn to Him and open up the Bible. I can read a passage, and all of a sudden, my world has changed and my view is clear." [Rasnick, ibid]
In the NT, the word for peace means “to reconcile or join.” Some missionary Bible translators were working very hard to find a word for peace in a particular tribal language. At last, a native who was working with them found a combination of words that captured the concept—“a heart that sits...
Williams James: “The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”
A. Todd Coget
["Mr. Holland’s Opus": Leaving a Legacy, Citation: Mr. Holland’s Opus, (Hollywood Pictures, 1995), rated PG, written by Patrick Sheane Duncan, directed by Stephen Herek; submitted by Greg Asimakoupoulos, Naperville, Illinois]
Mr. Holland’s Opus is a movie about a frustrated composer in Portland, Oregon, who takes a job as a high school band teacher in the 1960s.
Although diverted from his lifelong goal of achieving critical fame as a classical musician, Glenn Holland (played by Richard Dreyfuss) believes his school job is only temporary.
At first he maintains his determination to write an opus or a concerto by composing at his piano after putting in a full day with his students.
But, as family demands increase (including discovery that his infant son is deaf) and the pressures of his job multiply, Mr. Holland recognizes that his dream of leaving a lasting musical legacy is merely a dream.
At the end of the movie we find an aged Mr. Holland fighting in vain to keep his job.
The board has decided to reduce the operating budget by cutting the music and drama program.
No longer a reluctant band teacher, Mr. Holland believes in what he does and passionately defends the role of the arts in public education.
What began as a career detour became a 35-year mission, pouring his heart into the lives of young people.
Mr. Holland returns to his classroom to retrieve his belongings a few days after school has let out for summer vacation.
He has taught his final class.
With regret and sorrow, he fills a box with artifacts that represent the tools of his trade and memories of many meaningful classes.
His wife and son arrive to give him a hand.
As they leave the room and walk down the hall, Mr. Holland hears some noise in the auditorium.
Because school is out, he opens the door to see what the commotion is.
To his amazement he sees a capacity audience of former students and teaching colleagues and a banner that reads "Goodbye, Mr. Holland."
Those in attendance greet Mr. Holland with a standing ovation while a band (consisting of past and present members) plays songs they learned at his hand.
His wife, who was in on the surprise reception, approaches the podium and makes small talk until the master of ceremonies, the governor of Oregon, arrives.
The governor is none other than a student Mr. Holland helped to believe in herself his first year of teaching.
As she addresses the room of well-wishers, she speaks for the hundreds who fill the auditorium:
"Mr. Holland had a profound influence in my life (on a lot of lives, I know), and yet I get the feeling that he considers a great part of his life misspent.
Rumor had it he was always working on this symphony of his, and this was going to make him famous and rich (probably both).
But Mr. Holland isn’t rich and he isn’t famous.
At least not outside our little town.
So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure, but he’d be wrong.
Because I think he’s achieved a success far beyond riches and fame."
Looking at her former teacher the governor gestures with a sweeping hand and continues, "Look around you.
There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each one of us is a better person because of you.
We are your symphony, Mr. Holland.
We are the melodies and the notes of your opus.
And we are the music of your life."