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"What makes life worthwhile is having a big enough objective, something which catches our imagination and lays hold of our allegiance, and this the Christian has in a way that no other person has. For what higher, more exalted, and more compelling goal can there be than to know God?"
[Packer, J. I. (2011-09-26). Knowing God (p. 36). Intervarsity Press. Kindle Edition.]
ANGELS OF RECONCILIATION
With his life in disarray, Steven Lavaggi sat on his bedroom’s wooden floor, and began searching his Bible for answers. His wife had just left him to marry a writer for The Rolling Stone Magazine. Ten days later, Steven discovered his son was stricken with Juvenile Diabetes. Then he lost his graphic art business. Unemployed, abandoned, and worrying about his son, Lavaggi turned to God’s Word.
As Steven read, he skipped over the black letters, only wanting to read the words of Jesus. The Risen Christ emerged from the pages. Lavaggi gave his life to Jesus. As a new Christian, he clung to Psalm 91:11: "For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways."
Out of his brokenness, came a passion to create a message of hope. He discovered his passion was to minister through fine art. He moved to California, to influence the people who influence the world--Hollywood. He is doing just that.
The response to his work is overwhelming. Inspired by the Psalmist’s words he painted an angel. When a friend encouraged him to make the image three dimensional, he collaborated with a sculptor, and together they cast the angel.
While speaking to a crowd of 3500 natives in Soweto, South Africa, Lavaggi held a 20" sculpture of a black angel above his head. When he did, the crowd erupted with enthusiasm. A man on the stage told him that just a few days before, a preacher had declared that God would soon send an international artist who would express the love of God to their culture by doing something like "painting Angels in black!" When Lavaggi heard this, he grabbed a 20" white angel, held it above his head and said, "these angels were created to be like brothers and sisters, even as we are supposed to be." Those sculptures became known as, "The Angels of Reconciliation."
Today, he is known as the artist of Hope. It propelled him into creating an incredible series of spirit-inspired paintings, sculptures, figurines, and prints. Steven’s message would not exist without his passion! Through his passion, today he is touching and changing the world fopr Jesus Christ.
GOD JUST NEEDS A VOICE
John Stott, a well-known British pastor and theologian, was invited to preach at the University of Sydney in Australia; but after he got there, he lost his voice. He describes his experience as follows:
"What can you do with a missionary who has no voice? We had come to the last night of the [evangelistic campaign]. The students had booked the big university hall. A group of students gathered around me, and I asked them to pray as Paul did, that this thorn in the flesh might be taken from me. But we went on to pray that if it pleased God to keep me in weakness, I would rejoice in my infirmities in order that the power of Christ might rest upon me.
"As it turned out, I had to get within one inch of the microphone just to croak the gospel. I was unable to use any inflection of voice to express my personality. It was just a croak in a monotone, and all the time we were crying to God that his power would be demonstrated in human weakness. Well, I can honestly say that there was a far greater response that night than any other night. I’ve been back to Australia ten times now, and on every occasion somebody has come up to me and said, "Do you remember that night when you lost your voice? I was converted that night."
God doesn’t need eloquence to reach people. He just needs a voice, your voice, with a living, vital connection to Him in prayer.
I like the way Luci Swindoll once put it. She writes: "A friend of mine was caught in an elevator during a power failure. At first, there was momentary panic as all seven strangers talked at once. Then my friend remembered the tiny flashlight he had in his pocket. When he turned it on, the fear dissipated. During the 45 minutes they were stuck together they told jokes, laughed, and even sang. [The Bible] says we are that flashlight. Just as the flashlight draws power from its batteries, we draw power from Jesus. As light, we dissipate fear, bring relief, and lift spirits. We don’t even have to be big to be effective. We just have to be ’on.’"
(Source: Student Leadership, Spring 1993, p. 32. Luci Swindoll, "Heart to Heart," Today’s Christian Woman. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, "The Power of His Presence" 7/10/2009)
For more from Chuck, visit http://www.insight.org
TWO GREAT DAYS
There are two great days in a person’s life -- the day we are born and the day we discover why.<...
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One of golf’s immortal moments came when a Scotsman demonstrated the new game to President Ulysses Grant. Carefully placing the ball on the tee, he took a mighty swing. The club hit the turf and scattered dirt all over the President’s beard and surrounding vicinity, while the ball placidly waited on the tee. Again the Scotsman swung, and again he missed. Our President waited patiently through six tries and then quietly stated, “There seems to be a fair amount of exercise in the game, but I fail to see the purpose of the ball.” (Campus Life)
In an April, 1988 edition of Sports Illustrated, their was a story titled “Ali and His Entourage”. Sports writer Gary Smith went to Ali’s farmhouse to interview the three-time world champion. On the floor leaning against the walls, were mementos of Ali in his prime. Photos and portraits of the champ punching and dancing. Sculpted body. Fist punching the air. Championship belt held high in triumph. “The thrilla in Manila.”
But on the pictures were white steaks – bird droppings. Ali looked into the rafters at the pigeons who had made his gym their home. And then he did something significant. Perhaps it was a gesture of closure. Maybe it was a statement of despair. Whatever the reason, he walked over to the row of pictures and turned them, one by one, toward the wall. He then walked to the door, stared at the countryside, and mumbled something so low that Smith had to ask him to repeat it. Ali did.
“I had the world,” he said, “and it wasn’t nothin’. Look now.”
Christmas is an exciting time and little Sammy was excited. He was 15 years old and Christmas was still to him a time of wonder. He was a happy child despite his handicap. You see, Sammy was slightly retarded. He still went to school, though he was 2 years behind. And he did the things that most boys do; he played ball, road his bike, fished, climbed trees and other fun stuff.
And for the most part the kids were not too mean -- sometimes they laughed and called him "stupid Sammy" -- but Sammy just didn’t seem to hear them -- he just enjoyed life every part of it; to him life was full of wonder and amazement.
And Christmas was the most wonderful time of all.
It was Christmas Eve, and both the sky and the ground were white with snow. And it was 8 O’Clock, time to go to church for the annual Christmas Eve Celebration. Sammy could hardly wait. He was so excited wondering what present would be under the tree for him this year. Last year he got a telescope.
Every year on Christmas Eve after the service all the children would gather around the huge Christmas tree and each one was handed a present, with their name on it. And even though Sammy was a little old for this they still let him take part.
Sammy’s parents left early that night, because his mother was singing a solo, "Silent Night" and she wanted to practice.
They were the first to arrive at church. And when his dad opened the door; well you can guess where Sammy went; that’s right.. at the speed of light he went right to the Christmas tree and started to look for the present with his name of it.
After a few minutes, he began to worry because he couldn’t find it. Then his eyes caught hold of a big box -- the biggest present that was there. He slowly walked over to it -- lifted the card and there in great big letters was his name "Sammy." He couldn’t believe it, the biggest present was his, and his mind began thinking at the sped of light of all the many possibilities of what was inside; maybe it was a bike; a TV a horse, a tent; ... What was in it -- Sammy could barely stand it -- but he knew he had to wait.
Sammy really did enjoy the service, really, but he kind of thought that 3 days was just a little too long -- well, at least that is how long it seemed to him.
Finally it was over and all the children rushed to the huge tree.
Preacher Joe stared picking up presents and calling out names; Sarah, Bobby, Susan, Sammy was on the edge of his seat -- he was about to burst with anticipation.
The Preacher Joe walked over to the big box and said, "Well, let’s see whose name is on this one," but before he could read the name Sammy bolted beside him and said "It’s mine Preach Joe" "so it is," Joe replied.
Sammy took the box and gently took off the bow, His heart was racing like a jack hammer. His mom and dad stood beside him smiling -- enjoying their sons excitement.
Sammy removed all the paper and laid it beside the box -- And then he began to remove the lid -- In his mind all of the things he hoped to see flashed before his eyes in a second. Finally Sammy got the box open and he looked inside and he saw........
Nothing ---- He saw nothing -- someone had played a trick on stupid Sammy. When Sammy lifted his head, huge tears were streaming down his face.
Who would do something so cruel -- who would play such a mean trick on Sammy... The box was empty.
Everyday, all around the world, this same trick is being played. Though the names and exact situation are a little different -- the results are still the same.
Our world promises people great things; happiness, wealth, pleasure, relationships, fame, success, power. And it wraps them up in a great big box, with pretty paper and a beautiful bow.
And it hands us this box -- as a gift, we get excited; and we take off the bow -- we unwrap the box and we open it with great expectations.... And when we look inside, just like Sammy all we find is an empty box. No hope, no life, no joy, no happiness -- just huge tears of heart break streaming down our face. THAT’S THE KIND OF GIFTS THIS WORLD GIVES US... HAVE YOU EVER OPENED ONE OF HER BOXES? I THINK YOU HAVE AND IT’S NOT FUN IS IT?
INTRODUCTION... A Duke University Study
A group at Duke University did a study on “peace of mind.” Factors found to contribute
greatly to emotional and mental stability are:
1. The absence of suspicion and resentment. Nursing a grudge was a major factor in unhappiness.
2. Not living in the past. An unwholesome preoccupation with old mistakes and failures leads to depression.
3. Not wasting time and energy fighting conditions you cannot change. Cooperate with life, instead of trying to run away from it.
4. Force yourself to stay involved with the living world. Resist the temptation to withdraw and become reclusive during periods of emotional stress.
5. Refuse to indulge in self-pity when life hands you a raw deal. Accept the fact that nobody gets through life without some sorrow and misfortune.
6. Cultivate the old-fashioned virtues—love, humor, compassion and loyalty
7. Do not expe...
Kurt Cobain died about 8 years ago. I remember the day I picked up the newspaper and read about it. He was the founder and lead singer of the rock group "Nirvana." His death was a suicide. He took a shotgun, pointed it to his head, and killed himself. The newspaper was filled with the words of fans and commentators in disbelief saying "Why? It makes no sense." "He had it all . . . a great career, a huge following, plenty of money, a wife and a 19 month old daughter . . . Why?" To most people it made no sense. But I remember sitting at my desk thinking. "Yes it does. It makes sense. Kurt Cobain was living out his beliefs to their logical extreme." You see, Kurt Cobain was a self professed humanist and nihilist. In other words, he believed their was no God and that there was no meaning or purpose to life. His music (poetry) could not be more clear on this matter.
Kurt Cobain’s music was grunge rock. He pioneered this type of music. The alternative rock style of today has evolved from grunge rock. Kurt had a disdain for anything mainstream or acceptable to society. He was a child of divorce. At the age of eight he began to be shifted from home to home, sometimes even being homeless. He was very vocal about his bitterness from that experience. He developed his belief that life was basically rotten and meaningless.
His music often spoke of his anger and disillusionment. One of his most famous songs was called "Nevermind." Its recurring line was "Oh well, whatever, nevermind." Another song he wrote never got released. It was too objectionable to the label company, but Kurt liked it. It was called, "I Hate Myself, And I Want To Die." In another song called "Smells Like Teen Spirit," a well known line says, "I feel stupid and contagious, here we are, now entertain us." The video of that song was voted best video of the decade of the 90’s.
Friends of Cobain say he lived up to his music. He often acted without reason. He was constantly on an emotional roller coaster. But his dips into despair got deeper and deeper. Once, a member of his road crew asked him why he was moping around so much. Cobain replied, "I’m awake, aren’t I?" Kurt Cobain was a young man fueled by nihilism. He had passion, but for nothing. He had a void in his heart that nothing he pursued could fill, and he believed that nothing could or ever would. He had no purpose, no meaning, and he simply lived out his belief in his worldview to its logical conclusion.
He reminds me of another man. Solomon. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes of pursuing all of the things the world has to offer. He also wrote of the despair they brought him. They offered no meaning. Solomon, however, concluded differently than Kurt Cobain. He concluded that purpose and meaning were found in the living God. Only be knowing and serving Him could you rise above the level of despair. And there is even better news than that. Now, God has declared through His Son how much He loves us, and that He wants to spend eternity with us.
There was a commercial years ago on TV by the Peace Corp: "It doesn’t matter how long you live if you’re not doing anything with your life."