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I COULD HAVE DONE MORE
The film Schindler's List chronicled the heroic efforts of a German industrialist named Oskar Schindler. Through his unselfish activities, over a thousand Jews on the trains to Auschwitz were saved. After Schindler found out what was happening at Auschwitz, he began a systematic effort to save as many Jews as he could. For money, he could buy Jews to work in his factory which was supposed to be a part of the military machine of Germany. On one hand he was buying as many Jews as he could, and on the other hand he was deliberately sabotaging the ammunition produced in his factory. He entered the war as a financially wealthy industrialist; by the end of the war, he was basically financially bankrupt.
When the Germans surrendered, Schindler met with his workers and declared that at midnight they were all free to go. The most emotional scene of the film was when Schindler said good-bye to the financial manager of the plant, a Jew and his good and trusted friend. As he embraced his friend, Schindler sobbed and said, "I could have done more." He looked at his automobile and asked, "Why did I save this? I could have bought 10 Jews with this." Taking another small possession he cried, "This would have saved another one. Why didn't I do more?" (James Forlines, Men's Beat of Free Will Baptist Foreign Missions, April 1999, 4.)
One day Jesus is going to split the eastern sky and come for His own. It will not matter then how much money we have in a mutual fund or how many bedrooms we have in our homes. The temporary satisfaction we have in vacations and nice cars will be gone. Only what we have done for the cause of Christ will matter. The Privilege we have only now, is to use God's resources for things that eternally matter.
(From a sermon by Matthew Kratz, The Grace of Giving, 6/11/2011)
The Hobbit: Denying Yourself
In the movie “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” there is a scene where the Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit who is accompanying 13 dwarves on a mission, unexpectedly disappears and seems to have abandoned the dwarves during a crucial battle. They were losing. Bilbo does return and the dwarves are victorious. Afterward Thorin (the dwarf leader) and Bilbao have a conversation.
[Thorin:] “Why did you come back? It matters! I want to know: why did you come back?”
[Bilbo:] “Look, I know you doubt me, I know you always have. And you’re right, I often think of Bag End. I miss my books. And my armchair. And my garden. See, that’s where I belong. That’s home. And that’s why I came back, cause you don’t have one. A home. It was taken from you. But I will help you take it back if I can.”
Bilbao understands what denying one’s self means and we can take lessons from him. As long as people do not have the eternal home that we do; as long as people have no rest and no peace, as long as there is a battle for the souls of men we must deny ourselves, take up the cross, and follow Jesus.
Denying yourself is a moment (or more accurately a lifetime of moments) when we surrender control of ourselves and yield to God in obedience and trust. Denying yourself is absolutely essential if you want to follow Jesus. You cannot live for yourself and live for Jesus. “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:24-25)
A. Todd Coget
[Courageous Fishers of Men, Citation: Eugene A Maddox, Interlachen, Florida; source: The Perfect Storm]
The movie, The Perfect Storm, well described the dangers of the fishing industry through the eyes of the crew of the fishing boat, the Andrea Gail.
Out of their need to bring home an excellent catch of fish, the captain and crew decide to risk everything and travel as far as the remote but fertile fishing ground called the Flemish Cap. It is an especially dangerous trek during the unpredictably stormy month of October.
On their way back to Gloucester, Massachusetts, the Andrea Gail encounters the "perfect storm" of 1991 and is never heard from again.
While improvements in shipbuilding, navigational technology, weather-reporting and rescue support have made boating safer, fishing has become, if anything, a more lethal occupation, killing more of its workers per capita than any other job in the United States.
"There are many kinds of work that are dangerous, but one of the interesting things about fishing is that it really hasn’t changed much over time," says The Perfect Storm author Sebastian Junger. "It’s been mechanized, of course, but the basic reality of going to sea for months at a stretch is the same as it was 100 years ago. You’re way beyond help from anyone else; you’re on your own. I think that forms a certain kind of character. Not only does everyone know someone who has died at sea but everyone who works in the fishing industry has almost died. Every single fisherman you talk to has almost gotten nailed at one time or another."
It takes courage to be a fisherman. And it takes courage to fish for the souls of people.
FAITH IN A FATHER'S LOVE
Here’s how the story of Finding Nemo develops in the movie:
Nemo’s father loved him very much. He watched over Nemo and protected him from every evil. Nemo and his dad were best friends. There are reasons why so many people enjoy the blockbuster hit Finding Nemo. It is a powerful story of the sacrificial love of a mother, and determination of a caring father. It is the story of being lost, and then found. It is a story that can help you understand God and his love for you.
But one day Nemo disobeyed his father and swam beyond the reef. He was suddenly scooped up by a diver and taken away on a boat. Nemo’s disobedience caused him to be separated from his father. Nemo was so sad because there was nothing he could do to get back to his father. Nemo ended up in fish tank in a dentist’s office overlooking the Sydney Harbor. His situation seemed hopeless.
The father loved little Nemo so much that it did not matter how big the ocean was, or how many fish there were. He was determined to save Nemo, and set out on an incredible adventure to seek and save little Nemo. His journey became the talk of all the fish and birds. The good news of this heroic father traveling the ocean in search of his son reached Nemo through a pelican named Nigel.
Nemo was so surprised and thrilled to learn of his father’s love and search for him. However, time was running out. The dentist’s destructive niece Darla was set to pick up Nemo as a pet. Darla was known for abusing her pet fish until they went belly up. With a strong desire to return to his ...
If anyone here ever watches the TV show Seinfeld, you know that Jerry’s next door neighbor, Kramer, is very much at home in Jerry’s apartment. He probably spends more time there than in his own apartment. He has his own set of keys, and lets himself in whenever he wants. He eats whatever is in the refrigerator, and takes anything else he wants from Jerry’s apartment, usually returning it broken or not at all.
In a way, that’s the way Jesus wants us to feel about His Word, the Bible. He wants us to spend a lot of time there, and has given us His Holy Spirit as the key. God wants us to be "at home" in His Word, to be ourselves there, and to make use of all that it has to offer. The blessings in the Scriptures are ours to take freely without having to repay. So my second point is that Jesus wants us to use His Word as our home.
In most any movie everyone has his or her favorite part. Pearl Harbor was no exception. To me it was rather obvious that the writers wanted our favorite part to be towards the end when the two heroes of the movie, played by Ben Afleck and Josh Harnett, are involved in the American retaliation with a bombing run over Tokyo. It was a moment when the good guys strike back.
While that part of the movie was good, it was not my favorite part. The part I liked best was not particularly entertaining, but it really spoke to me. Being a former Navy guy that spent several years aboard ship, the bombs landing on all of the ships with all of the loss of life and damage was very powerful. It hit close to home. Then, in the middle of all of this carnage is a priest, standing in waist deep water with dead bodies floating all around him. He was pronouncing last rites on the dead. Then this voice in the background says three words. If you weren't paying attention it would be very easy to miss, "Where was God?"
One of my favorite movies of all time is one called, "Anne of Green Gables." The main character is a small girl who, through tragic circumstances, finds herself living in a foster home. The foster parents turn out to be a huge blessing to Anne, (that’s "Anne with an ’e’," if you please), but she still faced difficulties as she grew up.
She made a statement once about the need to have a like-minded companion; it is a statement that caught my attention. It was something like this:
"What I need is a really good friend--a bosom buddy. You know...a KINDRED SPIRIT with whom I can share my inmost soul."
We all need such a friend, don’t you think?
In the movie “Shawshank Redemption,” an old prisoner, Brooks Handlin, acts unreasonable and threatens to take another prisoner’s life. They find out that the reason Brooks has reacted this way is that he’s scared. Scared because his parole has been approved. You see those outside of Shawshank see it as a prison, but Brooks sees as home. Later, in the prison yard Ellis Boyd, “Red” explains why Brooks acts the way he does. “Brooks is just.. institutionalized. The man’s been in here 50 years - 50 years! This is all he knows. You know what I’m trying to say? I’m telling you, these walls are funny. First, you hate them, then you get used to them. Enough time passes, you get to depend on them.” That’s institutionalized.”
I think that is the problem for some of us. We’ve become institutionalized.. To this world. We don’t look to see the other side! We focus our attention on these earthly walls, only what we can touch, feel, observe. And it’s true.. These earthly walls are funny that way... First we hate them.. What baby doesn’t cry when he leaves the safety of his mother’s womb? But th...
In the movie, A Few Good Men, a sergeant and a private stand on trial for killing a fellow marine. Their lawyer, played by Tom Cruise, attempts to demonstrate that the murder was actually the result of an order that the two marines had received from a higher-up. The order to help train the fellow marine ended up causing the death of that marine. When Tom Cruise begins to investigate, the prosecuting attorney quickly tries to strike a plea bargain, offering to reduce the sentence from 20 years down to six months.
Tom Cruise goes to tell his clients the good news, that in six months they would be home free. Harold, the marine sergeant, refuses the plea bargain and chooses instead to stand on trial. Tom Cruise is mortified. If the case went to trial, they would loose and likely spend a lifetime behind bars. In a powerful point in the movie, Tom Cruise looks Harold in the eye and asks him why he would be so stupid as to refuse a plea bargain of six months. Harold responds, “Unit, Core, God, Country.” Tom Cruise looks at him and says, “What?” He repeats, “Unit, Core, God, Country.” Harold explains that this is their code. The center of marine values is “Unit, Core, God, Country.” Harold had followed the code, and if following the code meant that he would spend the rest of his life in a military prison, then so be it.” So Tom Cruise tells him, “If you want to go to jail for the rest of your life, you go right ahead.”
I’m wondering if we aren’t sometimes like Tom Cruise in that movie. Instead of seeing our mission as a driving force behind all we do, we look at it as a nice slogan on a piece of paper. I find evidence of this when I see people putting their personal agendas ahead of our mission as a church. When we focus more on what the church can do for us rather than what we can do for the mission of the church, then our mission becomes irrelevant.
Jimmy Stewart in the movie Shanendoah plays a farmer who has a bunch of sons. The Boys are of fighting age and the father will not let them go off to fight. The family gets the reputation of sitting out the war. There is a scene where they are all around the dinner table and they bow their heads for prayer. Jimmy Stewart says “Lord we planted this seed, we watered the plants, we picked the food and we cooked it, we did it all ourselves, we worked dog bone hard for this but we thank you just the same amen”
People who give sacrificially know that they worked hard for what they take home, but they also know that God blessed them and provided for them.