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The whole area of service is a very important one in the Christian life. The importance can be seen in the difference between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea in the Holy Land. The two bodies of water are connected by the Jordan River in a direct north-south line along the Great Rift Valley. Clear, sweet water from underground springs flows into the Sea of Galilee. And the Sea of Galilee flows south into the Jordan. Galilee is a gorgeous, active lake, full of life that has sustained fishermen in the region for millennia. The Dead Sea, by contrast, is a shallow, selfish basin with no outlet. It hoards the water that flows into it. Some water evaporates, leaving behind brackish, clouded water so dense that swimmers bob like corks. The whole sea is dead.
When we as Christians have no outlet of service, we too can become spiritually dead, and stagnant. Instead of our faith being attractive, life giving and fruitful, we become as off-putting as a stagnant pond.
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."
Recently, I saw a letter written by a relatively new Christian to the person whose life had influenced hers so greatly. She actually lists about a dozen qualities she found contagious in the life of this older Christian. Listen to some of what she wrote:
You know when we met; I began to discover a new vulnerability, a warmth, and a lack of pretense that impressed me. I saw in you a thriving spirit - no signs of internal stagnation anywhere. I could tell you were a growing person and I liked that. I saw you had strong self-esteem, not based on the fluff of self-help books, but on something a whole lot deeper. I saw that you lived by convictions and priorities and not just by convenience, selfish pleasure, and financial gain. And I had never met anyone like that before.
I felt a depth of love and concern as you listened to me and didn’t judge me. You tried to understand me, you sympathized and you celebrated with me, you demonstrated kindness and generosity - and not just to me, but to other people, as well.
And you stood for something. You were willing to go against the grain of society and follow what you believed to be true, no matter what people said, and no matter how much it cost you. And for those reasons and a whole host of others, I found myself really wanting what you had. Now that I’ve become a Christian, I wanted to write to tell you I’m grateful beyond words for how you lived out your Christian life in front of me.
Basically, she was saying, "Thanks for being a Contagious Christian." Reading a letter like that motivates me to live as a contagious Christian too. How about you? I’ll bet you want your life to count for a whole lot more than trinkets and toys and zeros on a paycheck, too.
From Becoming A Contagious Christian by Bill Hybels and Mark Mittelberg
SOMEONE HAS TO GROW UP
“We’re all selfish. Selfish to the core. God sometimes chooses to deal with our selfishness by giving us someone to care for who is infinitely more selfish than you. Babies are not only the cutest creatures on the face of the earth, they are by far the most selfish. Farrar goes on to write: “The way God deals with my own selfishness is to give me someone to serve who has zero interest in serving me. You can’t tell me that God doesn’t have a sense of humor. Not too many people in the world could out-selfish me one-on-one. But every time we’ve had a baby, I’ve met my match. Each of my kids resembled...
George Bernard Shaw, in one of his better statements, said:
"This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one: the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap, and being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy."
Sermon Central Staff
WHAT A CONTAGIOUS CHRISTIAN LOOKS LIKE
Bill Hybels, Becoming a Contagious Christian: "Recently, I saw a letter written by a relatively new Christian to the person whose life had influenced hers so greatly. She actually lists about a dozen qualities she found contagious in the life of this older Christian. Listen to some of what she wrote:
'You know when we met; I began to discover a new vulnerability, a warmth, and a lack of pretence that impressed me. I saw in you a thriving spirit--no signs of internal stagnation anywhere. I could tell you were a growing person and I liked that. I saw you had strong self-esteem, not based on the fluff of self-help books, but on something a whole lot deeper. I saw that you lived by convictions and priorities and not just by convenience, selfish pleasure, and financial gain. And I had never met anyone like that before. I felt a depth of love and concern as you listened to me and didn’t judge me. You tried to understand me, you sympathized and you celebrated with me, you demonstrated kindness and generosity--and not just to me, but to other people, as well. And you stood for something. You were willing to go against the grain of society and follow what you believed to be true, no matter what people said, and no matter how much it cost you. And for those reasons and a whole host of others, I found myself really wanting what you had. Now that I’ve become a Christian, I wanted to write to tell you I’m grateful beyond words for how you lived out your Christian life in front of me.'"
(From a sermon by Michael Luke, Discussing the Deacons, 5/5/2011)
Well over 100 years ago, Charles Spurgeon put it this way, discussing how conversion can inadvertently make one self-absorbed:
“….One of the first works of the Holy Spirit is to make the man look at home, and to consider the condition of his own soul. When the Spirit of God has made a man thus to stand on his own footing before God, and to feel his personality, there springs up a danger that such a man may say, ‘I shall henceforth keep myself to myself. My chief business will be indoor work, to see after the righteousness of my own spirit and to keep myself prospering before the Lord. Other people must see to themselves, and I must see to myself.’
“The principle of individuality might be thus pushed to an extreme, till what at first was necessary grit in the spiritual constitution, making the man truly a man, may be so unduly increased that he becomes at last an unkind, ungenerous, cruel selfish thing, deprived of the best part of his humanity…’no man liveth unto himself,’ nor was he ever meant to do so. No man can compass the ends of life by drawing a little line around himself upon the ground. No man can fulfil his calling as a Christian by seeking the welfare of his wife and family only, for these are only a sort of greater self. There are outgoing lines of life that bind us not only with some men, but, in fact, with all of humanity…We are placed, therefore, in a most solemn position; and it is with regard to this that it is high time that we should awake out of sleep.”
(Source: “The Treasury of the Bible, Volume 7,” Baker Book House, 1981 p 112)
WHAT I'LL BE DOING FOR MEMORIAL DAY
Memorial Day is a rough day for me. It’s a day of remembering.
Remembering can be curse when you’ve spent years trying to forget. It’s even worse when you get mad at yourself for not being able to remember. It’s strange that you forget so many things you want to remember and remember so much that you really want to forget.
I spent 11 months, 28 days in sunny Southeast Asia. I came back physically whole. "No members missing" tag on this Marine. By the Grace of God, good training, and just plain pure dumb luck, I suffered no more than a slight hearing loss, a concussion or two, and 25 years of mixed-blessing memories.
Memorial Day is not a day for self-evaluation or selfish thoughts. So I turn my remembrances to other people, places, and things.
I remember heat. Heat that kept you from getting a full breath for weeks. Heat that sapped your strength so that you were beyond exhaustion after a minor exertion. Heat that made you tired and kept you from sleeping. Heat that made you sweat buckets. Heat that made you freezing cold at 70 degrees.
I remember rice paddies. They could get you killed or save your life. Dikes stop bullets but can leave you exposed if you’re dumb enough to walk on them. The water smelled of feces but was better than not drinking at all.
I remember rain. Rain that broke the intolerable heat then never stopped. Rain that was as gentle as silk or as stinging as a nest of bees. Rain that let you get a good clean shower and rotted your feet ’til they bled.
I remember the sun. The sun that created the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets I’ve ever seen in my life. The sun that you couldn’t look at...if you ever wanted to see again. The sun that you could feel without touching it.
But above all this, I remember people. Faces, personalities, and human events still crowd my days and nights with pleasure and pain. I can remember entire conversations and events in explicit detail. I cannot remember the names of more than a few, and I don’t know why. Shouldn’t this be the other way around?
I remember the parting face of the Huey jock, who took an RPG in the nose 100 yards after he lifted off from leaving me in a clearing. I remember every detail of the guy who hung himself 2 weeks before he was going back to the world. I remember the guitar songs taught to me by the kid from Boston, who drove a jeep over a 105 shell buried on a dirt road and tripped the trap. Of the hundreds I knew, I kick myself f...
Worship isn’t listening to a sermon, appreciating the harmony of the choir, and joining in singing hymns! It isn’t even prayer, for prayer can be the selfish expression of an unbroken spirit. Worship goes deeper. Since God is spirit, we fellowship with him with our spirit; that is, the immortal and invisible part of us meets with God, who is immortal and invisible.
Erwin W. Lutzer (1941- )
Forrest Carter, in his book the Education of Little Tree set around the great depression he relays the story of a grandfather’s explanation to his grandson his use of the phrase “I kin you”. It meant to love and understand.
“Grandpa said back before his time ‘kinfolk’ meant any folks that you understood and had an understanding with, so it meant ‘loved folks.’ but people got selfish and brought it down to mean just blood relations; but that actually it was never meant to mean that.”