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A RELIGION WORTH HAVING
Dr. F. E. Marsh used to tell that on one occasion he was preaching on the importance of confession of sin and, wherever possible, of restitution for wrong done to others. Afterward a young man came up to him and said: "Pastor, you have put me in a sad fix. I have wronged another and am ashamed to confess it or try to put it right. I am a boatbuilder, and the man I work for is an unbeliever. I have talked to him often about his need of Christ and have urged him to come and hear you preach, but he scoffs and ridicules it all.
"In my work, copper nails are used because they do not rust in the water, but they are quite expensive, so I had been carrying home quantities of them to use on a boat I am building in my back yard." The pastor's sermon had brought him face to face the fact that he was just a common thief. "But," he said, "I cannot go to my boss and tell him what I have done, or offer to pay for those I have used. If I do he will think I am just a hypocrite, and yet those copper nails are digging into my conscience, and I know I shall never have peace until I put this matter right."
One night he came again to Dr. Marsh and exclaimed,"Pastor, I've settled for the copper nails, and my conscience is relieved at last."
"What happened when you confessed?" asked the pastor.
"Oh, he looked queerly at me, and then said, 'George, I always did think you were just a hypocrite, but now I begin to feel there's something in this Christianity after all. Any religion that makes a dishonest workman confess that he has been stealing copper nails, and offer to settle for them, must be worth having."
--Emergency Post Knight's Master Book of New Illustrations.
The Tree of Hippocrates
On the island of Kos, the home of Hippocrates, the great physician from whom we get the “Hippocratic Oath”, there grows a tree that history says Hippocrates himself once gathered his students for class. Although the current tree is only about 500 years old, it is purported that this tree is a shoot of the original tree. Additional legend places the Apostle Paul as once teaching under this tree. Even if the tree is not fully original the site it marks is. Still, 500 years is quite an accomplishment for a tree, however, such a great span of time has seen curious developments.
Close examination shows that although the tree has every appearance of a regular tree from one side, from the other, it is plain that the tree is fully hollow. In fact, the trunk consists of only a semi-circular ring of about 6 inches or so of actual tree with bark both inside and out. The ornate metal railings around the tree are, in fact, supporting some of the branches as there is not enough left of the trunk, or probably the roots either, to support the weight. Still, year after year, the tree somehow, almost inconceivably, manages to sprout a few sparse leaves and fruits.
Tourists gather to the tree mainly because of the legends but some probably visit just to see a tree that old. I would. How often do you get to see a tree still plugging away after half a millennium? You don’t because this tree should have succumb to natural order years ago. This tree long ago ceased to be able to support itself. Only because of its fame has this tree been carefully preserved at great expense. No one goes through this kind of inconvenience for regular trees. If you just want shade, this one should have been removed. Younger trees are hardier, more productive, and far less expensive to maintain. The same can be said about some churches.
Some churches exist as tourist attractions. Only because of fame, legend, or reputation are they still propped up and preserved no matter the cost. They ceased to produce a profitable harvest years ago. Oh, they still sprout the occasional leaf or fruit and each time they do, people gather and marvel that life still reside there after all these years. Meanwhile, just down the road, there is a healthy, vibrant church that with minimal effort and investment produces maximum harvest. But that is where the analogy between the church and the Tree of Hippocrates ends.
It is not necessarily age that defines churches alive only because they are propped up by human effort. It is the spiritual foundation of the church. Even at 500 years of age, the Tree of Hippocrates could be very productive with a strong root system and foundation. Very young churches can easily get to a point where it ceases to make sense to preserve them. Very old churches can be vibrant and productive. Any church that has begun to question its viability should know that rejuvenation starts with the roots. Reestablish on the solid rock and health will return.
INSPIRATION: TEN FEET AT A TIME
Being a provoker doesn’t mean you have to be a perfect person, it just means you have to be a person doing your best in the situations where you find yourself.
Several years ago after a devastating California earthquake, the news camera panned a devastated neighborhood. Houses collapsed horribly in on themselves, downed power lines and people had that utterly shocked look on their faces.
The camera happened to spy a woman standing in the rubble of what was once her house where only one ten foot section of an inner wall was left standing. The woman looked at the wall where a single picture hung and she went over to the picture and straightened it out, stepped back and nodded. The reporter dashed over to her and asked her why she even bothered. She said, "I can't do much about all of this, but right now I can clean up this ten-foot section and straighten out this picture."
When others heard about what this woman did, they got provoked. Signs and banners were hung around the neighborhood: Ten Feet at a Time. Everyone had a place to begin their huge task--right where they were. Ten feet at a time. It was an inspiration for the whole neighborhood. She provoked others to keep trying to keep at it when otherwise they may have been overwhelmed by the job. Focus on what is in front of you.
H: THE ASPIRATE WORD
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him.....No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be AbraHam, for I have made you a father of many Nations.- Genesis 17:5
God also said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be SaraH.- Genesis 17:15
Now for some semantic study of the Scriptures. Raise your hands those who know that "H" is an aspirate word (cannot pronounce it without inhaling revitalizing oxygen). Notice in the above-captioned Scripture portion the good Lord added "H" into the names of the epochal couple of Abram and Sarai, so as to say, He was breathing new life into their bodies (a la Creation account of Adam - Genesis 2:7) which were well past the age of child-bearing.
And the result? Boy, there were such metabolic, physical changes in the bodies of this aged couple that Grammy (of that age) Sarah acquires a new glowing look which even modern-day rejuvenating beauty creams simply cannot bring about. Some time later, awed by her beauty a pagan King takes her into his harem and it is another story altogether that God delivers this Blessed Couple from this messy situation (Genesis 20). Shortly afterwards, arrives Baby Issac (in Hebrew means Laughter) bringing joyous laughter in the lives of now youthful Abraham and Sarah. Talk of 30 year olds "living inside" 90 year old bodies...
Liberation Treatments are becoming commonly known treatments for people suffering with Multiple Sclerosis. The condition known as Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCVI), according to Dr. Paolo Zamboni, Italian founder of the Liberation Treatment, is a condition where the jugular and azygos veins are blocked which could be one of the causes of MS. He believes that Liberation Treatment repairs the blocked veins that are connected to the central nervous system.
The protocol for treatment requires that
-- Patients must sign a consent form stating they understand the risks
-- Assess the patient’s condition prior to treatment
-- Procedure is outlined
-- After procedure, the attending physician will discuss results with patient, further assessments to evaluate effectiveness of the treatment and blood thinner prescriptions are provided for a time after the procedure.
Today we’re going to look at confession. Confession is an invitation to undergo Liberation Treatment! There is poor health and well-being in the church and community-at-large. The answer to holistic well-being is addressing psychological and spiritual blockages not visible to the naked eye.
Ray Bakke, the Executive Director of International Urban Associates, tells a great story from World War II.
An airman named MacDonald and a Scottish chaplain bailed out behind German lines, were captured and put into a prison camp, with MacDonald in the American barracks and the chaplain with the Brits. The Germans had put a wire fence between the American and British prisoners, and it was
impossible for the two sides to communicate privately. But the Americans had managed to put together a homemade radio and were able to get news from the outside, more precious in a prison camp even than food. And every day MacDonald and the Scot would meet at the fence and exchange a brief greeting. Since the two men spoke Gaelic, which the Germans couldn’t understand, the greeting consisted largely of the latest headline.
Finally the news came that the war was over; the German High
Command had surrendered. After MacDonald had transmitted the news to his friend, he watched him disappear into the British barracks. A moment later, a roar of celebration came from the barracks. The camp was transformed. Men sang and shouted, waving and smiling at the bewildered guards.
When the news finally filtered down to the guards three nights later, they simply walked away from their posts, leaving the gates unlocked. The next morning, the prisoners walked out as free men. But if you stop and
think about it, they had actually been set free three days earlier - simply by knowing the truth: the war